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Familiar echoes in shale gas boom

John Dizard, Financial Times
Even as the policy wonks, campaign speechwriters, and credulous journalists continue to promote the shale gas revolution story, more of the original promoters may feel compelled to put their lawyers on standby…
(6 May 2012)

‘Fracking’ risks found to have been diminished

David Robinson, Buffalo News
A new study by the University at Buffalo concludes that state oversight and better industry practices have significantly reduced the risk of major environmental problems stemming from drilling high-volume natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale region in Pennsylvania.

The report, which examined nearly 3,000 reported violations at almost 4,000 Pennsylvania natural gas wells between January 2008 and August 2011, found that nearly two-thirds of the violations were administrative in nature, and less than 2 in 5 were linked to environmental concerns…

“Regulatory oversight has been quite effective in Pennsylvania in ensuring the safe development of natural gas resources,” said Timothy J. Considine, a University of Wyoming economics professor and the lead author of the UB report…

Considine’s previous research, often funded by the drilling industry, has highlighted the potential economic impact of natural gas drilling, using a controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” that critics say poses a grave threat to water supplies and the environment.
(15 May 2012)

Medical Records Could Yield Answers On Fracking

Jon Hamilton, NPR
A proposed study of people in northern Pennsylvania could help resolve a national debate about whether the natural gas boom is making people sick.

The study would look at detailed health histories on hundreds of thousands of people who live near the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation in which energy companies have already drilled about 5,000 natural gas wells.

If the study goes forward, it would be the first large-scale, scientifically rigorous assessment of the health effects of gas production…
(16 May 2012)

Water safe in town made famous by fracking-EPA

Timothy Gardner, Reuters
The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency said drinking water is safe to consume in a small Pennsylvania town that has attracted national attention after residents complained about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas.

The EPA has tested water at 61 homes in Dimock, Pennsylvania, where residents have complained since 2009 of cloudy, foul-smelling water after Cabot Oil & Gas Corp drilled for gas nearby…

The agency found one well in the last batch of data that contained methane, a main component of natural gas.

Seneca would not say what the agency thought the source of that methane was, but said the agency will conduct a review of the data…
(11 May 2012)

Shale causes rise in waste gas pollution

Henning Gloystein and Alessandra Prentice, Reuters
The shale energy boom is fuelling a rise in the burning of waste gas after years of decline, a World Bank source told Reuters ahead of the release of new data, giving environmentalists more ammunition against the industry.

Global gas flaring crept up by 4.5 percent in 2011, the first rise since 2008 and equivalent to the annual gas use of Denmark, preliminary data from the World Bank shows.

The increase is mostly due to the rise in shale oil exploration in North Dakota, propelling the United States into the top 10 gas flaring countries along with Russia, Nigeria and Iraq…
(2 May 2012)

Obama Warms to Energy Industry by Supporting Natural Gas

Mark Drajem, Bloomberg
Huddled around the West Wing table were an unlikely group of co-conspirators with the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

One participant had been fighting Obama’s proposal to raise taxes by $24 billion on oil companies; another had complained that a federal labor board is hampering hiring; a third pushed Congress to repeal Obama’s provision to clean up pollution from boilers. On the one issue they were called to discuss on that April day, however, they could rally around the Democratic administration: its recent embrace of natural gas.

For a president who has drawn withering criticism from the energy industry on issues ranging from the Keystone XL pipeline to environmental restrictions on coal-fired power plants, the White House meeting — and a series of decisions that followed – – illustrate his embrace of one fossil fuel…
(11 May 2012)