In March, MDN told you about the Shale Gas Roundtable, a group of high level participants from industry, government and academe organized and run by the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute on Politics (see Out of the Shadows: Another New Group Wants to Regulate PA Shale). The Roundtable has intentionally maintained a low profile–some might call it secrecy–in an attempt to craft a set of recommendations that will be taken seriously by both sides of the drilling debate and actually acted on, instead of being shelved as just another list of “nice to do” initiatives.
The group, which first met in September 2011, came all the way out of the shadows yesterday by releasing a 139-page report (full copy below) on their best thinking and recommendations to date. The report is a duesy–and we mean that in a mostly good way. Thorough and long, and full of concrete recommendations, the report tackles everything from proposed changes in the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection to new standards for water sourcing, biodegradable fracking chemicals, erosion controls, proposed new laws and even (yes) a vote in favor of forced pooling as the best way to minimize disturbance of surface land…
MDN editor Jim Willis (that’s me) had the pleasure of a late summer/early autumn drive from Binghamton to Dimock, PA yesterday. I attended the official opening of Cabot’s compressed natural gas (CNG) facility near Dimock. On hand for the ceremony were not only officials from Cabot, but also local politicians, a rep from the state DEP, local colleges and others.
George Stark, Cabot’s chief spokesman and director of external affairs, kicked off the event by calling the Marcellus Shale in Susquehanna County (the only place in PA they drill), a “generational” shale play. He said “production here is just prolific” and that what Cabot and others are doing in Susquehanna County is “changing the world.” His comments may seem like hyperbole, but indeed they are not…
The Shale Gas Roundtable–a southwestern PA group made up of representatives from the oil and gas industry, government and academe–released an important new study on Wednesday with a list of comprehensive recommendations for how shale drilling can and should go forward in Pennsylvania (see today’s companion story). One of the boldest proposals by the group is the establishment of an independent research organization to study the effects of shale drilling. The trick is to craft an organization whose research is unassailable–no accusations that “industry” or “enviro groups” funded the research and therefore said research is skewed or tainted. How to do that?
The Roundtable proposes to borrow an idea from the automotive industry…
Examples of the enormous economic power of the Marcellus/Utica to influence the entire nation’s economy keep coming–almost daily it seems. Latest example: Kinder Morgan’s El Paso Pipeline Partners announced yesterday that not only has the most recent “open season” (when buyers and sellers of natural gas commit to using a pipeline in the future when it’s built) resulted in commitments for the original proposed expansion of 600 million cubic feet of natgas per day (Mmcf/d), they also have additional demand for another 400 Mmcf/d. That’s demand to deliver 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (Bcf/d) to markets in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
And where, do you think, will the extra 1 Bcf/d of gas supplies come from? You guessed it: The Marcellus and Utica Shale…
As MDN has previously reported, anti-drillers in Tompkins County, NY are making a serious attempt to prevent an electrical generating plant near Ithaca, NY from converting from coal to clean-burning natural gas (see NY Eco Group Protest to Stop Plant Converting from Coal to NatGas). If the utility company is not granted permission to convert, they’ll shut the plant down, which is exactly what the anti-drillers want.
Problem is, if that plant shuts down, it will remove one of the largest sources of tax revenue for the local Lansing school district. But the antis, blinded by their twisted “renewables-only” energy philosophy, don’t care…
The Pennant Midstream “Hickory Bend” pipeline continues to make good progress. Pennant is a joint venture between NiSource and Hilcorp Energy, established to build a $300 million wet gas pipeline and processing plant in eastern Ohio (see the original announcement from July 2012: NiSource, Hilcorp Energy Joint Venture in Utica Shale).
Although the project has faced its challenges and minor delays, it has made excellent and steady progress. The cryogenic processing plant in Springfield Township is now being reported as “completed” (the first time we’ve heard that), and pipeline boring crews are working this week in Columbiana County. An update:
The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: