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I find myself ever more curious and very jaded when it comes to the news cycle and the various slants that can come out of one single document. Take a look at the news, has anything really changed about this issue in 4 years other than confirmation of the fact that it should have been done years ago. All of the current commentary could have been written months ago and published with nothing more than a change of dates.This particular blogger is always on target never over the top one way or the other and careful to assure that her sources are accurate. Based on the snails pace at which NY is moving, I suspect she could think about possible scenarios, write and rewrite her blogs into shear perfection( and they are well done anyway) and put them in an indexed file to publish as required.

I will grant you, no landowner ever though that the current governor would be as duplicitous as he has been, as politically motivated, totally disregarding state law and landowner rights. That said, we are where we are and if you are uncomfortable, then make sure that your displeasure is known and do it frequently. Be active in your coalition, prepare for the future and do not let the delays get you down. You are in NY after all and good government and strong leadership are NOT New Yorks strong points.JLCpulse

By MIREYA NAVARRO in New York Times Green section

Reaction to Thursday’s announcement by the Cuomo administration that New York State must review potential public health effects before deciding whether to allow fracking is split along fairly predictable lines.

Gas industry officials and landowners who want to lease their properties for this kind of natural gas drilling said they were disappointed because the move means that fracking won’t start anytime soon in New York. Still, some said they were relieved that the state — and not outside experts, as environmental groups had wanted — will assess the potential for public harm.

Dan Fitzsimmons, president of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, which represents around pro-fracking 77,000 property owners, said that delegating the study to others would surely have resulted in longer delays. He therefore called the move “good news.”

All the same, he said that further health studies were unnecessary. “As people who would host this activity on our land, we have investigated the practices and participated for years in recommending safeguards that will allow us to utilize our resources and protect our land, air and water,” Mr. Fitzsimmons said.

Still, the sharpened focus on health heartened many of the dozens of state legislators, medical professionals and environmental groups who had warned that the state’s environmental assessment of fracking gave short thrift to medical problems that could result from drilling-related ills like accidental water contamination and increased truck traffic.

And Joseph Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, did say that the state’s health commissioner, Nirav Shah, who will be in charge of the review, could seek advice from “the most qualified outside experts,” some noted.

The environmental group Riverkeeper welcomed the news. “We are confident that Commissioner Shah’s review, if done comprehensively, objectively and with the help of truly qualified outside experts, will reveal significant omissions in D.E.C.’s analysis and show why fracking cannot be allowed to move forward in New York,” the group said in a statement.

Yet other environmentalists, noting that state officials had ignored calls for a separate health impact assessment for more than a year, continued to demand an independent study.

New Yorkers Against Fracking, a coalition of individuals and groups that want an outright ban on the controversial drilling process, said in a statement that “nothing has roused the Department of Health from its unconcerned slumber” when it relates to fracking. “And we are now to believe that this agency will do any more heavy lifting than rubberstamp the findings of the D.E.C.?” it said.

“With the health of millions of New Yorkers at risk, Governor Cuomo must demand a rigorous, comprehensive health impact assessment by an independent team of public health experts,” the group said. “That’s what New York’s universities and medical institutions are there to provide.”

The state plans to set up a surveillance system to monitor health impacts if fracking does get under way.

Rising natural gas production has lured more manufacturers back to the United States with the promise of cheaper electricity and feedstock.

By Jay F. Marks | Published: September 21, 2012 in NewsOK

PHILADELPHIA — America's booming natural gas production has drawn countless manufacturers back to the United States, experts said Thursday at Shale Gas Insight 2012.

Low natural gas prices have lingered due to the glut of the commodity, making the country an attractive market for manufacturers once again.

“Anyone that uses a lot of electricity, and anyone that uses natural gas as a feedstock, will want to be back in the United States of America,” said Barry Smitherman, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission.

Martha Gilchrist Moore, senior director of policy analysis and economics at the American Chemistry Council, said a 2011 study showed the game-changing potential of natural gas and natural gas liquids.

Ethane, a natural gas liquid, is a key ingredient in many petrochemical products like plastics and other synthetic fibers.

“One of my colleagues refers to it as the secret sauce of the chemical industry,” which is the nation's largest natural gas user, Moore said.

She said the American Chemistry Council study showed a 25 percent increase in the ethane supply would result in $132 billion in new economic output after an investment of $16 billion. It would also create more than 40,000 new jobs for the chemical industry and its suppliers.

Moore said the U.S. likely will reap more benefits than the study indicated after hearing IHS Consulting's Andrew Swanson predict a 40 percent increase in natural gas liquids production by 2020.

Swanson, managing director of business development for IHS, said low-priced natural gas and natural gas liquids are attractive to manufacturers seeking cost certainty. Ethane, propane and butane are key feedstocks for many of them.

Chemical companies in the U.S. can “crack” ethane to turn it into ethylene rather than relying on more expensive naphtha. Swanson said that shows the “fundamental competitiveness” this country enjoys in that market.

Swanson said lower prices for natural gas liquids have led to a “flood” of announcements in the chemical industry, with companies planning to add 11 billion tons of new ethylene production capacity.

Most of those projects are located along the Gulf of Mexico because of pre-existing infrastructure investments there, but Shell has announced plans to build an ethane cracker in western Pennsylvania.

Alan Walker, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, said that was exciting news for the state, with the potential for additional facilities in the region because of its abundant natural gas resources.

“If we use it right and manage it right, we're looking at at least a 100-year supply here in Pennsylvania,” Walker said.

Natural gas may be more commonly recognized as a versatile fuel that can be used for electricity, heating and transportation. It also can be used directly by manufacturers, Walker said.

“It can be the dawn of a new industrial revolution, but only if we allow the industry to develop,” he said.

Swanson said rising natural gas production also offers lucrative opportunities for companies that use butadiene or specialize in gas-to-liquids processes that turn natural gas into gasoline or diesel fuel.


By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published: Friday, July 20, 2012, 9:04 p.m.
Updated: Saturday, July 21, 2012

Speculation and misinformation about hydraulic fracturing have run rampant throughout Pennsylvania. Luckily, a new Duke University study lays concerns about groundwater contamination via hydraulic fracturing to rest.

The study found that salts from the Marcellus shale could travel upward over thousands of years to reach groundwater, but did not find contamination from hydraulic fracturing.

Researchers examined 426 groundwater samples from six Pennsylvania counties atop the Marcellus shale. While some samples did contain salts from deep in the Marcellus shale, the salts traveled to the groundwater through natural fissures, likely over thousands of years. Even with the natural salts, the researchers ruled that the water was suitable for drinking.

The takeaway from this study is that hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus shale has not contaminated groundwater in that region and is not likely to. Intense pressure under the Earth’s surface occasionally pushes natural contaminants up toward the surface through natural pathways; conversely, hydraulic fracturing releases downward pressure, drawing the gas and other materials away from groundwater supplies.

Despite much hand-wringing and exaggeration, this study provides further evidence of hydraulic fracturing’s strong safety record.

Thomas J. Pyle

Washington, D.C.

The writer is president of the Institute for Energy Research (instituteforenergyresearch.org).

This is another insightful read which is bound to educate about all of the noise surrounding Hydraulic Fracturing. I wonder when the science will catch up to the hyperbole and outright misrepresentations. When will our leaders find the courage to do the right thing instead of the political thing.JLCpulse

by Reed Miller  August 2, 2012 in Industrial Heating

Our headline comes from an editorial written by a U.S. Congressional representative from Pennsylvania, Mark S. Critz. We will return to that later, but with our industry benefiting from the demand for materials to supply the growing shale-gas industry and the cheaper natural gas pricing resulting from it, this column will provide some information for you to fact-check what you are hearing in the news. Because of the impact to our industry, we have broadly covered this topic in two previous editorials (August 2010 and July 2011), but we will attempt to more specifically address fracking in this month’s column.

Why have shale gas and its requisite fracking become such a political issue, and why has questionable science been associated with its attacks? In their report, World magazine indicates that the lower natural gas prices have undermined efforts to make “green” energy technologies – wind and solar – economically viable. Green energy resulted from global-warming theory, which was supported by people such as James Lovelock, considered to be the godfather of global warming. In a recent interview, Lovelock admitted that he had been “unduly alarmist about climate change.” He said, “The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago.” Lovelock is in favor of natural gas fracking as a low-polluting alternative to coal. What is Lovelock’s opinion of the green energy technologies? He said, “We rushed into renewable energy without any thought. The schemes are largely hopelessly inefficient and unpleasant. I personally can’t stand windmills at any price.”

What is fracking, and why is it necessary? Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a technique that has developed over the past 65 years to reach oil and gas reserves in less-permeable shale formations. After more than a million jobs, fracking is a routine process step in this industry. Fracking involves pumping millions (up to 7 million) of gallons of water into deep (over 1 mile) shale formations at a pressure of 9,000 PSI or higher. Fracking is necessary because the oil and gas is trapped in low-porosity rock formations very deep in the earth. For perspective, a cube of Marcellus shale 2 feet on each side would have the pore volume equal to a baseball scattered throughout the rock. Fracking is necessary to create additional fissures, which are used to release the oil and gas hidden in the pores.

If fracking has been around for 65 years, why is it only now being attacked? Some of the answer to that is political, but it is certainly gaining more attention due to the recently adopted horizontal-drilling techniques. These techniques expose more of the well bore to the formation, which means that a single gas well is now as productive as at least four traditional vertical wells. These techniques have also made gas available that was previously unaccessable, which has opened vast new geographical areas to drilling. As these new areas deal with this new industry, misunderstandings often occur.

That takes us back to the politics and our encouragement to stick to the science. Unfortunately, the EPA has been taking advantage of the local ignorance of the process by spreading scientifically untrue information. Critz said it this way: “Recent missteps and questionable actions by the EPA have regrettably cast doubt upon the agency’s credibility and ability to put forth the ‘best science’ to ensure the public’s trust.” In both Texas and Pennsylvania, the EPA has recently retracted unfounded and unprovable accusations about polluted water, but the public hears less about the retraction than the accusation. So, what do they believe?

The key to remember when someone talks about drinking-water pollution is that the aquifers for drinking water are typically 200-600 feet deep, but the horizontal gas wells are 5,000-10,000 feet deep. It is geologically impossible for fracking to affect water located many thousands of feet above the well bore.

The encouraging thing about this technology is that as little as five or six years ago many experts thought the U.S. had only a seven- or eight-year natural gas supply. With horizontal drilling and fracking techniques opening up new possibilities, we now have an estimated 110-year supply based on a 2009 rate of consumption.

It’s no wonder groups like SAE International will be holding a symposium on Aug. 28 in Pittsburgh, Pa., to discuss the use of natural gas in vehicles. With an opportunity such as we have before us to lower our energy costs and create a more independent energy policy, let’s make sure decisions are being made on good fracking science only. IH

Whats next? Who knows!  My grandfather used to say "there is a butt for every seat", (I cleaned it up a bit) and in anti drilling circles there may be two or three for each seat. A very creative group indeed, though not in the least bit rational or scientific.JLCpulse

Published: July 8, 2012 in New York Times
FORT WORTH — Henry Donald Young Sr. is buried in a small pioneer cemetery next to his parents here, beneath the drooping leaves of an old tree at the industrial edge of one of the largest cities in Texas.

But Mr. Young’s relatives wonder how restful his final resting place has become. Thousands of feet beneath the cemetery, a company has been drilling for natural gas using the controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

“I would imagine that drilling and fracking and all that vibration is bound to cause some damage,” Mr. Young’s son, Don, said of the 134-year-old Handley Cemetery. “But who’s going to dig up their dead relatives to see if there’s a crack in the casket? What’s being done to Fort Worth in general, whether it’s to the living or the dead, it’s immoral.”

Mr. Young, 60, has been a longtime critic of fracking, which has proliferated in the Barnett shale formation that runs underneath the Fort Worth area. He also is the founder of a group called Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Operations.

His concern is shared by others in both rural and urban parts of Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio, where drilling for natural gas beneath homes, parks, churches, schools and even cemeteries has become commonplace. The fracking process, in which sand, water and chemicals are injected deep underground at high pressure to extract natural gas from rock formations, has been criticized by environmentalists and others who worry about its effects on groundwater and residents’ health.

Cemetery owners lease their mineral rights to oil and gas companies to allow fracking, earning money that many have used to refurbish and maintain their grounds, fencing, sanctuaries and roads. Cemetery managers and oil and gas company executives said that fracking, because it occurred at roughly 7,000 feet to 8,000 feet below ground, did not damage graves. And because of advances in horizontal drilling, they said, the wells and other equipment can be located more than a mile away to avoid disrupting the serene atmosphere of the cemetery.

“I’m sure there’s a number of cemeteries across the United States that lease their mineral rights, just like people lease their mineral rights for their farm or home,” said Jon Stephenson, secretary of the Texas Cemeteries Association, which released a statement on Friday expressing support for cemeteries that chose to explore their natural gas options. “The drilling itself is not going to occur in the center of an active cemetery. It’s going to occur off the property. You do this to reap the financial benefits. It’s the same reason anyone else would.”

Chesapeake Energy, the second-largest natural gas producer in the country, has worked with more than a dozen cemeteries in the Fort Worth region and has drilled directly beneath many of them at depths of more than a mile and a half, company executives said.

The company drilled six wells about 1,700 feet from the tombstones at Greenwood Memorial Park and 10 wells about 1,800 feet from the grave sites at Mount Olivet Cemetery. Company officials said that they had not received any complaints from relatives about graves being disturbed, but that they did get several calls from family members of those buried at Greenwood asking if they could collect mineral-right royalties from their loved one’s burial plot.

“Chesapeake Energy takes great pride in our neighbor relations — whether those neighbors are families, schools, hospitals or cemeteries — and treats each with the respect and sensitivity they deserve,” said Julie H. Wilson, the company’s vice president for urban development. “Some of our own family members are buried in these cemeteries or live near them.”

But antifracking activists, lawyers and environmental scientists said that while there might be nothing legally wrong with fracking underneath cemeteries, they were uncomfortable with the practice, arguing that it raised spiritual and moral questions and illustrated a callousness in the desire to drill for natural gas anywhere at any time.

In 2010, Pittsburgh became the first city in Pennsylvania to ban natural gas drilling, in part after an outcry over a decision by the Catholic Cemeteries Association of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to lease mineral rights under nearly a dozen of its cemeteries, including one where three former Pittsburgh mayors are buried.

“I could see how people could be deeply offended by this, even if it didn’t cause any problems,” said Robert B. Jackson, an environmental sciences professor at Duke University, who is a fracking expert and the director of the university’s Center on Global Change. “If something goes wrong in a farmer’s field in Pennsylvania, that’s one thing. But what if something goes wrong in a cemetery? It seems like at some point you have to draw a line. I can see the signs now: ‘Rest in peace means no lease.’ ”

In Fort Worth, Quicksilver Resources has been fracking underneath Handley Cemetery and nearby Handley Hill, a historic African-American cemetery.

“The fracking activity is occurring at a depth of between 7,000 and 8,000 feet,” said Stephen Lindsey, a Quicksilver spokesman. “There is no surface or subsurface disturbance that has or will impact the cemetery location.”

Quicksilver and Exelon Generation, which runs a nearby gas power plant, helped to restore the two-acre Handley Hill cemetery by paying for a new wrought-iron fence. The cemetery was rededicated on Memorial Day in 2007.

“When the church was approached to lease the mineral rights to Quicksilver, the question that myself and the congregation had was, would this be a disturbance for those resting in the cemetery?” said the Rev. Bruce D. Datcher, pastor of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, which has owned the Handley Hill Cemetery for more than 100 years. “We have not had one problem.”

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