Natural Gas

Environment & Energy
2:09 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Cuomo Gets Kudos, Scorn for New York Fracking Ban

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo listens to a speaker during a cabinet meeting at the Capitol on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. Cuomo’s administration will move to prohibit fracking in the state, citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique.
Credit AP Photo/Mike Groll

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is getting heaped with praise by environmentalists and scorn by business interests for a planned state ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, even as he insists the decision wasn't his.

Residents statewide remain almost evenly split on the issue, and the divisions are clear, pollsters said Thursday. The decision announced Wednesday followed Cuomo's re-election last month, which the Democrat won easily as expected.

Quinnipiac University Poll's Mickey Carroll said the political impact is likely to be limited and the decision was predictable.

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Environment & Energy
12:49 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Power of 32 Kicks Off Energy Conference

More than 300 people filled a ballroom at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Downtown Pittsburgh Thursday to devise the framework for a regional energy development plan.

Representatives from more than 20 energy-related organizations led the event, trying to pinpoint key issues to address in the energy development plan.

Pittsburgh and the surrounding 32 county region have a long history of being energy innovators, according to Power of 32 Implementation Committee Chairman Greg Babe, but the area lacks vision and strategy.

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Environment & Energy
4:39 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

New Facility Turns Acid Mine Drainage into Water for Fracking

A holding pond containing acid mine drainage - that water goes through the tanks in the background, is treated and can potentially be used for oil and gas operations.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A new demonstration project in Sarver, about 30 miles outside Pittsburgh, is taking a decades-old problem and turning it into a possible solution for the natural gas industry. Winner Water Service has launched treatment facility that aims to clean up polluted water – and sell it to natural gas developers for use in fracking operations.

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Environment & Energy
4:48 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Report: Natural Gas to Replace Diesel as Marine Cargo Vessel Fuel

35 million tons of freight passed through Pittsburgh's waterways in 2012.
Credit Flickr user KordIte

As the natural gas boom continues across Pennsylvania and the rest of the country, producers are looking for new markets for their products.

A recent study commissioned by America’s Natural Gas Alliance, an industry trade group, identified opportunities for the use of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to power cargo vessels on the nation’s waterways and railroads.

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Environment & Energy
8:17 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Locals Seek Control at Fracking Waste Wells

Stallion Oilfield Holdings' Attorney Robert Ryan, Regional Vice President Cameron Simon and Regional Operations Manager Randy Ile, at a well pad in Portage County, Ohio.2
Credit Julie Grant / The Allegheny Front

As natural gas production continues to spread across the country, some citizens are trying to fend off drilling rigs and waste sites in their backyards. While gas companies say they already face tough state regulations, that oversight doesn’t always ease residents’ fears.

As Ohio quickly becomes a go-to destination for the nation's fracking waste, some people worry about earthquakes and water contamination, and argue the state has taken away their authority to decide whether oil and gas waste should be allowed.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:49 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Discussing the Threat Posed by Aging Natural Gas Lines

Credit Consumers Energy / Flickr

In the last 10 years, accidents involving gas distribution lines killed more than 120 people and injured more than 500. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Mike Wereschagin discusses his recent series on the complications, dangers and costs of managing gas lines that are, in some cases, 100 years old.

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Environment & Energy
3:15 am
Mon September 22, 2014

State Energy Official: Door Is Open For Environmental Groups, Oil/Gas Execs Alike

A recent series of stories produced by The Allegheny Front and 90.5 WESA explored the influence of industry money on Pennsylvania’s oversight of the natural gas boom.

In one of the reports, there was an assertion from environmental group PennFuture that the former head of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was available mostly to industry:

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Inside the Halls of Government, Gas Industry Makes its Pitch

In the Pennsylvania Senate.
Credit Reid R. Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Greg Vitali has been a state representative for more than 20 years. He saw the rise of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania mainly through the lens of the state Capitol. About five or six years ago, he says, lobbyists for the industry began showing up. And they’ve never left.

“Drillers have this constant presence in Harrisburg  You go to any committee meeting, related to drilling, you see representatives from American Petroleum Institute, you see lobbyists from Range Resources,” Vitali says. “They’re just always here.”

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Moratorium Discussions at DCNR Raise Questions

Pipeline clearing for Marcellus Shale development in Tiadaghton State Forest in 2011.
Credit Reid R. Frazier / The Allegheny Front

In February, Governor Tom Corbett announced his intention to balance the state budget, in part, using millions of dollars in projected revenues from new oil-and-gas drilling leases in state parks and forests. It was the first public acknowledgment of Corbett’s plans to lift a 2010 moratorium on leasing.

But records uncovered in an investigation by 90.5 WESA and the Allegheny Front suggest the issue may have been under active discussion much earlier.

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Tue September 9, 2014

DCNR Ex-Chief's Calendar Shows Gaps

Fracking operations in Tiadaghton State Forest in 2011.
Credit Martha Rial / Special to 90.5 WESA / The Allegheny Front

As the agency that oversees 2.5-million acres of public land in Pennsylvania formed policy on drilling in state forests, the agency's head met frequently with oil and gas lobbyists in the capitol, including stops at upscale restaurants.

That's according to the calendar of Richard Allan, former Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Flooding the Zone: Gas Industry Pours Millions into Lobbying PA

The Pennsylvania Capitol building.
Credit Wally Gobetz / via Flickr Creative Commons

Barry Kauffman sees similarities between the oil and gas business and the business of ‘government relations’--lobbying.

In fracking, gas companies inject water, sand and chemicals underground to extract gas. In politics, Kaufmann says, you use campaign contributions and lobbying money, “inject it under high pressure under the legislature, to extract public policy, from which you profit. The two processes are actually very much parallel,” says Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, a non-partisan, non-profit government watchdog group.

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Environment & Energy
7:50 am
Tue September 2, 2014

State Senate Candidate Calls For Drilling Extraction Tax

Another Republican, this time a candidate for state Senate, is voicing support for a tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas drillers, largely a pet issue of Democrats.

Tom McGarrigle, running for a Delaware County seat, joins several sitting GOP senators who also support an extraction tax  to raise money for schools, infrastructure or pension obligations.

But it doesn’t mean an extraction tax is imminent.

Slapping natural gas drillers with a new tax is something more frequently proposed by Democrats.

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Environment & Energy
10:12 am
Tue August 26, 2014

State Regulators Take a Closer Listen to Gas Compressor Stations

One of eight compressor units at Seneca Resources' Hagerman station in the Loyalsock Forest. State regulators are trying to get a better handle on how the constant noise from the facilities affects people and wildlife.
Credit Joe Ulrich / WITF

Most of the noise created by natural gas development is temporary. After drilling and fracking, the workers and equipment are gone. A gas well in production is pretty quiet; it’s basically just a bunch of pipes in the ground.

But compressor stations can stay noisy for years– even decades. The facilities are necessary to process and transport gas through pipelines. When it comes to noise regulations, they’re governed by a patchwork of local, state, and federal rules.

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Environment & Energy
12:04 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

DEP: Lack of Oversight, Human Error Caused Deadly Greene County Well Fire

Pennsylvania investigators have faulted site managers in a report on a Chevron natural gas well fire in Dunkard Township, Greene County that killed a worker in February.

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Survey: Marcellus Shale Industry Growth Slowing

The Marcellus Shale Industry continues to grow, though at a slower pace than years past. That’s according to the recently-released Annual Workforce Survey from the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Industry companies expect to hire 2,000 workers in 2014, a 50 percent drop from 2013 numbers.

“We’ve seen a reduction in rig count, primarily due to the drop in natural gas prices not only Pennsylvania, but across the country,” said Dave Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, “kind of victims of our own success.”

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Environment & Energy
2:37 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

US Energy Secretary Hears from Pittsburgh on Natural Gas Future

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Congressman Tim Murphy addressed the importance of infrastructure for the future of natural gas development at a public meeting at CMU.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Department of Energy is holding meetings across the country on infrastructure needs for the natural gas industry.

On Monday the, the seventh such meeting, the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) Public Meeting, was held in Pittsburgh. The day-long meeting focused on key infrastructure needed for transmission, storage and distribution of energy – especially natural gas, which continues boom, especially in this region.

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Environment & Energy
10:48 pm
Sun June 22, 2014

Survey: Public Distrusts Gas Industry And Anti-Fracking Film, 'Gasland'

Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox.
Credit Linh Do via Flickr

A new study shows the public views both the natural gas industry and the anti-fracking film, "Gasland," as among the least trustworthy sources of information when it comes to hydraulic fracturing.

According to a paper published last month in Energy Research and Social Science, people are more likely to trust information from university professors, environmental groups, newspapers, and landowner groups.

Regulatory agencies ranked fifth in trustworthiness among the eight possible choices. They were followed by cooperative extensions and the natural gas industry.

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Environment & Energy
3:22 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

As Marcellus Shale Boom Continues, Public Perception Remains A Challenge For Industry

Thousands of people with ties to the natural gas industry are gathered in Pittsburgh this week for the Developing Unconventional Gas, or DUG East Conference.

With ongoing debate around natural gas development, one of the key areas of focus is changing public perception. Environmental groups and anti-fracking groups are concerned about how fracking affects water supplies and the environment and also about long-term effects of the technology. Some allege that industry officials put profits before people.

The Consumer Energy Alliance said that’s not the case.

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Life of Learning
1:04 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

High Schoolers Build Drones To Detect Gas Leaks, Measure Air Quality

For the last two months, more than 20 students at Winchester Thurston School in Shadyside have been building drones.

Part of a cross-curricular project led by science department chair Graig Marx and computer science department chair David Nassar, students were divided into seven teams and tasked with building a “quadcopter” with the ability to measure, report and analyze natural gas levels.

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Marcellus Shale
4:05 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Fracking Under Deer Lakes Park Is A Go, So What Happens Next?

Range Resources already operates around twenty production wells near Deer Lakes Park, with more under construction. This production pad is located in Washington County.
Credit Courtesy of Range Resources

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has signed an ordinance allowing hydraulic fracturing to occur underneath Deer Lakes Park.

Matt Pitzarella, spokesman for Range Resources, the company tasked with the drilling, said lawyers from the county and Range are still working out some technical details of the lease, but that it will be finalized soon.

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Environment & Energy
10:26 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Bluegrass Pipeline Project Comes To A Halt

Penny Greathouse, on her 700-acre cattle farm in Stamping Ground, Ky., in late October.
Credit Natasha Khan / PublicSource

Developers of a multi-state pipeline project, which has stirred controversy over the past year in Kentucky, announced Monday they have suspended all investment in the project indefinitely.

Williams Co., a Tulsa, Okla.-based company, said it has stopped investing in the Bluegrass Pipeline “primarily in response to an insufficient level of firm customer commitments.”

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Environment & Energy
10:32 am
Wed April 23, 2014

County Council Hears Pro, Con Testimony On Parks Drilling

Members of the Allegheny County Council heard testimony for and against a proposal to drill for natural gas under a Pittsburgh-area park.

The council is considering a proposal to allow Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley to drill beneath 1,180-acre Deer Lakes Park from well sites on neighboring properties.

Officials say the plan would mean millions of dollars for the county and a park improvement fund.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:00 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

'Unclear' Circumstances on the Ground During Chevron Blaze

After talking to the DEP, no one could give a clear answer as to why they acquiesced to Chevron when blocked at the entrance.
Credit Katie Colaneri / StateImpact PA

It recently came to light that Department of Environmental Protection investigators were blocked by Chevron employees in the days after a natural gas well explosion in Greene County. The explosion, which killed one Chevron employee, set off a fire which blazed for five days in February.  

StateImpact reporter Katie Colaneri recently broke the story and said Chevron would not allow the DEP to park or drive onto access roads toward the well for nearly two days. Colaneri says the rules are pretty straightforward concerning incidents such as the well explosion.

The DEP has authority over companies like Chevron during environmentally dangerous conditions, but Colaneri says the overall situation is still very unclear. 

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Marcellus Shale
4:25 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Policy Researchers Urge PA, OH and WV Governors to Adopt Common Tax for Oil and Natural Gas

Policy and research groups from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio have joined forces to urge their states’ governors to adopt a common severance tax rate for companies drilling for gas and oil in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations.

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Pennsylvania
11:54 am
Wed January 1, 2014

PA Natural Gas Advisory Committee Scheduled To Meet Again

Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Advisory Committee (NGAC) is supposed to discuss the role of state forest land in energy production — it just hasn’t done it yet.

The commonwealth has already leased about 385,400 acres of forest land for natural gas extraction, according to a report released by the DCNR in October.

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PublicSource
10:51 am
Sun December 22, 2013

A New Pipeline From PA Fracking Fields Is Stirring Controversy in the Bluegrass State

Nolen Boone's family has owned his 120-acre farm in New Haven, Ky., for generations. Boone crawls around a cave that spiders for a mile under his property and that of two of his neighbors.
Credit Natasha Khan / PublicSource

The land agent first came knocking on Vivian and Dean House’s door in July. They sat on the patio of the retired couple’s 85-acre farm in this Central Kentucky town and chatted.

The guy was friendly, the kind of guy Dean could talk to about fishing.

He put the couple at ease and told them his company was interested in running a pipeline through their land. They were later offered more than $165,000 to sign easements.

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Natural Gas Drilling
4:04 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

PA High Court Strikes Down Zoning Limits on Drilling

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday struck down portions of a law that stripped some of the powers municipalities have to decide where the natural gas industry can operate — portions that the industry had sought from Gov. Tom Corbett and lawmakers.

The justices ruled the 2012 law unconstitutionally restricted the power of municipalities, although the 4-to-2 majority disagreed as to why it was unconstitutional.

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Duquesne University Hosts Fracking Conference

More than two dozen researchers meet Monday at Duquesne University as part of a symposium on the latest findings regarding Marcellus Shale drilling.

Foundation-funded researchers from universities including Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Duke and Yale presented their independent research on topics such as air quality, human and animal health, effects on water treatment plants and local government response to shale gas development.

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Environment & Energy
3:00 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Package of Marcellus Shale Bills Still Up in the Air in Harrisburg

The Pennsylvania General Assembly gaveled into session this week after a long summer break, and on the agenda are items related to the use of natural gas from Marcellus Shale.

But the package of bills aimed at expanding use of the resource has some environmental groups concerned.

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Environment & Energy
4:10 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Energy Companies First to Utilize Field Gas for Hydraulic Fracturing Operations

Diesel is generally the fuel used to power everything from vehicles going to and from natural gas well sites to equipment used at the sites.

EQT Corporation and Green Field Energy have announced the completion of multiple fracturing stages using pumps powered by natural gas supplied from a Marcellus Shale gas well.

“Most of the engines used for hydraulic fracturing are diesel, so if you have turbine pumps that can use the natural gas on-site as the fuel source, it’s cleaner burning and reduces up to 85 percent of fuel costs,” said EQT spokeswoman Linda Robertson.

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