What’s Missing in Latest Duke “Radioactive” Study? Real Science

Real Science - Try it.Those crazy, anti-drilling kids at Duke University are at it again. They released a “study” in a “peer-reviewed” journal yesterday (a study funded in part by the anti-drilling Park Foundation) that took samples from a creek downstream from a wastewater treatment plant that used to (but no longer does) treat Marcellus fracking wastewater. Republican Michael Krancer put an end to frack wastewater treatment by such facilities in early 2011, something the Rendell administration couldn’t or wouldn’t do. Krancer and the Marcellus Shale Coalition said municipal plants processing frack wastewater was creating an issue (see PA DEP, Marcellus Shale Coalition Admit Drilling Wastewater Likely Contaminating Drinking Water). So the Park/Duke kids sampled a single creek before the practice had ended and found, not surprisingly, high (but not dangerous) levels of radioactivity in the stream bed. In other words, they’re reporting what we’ve known for the past three years.

What do the headlines in hundreds of newspapers and online sources (with lazy reporters) blare out today? Fracking causes radioactivity in streams and rivers (plural) in Pennsylvania. Even though the Duke study only looks at a single location in a single creek and the data predates when the practice ended. Real science would have investigated multiple wastewater treatment plants, not just cherry-picking one. Real science is not funded by an avowed anti-drilling organization like the Park Foundation. And real science would have pointed out frack wastewater treatment at these plants ended several years ago. But then, no one ever accused Park/Duke kids of performing real science
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MarkWest Energy Buys an Ohio Short Line Railroad – Why?

As we’re always fascinated with a good railroad story, our eyes perked up when we saw that a MarkWest subsidiary company is about to close a deal to purchase a 36-mile short line railroad from the Columbiana County (OH) Port Authority–for just $3 million. The railroad, known as the Youngstown & Southern Railroad, runs from Boardman (Mahoning County), OH through Columbiana, Rogers and Negley (all in Columbiana County), ending it’s tracks at Darlington (Beaver County), PA.

What will MarkWest do with a railroad? Right now, they’re being tight-lipped…
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Could Philly Burbs See Shale Drilling?! PA DCNR Launches Study

Last summer MDN told you about a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) “discovery” that there are more untapped shale plays in the northeast. One of those plays is the Newark Basin that underlies parts of New Jersey, Maryland, and yes, Pennsylvania (see the USGS report and map here: Maryland has Multiple Shale Basins?!). In particular, the South Newark Basin lies under parts of southeastern PA–Philadelphia and its suburbs. While no one believes there will ever be a drilling rig in Philadelphia, there is the possibility of drilling out in the burbs.

The PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has just “quietly” awarded a contract to Penn State University to study “what lies beneath” in Bucks and Montgomery counties. The contract began July 1 and won’t be completed until June 30, 2015–two full years. When done, we should have a good idea of whether or not there’s recoverable shale gas in the area. So, is this study a prelude to drilling one day?…
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Trans Energy Sells Off Holdings in Tyler County, WV – Who Bought?

Yesterday Trans Energy, a pure play driller focused on the Marcellus Shale (in West Virginia) announced they’re selling off their holdings in Tyler County, WV so they can concentrate on their holdings and drilling operations in Marshall, Wetzel and Marion counties instead. The deal is for 1,163 acres, two well pad sites and one uncompleted Marcellus Shale well. Trans Energy is getting $11.2 million for the transaction.

The announcement from Trans Energy does not identify who is doing the buying, but MDN has what we consider a pretty solid guess…
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Williams Goes Back to (PR) School Over Controlled Release Panic

Williams scared the bejeebers out of teachers and students at the Dallas School District (near Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA) last Thursday when they did a controlled release of natural gas from their nearby Transco interstate natural gas pipeline. Williams was emptying part of the pipeline to work on it and the controlled release caused a panic and calls to 911 with concerns over a gas leak. Williams admits they could of/should of done a better job in communicating with residents in the community, and that they should of waited until after (or before) school hours to do the controlled release. Of course local anti-drillers seized on the “incident” to make some PR hay.

So, did Williams learn their lesson?…
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Halliburton Shuts Down WV Cement Plant, Moves to OH

In a move that’s sure to anger West Virginians, but make Ohioans happy, Halliburton announced Tuesday they’re shutting down their cement plant operations in Weston (Lewis County), WV and moving it 150 miles away to a new service center they’ve opened in Zanesville (Muskingum County), OH. No word on how many jobs in Weston are affected…
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Muskingum Watershed Taken to Court by Anti-Frackers (Yawn)

MDN has long chronicled the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District’s (MWCD) challenges with selling a relative thimble-full of its vast water supplies to Utica Shale drillers. Not only are they now selling water, they’ve leased a good number of acres for drilling–some of it under lakes and reservoirs. That really ticks off the eco-nuts.

Anti-frackers have thrown tantrums and have done their darnedest to stop the MWCD from allowing drilling and from selling water to frackers–for a time they even bullied them into a retreat (see Muskingum Watershed Reverses Decision to Sell Water to Drillers)–but ultimately the anti-frackers have failed. So now it’s off to court to see if they can convince a liberal judge somewhere to put the breaks on progress in Ohio…
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Russian Spinmeisters Talk Down American Shale, Makes Us Laugh

Russia hates the American shale revolution because it threatens their worldwide dominance in natural gas, and it threatens their ability to threaten others with it. Vlad Putin has long poo-pooed our shale reserves as nothing more than a flash in the pan. So we found it amusing to read the story (below) from the Voice of Russia Radio network that tries to spin Shell’s recent exit from some of its holdings into a story about oil and gas companies are “losing interest” in American shale. Yeah right! We had to pick ourselves up off the floor after laughing so hard.

Uh, VOR, have you ever heard of the wholly-owned Shell subsidiary called SWEPI? It stands for Shell Western Exploration and Production Inc. Oh, and East Resources? Yeah, Shell bought them. Shell now owns 850,000 acres in the Marcellus Shale play–#2 behind Chesapeake’s 1.8 million acres. So please, tell us again how Shell is abandoning American shale plays–we need another good laugh!…
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