Over the years MDN has watched various threatened and endangered species get listed, which impacts drillers and midstreamers. Most notably in the northeast has been the northern long-eared bat (see US Fish & Wildlife Fixes Wrong Problem for Northern Long-Eared Bat). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is responsible for recommending and listing varies species, empowered to do so under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). USFWS admitted the long-eared bat is threatened because of something called white nose syndrome–which has nothing to do with habitat destruction. Yet drillers and midstreamers are hamstrung with regulations to “save the bats”–even though they are not the ones causing harm to the bats. It’s a typical Washington solution: “fix” the wrong problem. The USFWS is about to do it all over again, this time with the lowly bumble bee. On September 22, 2016 the USFWS published a proposed rule to list the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as “endangered” under the ESA. The rusty patched bumble bee is found in the Midwest and eastern parts of the country. If it gets listed, it will have SIGNIFICANT impacts on drillers and midstreamers, according to the lawyers at top international law firm Locke Lord… Continue reading
One of the potential problems raised by those who oppose shale drilling is how it impacts wildlife. They maintain when you carve up forests with clear spots for drill pads, and carve up pathways for pipelines, and have trucks traveling in and out around the clock, it damages the wildlife (see USGS Study: Marcellus Drilling Fragmenting Forests in PA. Who’s not for being kind to the wild critters around us? At MDN HQ we faithfully maintain our bird feeder in the front yard and go out of our way to avoid hitting squirrels (just so you know our enviro creds). It certainly sounds reasonable that “fragmenting” forests may impact wild species. So let’s have a look at a real example. How about the wild elk that roam around Elk, McKean and Cameron counties in northcentral Pennsylvania? In 2008, at the dawn of the shale revolution in PA when there were no wells, there were about 500 wild elk roaming those three counties. Today, with more than 100 wells drilled in those three counties, the elk population has almost doubled. Say what? Yep–drilling has helped the local wildlife in northcentral PA… Continue reading
You may have thought snake handling was something done in tiny fringe churches tucked away in the backwoods of Appalachia. Think again. Snake handlers, or wranglers, are very much in demand in the Marcellus Shale to protect oil and gas workers on location, and to protect the snakes themselves–Timber rattlesnakes, a candidate for the threatened species list. Drillers and pipeline companies have to jump through many hoops to drill a well or lay pipeline. MANY hoops. One of those hoops is to ensure their work does not unduly harm a threatened or endangered species, plant or animal (called T&E in the business). When it comes to rattlesnakes, drillers call in the specialists to handle them… Continue reading
The anti-drilling media in Pennsylvania continually tries to oppress and stir up sentiment against drilling any way they can. One of their favorites is to christen a species as “protected” and then accuse the drilling industry of wanting to drill right where that protected species lives–heartless jerks. So when common-sense Republican lawmakers decide to modify the rules just a bit to make it easier to drill, or build, or farm where a “protected” bat is located, the howls of protest go up. No, the proposed change is not about drilling willy nilly and causing the extinction of a truly endangered species. These species are not on the federal endangered species list–they’re simply on the PA “protected” list.
This is about libs who want to use “protection” for wildlife as an excuse to control legitimate commercial activity–whether farming or drilling or building, or whatever. Right on cue, we have a story of precious, helpless little bats. A disease (miraculously not related to drilling) is wiping out certain species of bats in PA–and has been for years, long before shale drilling arrived in the state. Some want to use the bat protection issue as an excuse to restrict drilling and other activities… Continue reading
Ever hear of a rabbitsfoot mussel? Neither had we. It’s a small freshwater mollusk that lives in Pennsylvania streams. It’s also on PA’s (but not the federal EPA’s) endangered species list. The PA endangered species list is the target of proposed new legislation that would remove the rabbitsfoot mussel (indeed all species now on the list) from being on the list.
The endangered species list is the next flash point in the Marcellus Shale drilling debate in PA. The Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (PIOGA) and other industry groups support the legislation which they say will speed up the review process for drilling in some areas without hurting threatened species (by removing some of the red tape). Conservationists and anti-drillers think otherwise… Continue reading
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… Continue reading
Once upon a time a little fish not much bigger than a paperclip, called a snail darter, was considered “endangered” and the prospect of disturbing its “habitat” delayed the erection of a major dam. That was in the 1970s. Today? Today we have the endangered Allegheny woodrat–otherwise known as a packrat. Please…try not to laugh! Although the Allegheny woodrat is not on the federal endangered species list, it is on the PA “threatened and protected” list–and therein lies the connection to Marcellus drilling… Continue reading
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:
The Audubon Society of Pennsylvania, the Ruffed Grouse Society and the Marcellus Shale Coalition are jointly hosting a series of meetings in southeastern and central PA for hunters, anglers and people interested in the outdoors to discuss habitat restoration after Marcellus Shale drilling. The sessions seek to find out how the drilling industry can become a partner in restoring areas after drilling activities disrupt an area.
An interesting article in yesterday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explores how drilling firms and wildlife groups are working together to protect endangered species and reviving long-gone habitats for other species. It begins this way:
An article written by the Associated Press has been picked up and repeated by hundreds of news outlets across the country over the weekend. It is an interesting story, but there’s really nothing “new” and noteworthy about it. A number of outdoor sportsmen groups have banded together into a coalition to keep an eye on Marcellus drilling activity, to be sure it’s not harming the environment—specifically fishing and hunting—and if they detect problems, to sound the alarm and get authorities to take action before it’s “too late.” Individually the groups involved have been keeping an eye on drilling for some time. The “new news” is that these individual groups have formed an alliance and are now working together.
Penn State wildlife resources professor Margaret C. Brittingham was one of the officials who addressed a group of 20 people attending the Cambria County Conservation District’s Marcellus Shale forum on Thursday. She was there to urge caution and raise awareness that some PA wildlife can be threatened by drilling operations. She also said there’s no reason drilling and the state’s wildlife cannot co-exist.