Thursday, May 24, 2012

Penn. Marcellus News Update, 5/24/12

No peer review on UB fracking study
A study on natural-gas drilling released last week by the University at Buffalo’s  Shale Resources and Society Institute was not peer-reviewed, the university said.
The report, entitled, “Environmental Impacts During Shale Gas Drilling: Causes, Impacts and Remedies,” was authored by UB institute director John Martin, University of Wyoming professor Timothy Considine and Pennsylvania State University professor emeritus Robert Watson...The university had said the report was peer-reviewed, which provides added credibility to the study.
The University at Buffalo has removed the "peer-reviewed" label from a document touting a recent study on natural-gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, acknowledging that it may have given an "incorrect impression."
Last week, the UB Shale Resources and Society Institute released its first study, which analyzed more than three years of regulatory violations in Pennsylvania's portion of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation. The authors concluded the number of environmental fouls compared to the total number of wells drilled dropped from 58.2 percent in 2008 to 30.5 percent in 2010.
Originally, the university touted the study as "peer reviewed, a process of self-regulation to maintain standards and provide greater credibility." By Wednesday, an "editor's note" was attached to the top of the original news release that detailed the study...
Scott Anderson, senior policy advisor with the Environmental Defense Fund's Energy Program, called several of the report's conclusions "questionable."
Anderson was one of five experts who reviewed drafts of the report, according to the university.
"While I was a reviewer, this does not mean that all of my suggestions were taken or that I agree with all of the report's opinions and conclusions," Anderson wrote on the Environmental Defense Fund's website.
In particular, Anderson took issue with the authors of the report separating "environmental" violations from "administrative" violations, the "narrow" definition they gave to environmental violations, and the suggestion that Pennsylvania's regulations have been effective because the rate of violations has dropped.
Crystalline silica exposure among workers should be evaluated at all U.S. hydraulic fracturing sites and effective controls should be implemented if necessary, four NIOSH employees recommend in a new report posted on the agency's Science Blog. Their report sets off alarm bells because the measured levels of respirable silica are so high and fracking is so prevalent across large areas of the country.
The report's authors are Eric Esswein, MSPH, senior industrial hygienist in the NIOSH Western States Office; Max Kiefer, MS, director of that office; John Snawder, Ph.D., a research toxicologist in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research Technology; and Michael Breitenstein, BS, a research biologist in the same division.
 At a recent shale gas symposium in South Africa a question was asked “if hydraulic fracturing is so safe, why do drilling operators working in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale Play dispose the backflow out of state in Ohio.”  The question was satirically proposed by a rather uninformed anti-fracking environmentalist. His point was to show that even a natural gas producing state wants nothing to do with the disposal of the hydraulic fluid’s flowback (chemical-laced wastewater)...The answer to his question has nothing to do with Pennsylvania’s supposed dismay of the fluid. The answer is matter of simple geology. Pennsylvania’s tightly formed low-porosity underground geology is not suitable for deep injection disposal wells. Correspondingly, Ohio’s geological underbelly composed of deep, cavernous permeable rock formations are ideally suited for injection well holding tanks.
An environmental group is questioning whether the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Gov. Tom Corbett has been tough enough over the past year in its enforcement against Marcellus Shale drillers who commit violations.
The Pennsylvania office of Clean Water Action -- a Washington, D.C., advocacy organization -- analyzed all 1,192 violations filed by the DEP against Marcellus Shale drillers in 2011 and found that 37 percent resulted in some type of enforcement action, and only 6 percent resulted in a fine.
"Unfortunately we were pretty surprised to see DEP's record around enforcement actions," Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania state director for Clean Water Action, said Wednesday. "We're obviously very concerned about this and are looking forward to seeing changes at the state level."
Journalists from southwestern Pennsylvania and elsewhere will gather at WQED-TV to talk about their experiences covering Marcellus Shale – what they’ve seen, who’ve they’ve talked to, the events they’ve witnessed, and the facts as they’ve gathered them on Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania.
The Marcellus Institute at Mansfield University is offering The Marcellus Camp for students in grades 10-12. The camp will take place on campus from July 8-10.
Campers will receive safety orientation training and an introduction to the natural gas industry and possible career paths by participating in hands-on learning sessions presented by MU and Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Marcellus Shale Education and Training Center (MSECT) faculty and staff.
We have upgraded pipeline operator MarkWest Energy Partners L.P. (MWE - Analyst Report) to Outperform from Neutral, reflecting our bullish investment theme.
Denver, Colorado-based MarkWest Energy is a master limited partnership (MLP) engaged in the gathering, processing and transmission of natural gas, transportation, fractionation and storage of natural gas liquids (NGLs), and the gathering and transportation of crude oil....MarkWest’s proposed acquisition of Keystone Midstream Services in the heart of the booming Marcellus shale play will further boost the partnership’s processing capacity in the liquids-rich region.

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