Drilling

Pittsburgh Suburbs Decide As Fracking Comes Near: Welcome It, Or Resist?

Feb 13, 2018
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Michael Thomas didn’t think the Marcellus shale industry, with its multi-acre well pads and large drilling operations, would come to the Pittsburgh suburb of Plum.

Are Pipelines To Blame For Decline In Ancient Salamanders?

Feb 9, 2018
Dave Herasimtschuk / Freshwaters Illustrated

As the natural gas industry matures in our region, construction of big transmission pipelines like the Constitution and the Rover continue make headlines. But there are also thousands of miles of smaller pipelines being built in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to connect drilling well pads to the energy distribution system. These lines have far less oversight and could be having big impacts on smaller streams, and the wildlife that lives there.

How Pipelines Are Changing The Dynamics Of PA Forests

Feb 8, 2018
Courtesy of Lillie Langolis

Some migratory birds need the deep, dark cover of Pennsylvania’s forests to breed. But natural gas development has cut into their habitat. 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Rebounding prices for natural gas and a growth in new wells exploring Pennsylvania's vast Marcellus Shale reservoir are fueling a recovery in fee revenue for state programs and county and municipal governments.

The Independent Fiscal Office projected Wednesday that impact fee collections for 2017 will be just above $219 million, $46 million more than 2016's low point of $173 million.

Pennsylvania Shuts Down Construction On Sunoco Gas Pipeline

Jan 3, 2018
Matt Slocum / AP

Pennsylvania environmental officials ordered Sunoco on Wednesday to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline across the southern part of the state, citing a series of spills and leaks of drilling fluid and other "egregious and willful violations" of state law that have plagued the $2.5 billion project.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Activity in Pennsylvania’s gas fields slowed in recent years amid low prices, but operators ramped up drilling in 2017, and they’re expecting to drill even more in the new year.

Tim Lambert / WITF

CNX Gas Co. has agreed to pay two fines to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for drilling violations that took place in 2015 and 2016 in Greene County.

The penalties, totaling $433,500, stem from incidents at four well sites that affected waterways and vegetation, according to the DEP.

The company failed to properly control and dispose of flowback and drilling fluids, and it did not take adequate steps to prevent erosion and sedimentation, among other violations, the department said in a news release.

US Steel Agrees To Allow Fracking At Edgar Thompson Works Steel Mill

Dec 27, 2017

Pennsylvania’s oldest working steel mill could soon have a new type of industrial activity on-site: fracking.

US Steel has signed a lease with New Mexico-based Merrion Oil and Gas, to develop a Marcellus shale gas well on the grounds of the Edgar Thomson works, originally built in 1875 by Andrew Carnegie.

The well site will be on the eastern edge of the property, in North Versailles Township, according to a drilling permit application Merrion submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Commission Seeks Fracking Ban In Watershed Supplying NYC

Dec 1, 2017
Julio Cortez / AP

A commission that oversees water quality for the watershed that supplies Philadelphia and half of New York City with drinking water took another step Thursday toward permanently banning natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, despite industry opposition.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennslvania

House lawmakers have begun moving a natural severance tax through their chamber.

It’s major priority for Democrats, who have been trying unsuccessfully to pass one for a decade.

But it’s slow going—the bill is saddled with well over 300 amendments.

Along with Democrats, the tax is championed by a coalition of moderate, largely southeastern Republicans.

GOP Representative Kate Harper, of Montgomery County, is one of the most vocal advocates.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

State House Democrats and a handful of Republicans are trying to figure out the best way to bring a natural gas severance tax up for a vote.

The group briefly tried to bring a bill to the floor Tuesday, but had to drop the effort because they were short on support.

The version of the severance tax under consideration has been sitting in the GOP-controlled House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee since January.

The panel's leaders haven’t seemed inclined to act on it.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania environmental regulators and the state's most active gas driller have reached a settlement on claims the Texas-based company failed to repair a natural gas well that contaminated groundwater and a stream.

The Department of Environmental Protection had initially pursued a record $8.9 million fine against Range Resources over the methane contamination in Lycoming County.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state House has no official plans to resume negotiations on balancing the state budget.

In a rare update, House Majority Leader Dave Reed said while members continue to discuss a proposal passed by the Senate last month, they’re not ready to introduce a counter-offer of their own.

Key components of the Senate plan include a severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling, sales tax expansions, and consumer taxes on natural gas, electricity, and phone service.

Reed said the consumer gas tax—known as a gross receipts tax—is particularly hard to swallow.

Senate Jams Shale Tax, Industry Permits Into Unhappy Package

Aug 7, 2017
Keith Srakocic / AP

For years, environmental advocates have sought a tax on Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale natural gas production while business associations have sought speedier state approval of permits for the activities of polluting industries.

Now, legislation approved by the Republican-controlled state Senate gave both provisions an unexpected and unwelcome passenger: each other.

Matt Rourke / AP, file

A gas driller says the water in a northeastern Pennsylvania village does not pose a threat to "human health and the environment."

Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. released a statement Thursday after learning that government scientists are collecting water samples from about 25 homes in Dimock, where some residents continue to blame the driller for contaminating their drinking water.

Government scientists collected water samples this week from about 25 homes in Dimock, a tiny crossroads about 150 miles north of Philadelphia.

Concerned About How Fracking Is Affecting Your Health? This Organization Can Help

Jun 30, 2017
Environmental Health Project

With all the oil and gas development happening in the region, people are wondering how it is affecting their health.

Report Finds Fracking Companies Often Get Slap-On-The-Wrist Fines

Apr 3, 2017
Ted Auch / FracTracker Alliance

According to a new report from the group PennEnvironment, only 17 percent of environmental or health violations by fracking companies in Pennsylvania resulted in fines. And when companies did get fined, the penalties were relatively small. In fact, the report found the median fine was just $5,263.

Robert Strovers / Flickr

For the next two months, the Allegheny County Sanitation Authority will send drilling rigs to 13 locations around the county to take samples as deep as 300 feet. 

Pennsylvania Confirms First Fracking-Related Earthquakes

Feb 22, 2017
Mark Schmerling / FracTracker Alliance

Pennsylvania officials say they’ve confirmed the state’s first fracking-related earthquakes took place last year in Lawrence County, northwest of Pittsburgh. As a result, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is stepping up its requirements for drilling in that part of the state, which is known for seismic activity.

Citizen Complaints Over Drilling Have Soared During The Gas Boom

Feb 3, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

For the first time, the public can view a comprehensive record of citizen complaints about oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania. The investigative website Public Herald has scanned and published more than 9,000 complaints made by residents over 12 years to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection about conventional and unconventional drilling, or fracking.

Appalachian Region Could Support 4 More Cracker Plants, Says Report

Jan 27, 2017
Marie Cusick / State Impact

The Appalachian region could support up to four more petrochemical processing plants, known as crackers, according to a forthcoming report from IHS Markit.

Denise Brinley, a special assistant to the Secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, previewed the report Thursday during a presentation at the Hart Energy Marcellus Utica Midstream conference in Pittsburgh. She says it will be published in the next few weeks.

Brian Peshek

On the Sunday before buck hunting season started in late November, Randy Santucci, chair of a group called the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, got up early to show me some of his favorite hunting sites.

Santucci is a big guy, in his 50s, and owns a machine shop in Robinson Township near the Pittsburgh airport. Today, he’s wearing a camo shirt, a ball cap and what looks like a week’s worth of scruff on his face.

Joe Ulrich / WITF

 

Jobs in Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry declined 32 percent in the second quarter of 2016, compared to the same time period last year, new state data show.

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

  After wending their way through a convoluted, controversial five-year process, new regulations for Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale drillers are set to take effect Saturday.

David Smith / AP

In a win for environmentalists and municipalities, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has struck down a number of provisions to the state’s oil and gas law. 

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

 

The ramifications of the Obama administration’s recent decision to temporarily halt construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline are being felt throughout the country– particularly in Pennsylvania. Industry executives worry about growing public opposition to pipelines, while activists have been encouraged by the success of Native American protesters.

In North Dakota, work has stopped on one section of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. Still, over the weekend protesters continued to stream into camps set up near the construction site.

One protest camp is about an hour's drive south of Bismarck. A prairie there is covered with tepees, tents and RVs. Flags from tribes around the country line the dirt road into the camp.

Natural Gas Emissions In PA Are Up. Here's Why

Aug 31, 2016
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Air pollution from the natural gas industry was up in 2014—driven in large part by a growing industry. According to new data released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), emissions were up in almost every major category, though some pollutants saw higher increases than others.

Why Pipeline Safety Is One Of Pennsylvania’s Next Big Energy Challenges

Jul 22, 2016
Keith Srakocic / AP

On  the morning of April 29, a natural gas transmission line exploded in a field in Salem Township in western Pennsylvania. 

Senate Approves Bill Weakening Drilling Regulations

Jul 14, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

The state Senate voted Monday to approve an amendment that would undo parts of the state’s pending oil and gas regulations.

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