Study Tries to Link Marcellus Fracking to Low Birth Weight Babies

Junk ScienceHere’s how it works in anti-drilling land. Students who want to make a name for themselves and earn some cashola accept “funding” (i.e. a bribe) from an anti-drilling organization. The “funder” (i.e. briber) determines the topic and result they want the “research” to report. The students, from a prestigious school, then doctor up the research with enough surface credibility to fool stupid mainstream media types. The students then publish that “research” in an online journal with very low standards. What do you get? Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health accepting money from the Heinz Endowments to publish a study claiming mommies who live close to Marcellus Shale wells have babies with low birth weights (copy of the study below), published in the online journal PLOS ONE, now being picked up by the likes of CBS and other news outlets who are reporting what the authors themselves say is research that doesn’t prove anything. News headlines are then generated linking fracking to a negative health condition. The low-information, headline-only reading crowd reads the headline and never bothers to question whether or not it’s true (which it isn’t), and voila–we have another case of public brainwashing, assisted by students prostituting themselves for money and fame, and damaging the reputation of the University of Pittsburgh. All bought and paid for by a big money donor to the school, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, using her dead first husband’s money…
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4 Top Carrizo O&G Officers, Incl CEO, Sell 50K Shares of Company Stock

It’s always a bit dangerous to shoot off your mouth when you don’t have the proper context and background to understand something–and we have to confess we don’t know much about this case. We spotted something that tickled our fancy and we wanted to pass it on. Four top officers in Carrizo Oil & Gas, a producer that previously did some drilling in the Marcellus but lately is drilling in the Ohio Utica, recently (on Monday, June 1st) sold some of their shares in the company. Cumulatively it was 49,689 shares valued at $2,476,038. The people doing the selling were the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Accounting Officer, the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Executive Officer. Is this no big deal and just a few employees selling when the stock is on the upswing? Probably. Still, it just struck us as a bit odd that all four sold their stock on the same day…
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Shell Sets Expectations for What Happens if PA Cracker is Built

In yet another signal that Shell is very serious about building a $3 billion ethane cracker plant northwest of Pittsburgh, the company recently held public meetings in Beaver County, PA, where the plant would be built, to tell members of the local community what they can expect to hear, see, and smell during and after construction–if the plant gets built. Shell wants to be right up front about what happens when an industrial plant like the one they’re building comes into existence. We find that a “good neighbor” kind of thing to do. Look, there will be some inconveniences for a time when this thing gets built. Construction activity at the site will happen 24/7 for a number of years (yes, years) until it is completed. Let’s talk about it right up front so no one is surprised. Although Shell stresses at these meetings that a “final decision has not yet been made,” increasingly it looks (to us) like it has…
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NEXUS Pipeline Sues Columbiana County Landowners for Survey Access

The NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline, you may recall, is a $1.5 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). A number of landowners in Ohio have been less than cooperative when it comes to surveying their property. One old codger in Medina County, OH threatened he would meet anyone trying to survey his property with a gun (see Medina, OH Landowner Says He’ll Meet NEXUS Surveyors Packing Heat). Two couples in Columbiana County aren’t threatening guns, but they have denied access to NEXUS, repeatedly, and NEXUS has had enough. NEXUS sued the two couples in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court to force them to allow their surveyors on their property…
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Construction on WV Stonewall Gather Pipeline Begins, Runs Thru Dec

In early April MDN told you that a section of M3 Midstream’s Appalachia Gathering System (AGS) had been spun off into its own company called Stonewall Gathering System (see M3’s New Stonewall Gathering System Extends Existing AGS in WV). At the time plans were under way to build out gathering pipelines in West Virginia’s Harrison and Doddridge counties, running through Lewis and into Braxton County where the pipeline will connect with Columbia Transmission’s interstate pipeline. The plans have come to fruition and the Stonewall Gathering System is now being built. Incidentally, they’re looking for welders and laborers–but only through local unions…
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Steep Decline in Rig Count Continues for Patterson-UTI in May

We continue to see mixed signals when it comes to the end of declining rig counts. Yesterday we ran a story highlighting the comments from the largest private oilfield services company in the U.S., Canary, saying we’ve now turned a corner in shale and “the industry is on the way back” (see Largest Private Oilfield Svcs Co Says Shale is Rebounding). Then we look at Patterson-UTI’s average rig count numbers for their company–and the numbers continue to decline rather significantly. Two months ago, in March, Patterson ran an average of 142 U.S. rigs and 4 Canadian rigs. In April, they ran an average of 131 U.S. rigs and 2 Canadian rigs (see Patterson-UTI Active Rig Count Drops Again in April). For May, Patterson just announced they ran an average of 122 U.S. rigs and 1 Canadian rig. Oy vey…
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Spineless Senate Republicans Confirm Quigley to Head PA DEP

Welcome to the PennFuture Administration that now runs the entire environmental policy of the state of Pennsylvania. The anti-drilling PennFuture has successfully installed one of their own as Secretary of the Dept. of Environmental Protection–John Quigley. Yesterday the Pennsylvania Senate, controlled by spineless Republicans, voted to approve Quigley as the next Secretary of the DEP in a 44-4 vote. Shame on the Republican party in PA. Now we have someone who will damage the Marcellus industry with his anti-drilling philosophy as head of the agency that oversees drilling in the state…
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Crestwood Midstream Reorganizes Company, Promotes Several Execs

Crestwood Midstream is a pipeline company with operations in several shale plays, including the Marcellus and Utica. They are a smaller but meaningful player in the northeast. Crestwood has 65 miles of natural gas gathering pipelines in Harrison and Doddridge counties in WV–along with eight compressor stations. They also own property along the shore of Seneca Lake in New York where there is a depleted salt cavern where they want to turn into an underground storage facility for liquefied propane (see Crestwood Execs on Radio to Promote Propane Storage @ Seneca Lake). That project is making progress after years of delays by the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation. Crestwood merged with (bought out) Inergy Midstream in 2013 in an $8 billion deal (see Crestwood/Inergy Complete Their Merger Today, Worth $8B). With the dust finally settled from that deal, Crestwood announced on Monday they are reorganizing the merged company into several new units–and along with that reorganization comes several executive promotions…
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Research Says Converting Marcellus Gas into Methanol is Profitable

The Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center (SGICC) funded a research study that looks at the potential to convert natural gas to methanol on a small to medium size plant scale. The study, titled “Natural Gas Utilization via Small-Scale Methanol Technologies” (copy below) concludes that yes indeed, such a use for potentially significant quantities of natural gas is feasible. Methanol is the simplest alcohol and is a light, volatile, colorless, and flammable liquid with a distinctive odor. Methanol is produced mainly using a two-step catalytic chemical process. It is an important chemical with a wide range of applications and end-uses. The SGICC’s research shows that methanol is priced similar to oil (i.e. much more profitable than regular natgas) and building plants in remote areas without pipeline infrastructure is relatively fast and effective. What’s not to like?…
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Anti-Drilling Groups File to Defend BLM’s New Federal Lands Frack Rule

The “sue and settle” gang is back. A group of six virulently anti-drilling, fossil fuel-hating organizations, calling them (don’t laugh) “conservation groups” (nothing of the sort) have filed to intervene in two lawsuits brought by the individual states and the oil and gas industry against the federal government over the new fracking rules released by the federal Bureau of Land Management (see BLM Introduces “Final” Fracking Rules for Fed Lands – 3 Yrs Late). Here’s how it works with sue and settle: the federal government gets Big Green groups (with lots of money) to bring lawsuits against a department, like the EPA or BLM. The government agency then promulgates new restrictive and jobs-crushing rules that have the force of law because “the lawsuit and judge made us do it.” And unless those “rules” are challenged in court to get them repealed, we end up with laws created by government agencies and judges instead of the legislature, the way the Founders intended. So when the good guys sue to overturn these overreaching “rules”, the sue and settle gang with lots of Big Green money comes back to try and stop it. The groups are once again being led (by the nose) by Earthjustice and include the Sierra Clubbers, Earthworks, The Wilderness Society, Conservation Colorado Education Fund, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Western Resource Advocates. None of them are truly concerned with “conservation,” contrary to what they say. They are all left-leaning political groups…
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