Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Penn. Marcellus News Update: 7/25/12

Insurance Companies Slow To Cover Drilling Risks
As gas drilling expands across Pennsylvania and into neighboring states, the insurance industry is trading memos expressing trepidation and uncertainty over how to assess the risk involved in covering the controversial development.
One company has written an exclusion that forces clients working with oil and gas companies to obtain additional coverage. An industry group drafted a memo encouraging brokers to brush up on potential liabilities, even including knowledge of the rare earthquakes said to be a byproduct of some industry practices.
The changes represent another form of growing pains for the far-reaching drilling industry and the ancillary businesses it involves.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is starting a long-term air quality study to collect accurate data, monitor, and analyze potential health risks associated with “wet” Marcellus Shale gas.
Wet Marcellus Shale gas has condensate and more liquid compounds than dry gas and is more prevalent on the western edges of the shale formation. Other studies that the DEP conducted in the northwestern, northcentral and southwestern part of the commonwealth showed no contaminants that would have presented any air-related health issues.
This study will be conducted at four sites in Washington County. Deputy Press Secretary for the DEP Kevin Sunday said at the sites ambient airborne pollution will be measured upwind and downwind of wet shale gas compressor and processor sites.
On June 28, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council for his contributions toward the state’s environmental preservation. It was a decision met with disappointment by many environmental groups.  No one questions the former governor’s previous work in establishing the commendable Growing Greener program, a successful venture that has preserved and cleaned up Pennsylvania land since 1999. It is Ridge’s more recent $900,000 “strategic adviser” contract with the Marcellus Shale Coalition that created the controversy.
In his award acceptance speech, Ridge said, “Some groups fear the development of the shale gas fields, or at least find a thrill in causing others to fear it.” Does this statement intend to imply that environmental groups and concerned Pennsylvania citizens are speaking out to terrorize the minds of fellow citizens just for kicks?
The real motivation of these groups and individuals is to provide awareness and education of the actual impacts of shale gas extraction. No one is looking for a thrill; what they are looking for is a voice in the Marcellus Shale dialogue that to date remains largely unheard.
 The article’s main tar­get for faulty sci­en­tific report­ing is a recent short film by Gasland direc­tor Josh Fox who makes the claim that breast can­cer rates among women in a heav­ily drilled area in Texas have spiked. He sites news accounts. But researchers tell the AP none of their work has made the link. Iron­i­cally, the film, enti­tled “The Sky is Pink,” heav­ily addresses, and attempts to thwart, this ten­dency of “moti­vated rea­son­ing,” although it doesn’t call it that.

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