Marcellus Shale

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.

Google Maps

UPDATE: This story was updated at 11:40am to clarify that the fire was due to an equipment failure at the well pad.

Rebecca and Jeffrey Ruffing and their six children live less than 600 feet from the Rice Energy natural gas well pad that caught fire Sunday afternoon.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Despite numerous layoffs and realignments in the Pennsylvania gas industry in 2016, the year is ending with more drill rigs operating in the state than at the same time last year.

The number of active gas drill rigs in Pennsylvania went up from 26 in December of 2015 to 31 in 2016. The increase comes at a time when the number of active rigs nationwide is down more than 10 percent – down to 637 in 2016, versus 709 in 2015.

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

 

Going back to school is starting to look a lot different. 

Ninety-six percent of students at Pennsylvania College of Technology entertain job offers in their final semester. It's an enviable statistic, one that the college is very proud of, said Tracy Brundage, vice president of workforce development and continuing education. 

“Our tagline is ‘degrees that work,’” she said.

But employer interest isn't limited to graduates of the Penn State affiliate's two- and four-year degree programs.  

Group Of Doctors Says It's Time To Hit 'Pause' On Fracking

Nov 23, 2016
Alex Brandon / AP

In 2013, Walter Tsou, a Philadelphia doctor, began to worry about the impact drilling has on the health of people near natural gas wells. He authored a resolution for the Pennsylvania Medical Society—which represents about a quarter of the state’s doctors—calling for a moratorium on new hydraulic fracturing operations. It didn’t go over very well.

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.

Trade Group Seeks To Block New Drilling Rules

Oct 5, 2016
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

An oil and gas trade group is seeking to block new Marcellus Shale drilling regulations scheduled to take effect later this week. The rules have been in development since 2011 and have been the subject of significant controversy.

Evan Vucci / AP

The Confluence – where the news comes together is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program .

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist, and host, Kevin Gavin. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Topics for this week include a discussion of the Marcellus Shale Insight conference which took place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. We'll try to discover what issues are on the agenda for state lawmakers as they return to Harrisburg. Looking ahead we'll discover what Pittsburgh-related items are on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Evan Vucci / AP

 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went before a group of shale gas industry professionals gathered in Pittsburgh Thursday and promised that energy industry workers are going to “love Donald Trump,” if elected.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

More than 1,300 energy industry representatives are in downtown Pittsburgh this week for the annual Shale Insight Conference that this year is focusing on getting the gas from the well to the user.

Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Spigelmyer told a crowd gathered inside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center that the Pittsburgh region is lacking when it comes to pipelines and other infrastructure needed to get the gas to market.

Donald Trump To Speak Thursday At Shale Insight Downtown

Sep 20, 2016
Keith Srakocic / AP

  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will speak Thursday at the annual Shale Insight conference at Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center, organizers said Monday.

Conference officials told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was also invited but declined, citing a scheduling conflict.

Inspectors Saw Corrosion On Pipeline Years Before Explosion

Sep 14, 2016
Reid Frazier / 90.5 WESA

In 2012,  Spectra Energy inspectors saw it: a patch of corrosion that had eaten away at a 30-inch pipeline in Salem Township, Pennsylvania. But company officials said Tuesday that they didn’t replace the pipe because they didn’t expect the “anomaly” they saw to grow so quickly. A subsequent investigation of the stretch of the Texas Eastern pipeline revealed that the corrosion grew five times faster than what the company expected. Spectra officials are still trying to figure out why.

Could Shell's Ethane Cracker Erase Recent Gains In Air Quality?

Sep 13, 2016
Mark Dixon

Officials around the state are optimistic about the impact of Shell’s new ethane cracker on the local economy. It will bring thousands of construction jobs to western Pennsylvania and 600 permanent ones once it’s built along the Ohio River in Beaver County. The plant will produce 1.6 million tons of plastic a year out of the region’s natural gas.

Pro-Drilling County Targets Gas Trade Group

Sep 8, 2016
Ian Sterling / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

When the Marcellus Shale gas boom was taking off, Bradford County welcomed it with open arms. With more than 1,000 active wells, this region in north-central Pennsylvania became one of the most heavily drilled places in the state.

But the enthusiasm turned to anger, and many people now allege they’re being cheated out of royalty money by drilling companies.

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.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

Pennsylvania environmental regulators have green-lighted a proposal to use 3,950 tons of natural gas drilling waste for an experimental road construction project at a Lycoming County hunting club.

Jeff Brady / NPR

 

State and local officials attended a ceremony Wednesday morning to celebrate the groundbreaking for a 20-inch pipeline that will deliver Marcellus Shale gas to a new power plant in central Pennsylvania.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

New data show that almost all types of contaminant air emissions created by the Marcellus shale industry were up in 2014. 

The data come from a report released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The 2014 numbers are the most recent available data and are self-reported by the Marcellus shale industry. 

Aftershocks Of The Gas Boom Ripple Through New York's Wine Country

Aug 4, 2016
Julie Grant / Allegheny Front

 

  Driving around Seneca Lake, evidence of industry is everywhere.

The wine industry, that is.

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. 

New Study Links Asthma With Fracking

Jul 21, 2016
National Institutes of Health / Flickr

 

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have published a study linking unconventional gas development with asthma attacks.

“We found that patients living closer to more—or bigger—unconventional natural gas wells had higher risk for an asthma attack,” says Sara Rasmussen, the study’s lead author.

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.

New Photography Exhibit Explores Impacts Of The Fracking Boom

Jun 16, 2016
Lynn Johnson

 

The story of the fracking boom in Pennsylvania and nearby states runs as an almost continuous narrative in the region’s press. But covering the blow-by-blow of new drilling sites, protests, lawsuits and regulations is just one way to look at how fracking has changed the region.

Shell Finalizes Plan For Beaver Co. Plastics Plant

Jun 7, 2016
Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The oil giant Shell on Tuesday gave the final go-ahead for construction of a major petrochemical complex in western Pennsylvania where ethane from the Marcellus and Utica shales will be used to make ethylene for the manufacture of plastics.

The long-awaited multi-billion-dollar plant will be built in Potter Township, Beaver County, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, Shell said in a statement from its unit, Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC.

Keith Srakocic / AP Images

During a presentation at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute Environmental Law Forum in Harrisburg earlier this month, Range Resources Vice President of Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Terry Bossert said that the company tries to position gas wells away from larger, nice looking homes.

While Bossert later claimed that the statement was an example of “dry sarcasm,” Patrick Grenter, executive director of the Center for Coalfield Justice, and Joanne Kilgour, director of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club, say that it is all too true. Bossert later issued an apology for his comments.

Tim Lambert / WITF

Pennsylvania is facing a $2.9 million deficit in the fund that supports its oversight of oil and gas wells in the next fiscal year, according to a projection from Governor Tom Wolf’s budget office.

RAND Corporation

Middle-skilled natural gas and energy workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are getting old.

That’s according to a Rand study, which found that one-quarter of those workers, such as welders, industrial mechanics and engineers, were nearing the age of 55 and close to retirement. The study is the first of five annual reports aiming to assess student preparation for industry jobs.

Police: Ex-Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon Dies In Crash

Mar 2, 2016
AP

Aubrey McClendon, a natural gas industry titan, was killed when police say he drove his sport utility vehicle "straight into a wall" in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, a day after he was indicted on a charge of conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

The gas industry’s downturn means Pennsylvania is getting a lot less royalty money from drilling on public forest land. But the state continues to have problems getting paid properly from the activity that’s still happening.

Joe Ulrich / WITF

 

Pages