Marcellus Shale Coverage


Essential Pittsburgh
5:20 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Why the Low Gas Prices?

Credit Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources / Flickr

The word “staycation” seemed to enter the lexicon when gas prices were continually on the rise a few years back. Now, to the delight of consumers, gas prices are on the decline, and genuine vacations may be back in vogue.

Joining us for a look at how this is impacting the nation is Robert Morris University Economics Professor Brian O’Roark.

Read more
Environment & Energy
7:54 am
Tue January 20, 2015

State Senator Calls on Pipeline Companies to Pay Impact Fee

Impact fees have been in place for counties with Marcellus Shale drilling sites, but if State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) gets his way, pipelines could be the key to spreading the wealth.

Dinniman plans to introduce legislation Monday that would establish a pipeline impact fee in Pennsylvania.

He said the burden needs to be taken off those who are directly affected by the pipelines carrying shale gas to the ports of Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore.

Read more
Environment & Energy
11:20 am
Fri January 9, 2015

Watchdog Group FracTracker Launches iPhone App to Monitor Drilling Sites

A screenshot of the FracTracker app's map feature.
Credit FracTracker

The FracTracker Alliance, a nonprofit oil and gas industry watchdog, has launched a free iPhone app that allows users to track and report on the quality of nearby wells.

“Your geolocation gets shared with the app and so you can actually immediately see unconventional and conventional oil and gas wells near you…” said Samantha Malone, manager of education, communication and partnerships with FracTracker. “You can click on wells to see more information about a particular site, such as the operator or when it was drilled.”

Read more
Environment & Energy
2:15 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Court OKs Drilling In PA Parks, Forests; Appeal Planned

An environmental group plans to appeal a court ruling that upheld the leasing of public lands for gas and oil drilling. Commonwealth Court rejected a 2012 lawsuit by the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation seeking to halt drilling in state parks and forests and diverting revenues from a conservation fund to the general operating budget.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
4:52 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Ohio Earthquakes Linked to Hydraulic Fracturing

Credit Nicholas Tonelli / Flickr

Researchers at Miami University in Ohio have concluded fracking was most likely the cause of earthquakes that have taken place in the state.

Last March, 77 earthquakes occurred in Poland, Ohio, a town near the PA-OH state line. Reporter Julie Grant of the Allegheny Front joins us to discuss this recent report.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
8:05 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Fracking in 2015, in Light of a New Pennsylvania Governor and the New York Ban

Credit Adam Welz for CREDO Action / Flickr

Last month the state of New York voted to ban fracking. While many celebrated this news some saw their visions of an economic boom go bust.

Journalist Tom Wilber has been covering shale gas developments and gives a first-hand account of this latest news and emphasizes the importance of timing for this decision,  fracking's impact public health and social consequences and its relation to Pennsylvania.

"New York and Pennsylvania are different states in terms of their history with mineral extraction. I think that Pennsylvania has a different comfort level with mineral extraction, going back to the days of the anthracite coal mining. I think there is more of an acceptance of the downside of mineral extraction in Pennsylvania. [ In New York] It's foreign to people [mineral extraction]."

Allegheny Front reporter, Reid Frazier responds to Wilber’s point by reminding us that along with the attention of environmental groups, PA Governor-elect Tom Wolf has said he will be focusing on the public health implications of fracking in Pennsylvania.

Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Air Monitoring Ongoing At Airport Fracking Site

This past year, the Allegheny County Health Department began monitoring air quality at Pittsburgh International Airport to gauge the potential health risks of fracking.

Jim Thompson, the deputy director of environmental health for the department said they’re monitoring at the Imperial Point Development, which is approximately 2,500 feet from well pad #2 at the airport.

Read more
Environment & Energy
2:21 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

DEP Fines Vantage Energy $1 Million for Well Site Problems

Vantage Energy Appalachia has been fined $999,900 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for more than a dozen violations of regulations in connection with a Jan. 15 landslide as well as illegal waste disposal at a well pad in Franklin Township, Greene County.

Read more
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.

Read more
Marcellus Shale
4:44 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Report Claims Negative Impacts of Marcellus Shale Drilling

While the population in Marcellus Shale drilling towns has not increased, crime, housing costs and other negative impacts have.

That’s according to the left-leaning Keystone Research Center and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s report "The Shale Tipping Point: The Relationship of Drilling to Crime, Truck Fatalities, STDs and Rents in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio."

Read more
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.

Read more
Environment & Energy
1:06 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Marcellus Life: How an Elk County Town Is Struggling with Shale Gas Drilling Rules

St. Marys officials walk past high-pressure pipe used for fracking at a Seneca Resources shale gas site in the city.
Credit Natasha Khan / PublicSource

About a dozen St. Marys officials, outfitted with baggy blue jumpsuits, earplugs and white plastic hard hats, recently visited a Seneca Resources well pad on a wooded hilltop to see what fracking is all about.

This part of Pennsylvania, about 120 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Elk County, has been relatively untouched by shale drilling. But people see it coming in two test wells Seneca has there now, with more wells in the future.

Read more
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.

Read more
Breast Cancer
2:13 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Activists Urge Susan G. Komen Cut Ties With Fracking Industry

Health and breast cancer awareness advocates delivered 150,000 petitions to the Susan G. Komen offices in Pittsburgh Friday, urging the nonprofit to cut ties with the oil and gas industry.

Groups, including Breast Cancer Action, New Voices Pittsburgh and Food and Water Watch, are urging Komen to refuse a $100,000 check from oil and gas extraction company Baker Hughes, which, according to, saw a net income of roughly $1.6 billion over the last 12 months.

Read more
Economy & Business
2:04 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Partnership Seeks to Fill Jobs Gap in Oil and Gas Industry

A recent survey of 37 energy companies in southwestern Pennsylvania found some 7,000 jobs will need to be filled between now and 2020, jobs that are critical to ongoing operations.

That’s according to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, which conducted the survey. CEO Dennis Yablonsky said with more than 1,000 energy companies in the greater region, the job needs are likely much higher. The problem is finding enough skilled workers to fill those jobs.

Enter the Appalachia Partnership Initiative.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:53 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Pennsylvania State Police May Be Tracking Marcellus Shale Activists

Credit Daniel Foster / Flickr

Are state police in Pennsylvania tracking activists for Marcellus Shale drillers? 

We’ll pose that question to journalist Adam Federman who recently reported on this issue for the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia City Papers.

Fracking Health Impact
2:18 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Proposed Registry to Track, Respond to Fracking-Related Health Complaints

In 2011 the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommended a registry to collect health data from people living nearing fracking operations. Three years later that registry has yet to be created, and a state Senate panel says such a database is an important step toward tracking and responding to public health complaints related to gas drilling.

State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) says individual health studies are fine, but the state needs to develop data that covers all parts of the commonwealth.

Read more
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:

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:54 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

The DEP Sends a Message to the Shale Industry With Record Fine For Range Resources

Credit Daniel Foster / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced it has signed a consent order and agreement with Range Resources for violations at six of its impoundments in Washington County. The $4.15 million fine is the largest ever brought against a company in the Marcellus Shale era. We'll be joined by DEP spokesman John Poister.

Environment & Energy
3:23 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Range Resources To Pay $4M Drilling Waste Fine

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced it has signed a consent order and agreement with Range Resources for violations at six of its impoundments in Washington County.
“We have fined Range Resources $4.15 million, the largest fine that has ever been brought against a company in the Marcellus Shale era,” said DEP spokesman John Poister.
In addition, Range Resources has agreed to close five impoundments and upgrade two others. The impoundments in question are used to store water.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
2:03 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Can Living Near a Fracking Site Cause Health Problems?

Credit Ari Moore / Flickr

 A new study has found that residents in Western Pennsylvania living close to natural gas drilling sites were twice as likely to report health problems than those living farther away. We talk with the study's lead author Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, who says public health researchers surveyed nearly 500 adults and children in Washington County, southwest of Pittsburgh.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:00 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Zone of Influence: Money, Politics and Lobbying in the Fracking Industry

Credit 90.5 WESA

This week WESA and the Allegheny Front are airing a special series on hydraulic fracturing and state politics – specifically the money spent on lobbying.

We’ll speak with Allegheny Front reporter Reid Frazier and WESA Morning Edition Host Josh Raulerson whose investigation looks at the influence this money is having on Pennsylvania’s oversight of the natural gas boom.

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.

Read more
Marcellus Shale
6:04 am
Fri August 29, 2014

DEP Posts Impacted Well List

Six years into a natural gas boom, Pennsylvania has for the first time released details of 243 cases in which companies prospecting for oil or gas were found by state regulators to have contaminated private drinking water wells.

Read more
Marcellus Shale
4:45 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Gov. Corbett, Consol CEO Offer Praise at Airport Drilling Kickoff

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald speaks with reporters in front of a natural gas well pad near Pittsburgh International Airport Monday.
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

“Energy independence.”

“Shale revolution.”

These were the buzzwords used Monday morning as officials gathered for a ceremony marking the start of natural gas drilling activity near Pittsburgh International Airport.

The mood was festive — complete with music, appetizers, goodie bags and air conditioned portable restrooms — as Gov. Tom Corbett and Consol Energy President and CEO Nick DeIuliis prepared to take the podium.

Read more