Sunday, June 17, 2012

Marcellus News Updates for 6/13-17

Personal issues have kept me from blogging the past week. Here's the news on gas shale and fracking in Pennsylvania since last Tuesday.

As always, click the titles to link to the complete stories.

Federal court rules in favor of Pa. gas pipeline
A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal energy regulators properly approved the 39-mile MARC 1 pipeline through Bradford, Sullivan and Lycoming counties. The decision clears the way for the pipeline to begin moving gas from the Marcellus Shale formation this fall.
"We have contended from the beginning that the MARC I Pipeline would be undertaken with the strongest commitment to environmental and ecological protections," said Bill Moler, an executive with Inergy Midstream LP of Kansas City, Mo.
Some landowners have been fighting the company building the pipeline, contending that Inergy subsidiary Central New York Oil & Gas refused to negotiate in good faith on either monetary compensation or the pipeline's route. The Sierra Club and two local groups challenged a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to authorize construction, saying regulators should have performed a more thorough environmental assessment.
Pittsburgh’s city solic­i­tor has asked the Pub­lic Util­ity Com­mis­sion to weigh in on whether or not the city’s frack­ing ban runs afoul of Pennsylvania’s new drilling laws.
The city will have to wait on an answer, though, as the PUC is wait­ing until Com­mon­wealth Court has ruled on a chal­lenge to Act 13, before it begins issu­ing advi­sory opinions.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration is pursuing a plan to limit the controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing to portions of several struggling New York counties along the border with Pennsylvania, and to permit it only in communities that express support for the technology.
The plan, described by a state Department of Environmental Conservation senior official and others with knowledge of the administration's strategy, would limit drilling to the deepest areas of the Marcellus Shale rock formation, at least for the next several years, in an effort to reduce the groundwater contamination risk. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the administration deliberations are continuing.
Even within that southwest New York region -- primarily Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga counties -- drilling would be permitted only in towns that agree to it, and would be banned in Catskill Park, aquifers and nationally designated historic districts.
Natural-gas industry groups Wednesday released their documentary film “Truthland,” billed as a factual response to the popular but controversial “Gasland,” an Oscar-nominated film beloved by environmental activists for its highly critical portrayal of fracking and its effect on small communities.
But “Gasland” also touched off an intense backlash from natural gas proponents, who argue that many of the movie’s claims and depictions - including the now-famous scene of a resident in the fracking epicenter of Pennsylvania lighting his tap water on fire because of high levels of methane - are misleading at best, and completely bogus at worst.
“This isn’t the first time something has been released that sets the record straight on the mountain of misinformation in ‘Gasland,’ ” said Jeff Eshelman, vice president of public affairs at the Independent Petroleum Association of America, one of the industry groups that bankrolled and produced “Truthland.”
News of the New York Times report came Wednesday, as members of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York were meeting.
They gathered to hear a talk on hydrofracking from former Pennsylvania Department Secretary John Hanger.
Hanger would not comment on the Governor's plan, but he did say all energy production involves choices.
"If you're going to say no to gas, you're saying yes to something else," said Hanger.  "I go home and turn on the lights and I expect those lights to actually work, because there is electricity. I live in the Three Mile Island evacuation area...and every energy choice has strengths and weaknesses, and a risk."
Former Pennsylvania Department Secretary Hanger said fracking is working well for Pennsylvania, and carries much less environment risks than other forms of energy.
Gov. Tom Corbett's administration has been lobbying neighboring states to approve regulations to open the Delaware River basin to natural gas drilling, a plan that came to a screeching halt in November when Corbett's counterpart in Delaware said the proposal lacked sufficient public health protections.
The state's push to get behind Marcellus Shale gas drilling, using a process known as fracking, is an attempt to revive proposed regulations developed by the Delaware River Basin Commission. The commission, which regulates large uses of water like fracking in the watershed covering the eastern third of Pennsylvania, the upper Delaware area in New York, western New Jersey and most of Delaware, has blocked the practice in the absence of its own environmental regulations.
Study says Pa. to lead in job growth from unconventional natural gas development
An industry-sponsored study by IHS Global Insight found that Pennsylvania, thanks to the increasing presence of Marcellus Shale drilling, is expected to lead job growth "attributed to unconventional natural gas development," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Unconventional gas production supported nearly 57,000 jobs in Pennsylvania in 2010, 13,600 of those directly, according to the study, which projected that the industry would support 111,000 jobs in the Keystone State by 2015, including 26,000 directly. Most of the employment is indirect, through suppliers, or induced through increased economic activity.
Corbett begins PR effort for refinery tax credit
Gov. Tom Corbett's administration began its public relations effort Thursday to build support for a 25-year tax credit worth up to $1.7 billion that it wants to foster a petrochemical industry in Pennsylvania around the state's supply of natural gas from the vast Marcellus Shale formation.
Pa. man gets probation for dumping wastewater
A southwestern Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to probation for dumping millions of gallons of wastewater into area streams and mine shafts.
A Greene County judge on Friday also ordered Robert Allan Shipman to pay more than $257,000 in restitution.
Shipman had owned a firm that disposed of wastewater containing natural gas drilling byproducts, sewage sludge and restaurant grease.
Prosecutors say he directed his drivers to dump the water illegally in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties from 2003 to 2009.

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Allegheny Front: Fracking forces central Pa. mobile home residents out
Just over three months ago residents of a mobile home park in Central Pennsylvania were told they had to leave. The Riverdale Mobile Home Park, near Jersey Shore, had been sold. And the new owners planned to put in a water withdrawal facility to service nearby fracking activities. WPSU’s Emily Reddy went to the mobile home park in its final days, and she filed this report.

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