Archive for May, 2011

PA Environmental Groups Make Commonsense Recommendations

May 10, 2011

According to paenvironmentdaily.com’s David E. Hess, the PA Environmental Council (www.pecpa.org) and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation of PA (www.cbf.org/pa) have jointly submitted a legislative proposal to the Corbett administration and state lawmakers designed to help ensure safe and responsible gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. They are two highly-regarded environmental groups who understand the need for Pennsylvania to “get gas right.” The entire proposal can be viewed at http://www.pecpa.org/marcellus. Here, the main recommendations: (more…)

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Philly Hosts The World Series of Energy

May 10, 2011

It’s the Drilling Giants vs. the PA “Team Players” in the biggest Industrial-Environmental League match-up of all time! While the Drillers are known for their massive salaries and star gas-letes like T. Boon Pickens, the Team Players have the ability to play a really smart game with a deep bench including PA DEP Secretary Michael Krancer, Rookie energy executive Patrick Henderson, and All State Geologist George Love… It’s going to be a power-packed contest of brains and brawn under the big lights tonight!
…It’s the bottom of the ninth, runs are tied, and Science is on the mound. The Drillers are at bat. (more…)

Governor Corbett “Proposes” Fracking To Cover State University Funding Shortfalls

May 10, 2011

Governor Tom Corbett’s 2012 budget includes steep cuts to education and a 50 percent reduction in aid to colleges and universities. Corbett suggests our state schools alleviate their fiscal shortfalls by fracking for gas on their campuses. Mansfield University, Lock Haven University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and California University of Pennsylvania all sit atop the gas-producing Marcellus Shale. Two others, Clarion University and Slippery Rock are “within range.”

On May 13, 2011, Penn State University President Graham Spanier announced tentative plans to create a new Center for Natural Gas Engineering, (more…)

Marcellus Shale Coalition Dismisses Duke Study, Science

May 10, 2011

According to a Duke University study to be published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, scientists have documented the first systematic link between methane gas from deep Marcellus and Utica shales and contamination of drinking water wells near active gas wells in northeastern Pennsylvania and New York. The study found that methane levels in private drinking water wells was 17 times higher on average in wells within 1,000 feet of a deep natural gas well, based on water sampling done at 68 wells. Methane was found in 85 percent of the wells. SOURCE: post-gazette.com (more…)

Tracking Frack Water “Cradle to Grave”

May 10, 2011

“Tracking Fracking Water Goes High-Tech”

ARTICLE by Bill Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A worker connects a hose to a truck to collect foam from a drill pit used in a Rice Energy Marcellus Shale drilling rig in Lone Pine, Washington County. The foam is created by combining soap, air and water, and is used to flush out drill cuttings to the surface. Once in the drill pit, it breaks down again into soap and water. The water is then taken to a disposal facility for treatment.

Water, as much as natural gas, is the lifeblood of the Marcellus Shale play. Drillers need millions of gallons of water to flush the gas out of its hiding spot, deep below ground. (more…)

PA DEP Says Its Job Is To “Get Gas Done”

May 9, 2011

“At the end of the day, my job is to make sure gas is done and gas is done right,” said Michael Krancer upon his appointment to Secretary of the PA Department of Environmental Protection.

Really? I thought the PA DEP mission was to “protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment,” and to “work as partners with individuals, organizations, governments and businesses to prevent pollution and restore our natural resources.” [SOURCE: http://www.depweb.state.pa.us]

Krancer may dismiss his critics for using “bad” science and having alternate agendas, like solar and wind, but it seems to me, an average interested citizen, that if the PA DEP was truly protecting our drinking water resources, they would wait until further “good” science is concluded before approving so many new gas drilling permits!

The PA DEP would also support the FRAC ACT because it would help them do their job more effectively. If drillers were required by law to publicly disclose fracking chemicals, the agency would have already known what chemicals were exploding from Chesapeake’s LeRoy, Bradford County well blowout on April 19. They would not have had to ask the company for it on April 22.  As of May 5, 2011, neither Chesapeake nor the PA DEP has made this information available to the public.

In all fairness, according to PA Environment Digest, Krancer also said his main job in regulating Marcellus Shale drilling is to protect the water. “There will be significant changes in the way the state’s energy policy is done. In the past, the DEP Secretary was the be-all and end-all for energy policy. ‘You’re not going to see that anymore,’ Krancer said. He said he will be part of a team, working with the Governor’s Energy Executive Patrick Henderson, to address energy issues.
 He noted Pennsylvania needs a diversified energy portfolio– nuclear, coal, natural gas, solar and wind– for the future.'”

“I want to leave a legacy as a good enforcer,” Krancer said.

Obama Forms Panel To Improve Fracking Safety

May 9, 2011

WASHINGTON | Thu May 5, 2011 6:24pm EDT

(Reuters) – After a series of high-profile natural gas drilling spills, the Energy Department named a panel to recommend ways to improve the safety of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that has expanded the country’s potential to extract the fuel.

President Barack Obama asked the DOE to form the panel of academic and environmental experts to identify any immediate steps that can be taken to improve the safety and environmental performance of fracking, the DOE said on Thursday.

The panel, which includes John Deutch, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Daniel Yergin, the chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, will report those steps within 90 days of beginning their work. (more…)

PennEnvironment Report: Gas Development Endangers Vulnerable Populations

May 9, 2011

PennEnvironment is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization. They’re been around for over 30 years, and their work has directly resulted in some of Pennsylvania’s best environmental protections. In their own words, they combine “independent research, practical ideas and tough-minded advocacy to overcome the opposition of powerful special interests and win real results for Pennsylvania’s environment.” Sometimes, their student volunteers knock on your door. Last week, PennEnvironment released a report on Gas Drilling in Pennsylvania: “In The Shadow of the Marcellus Boom: How Shale Gas Extraction Puts Vulnerable Pennsylvanians at Risk.”

Among the alarming conclusions: (more…)

DRBC Tables Permit for Major XTO Water Withdrawal from The Upper Delaware – For Now

May 6, 2011

Update: Encouragingly, the DRBC voted to table the permit until further hearings! Victory – Our Voices Really Do Add Up!! Congratulations to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Protecting Our Waters, PennEnvironment and all the other groups whose vigilance and hard work hard paid off. More on this important issue to follow.

XTO Energy, Inc., a gas subsidiary of ExxonMobile Corp., would like to pull 250,000 gallons of water PER DAY from the ecologically sensitive cold water flows of the Upper Delaware River Region in Oquaga and Broome Counties, NY for hydraulic fracturing. That’s 100 million gallons A YEAR, for free. The ensuing environmental impact to nature and wildlife in this widely used recreation area would be indelibly damaged.

If the DRBC approves this permit, they will be acting in contradiction to their own mandate. (more…)

Gas Drillers Sweet On Upper Delaware Region, Origin of Lower Merion Drinking Water

May 5, 2011

Our watershed, in the upper reaches of the Delaware River, is home to the highest concentration of gas drilling sweet spots in the Marcellus Shale. Geologists at Penn State call it “the fairway.” It means drillers have a far greater chance of striking a large, shallow methane deposit. To date, 895 wells have been fracked in Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania, with the heaviest drilling occurring in Bradford, Tioga, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties. Drilling closest to Philadelphia is occurring in Lucerne and Columbia counties. Those in denial about the dangers of fracking refer to this part of Pennsylvania as “up there.”

In December 2010, 2,083 permits were pending approval in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Since January 2011, the PA DEP has approved 956 permits. A large majority of the new wells are in the Upper Delaware River Watershed Region.

A remarkable pace, indeed! In fact, by their own estimate, PA DEP spends a scant 32 minutes on average deliberating each permit, not a lot of time to access environmental impacts.

According to EarthJustice.org’s “Fraccidents Map”, there were over 1,200 violations in Pennsylvania in 2010. That’s many, many times more accidents than all other states in the US combined. (more…)

Victory or Red Herring?

May 4, 2011
DEP Rolls Back Approval Process for Shale Violations
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
SOURCE: Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The state Department of Environmental Protection has completely rolled back a controversial, 5-week-old procedural change that required all field enforcement actions involving Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations be pre-approved by political appointees in Harrisburg.

Read more: http://post-gazette.com/pg/11123/1143606-503-0.stm#ixzz1LQ5pXGM9

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Certainly this is good news, since we had a right to the information the PA DEP would have withheld in the first place. We pay for it with our tax dollars. But is it really a victory to have something rightfully restored when it was wrongfully taken in the first place?

Here’s a statistic worth considering: Since January 1, 2011, the PA DEP has approved a whopping 956 permits, with a large majority in the Upper Delaware Watershed Region. Makes one wonder if their primary function is regulating threats to the environment or issuing permits? They don’t really care about NOVs. They’re gonna slap wrists and fines, either way. It’s a RED HERRING. It seems like their first interest is creating a profitable disposal route for recycled (distilled) flowback, and mitigating environmental impacts or protecting the public wellfare from the drilling itself comes second.