Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tim Ruggiero: Leaving Gasland

While the following was written by a gentleman living and experiencing fracking in Texas, the parallels with what's going on in Pennsylvania's backyards couldn't be clearer.  His essay is incredibly moving.  Here is an excerpt:

"Someone asked if I felt we had ‘won or lost’, obviously looking for details. That got me to thinking.

Regardless of where one lives in Gasland, whether it is the urban setting or rural, I’m hard pressed to say that there is no such a thing as ‘winning’, only degrees of losing...

When the drillers first show up, one loses any sense or belief one has about personal property rights. One learns the hard way the definition of ‘split estate’, and that somewhere along the line, someone decided that mineral rights trump all other rights, including any one thought they had according to the U.S. Constitution...."

Read the remainder of the essay...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

EPA: Dimock water supplies 'merit further investigation'

CITIZENS VOICE--Federal environmental regulators are reopening their review of Dimock Township water supplies after recently released tests of the water wells taken by a natural gas drilling contractor were found to "merit further investigation."

Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were in Dimock Thursday and Friday to visit residents whose water supplies were found by state regulators to have been tainted with methane from Cabot Oil and Gas Corp.'s Marcellus Shale drilling operations.

After a preliminary review of results from water tests taken earlier by the state, Cabot and other outside firms, the EPA wrote to the residents on Dec. 2 to say the information they had gathered "does not indicate that the well water presents an immediate health threat to users."

But in an information sheet provided to residents during visits this week, the EPA wrote that it "has recently received additional Cabot data from residents that merit further investigation." The EPA is now "concerned about" potential gaps in water sampling and test results, the number of water supplies potentially affected, if residents that need them have alternate sources of fresh drinking water, and if residents have any more data to share.

Read the remainder of the article...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Benton monitoring of gas well called 'the right thing to do'

CITIZENS VOICE--As the state General Assembly considers legislation to curb local control of natural gas drilling, an experiment in local oversight of an exploratory Marcellus Shale well in Benton Township has been an "unequivocal" success, a supervisor said.

An independent engineer hired by Benton is monitoring the drilling and construction of a well by Southwestern Energy Production Co. that will evaluate the gas-bearing potential of the shale more than a mile below a field off Route 407.

The idea, supervisor Larry Seymour said, is "monitoring as opposed to controlling" the operation. "The issue really is getting the desired outcomes and avoiding unanticipated negative consequences."

Read the remainder of the article...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Disposal Halted at Well After New Quake in Ohio

NYT--An official in Ohio said on Sunday that the underground disposal of wastewater from natural-gas drilling operations would remain halted in the Youngstown area until scientists could analyze data from the most recent of a string of earthquakes there.

The latest quake, the 11th since mid-March, occurred Saturday afternoon and with a magnitude of 4.0 was the strongest yet. Like the others, it was centered near a well that has been used for the disposal of millions of gallons of brine and other waste liquids produced at natural-gas wells, mostly in Pennsylvania.

Read the remainder of the article...

As Gas Drilling Spreads, Towns Stand Ground Over Control

NYT--  "As energy companies move to drill in densely populated areas from Pennsylvania to Texas, battles are breaking out over who will have the final say in managing the shale gas boom. The fight, which pits towns and cities against energy companies and states eager for growth, has raised a fundamental question about the role of local government: How much authority should communities have over the use of their land?

The battle is playing out in Pennsylvania as the Republican-controlled legislature considers bills that would in their current form sharply limit a community’s right to control where gas companies can operate on private property. Critics say the final bill could vastly weaken local zoning powers and give industry the upper hand in exchange for a new tax, which municipalities badly need.

The legislation has struck a nerve in a state where land control has long been considered quintessentially local.

'I’m a conservative Republican, and this goes against all my principles,' said Brian Coppola, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Robinson Township, in Washington County west of Pittsburgh. The pending legislation, he said, 'is an enormous land grab on the part of the industry.' He added, 'Our property rights are being trampled.'"

Read the remainder of the article...