Newspapers' effort to open shale lawsuit supported by othersA Pennsylvania court should disclose the legal settlement between a family that claimed natural-gas drilling threatened its health and several gas producers, a group of physicians and researchers said.Sealing the court records contributes to a veil of secrecy that makes it impossible for doctors to assess the potential health risks of drilling, Jerome Paulson, medical director at the Washington-based Child Health Advocacy Institute, said today on a conference call. The institute and other physicians’ groups joined an appeal of a January order by Judge Paul Pozonsky in the Court of Common Pleas for Washington County that sealed the documents.
Environmental groups, physicians and scientists filed a brief Monday in state Superior Court supporting legal efforts by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Observer-Reporter of Washington to open a court-sealed settlement agreement between a Washington County family and Marcellus Shale gas development companies.Fracking Sand Threatens Gas Well Workers, Researcher Says
The two newspapers also filed briefs Monday in their Superior Court appeal of a Washington County Common Pleas Court ruling that denied the newspapers the right to intervene to unseal the settlement.
Sand dust created from the hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from rock is one of the most dangerous threats to workers at wells blossoming across the U.S., a government safety researcher said.About four out of five air samples from well sites in five states in the past two years exceeded recommended limits for silica particles, said Eric Esswein, an industrial hygienist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The particles in sand dust created during the so-called fracking process can lodge in the lungs and cause potentially fatal silicosis, he said today at a conference sponsored by the Institute of Medicine.
Williams Partners LP has closed on its purchase of processing and fractionation assets in the natural gas liquids-rich portion of the Marcellus Shale, the Tulsa-based energy company announced Monday.
The deal to buy Caiman Eastern Midstream LLC, now valued at about $2.4 billion, also establishes Williams Partners' new Ohio Valley Midstream business. The operations area includes portions of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
An abundant supply of natural gas, thanks to Marcellus Shale production and the warmer winter, has driven down costs again.
Effective today, the price that National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. charges for natural gas will fall 4.1 percent. The decrease will be reflected on residential customers' next bills, said Nancy Taylor, a spokeswoman for the utility.
The rate cut is expected to lower the monthly bill of a typical customer -- one who uses 95,000 cubic feet of gas annually -- from $76.59 to $73.45, the utility said.