Syracuse U Study: Fracking Doesn’t Cause Methane in PA Water Wells

crickets chirpingYou can’t tell us there isn’t political bias in the world of so-called hard science and whether or not important research gets reported. In 2011 Duke University published a shoddy “study” that attempted to show a link between the presence of 68 shale wells and high levels of methane in nearby groundwater supplies (see MDN In-depth: Duke University Study Links Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling with Methane Contamination of Water Wells). That study got all sorts of coverage in the media. After their sloppy work was exposed by a number of scientists, the same group doubled down to try and salvage what little credibility they had left by publishing a second study in 2013 concluding the same thing (see Duke Study #2: Drilling Causes Methane Migration in Water Wells?). More media fanfare of “See, it really is true!” There were several fatal flaws in Duke’s research: they cherry picked the wells they used, they used a small data set (68 water wells in the first study, 141 in the second), and they had no baseline measurements–no “before and after” measurements to know if the methane was already present (as it so often is in northeastern PA). So what if some real researchers were to come along and use a data set hundreds of times larger (data on 11,000+ northeast PA water wells) and what if that data has baseline information–the before picture. Seems like that would settle it, right? That would address the weaknesses and shortfalls of the previous, shoddy research. Such a study was just published in the peer reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology…
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Guts: No New Pipeline in MA? Then No New Natgas for Utility Customers

Finally the chickens are coming home to roost for New Englanders with their “not in my back yard” attitude. Almost from the first day Kinder Morgan announced a plan to build an extension to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) from Dracut, NY to the Boston, MA area to bring cheap, abundant, clean-burning Marcellus Shale gas to New England, there have been strong pockets of resistance from some of the lib Dems along the path of the pipeline. One of the strongest pockets of resistance has been Deerfield, MA where they’ve attempted to illegally ban the TGP’s Northeast Energy Direct pipeline (see Deerfield, MA Hoping Kinder Morgan Sues Them over Pipeline “Ban”). In December, Deerfield got a ban of its own–from the Berkshire Gas Company. Berkshire said their existing pipeline feed from the TGP is very close to full capacity and they’ve done everything they can to get more gas to the area. Until/unless the new Northeast Energy Direct pipeline is built, no new customers for natural gas will be added in the Franklin County communities of Deerfield, Greenfield, Montague and Whately. Oh, and if you are an existing natgas customer in one of those communities and you want to convert your electric hot water heater or electric stove to natgas? Too late. If you do it now without notifying Bershire and they figure it out, they will suspend all of your natgas service. The “moratorium” on any new natgas customers or appliances has just grown from the original Deerfield and surrounding areas to include the Hampshire County communities of Amherst, Hadley, Hatfield and Sunderland. No pipeline? No more natgas. It’s that simple you liberal dopes. Such a move by a company takes guts–kudos to Berkshire and its CEO Karen Zink for fighting fire with fire…
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CONSOL Employee Goes to Prison for Stealing $440K in Royalties

A sad story, and one we wish we didn’t have to report, but we do. Scott Hamilton was the manager for CONSOL Energy’s land records department in 2009 when he fraudulently set up a fake company and transferred CONSOL’s ownership interest in land in two counties (Christian County, IL, and Fayette County, WV) to the dummy corporation. He then had royalty checks for the two properties (owed to CONSOL as the royalty owner) mailed to a post box in Washington County, PA. In all, Hamilton stole some $440,000 from CONSOL before he was caught. Hamilton has already paid all of it back and he will now, after pleading guilty, spend the next 30 months in federal prison…
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CELDF Costing Towns Big $ With Losing Pipeline/Drilling Bans

Communities that attempt to block pipelines (and drilling) with illegal so-called community rights ordinances that seek to block those activities are losing in court and, in at least some of the cases, taxpayers in those communities end up paying the legal fees for the pro-drilling side. That’s the good news we find in an article by a PBS “reporter” (we’d call her an anti-drilling propagandist) writing on the StateImpact Pennsylvania website. To the small group of fossil fuel-hating nutters in Conestoga Township (Lancaster County), PA, you may want to consider the considerable cost of launching yet another campaign funded by outsiders Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), the shadowy group behind much of this mischief. Be sure to ask the CELDF if they’re willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees if you lose (as you surely will) a legal challenge to a pipeline ban in the township. Make them put their money where their huge mouth is…
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Belmont County Loves Rice Energy

Belmont County, OH loves Rice Energy, which is a good thing because Rice has nearly 16% of all the land in the county now under lease for Utica Shale drilling. So far the company has pumped “hundreds of millions” of dollars into the Belmont County economy, and there’s no end in sight. No wonder they love Rice! Rice currently has some 55,000 acres under lease in Belmont. How much are they paying for leases? Last April Rice leased 406 acres from Belmont County and paid a signing bonus of $7,500 per acre with a 20% royalty (see Belmont County Shopping New Deal to Lease Additional 426 Acres). Rice came back in June and leased an additional 426 acres from the county, paying an eye-popping $8,200 per acre with a 20% royalty (see Rice Energy Does 2nd Deal with Belmont County, $8,200/Acre!). County officials say Rice has become part of the community and supports area schools…
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Halliburton & Baker Hughes Vote to Approve Shotgun Wedding

Looks like the Hatfields and the McCoys are heading down the isle after all. In November MDN told you that the U.S.’s second largest oilfield services company, Halliburton, had pointed the gun of replacing the entire board to the head of Baker Hughes, the third largest oilfield services company, to force Baker Hughes into selling itself to Halliburton (see Shotgun Wedding: Halliburton Forces Baker Hughes to Sell). It took a while, but the management team and investors of Baker Hughes finally warmed up to the idea and last Friday the stockholders for both companies voted to proceed with the merger. About 75% of the shares/shareholders in Baker Hughes voted on the plan, and of those 75%, some 98% voted to get hitched to Halliburton…
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Poll: 70% of Lycoming County Residents Against Wolf Severance Tax

It’s certainly not statistically significant, but it’s important nonetheless. The *Williamsport Sun-Gazette* (Lycoming County, PA) launched a poll last week that, as of this morning, is still open. It asks the question, “What do you think of Gov. Wolf’s plans to institute a severance tax for natural gas drilling industries in Pennsylvania??” In order to divide the opposition against this insane idea, the poll has three potential responses, two of them are against the severance tax and one response is in favor. As of this morning, if you add the two “against the tax” responses together, 30% think Wolf’s severance tax is a good idea and an overpowering majority, 70%, thinks its not a good idea. Head on over to //www.sungazette.com/page/polls.detail/id/413/ and vote now, before they close the poll. Here’s how the results looked as of this morning…
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CORNy Effect on FERC: NEXUS Forced to Consider Alternative Route

The NEXUS Pipeline is a proposed 42-inch, now $2 billion natural gas pipeline that will carry Utica and Marcellus Shale gas spanning 11 counties in Ohio, 3 counties in Michigan, and eventually connect to the Dawn Energy Hub in Canada (see NEXUS Gas Pipeline Pre-Files with FERC, New Details Come to Light). MDN told you about a local anti-drilling group that’s trying to stop it or change it, flying under the acronym of CORN–Coalition to Reroute NEXUS (see CORNy Opposition to NEXUS Pipeline in Eastern Ohio). It looks like the CORNballs may have had an effect. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) told Spectra Energy and the other companies building the NEXUS they’ve been getting a lot of complaints and FERC wants the companies to investigate an alternative route for the NEXUS, away from the CORNfields of Green (Summit County), OH…
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Details on Columbia Pipeline Mountaineer XPress Pipeline Project

As we mentioned last year, NiSource/Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG) has a lot of pipeline project irons in the fire (see NiSource 3Q14: A Lot of Irons in the Fire, Spending Billions). One of those irons is the Mountaineer XPress, which includes approximately 150 miles of new pipeline with approximately 2.7Bcf per day of transportation capacity from existing and future points of receipt along or near CPG’s system, most of it located in West Virginia. The project is close to most of the region’s third party processing plants in the Utica/Marcellus, with deliveries to the TCO Pool; Leach, Ky., at an existing point of interconnection between TCO and CPG subsidiary Columbia Gulf Transmission, LLC (CGT); and other “mutually agreeable points.” CPG held a non-binding open season for Mountaineer XPress last year. Now it’s time to begin putting signatures on contracts. CPG announced a binding open season that started last Friday and will run through April 23rd…
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Report: Effects of Marcellus Shale Dev on Criminal Justice System

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania (CRP), a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly, continues to pump out the reports on the Marcellus Shale and its impacts on the state at a prodigious rate. They issued the third report in a series in January, another in February, and a third in March (see New Report: Housing and Marcellus Shale Development in PA). The reports each focus on a single topic and how the Marcellus Shale industry in the state is affecting (or not) that particular constituency. The newest/fourth this year (sixth in the series) study from the CRP is titled “Effects of Marcellus Shale Development on the Criminal Justice System” (full copy below). MDN friend Tom Shepstone of NaturalGasNow.org describes the report this way: “Once again, the narrative is an equivocal document apparently intended to give any reader something they’ll like. The data, however, is extensive, there is none of the unprofessional focus group commentary that has characterized some previous reports in this series and there are actual comparisons between Marcellus and non-Marcellus counties that allow for more useful analysis. What’s most interesting about the report is that it completely voids most of the fractivist junk science and junk journalism we’ve seen on the subject of shale crime.”…
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