Protesters Try to Shut Down NC Frack Chemical Plant

DerangedThis story, while technically not an event happening in the Marcellus/Utica Shale region, is geographically close (North Carolina) and involves a manufacturer of fracking chemicals–chemicals likely used in the Marcellus/Utica. This story is illustrative of what MDN calls FDS–Fracking Derangement Syndrome–a condition found in more ardent anti-drillers who willing put themselves in harm’s way in the mistaken belief that they’re somehow helping Mother Earth and actually doing something to prevent fracking. “Deranged” is an apt label for them.

A group of some 100 or so FDS-infected protesters laid down in the middle of the road in front of the Momentive resin plant in Morganton, NC (about 60 miles northwest of Charlotte) to stop trucks carrying chemicals from leaving the facility. A few of the protesters set up 20-foot-tall wooden structures and climbed up on top. If police try to make them come down forceably, the structures will topple and the protesters will get injured (gee, too bad). So the chemical company, Momentive (owned by the same parent that owns Hardees) just let them hang around and make horses rear-ends of themselves. Hey, pass the ketchup! Wanna up-size those Hardees fries? We’re gonna be here for a while watching these loons…
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The House Aubrey Built Transitions from Exploration to Production

An excellent article published by NGI’s Shale Daily reports that Chesapeake Energy is transitioning from a risk-taking exploration company to a profit-making production company.

Chronicling the journey–where they are now and how much Chessy plans to raise this year by selling even more assets–here’s NGI’s expert take on the mighty house built by Aubrey, and stolen by corporate raiders Carl Icahn and others (euphemistically referred to as “activist investors”):
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Update on Antero Well Explosion in Doddridge County, WV

Yesterday, MDN told you about the well site explosion in Doddridge County, WV (see Well Explosion in Doddridge County, WV Injures 8 People). Depending on the news source, the number of people injured is anywhere from five to eight, and we still don’t know exactly what happened. But we do know (or suspect) a bit more: there was no fracking going on at the time of the explosion, and the explosion did not involve the drilling rig. It appears it had to do with a malfunctioning water pump being used to pump well logging tools out the borehole.

The latest from West Virginia Metro News:
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John Hanger Publishes Strong Defense of Fracking, in UK Newspaper

Former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, John Hanger, has an opinion piece published in the online UK Guardian newspaper on Monday, July 8 titled, “If you care about the environment, you should welcome natural gas fracking” (full article below). John has an interesting dilemma. He’s running for the Democrat nomination for governor in PA, for the right to run against someone whom Dems believe is a politically crippled–Gov. Tom Corbett. Corbett has been strongly pro-drilling. John’s opinion piece pretty much reflects his past statements that no energy source is without its negatives, and that natural gas (and fracking) are far better than many of the alternatives. His article is a full-throated defense of fracking. Good for John!

His dilemma, however, is that his party, which stands a good chance of retaking the PA legislature and the governorship, wants to impose a de facto ban on fracking in PA, opposite the position John has taken in his article (see PA Democrat Party Votes to End Marcellus Shale Drilling Statewide). John has refused to call the recent Democrat vote what it patently is: political insanity. Instead, John is attempting a high-wire balancing act made harder by his old boss Gov. Ed Rendell (see Rendell Paints Hanger into Corner on PA Democrat Moratorium Vote).
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OSU Study of PA Data Shows No Housing Crisis in Shale Country

How many  times have we heard (and believed) that when drilling comes to town, higher housing prices, specifically rent, comes along too. A quick influx of people for a relatively fixed inventory of housing and voilà–high rents. In fact, MDN previously highlighted a study in November 2011 by a cabal of PA colleges that issued a 200-page report on how shale drilling was causing a “housing crisis” in northeastern PA (see New Study Claims Housing Crisis in NE PA from Gas Drilling).

But what’s this? Researchers at Ohio State University, understandably concerned that a housing shortage may be on the way in eastern Ohio, studied the PA data for 2007-2011, the first four years of PA’s drilling boom. Using government data (objective and unbiased, from the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development), OSU researchers found, “…in Pennsylvania, counties experiencing the most shale-related development saw little change in fair market rents…housing vacancy rates and median home values.” A full copy of the OSU report debunking the “shale drilling creates a housing crisis” meme is embedded below.
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Radioactive Cuttings Rejected by Landfill Remain at PA Drill Site

In April, MDN told you about a load of Marcellus Shale drill cuttings from a drill site in Greene County, PA that were due to be dumped at a landfill in Westmoreland County, PA, but the load of cuttings set off the radiation alarms at the landfill (see Marcellus Drill Cuttings Set Off Radiation Alarm at SW PA Landfill). The level of naturally occurring radiation found in the leftover dirt and rock (“shale cuttings”) was a bit too high for disposal at that particular landfill.

So, what happened to that load of radioactive drill cuttings? It was sent back to the well site in Greene County and it has remained there ever since…
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Phila. Gas Works Goes on Auction Block – Marcellus Key in Sale?

Philadelphia is about to put the 176 year-old Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) natural gas utility company on the auction block with the aim of privatizing it. Although it’s not viewed as a great opportunity (fixed base of around 500,000 customers who are getting more energy-efficient each year), the utility has an ace in the hole: the Marcellus Shale. Specifically, a buyer may consider converting an existing liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility owned and operated by PGW into an export facility for exporting Marcellus Shale gas. If that were to happen, let’s just say the world would be your oyster…
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