Groups File Federal Gas Drilling Lawsuit against DRBC

Delaware River Basin Commission Served Notice

Trenton, New Jersey —The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability have joined forces in filing a federal lawsuit against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) in federal district court in Trenton, NJ. Complaints were served on the DRBC today. The conservation groups are challenging the actions the DRBC took to allow certain exploratory natural gas wells to be drilled without DRBC review and approval and despite a Basin-wide moratorium on gas wells….

Federal Circut Judge Assigned to Case – [Court Date To Be Announced]:

Honorable Anne E. Thompson

United States District Court for the District of New Jersey Trenton, New Jersey

To read the full article online, click here : http://www.damascuscitizens.org/DRBC-lawsuit.html

DEP finally waking up

PA Must Take Action to Protect Water Resources from Drilling Wastewater, Other Sources of TDS Pollution

Proposed Rules will Help Keep Drinking Water, Streams and Rivers Clean

HARRISBURG — High levels of total dissolved solids pollution from natural gas drilling and other sources pose a real threat to Pennsylvania’s streams and rivers, including aquatic life, warned Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger today. “The treating and disposing of gas drilling brine and fracturing wastewater is a significant challenge for the natural gas industry because of its exceptionally high TDS concentrations,” said Hanger. “Marcellus drilling is growing rapidly and our rules must be strengthened now to prevent our waterways from being seriously harmed in the future.” Hanger pointed to recent examples where TDS impaired streams and affected major sources of drinking water….

To read the full DEP release, click here:
http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=10349&typeid=1

Gas and drilling not clean choices

Robert Howarth

Natural gas is marketed as a clean fuel with less impact on global warming than oil or coal, a transitional fuel to replace other fossil fuels until some distant future with renewable energy. Some argue that we have an obligation to develop Marcellus Shale gas, despite environmental concerns. I strongly disagree.

Natural gas as a clean fuel is a myth. While less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning natural gas than oil or coal, emissions during combustion are only part of the concern. Natural gas is mostly methane, a greenhouse gas with 72 times more potential than carbon dioxide to warm our planet (per molecule, averaged over the 20 years following emission). I estimate that extraction, transport and combustion of Marcellus gas, together with leakage of methane, makes this gas at least 60 percent more damaging for greenhouse warming than crude oil and similar in impact to coal.

The most recent method of hydro-fracking is relatively new technology, massive in scope and far from clean in ways beyond greenhouse gas emissions. The landscape could be dotted with thousands of drilling pads, spaced as closely as one every 40 acres. Compacted gravel would cover three to five acres for each. New pipelines and access roads crisscrossing the landscape would connect the pads. Ten or more wells per pad are expected. Every time a well is “fracked,” 1,200 truck trips will carry the needed water.

Drillers will inject several million gallons of water and tens of thousands of pounds of chemicals into each well. Some of this mixture will stay deep in the shale, but cumulatively, billions of gallons of waste fluids will surface. Under current law, drillers can use absolutely any chemical additive or waste, with no restrictions and no disclosure. Recent experience in Pennsylvania indicates regular use of toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic substances. Out of 24 wells sampled there, flow-back wastes from every one contained high levels of 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide, (according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation). It is one of the most mutagenic compounds known. Flow-back wastes also contain toxic metals and high levels of radioactivity extracted from the shale, in addition to the materials used by drillers.

Industry tells us that surface and groundwater contamination is unlikely, since gas is deep in the ground and drilling operations are designed to minimize leakage. Nonsense. The technology is new and understudied, but early evidence shows high levels of contamination in some drinking water wells and rivers in other states.

Accidents happen, and well casings and cementing can fail. The geology of our region is complex, and water and materials under high pressure can move quickly to aquifers, rivers and lakes along fissures and fractures. Flow-back waters and associated chemical and radioactive wastes must be handled and stored at the surface, some in open pits and ponds unless government regulation prevents this. What will keep birds and wildlife away from it? What happens downstream if a heavy rain causes the toxic soup to overflow the dam? What happens to these wastes? Adequate treatment technologies and facilities do not exist.

What about government regulation and oversight? The DEC is understaffed,underfunded and has no history with the scale and scope of exploitation now envisioned. Federal oversight is almost completely gone, due to Congress exempting gas development from most environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, in 2005.

We can be independent of fossil fuels within 20 years and rely on renewable green technologies, such as wind and solar. The constraints on this are mostly political, not technical. We do not need to sacrifice a healthy environment to industrial gas development. Rather, we need to mobilize and have our region provide some badly needed national leadership toward a sustainable energy future.

Gasland on PBS

Tapwater on fire

Here’s a link to the coverage PBS did on “Gasland”.

This film won the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/613/index.html

EQT Announces Strategic Marcellus Acreage Acquisition

Here is an interesting report that came to me by way of the Responsible Drilling Alliance (RDA) in Williamsport, PA.
There have been numerous announcements on various websites about  EQT Corp. acquiring acreage for drilling and other gas extraction activities. Most have indicated this acquisition is an outright purchase of the land – rather than a long-term lease. Below is what POGAM (Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Association – an industry alliance) and EQT say about this acquisition. The links for each announcement lead to the full releases from EQT and POGAM.
If EQT’s acquisition is an outright purchase and not a lease, this is appears to be a new (or at least an increasing) way to acquire rights to drill in the Marcellus Shale. And it is something that taxpayers and landowners need to be aware of. If oil and gas companies end up owning large chunks of our state, particularly in places adjacent to privately-owned residential areas, what will be the outcome long-term? Will big oil and gas, out-of-area corporations, care as much as locals do for public health, safety, the environment and the local economy?
If anyone receiving this message can clarify the nature of this EQT acquisition – purchase, lease, something in-between – please send that clarification to me.
EQT’s announcement:
EQT Announces Strategic Marcellus Acreage Acquisition;
Increases EUR per Marcellus Well;
Provides Update on Latest Marcellus Well
PITTSBURGH, March 2, 2010/ PRNewswire-FirstCall/ –EQT Corporation (NYSE: EQT) today
announced that it will acquire approximately 58,000 net acres in the Marcellus Shale from a group
of private operators and landowners. The acreage is located primarily in Cameron, Clearfield, Elk and
Jefferson counties in Pennsylvania. The purchase includes a 200 mile gathering system, with
associated rights of way, and approximately 100 producing vertical wells.

At closing, EQT will pay approximately $280 million, 90% with EQT stock and 10% with cash.
Following the closing of the acquisition, EQT will hold more than 500,000 net acres in the highpressure
Marcellus shale fairway. The company expects the transaction to close by April 30, subject
to customary closing conditions.

“We are pleased to add to our substantial, firmly held acreage position in the heart of the
Marcellus fairway. We have extensive midstream assets and firm contracts to gather and transport
natural gas to the lucrative eastern markets,” commented Murry Gerber, chairman and chief executive
officer. “ ….
To read the full EQT release, click here:
POGAM’s announcement:
EQT announces Marcellus acreage acquisition, ups per-well production estimate

PITTSBURGH, PA (3/3/2010) – EQT Corporation announced it will acquire approximately 58,000 net acres in the Marcellus Shale from a group of private operators and landowners. The acreage is located primarily in Cameron, Clearfield, Elk and Jefferson counties in Pennsylvania. The purchase includes a 200-mile gathering system, with associated rights of way, and approximately 100 producing vertical wells.

At closing, EQT will pay approximately $280 million, 90 percent with EQT stock and 10 percent with cash. Following the closing of the acquisition, EQT will hold more than 500,000 net acres in the high-pressure Marcellus shale fairway. The company expects the transaction to close by April 30….

To read the full POGAM release, click here:

http://www.pogam.org/news/view.asp?pID=1334

Natural Gas: Not as clean as you think

Just in case you’ve seen the television ads being run by ANGA (America’s Natural Gas Alliance) and think they are telling you the whole story….here’s some of the other side.

http://wilderness.org/content/natural-gas-not-clean-you-think

Pipelines are next

There are so many different aspects of the gas and oil industry. At first we worried about the visual issues surrounding the gas drilling. Later we realized that our water and air qualities were at stake and that issue still takes a precedence today. As the production of natural gas progresses in this area we will see some new stages erupting this summer and with them new concerns. Things we have not yet considered because we are still investing all our time and energy into the water battle and some things that we will not know about until they start to happen. The nature of this industry seems to be in secrecy and quick movements, like a tiger, (isn’t that Exxon’s logo?) that make it difficult to see what’s coming head on, like a run away truck on a dark, rainy night.

One thing that has come up in the last months for me has been the pipeline infrastructure.  Did we know drilling for gas entailed pipelines? Sure we did, but I at least did not consider the full effect of this single aspect of natural gas drilling. Here are some links to informative sites and articles that are discussing this topic.

http://rnrext.cas.psu.edu/PDFs/FLWinter2009.pdf

The above link offers some good explanations of pipelines, how and what they are used for and what sort of effects they can have on PA forests.

The fifth story down this page gives some idea as to when this stage may begin and what we might see, at least for Potter County, PA.

http://today.pottercountypa.net/