OH Supreme Court Rules Columbus Anti-Utica Ballot Measure Illegal

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that yet another ballot measure backed by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) in Columbus, OH, a measure meant to ban fracking to send a “you’re not welcome” message to Utica drillers, is in fact illegal and will not appear on the November ballot. In July we told you about a group of anti-fossil fuel nutters, backed by CELDF, making a run at implementing an illegal frack ban in Columbus, OH (see CELDF Finds New Group of Suckers in Columbus for Utica Frack Ban). Columbus, with a population of 2,078,725 people, found 12,134 suckers (1/2 of 1% of the population) to sign a petition to get a so-called Community Bill of Rights measure on the ballot in November. As we previously pointed out, this initiative is illegal. State law specifically reserves the right to regulate oil and gas activity at the state level–local towns, cities, etc. don’t have the staff or expertise to regulate such activities. The Franklin County Board of Elections wisely refused to put the measure on the November ballot, prompting a lawsuit that went all the way to the state Supreme Court. Last week the Ohio Supremes concurred with the Board of Elections, saying they were right to block the anti-Utica measure from the ballot…
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NETL Picks 2nd Morgantown Site for Additional Fracking Research

MSEEL test site in the Morgantown Industrial Park – click for larger version

Important research on fracking by West Virginia University (WVU) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, WV continues. Last year we told you that NETL and its Marcellus Shale Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (MSEEL) program are working on “mastering the subsurface”–learning what happens at the smallest level of fracturing shale, so they can improve recovery rates using new processes and materials (see NETL Morgantown Working on Breakthrough Shale Production Techniques). In addition to improving recovery, they’re also looking for ways to cut down on water use. Since there’s a fair bit of water already trapped in shale, NETL is experimenting with carbon dioxide foam as a way of using less water. They’ve even experimented with using natural gas itself to frack rock. Great work being done by NETL/MSEEL. So far that work has happened at one live, fracked shale gas well near Morgantown, drilled by Northeast Natural Energy. Now comes word that researchers are setting up a second test site, also in the Morgantown vicinity (Blacksville). As before, the aim “is geared toward improving gas recovery from horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing at sites throughout the region”…
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PA Antis Trot Out “Secret Chemicals Used in Fracking” Claim, Again

This is getting really old. Every few years lying antis recycle the same debunked meme that “frackers” are trying to hide the identity of big, bad nasty chemicals they use to extract shale gas. The implication is those chemicals will kill you. And if you only knew what those chemicals were, why, you’d be outraged! And demand an end to all fracking. Problem is, it’s a total lie. Chemicals are FULLY reported by drillers, for every single well they drill. But that doesn’t stop antis repeating the same meme every few years. It’s just popped up again, in Pennsylvania. The Partnership for Policy Integrity, a shell/front group for Big Green radicals, has just released a totally fictional “report” that supposedly proves drillers in PA are hiding “secret chemicals” from the public. The report, which is titled “Keystone Secrets: Records Show Widespread Use of Secret Fracking Chemicals is a Looming Risk for Delaware River Basin, Pennsylvania Communities” (full copy below), is total BS. Made up. Lies. And yet mainstream news sources pick it up and run with it, believing and spreading the lies…
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Center for Responsible Shale Development has NOT Folded Its Tent

Correction: MDN received the following statement on 9/11/18 from CRSD board member Chevron Appalachia to let us know that the organization is still alive and exploring a path forward for the future: “CRSD remains focused on its core mission of collaborating with a diverse group of stakeholders to drive continuous environmental performance improvement in shale gas operations throughout the Appalachian Basin. As was announced in a statement earlier this year, CRSD retained the services of the Meridian Institute to help it develop a long-range strategic plan that would enable the organization to build on the successes achieved in its first five years. The Board of CRSD is continuing its work with Meridian to finalize its long-term plan and will have more to announce once that effort is complete.” – Trip Oliver, Chevron Appalachia

It appears that the Center for Responsible Shale Development (CRSD) is, for all intents and purposes, no more. CRSD began life as the CSSD, the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, back in March 2013 (see Important: Drillers & Enviros Form New Group, Launch Cert Program). The original CSSD was a closely guarded secret until it was unveiled. The organization was the creation of a few hand-picked people from both industry and the environmental movement working together to see if there is any common ground on which both sides can agree that shale development would be safe, sustainable AND affordable. The members worked hard for over a year and finally hammered out a set of 15 standards that if a driller (or midstream company or contractor) would meet, they would get a stamp of approval from both the industry and environmental groups as being a good goobie–a safe and “responsible” driller. We were somewhat skeptical from the start, but later relaxed our skepticism. One of the participants helping to birth the group was Bobby Vagt, at that time president of the Heniz Endowments. Because of his involvement, Mamma Teresa Heinz Kerry fired him (see Bobby Vagt Out as Pres of Heinz Endowments – Fracking Connection?). There’s zero tolerance for reaching across the isle for Big Green radicals like Mamma Teresa. Other enviros who dared to participate were blackballed by the radical environmental movement. The CSSD soldiered on, despite several enviros leaving the fold, and awarded its first-ever certification in September 2014 to Chevron (see CSSD Bestows First Certification for Sustainable Drilling: Chevron). In the end, another three companies sought and received certification: Shell, CONSOL Energy (now CNX Resources) and EQT. It looks like you can’t fund a certification program with just four applicants. In April of this year, the renamed CRSD lost its executive director, Susan LeGros. The CRSD website has since removed the staff page and according to an industry source, the organization has folded its tent and is no longer in operation. Which we think is a shame…
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Fake Study Recommends Quarter-Mile Setbacks for PA Shale Drilling

More fake “research” on drilling, courtesy the anti-drilling Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (EHP). This is the same group of antis who brought us the so-called list of the harmed (in 2013) and last year launched a faux health registry that attempts to link everything from the sniffles to “performance issues” to nearby fracking (see Fake Science: SWPA Enviro Health Registry for Those Near Fracking). Here’s the latest laughable “research” published (yes published) in a pay-for-play journal: Setback distances for unconventional oil and gas development: Delphi study results. The so-called researchers from EHP asked 18 of their anti-drilling friends, who are supposedly experts, for an opinion on how far away a building should be located from a shale well. The current standard in PA is 500 feet. That is, a well being drilled must be at least 500 feet away from an “occupied building.” EHP’s anti-drilling friends (16 of the 18) said that number should be 1,320 feet–a quarter mile. EHP wrote it all up, presenting it as fact, and got it published in the very low-standard PLOS One journal–a journal where you pay them and they’ll publish anything. Totally made-up research. PLOS One is “peer reviewed” so voila, there’s now a “peer reviewed study” that says setbacks in PA should be at least a quarter of a mile away when it comes to shale drilling. Which would eliminate about 90% of all shale drilling in the state (which is the purpose of this “study”). We really don’t know how those from EHP can show their faces in public, pedaling this kind of junk science. More to the point, how can any honest, self-respecting organization spend good money to fund EHP?…
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Happy Birthday! Shale Fracking Turns 20 Years Old

Directional underground (i.e. horizontal) drilling has been around and actively used in oil and gas drilling since the 1930s–nearly 80 years now. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has been around for more than 60 years. But the marriage of the two in order to drill in “tight” rock layers, like shale, has only been around for 20 years. In fact, last week marked the 20th anniversary of George Mitchell (Mitchell Energy) successfully blending the two technologies together to drill in the Barnett Shale of north Texas. In 1998, the new technique was a huge success when the first 90 days of gas production from the S.H. Griffin No. 3 well exceeded production of any of Mitchell Energy’s previous wells. The discovery of horizontal fracking led to what is now called the shale revolution. It is not hyperbole to say it changed the planet. Here’s how…
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Drilling Mud Co. Opens in Monroe County, OH, 40 New Jobs

American Mud Works held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week to officially open up a new regional headquarters in Monroe County, OH. The company specializes in mixing drilling mud–the stuff used to cool drill bits as they chew away at solid rock some 1-2 miles below the surface. They also recycle used drilling mud and wastewater/brine. The company’s main headquarters is in Texas. They’re locating a branch operation in Monroe to service the Utica and Marcellus industries in our region. In the short-term, the new office, due to be fully operational in about four weeks, will staff up by hiring 30-40 people. However, American Mud has bigger goals in view. They aim to add more service lines and expand their operations down the road. The number of employees will likely go much higher as they expand. Let’s welcome American Mud and another 40 jobs to Appalachia!…
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Berkeley/Johns Hopkins Publish Junk Study on Fracking & Depression

The usual suspects from Johns Hopkins University, working with researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have completely soiled themselves this time. It’s really kind of embarrassing. In a “study” just published in Nature, researchers claim they have found a link between living near fracking sites in Pennsylvania and an increased incidence of being *mildly* depressed. We get mildly depressed just reading this drivel. Maybe there’s a link between junk science and mild depression? Launch a study! The research team this time around includes a fellow from the Post Carbon Institute, a rabidly anti-fossil fuel organization that has called fracking a “virus.” You can tell just how biased and false this study truly is just based on the wackos who published it. The “study” is titled, “Associations of unconventional natural gas development with depression symptoms and disordered sleep in Pennsylvania” (full copy below). It’s not even real research. They used a bunch of medical records from a local hospital network (Geisinger) and didn’t actually interview anyone themselves. Totally made up. Total fiction. That’s what you need to know about the latest attack on Marcellus drilling…
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WV Driller Northeast Natural Energy Grows – Fracking Petri Dish

Northeast Natural Energy (NNE) is a small-to-midsized driller headquartered in Morgantown, WV. It’s a young company, drilling its first shale well in 2013. In April 2017 MDN reported that NNE had obtained $300 million of investment from two investment firms (see WV Driller Northeast Natural Energy Gets $300M Investment). They’ve put the money to good use. NNE owns 56,000 acres of leases “in the heart of the Marcellus Fairway,” with 44,000 acres in WV and 12,000 acres in southwestern PA. The company has drilled and brought online 57 shale wells. By this time next year the company expects that number to be nearly 100. One of the most interesting things about NNE is its involvement with government and university researchers. NNE drilled several test shale wells near Morgantown. The wells are part of an ongoing laboratory experiment that measures and pokes and prods everything, in an effort to learn more about shale drilling and its impacts. NNE’s test wells are a sort of living fracking petri dish. Reams of data pour in and get analyzed. Our friends at Kallanish Energy have done a deep dive into NNE. Here is a portion of their insightful report on this young and growing driller…
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PA DEP Quietly Releases Air Quality Study, No Impacts from Fracking

In July 2012, the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced a one-year study that will look at impacts on air quality from Marcellus drilling and the infrastructure (pipelines and compressor plants) that comes with shale gas drilling (see PA DEP Announces 1 Year Study on Air Quality in Marcellus). The study focued on Washington County in western PA, primarily in and around Chartiers Township, home of a gas processing plant. Exactly six years later the results of that “one-year” study were released by the DEP–with no comment or fanfare. With no nothing. A reporter with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noticed the unannounced release on the DEP website. We have a copy of the study/results below. What did it find? In a word–nothing. According to the Post-Gazette, the study found “limited impacts to the air quality around the sites it examined and little risk of healthy residents getting sick from breathing the air nearby.” Which explains why there’s been no fanfare, no calling attention to it. You would think the DEP would want to blow the trumpet about the results of an activity that thousands of state residents are located near. But it’s an election year, and Tom Wolf doesn’t want to rile up his fruitcake environmental base. Here’s more on the report nobody is talking about…
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Columbus Radical Admits Frack Ban Ballot Measure Not Legal

Just a few days ago we told you about a group of anti-fossil fuel nutters, backed by the Big Green group CELDF, making yet another run at an illegal frack ban in Columbus, OH (see CELDF Finds New Group of Suckers in Columbus for Utica Frack Ban). Columbus, with a population of 2,078,725 people, found 12,134 suckers (1/2 of 1% of the entire population) to sign a petition to get a so-called Community Bill of Rights on the ballot in November. As we previously pointed out, this initiative is illegal. State law specifically reserves the right to regulate oil and gas activity at the state level–local towns, cities, etc. don’t have the staff or expertise to regulate such activities. In a new article, one of the main agitators behind the ballot measure admits the so-called Community Bill of Rights is likely illegal. But that doesn’t matter to him: “[T]he initiative is still worth pursuing because it brings attention to what he believes is the unfairness of cities not having a say in oil and gas drilling.” So the antis know it’s illegal, it will never stand, but they want taxpayers to have to burn money and time to challenge it anyway. Just because they don’t like fossil fuels and activities to extract them. How do you even have a conversation with someone who is totally irrational?…
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Utica Fracking May Help Locate Evidence of Life on Mars

In 2016 MDN brought you the story of researchers who found microbes (bacteria) living nearly two miles down in Utica Shale wells. They dubbed one of the never-before-seen bacterial “lifeforms” in the well Frackibacter. We immediately labeled it a different name: Frackenstein (see Frackenstein! Researchers Find New Life Form in Fracked Utica Wells). One of the Ohio State researchers who helped discover Frackenstein continued the work. Last July he published a study titled, “Sulfide Generation by Dominant Halanaerobium Microorganisms in Hydraulically Fractured Shales” (see Ohio State Research Finds Microbes in Utica Well May be Corrosive). The researcher said a different bacteria he studied, that appeared in multiple Utica wells (called Halanaerobium) may be a cause for concern, possibly corrosive to pipes and cement and toxic for workers. Bear in mind the study was theoretical and based on observations at a single Utica well. The intrepid researchers at Ohio State have kept at it and have now published a third study. This new study, titled “Coupled laboratory and field investigations resolve microbial interactions that underpin persistence in hydraulically fractured shales” (full copy below), may “hold clues to extraterrestrial life” and assist in our efforts to search for life on the planet Mars. Far out! ET phone home–we’re about to frack Mars…
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Fake Duke Study Says Fracking Will Make you Fat

Yet another wild, totally false “study” has been published by Duke University and University of Missouri researchers that finds when you pump rats full of chemicals, some of which may (or may not) be used in fracking, dosing the rats at many multiples of times more that any human would ever be exposed to, it makes the rats gain weight. And voila, a new meme in mainstream faux media is born: fracking makes you fat. How do “researchers” actually get jobs after publishing this kind of garbage? Who would hire them? Perhaps the Heniz Endowments or William Penn Foundation. This is the same “research” team that tried to connect shale drilling to impaired immune systems, low sperm counts, ovarian follicle problems and pre-cancerous mammary gland lesions, in previous fictional studies. More of the same with this study…
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NY Landowner Who Sued for “Takings” re Frack Ban Loses Fed Case

Is this the sad end to a noble cause? In 2015 MDN told you about an Allegany County, NY attorney/landowner who filed a lawsuit against the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) over their infamous and politically-motivated ban on fracking (see 1st Lawsuit Filed Against NY Cuomo Frack Ban – in Allegany County). The lawsuit was filed in state Supreme Court in Allegany County. Don’t be fooled by the Supreme Court label. In NY, Supreme Court is one level up from county court. The Supreme Court judge tossed the case saying the attorney/landowner didn’t have standing to file the lawsuit in the first place because he never had a permit to drill on his property. The Appellate Division later upheld the decision. The attorney/landowner then filed the same lawsuit in federal court–bypassing Cuomo-appointed state judges–in federal court last December (see NY Resident (& Lawyer) Sues DEC in Federal Court re Frack Ban). On Monday U.S. District Judge Michael Telesca ruled in that case–against the attorney/landowner, on what amounts to a technicality, saying the case violates the 11th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which protects states from being sued for money in a federal court. Is this now the end? Does our intrepid attorney/landowner, have anything else up his legal sleeve?…
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CNX Signs Deal with Evolution to Use 100% Electric Fracking Fleet

CNX Resources announced Tuesday that the company has signed a long-term contract with Evolution Well Services to use Evolution’s 100% natural gas-fueled electric pressure pumping equipment. That is, CNX will use electric fracking equipment, with the electricity generated by burning natural gas (instead of diesel). According to Evolution, their “next generation” equipment saves drillers “up to 95 percent on fuel costs.” Whoa! If that claim is true (we have no reason to disbelieve it), it certainly changes the economics of fracking. Using natgas to generate the electricity, instead of diesel, also has the benefit of cleaner air. And here’s the coolest part: The natural gas used to power the electric generator comes from other other CNX wells in the area, i.e. “field gas.” Look ma, no more endless truck deliveries of diesel fuel! Here’s the exciting news that CNX is a “first-mover” on this new technology…
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Antis Convince Chatham County, NC to Extend Frack Moratorium

In 2014, the North Carolina legislature passed a law that specifically says local municipalities can’t regulate oil and gas exploration–it is the sole responsibility of the state to do so. Some municipalities thought there were loopholes they could use. Stokes and Chatham counties enacted moratoriums instead of outright bans, hoping to game the system. In order to plug the loopholes, the NC General Assembly approved a 41-page “technical corrections” bill (literally passed in the middle of the night) in September 2015 (see NC Legislature Makes Local Frack Bans/Moratoria Illegal). The technical corrections bill, signed into law by then-Gov. Pat McCrory, introduced language which closes any perceived loopholes and makes any actions like the ones in Stokes and Chatham illegal. And yet the moratoriums in those counties persist, contravening NC law. On Monday night Chatham County commissioners voted (unanimously) to extend their illegal moratorium until Jan. 31, 2019. How do they get away with it? The obvious answer is that nobody cares about drilling in Chatham County, otherwise there would have been a lawsuit to challenge this blatant violation of the law…
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