Study: Marcellus Drilling Doesn’t Affect Brook Trout All That Much

Trout Unlimited (TU), previously outed as an anti-fracking organization (see Trout Unlimited, Other Groups Outed as Radical Green Groups), is promoting a research study recently authored by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) titled “Brook trout distributional response to unconventional oil and gas development: Landscape context matters” (full copy below). TU believes the study offers proof that fracking hurts brook trout. We scanned the study and came to the opposite conclusion. Using a count of the number of certain kinds of trees in a given habitat as a proxy for how well trout will do, or not do, the study concludes that there is some minor degradation in brook trout habitat when drilling comes to town. But only in places where the habitat had already been damaged by other non-drilling activities.
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Huntley & Huntley to Use Gas-Powered Electric Fracking in SWPA

Huntley & Huntley, with some 100,000 acres leased in southwestern Pennsylvania, has kicked its shale drilling program into high gear this year. Yesterday we told you that a former Range Resources veteran in charge of Range’s Marcellus drilling program has joined up with H&H (see Retired Range VP of Marcellus Heads to Huntley & Huntley as COO). We have more H&H news: The company has contracted with oilfield services company U.S. Well Services to use “electric fracking”–natural gas powered electric fracture stimulation. It’s more environmentally friendly than diesel-powered fracking, reducing noise by 99% and fuel consumption by 90%.
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PA Antis Suffer Crushing Defeat in SWPA Zoning Case re ERA

An important court case was decided on Friday in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court that potentially impacts all shale drilling in the state. You will recall that seven selfish towns sued the state over the 2012 Act 13 law and it’s provision that would substitute a statewide, uniform and fair set of zoning ordinances for drilling in place of a patchwork, crazy quilt system of local ordinances for oil and gas drilling. Seven selfish towns (including Robinson Township) wanted their own ordinances and sued, ultimately winning at the Supreme Court (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). Since winning the “Robinson” case, antis have used local ordinances to try and block or greatly restrict drilling. But sometimes a town uses the Act 13 decision to allow drilling in more places. Antis don’t like it, but last Friday’s decision ratifies you can’t take one (restricting drilling) without the other (not restricting drilling), if that’s what a town wants to do.
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Univ of Tennessee Studies PA Fracking Effects on Water Health

It seems that universities in states outside the Marcellus region are fascinated with the Marcellus. They love to “study” it. Or at least, the Marcellus is a goldmine for them in research grants. The latest outsider to study the Marcellus is the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Using a National Science Foundation grant, researchers from UT “will look at how aquatic microbial communities are impacted by biocides associated with hydraulic fracking.” That is, they’re studying whether or not fracking, because it has a low presence of chemicals, is creating superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics. Will fracking cause a new Black Plague?
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Rice Boys Invest in Fracking Software Company, Toby Joins Board

After selling Rice Energy to EQT (see EQT Buys Rice Energy in $8.2B Deal, Becomes #1 Gas Producer in US), the four Rice brothers, all of whom worked at Rice Energy (and left after the merger), launched a new venture (see Rice Brothers Act II – $200M Marcellus/Utica Investment Firm). Dan, Toby, Derek and Ryan Rice plus a fifth partner, a former VP at Rice, pooled $200 million of their money (and their expertise) and launched Rice Investment Group (RIG). RIG has just closed on a round of investment in Cold Bore Technology, a company that uses software to do better fracking. Toby Rice joined Cold Bore’s board. It’s good to see the boys back and active.
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Huntley & Huntley Drilling Another 5 Wells in Upper Burrell, PA

Zeus

What a difference a year can make. In October 2017, Upper Burrell Township (Westmoreland County, PA) supervisors approved a plan by Huntley & Huntley to drill four shale wells in the town. The supervisors endured an extremely hostile crowd as they voted to approve the plan (see H&H Drilling in Upper Burrell Gets Final Approval, Raucous Crowd). Those wells, at lease some of them, have since been drilled. H&H came back with a plan to drill another five wells at the same location–the Zeus well pad. This time there was no crowd opposing the plan. Just a simple, quiet approval by town supervisors.
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3 PA Senators Seek to Join Lawsuit Against DRBC Frack Ban

A bit of encouraging news to share with respect to a lawsuit against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and their attempt to ban fracking and shale drilling in the basin. In May 2016, a landowner in Wayne County, PA filed a lawsuit against the DRBC asking a judge to declare that the DRBC does not have jurisdiction to prevent construction of a natural gas well (see Wayne County, PA Landowner Sues DRBC Over Fracking Ban). The Wayne landowner argued in U.S. District Court that oil and gas wells, under the DRBC’s charter, do not constitute a “project” that is regulated by the DRBC and therefore are exempt from oversight from the DRBC. The way the DRBC so broadly reinterprets the word “project” in the original charter, it allows them to regulate anything and everything. The case was eventually appealed to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. In July that court sent the case back down to U.S. District Court with orders to more fully consider what is, and what is not, meant by the word “project” in the original DRBC charter (see Major Federal Court Decision Opens Door to Stop DRBC Frack Ban). It was a MAJOR victory for the landowner, and a MAJOR defeat of the DRBC. No, the case isn’t over yet, but now the full case will get heard. The legal arguments in the case clearly support the landowner. The new news is that three prominent Pennsylvania State Senators, Lisa Baker, Gene Yaw and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, have all filed to join the lawsuit as “intervenors” on behalf of the Wayne landowner. They want to add their two cents, on behalf of the Commonwealth of PA, to influence the court to rule in favor of the landowner (overruling the DRBC). What’s noteworthy about this development is that long-time senators typically don’t make risky political moves. The senators are either confident that the landowner will win the case, or if he loses, that public sentiment is with the landowner (a political win). The senators’ participation has the DRBC even more nervous, as evidenced by statements from their mouthpiece THE Delaware Riverkeeper’s Maya van Rossum…
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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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