The Fracking News – BOOM!!


The Fracking News:

Another billion dollar deal has been banked by the Marcellus shale, this time for pipelinesThere are lots of problems with pipelines too, the US Senate is trying to get a hold on it, and may have some regulation by year’s end.

But it seems that natural gas will soon be everywhere, starting with the Indigo buses. Basic chemistry tells us that natural gas burns cleaner than coal or diesel, so I like biking behind a Indigo bus better than a diesel truck carrying frack water.  But since I see more of the latter than the former, that means that for people living on the Marcellus, natural gas isn’t very clean.

It’d be one thing if there was policy in place that explicitly dealt with natural gas as a transition fuel off of fossil fuels. That’s why the communities of faith, like the Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light oppose Marcellus drilling on an ethical basis.

I’m not sure what that transition would look like, but former DEP head John Hangar thinks that the solar boom will be bigger than gas.

Jobs are booming – the state released figures that look great for the short term, and colleges continue to cater to this new industry.  A joint legislative committee recommends that colleges commit even more resources to the boom – suggesting drilling on state colleges, and prisons. IUP ECO club – can you get on that?

Turns out a lot of elected officials in western PA are also eager for the boom – they’re making a buck too!  And in South Fayette, which is currently embroiled in a battle with Range Resources trying to overturn their restrictions on fracking, their township manager just resigned on Monday to work for….wait for it…Range Resources.  Friends of South Fayette are having even more problems as retailers Best Buy and Finish Line refuse to do business them because of their opposition to fracking.

County commissioners are apparently satisfied that they’re going to get a part of the boom too – and are now supporting Corbett’s impact fee which funnels a lot of dollars to county governments. Someone should tell the Task Force that Indiana County could take in $600,000 in the first year.

The Alleghaney Front has a great story on what the boom will do to Pennsylvania forests in the next 20 years – “The state could lose upwards of 90,000 acres of forest to Marcellus drilling in the next 20 years.” The radio story online has a few great aerial photos of horizontal well complexes in the Wilds.

Heavily drilled Lycoming and Clinton counties have released survey results showing effects of the fracking boom on municipal governments. The results show that jobs have increased, air and water quality decreased, environmental problems, crime, use of emergency services, all increased. Can you say Zone of National Sacrifice?

As reported earlier this week, DEP has issued new guidance on air emissions. According CHC’s partners at GASP and PennEnvironment, they’re inadequate. Of particular concern for Indiana county is that the new guidance only allows aggregation of emissions from within a quarter mile. MDS’s compressors are more than a quarter mile from most of their proposed well sites, which means their emissions won’t be under the new guidance. DEP is accepting public comment.

And here’s some news that I just don’t understand, except that the industry has too much power. Cabot Oil & Gas is no longer required to provide water to the residents of homes who’s wells were tainted with methane due to poor drilling. Residents are suing in federal court, since they say their water is still tainted with methane and possibly other contaminants.  To add insult to injury, Cabot wants to continue drilling there.

Also, Chesapeake released their own report saying that there was no long-term damage from their blowout last April in Bradford county. It’s a distinctly different story from what the EPA told residents a few months ago:  “They asked my wife if she was using it for cooking. She said yes. They said stop right away and they offered us a water buffalo”

Can we get back to the activism?  Rush Township in Centre County is the latest to back a ban on drilling using a community rights approach.  Guess what, none of the bans have been challenged, while the industry has attacked less aggressive regulation, like in Indiana County, and South Fayette.  People should read this. What do you think?

Speaking of boom – abandoned and orphaned gas wells are a problem. There’s a new project called Scavenger Hunt PA just launched to try to track them -you can be a part too, all you need is a camera and a GPS device.

And lastly there are two online visual tools to help you understand the boom. The first is an interactive map of existing and proposed Marcellus wells, and wind turbines.  Also, the Post Gazette has a great interactive feature that shows what a horizontal well site looks like up close.


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