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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WVU Launches 5-Year Study of Local Frack Site for Air, Noise, H&S

This is very cool. A West Virginia University professor, now interim chairman of WVU’s School of Public Health (Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences), is going to perform some REAL science. Dr. Michael McCawley is someone we’ve highlighted before. He’s done some excellent research on air quality near drill sites (see WVU Prof Keeps Up Pressure on Improved Air Quality at Drill Sites). Dr. McCawley is launching the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory (MSEEL)–a project that will drill a test well and provide real-time air, noise, occupational safety and health monitoring over a five-year period. It is one of three such projects approved and funded (in part) by the U.S. Dept. of Energy…
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WV/OH Officials Going on Field Trip to Prepare for Cracker Plant

The Odebrecht ethane cracker plant planned for the Parkersburg, WV area continues to walk/smell/act/behave like it’s the real deal. The latest evidence: Odebrecht has told area officials around Parkersburg, you need to be prepared for when the 100% official announcement comes, cause at that point, things will happen fast. So area officials are boning up now to be prepared for an influx of people and jobs–both a good thing, and a challenge. Area officials from Wood County, WV and neighboring Washington County, OH will head to the bitter-cold north country–Minot, North Dakota–in January (!) to see how that community has dealt with a rapidly expanding population and influx of new jobs due to the Bakken Shale…
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Partisan Attack on Shale Drilling by PA Budget & Policy Center

The virulently leftist, anti-drilling and partisan so-called non-profit Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (kook lefties) released a report last week, funded by the Park Foundation and Mamma Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Heinz Endowments, that says shale drilling in Pennsylvania is responsible for just about everything bad: high deaths due to traffic accidents, high rents, crime, and (don’t laugh), even sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Who knows–maybe even the Black Plague, ebola, sun spots, stray comets and other calamities can also be laid at the feet of shale drilling…
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Cleveland Fed Bank Report Addresses Boom & Bust in Shale Drilling

An analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland authored and released an article addressing the concerns over shale gas and oil development. The article, titled “Deep Wells, Deep Pockets, and Deep Impact” (full copy embedded below) purports to address the issue of what can communities do about the boom and bust cycle attached to any natural resource extraction process? We were excited to read what the Fed’s learned analyst would say about an important issue like this one. We were disappointed that he did a lot of problem identification, but offered little in the way of problem resolution…
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New Heinz-Funded “Study” on Marcellus Boom/Bust in SWPA

What's Sauce for the Goose...Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, PA (Pittsburgh suburb) has a Center for Energy Policy & Management–which makes sense since Washington County, PA sits in the middle of the wet gas Marcellus drilling zone. W&J recently teamed up with the Washington, DC-based Environmental Law Institute (ELI) to study the “boom and bust” cycle that communities face with resource extraction like the Marcellus Shale. The thought was to produce a document–in this case a series of documents–that can guide local and state politicians as they plan for the future. How can, and even *can* a community avoid a “bust” after a huge boom? That’s what the documents aim to answer. The only problem is, the ELI seems to tilt anti-drilling, and the entire study was funded by Mamma Teresa Heinz-Kerry and her Heinz Endowments–a strongly anti-drilling organization. So you know where this is headed…
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OSU Extension Says Shale Boom Towns Don’t Have to Go Bust

Are communities that see a boom from shale drilling destined to experience a bust sometime down the road? MDN recalls that was one of the main reasons Cornell “professor” Tony Ingraffea offered for why he doesn’t like shale drilling at a meeting he addressed back in 2010 (see Cornell Hydraulic Fracturing Expert Headlines First Meeting of New York Residents Against Drilling (NYRAD) in Vestal, NY). However, a new project being launched by Ohio State University’s Extension program says boom then bust “isn’t inescapable” and they aim to help communities avoid that fate…
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OH Newspaper’s Sloppy Reporting on Drilling Workers/Problems

Local newspapers in drilling towns should know better, but sometimes reporters are either snookered, or they have an anti-drilling bent. We’re not sure which it is for The Marietta Times (Washington County, OH), but a recent article uses a so-called research report from the anti-drilling FracTracker that says when drilling comes to town so too does an increase in crime. And on that particular false premise the reporter hangs an entire article full of anecdotes and innuendo. Shame on The Marietta Times
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Is MWCD Lease for Piedmont Lake, OH with Antero a Good Thing?

MDN previously reported that as early as this Friday the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) will vote to approve a proposed lease that would allow Antero Resources to drill around, and even under, Piedmont Lake (see MWCD Close to Signing Utica Lease for Piedmont Lake, OH Property). We told you yesterday that a lawsuit to prevent drilling at another MWCD property–Seneca Lake–is proceeding, which begs the question, will something similar happen with the Piedmont Lake deal (see Anti-Drillers Win Minor Victory Against Muskingum Watershed Dist)?

MDN was contacted by a reader who lives in the Piedmont Lake area–Eric Fenster. Eric seems like a reasonable guy–not adamantly opposed to all shale drilling. But he is concerned about what may happen if Antero leases and begins to drill in the Piedmont Lake area. Eric tells MDN he lives a few miles from an active drill site (not under MWCD oversight) and has personally experienced 24/7 truck traffic, noise and flaring from that site. He’s not excited about more of it near where he lives. Eric’s chief concern is that the lease as proposed is essentially unenforceable when it comes to industrialization concerns like truck traffic, noise and lights. He believes the MWCD has the right to enter into the lease legally, but he views such an agreement as an abuse of MWCD’s stewardship and authority. We bring you Eric’s viewpoint (below) not because we agree or endorse it, but because he’s one of the few who respectfully wants to argue the opposing viewpoint and make a case for his views based on logic and reason. We appreciate that. You decide if his arguments have merit…
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Survey Says! OU Survey of Local OH Officials on Utica’s Impacts

Two days ago the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs released the findings of its much anticipated Ohio Shale Development Community Impact Survey. During summer of 2013, the Voinovich School distributed more than 500 surveys to local elected officials across 17 counties experiencing the majority of shale activity and development in Ohio. The survey assesses the impact of shale development within 17 counties in eastern Ohio, with a focus on population, housing, public safety, infrastructure, environment, local employment, area business activity, and economic development. Some 200 of those surveys were returned and the data tabulated.

What did the survey find? Ohio’s local elected officials say Utica Shale drilling has caused an marked increase in jobs and the occupancy rate at hotels. But Utica drilling has also caused some pollution issues and a big increase in the demand for water supplies. This is a very interesting study (full copy embedded below)…
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Harrison County Ticked Off at Road Damage from Drilling Trucks

Trucks going to and from Utica Shale drilling sites in Harrison County, OH are damaging the roads, and County Commissioner Dale Norris says “the honeymoon is over” with respect to shale drilling in the county.

Norris says commissioners will consider adopting new regulations in the next few weeks to assess a permit fee for trucks using local roads, so they have money to fix the damage caused by the drilling industry…
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Trumbull County, OH Residents Upset with Nearby Utica Well Noise

A Utica Shale well being drilled by Halcon Resources in Trumbull County–the Kibler 1H well–is causing problems for nearby residents of the Westwood Lake mobile home park. The chief complaint is the loud noise from the well due to flaring (burning off initial waste coming from the newly drilled borehole). Residents are also concerned about possible air pollution, and they’ve asked the Trumbull County Commissioners board to investigate and enact new zoning ordinances…
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The Positives, and Negatives, of Shale Gas Drilling

No one pretends there are not negatives when it comes to oil and gas drilling, least of all MDN. There are some drawbacks–but the negatives must be weighed against the positives. Local business and government leaders in Carroll County, OH (the county with the most Utica Shale wells drilled, so far), had a frank discussion of the both the good and the bad in a recent meeting with State Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta.

Highlights of the good and the bad when it comes to shale drilling:
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USGS Report on Drilling’s Effects on PA Landscape

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has just released a new study titled, “Landscape consequences of natural gas extraction in Fayette and Lycoming Counties, Pennsylvania, 2004-2010” (full copy embedded below). The study is the fourth in a series by the USGS related to landscape disturbance from natural gas drilling activity. Drilling is an industrial activity and no one, least of all MDN, claims there is no impact from such an activity. There is. And it’s a good thing there’s some actual science going on by the USGS to measure some of the impacts–so we have good, objective information on which to base future decisions about where and how much drilling should take place.

The USGS in their research looks at not only unconventional (or shale) drilling, but conventional as well. It is important to consider the effects of both types of drilling together, which are often performed in the same geography…
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Trumbull County Mobile Home Park Doesn’t Like Utica Drilling

The down sides of drilling, if you happen to live close to a drill site, are noise, flood lights for working at night, and truck traffic. Residents of the Westwood Lake Mobile Home Park in Trumbull County, OH can attest to that. The good news is, drilling only lasts a short time—typically a month or less. Still, someone banging on your door at 3 a.m. in the morning is a bit much…

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USGS Study: Marcellus Drilling Fragmenting Forests in PA

The U.S. Geological Survey earlier this week released a new report raising concerns about Marcellus Shale drilling in the Allegheny Plateau (pretty much the entire Marcellus region). The 38-page report (full copy embedded below) looks at two counties in particular: Susquehanna County in northeastern PA, and Allegheny County in southwestern PA.

Using a series of maps and data, the authors raise concerns that Marcellus drilling, along with drilling for gas in coalbed methane (a similar process), is leading to “forest fragmentation”—a situation where forested areas get “carved up” with roadways and drill pads that lead to limiting the geographic habitat area for some species of animals:

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