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Drilling permits decline sharply for the Pennsylvania Marcellus formation

Tom Corbett, The Examiner
New data released yesterday by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection shows a severe decline in new shale gas well permits issued for the first six months of this year. Permits issued by the State have declined sharply since January 2012 and dropped for the last three straight months for both new wells and “refracks” of existing wells. The significant declines in permits come at a time when the shale gas industry has been crossing over into Ohio for the more lucrative wet oil infused shale gas and leaving the Marcellus. Yet the Corbett Administration is in all-out effort to speed up the State’s permitting process and fighting hard to keep Act 13 prohibitions in place to prevent local townships from enforcing their own zoning ordinances when it comes to shale gas drilling.

The State issued roughly 350 shale gas permits in January of this year while for July they issued a total of roughly 110 permits, more than a 70% decline. For May 250 permits were issued which decreased to 150 permits for June followed by another decline to 110 permits for July, a decline trend for permits which began back in 2011…
(17 August 2012)

University of Texas Compounds Conflict Question in Review of Gas Report

Andrew Revkin, New York Times Dot Earth
As I wrote recently, the University of Texas, Austin, appropriately initiated an independent review of the report from its Energy Institute on gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, methods. The review was ordered after the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit research group, pointed out previously undisclosed financial ties between a leader of the report, Charles Groat, and a drilling company.

Last week, however, the same watchdog group pointed out that the announced leader of the independent review, Norman Augustine, a past presidential science and technology adviser and leader of important technical assessments for NASA and Congress, is receiving substantial payments from ConocoPhilips for past service on the board of directors…
(22 August 2012)

Fracking Hazards Obscured In Failure To Disclose Wells

Benjamin Haas, Jim Polson, Phil Kuntz and Ben Elgin, Bloomberg
Seeking to quell environmental concerns about the chemicals it shoots underground to extract oil and natural gas, Apache Corp. (APA) told shareholders in April that it disclosed information about “all the company’s U.S. hydraulic fracturing jobs” on a website last year.

Actually, Apache’s transparency was shot through with cracks. In Texas and Oklahoma, the company reported chemicals it used on only about half its fracked wells via, a voluntary website that oil and gas companies helped design amid calls for mandatory disclosure…
(14 August 2012)

Natural Gas and Its Role In the U.S.’s Energy Endgame

Kevin Doran and Adam Reed, Yale Environment 360
The United States has won the lottery on natural gas. According to the most recent estimates by the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. has some 2,214 trillion cubic feet cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas — enough to satisfy all of our natural gas demands for the next century at current consumption levels. The extraction of shale gas, enabled by technological advances such as hydrofracturing and horizontal drilling, has led the way in creating this largely unforeseen cornucopia. Domestic natural gas is now a cheaper fuel for electricity generation than coal — long our go-to fuel for power around the clock — and emits roughly half the greenhouse gas emissions.

It appears that our energy problems are over — or are they?

A full-throttle shift to a gas-dominated electricity system, which now appears to be the ordained path forward in many parts of the country, will flash through our newfound abundance more quickly than we realize, and will not ultimately stave off catastrophic climate change, which by any reasonable measure of sanity is still the defining challenge of the 21st The rose of abundant gas is not without thorns, including the risk of price increases. century — cheap gas or not. Within a decade or less, we could be facing high natural gas costs again, plus the added burden of a planet in an ever-deepening ecological crisis…
(13 August 2012)
Kevin Doran, left, is an institute fellow and assistant research professor at the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), a joint institute of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the University of Colorado at Boulder. His research focuses on the legal, regulatory and public policy dimensions of energy development. Adam Reed is a research associate at RASEI. He researches and writes on the legal, policy, and regulatory issues surrounding the deployment of sustainable energy technologies.

Destroying Precious Land for Gas

Sean Lennon, New York Times op-ed
…A few months ago I was asked by a neighbor near our farm to attend a town meeting at the local high school. Some gas companies at the meeting were trying very hard to sell us on a plan to tear through our wilderness and make room for a new pipeline: infrastructure for hydraulic fracturing. Most of the residents at the meeting, many of them organic farmers, were openly defiant. The gas companies didn’t seem to care. They gave us the feeling that whether we liked it or not, they were going to fracture our little town…

…Natural gas has been sold as clean energy. But when the gas comes from fracturing bedrock with about five million gallons of toxic water per well, the word “clean” takes on a disturbingly Orwellian tone. Don’t be fooled. Fracking for shale gas is in truth dirty energy. It inevitably leaks toxic chemicals into the air and water. Industry studies show that 5 percent of wells can leak immediately, and 60 percent over 30 years. There is no such thing as pipes and concrete that won’t eventually break down. It releases a cocktail of chemicals from a menu of more than 600 toxic substances, climate-changing methane, radium and, of course, uranium…
(27 August 2012)
Sean Lennon is a musician, and son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Fracking is too important to foul up

Michael R. Bloomberg and George P. Mitchell, Washington Post op-ed
In Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and even Texas, there is a fundamental debate over “fracking” — the hydraulic fracturing of shale rock that, together with horizontal drilling, unleashes abundant natural gas. Mostly, it’s the loud voices at the extremes who are dominating the debate: those who want either no fracking or no additional regulation of it. As usual, the voices in the sensible center are getting drowned out — with serious repercussions for our country’s future.

The production of shale gas through fracking is the most significant development in the U.S. energy sector in generations, and it affords four major benefits that people on both sides of the debate should welcome…
(24 August 2012)
Michael R. Bloomberg is the mayor of New York and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. George P. Mitchell pioneered hydraulic fracturing technologies as chief executive of what was then Mitchell Energy & Development Corp. He is chairman of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.

Shale gas failure offers rescue for EU green energy drive

Barbara Lewis and Henning Gloystein, Reuters
Europe has been unable to repeat the shale gas revolution that has swept the United States, and that could prove to be the unlikely saviour of long-term EU efforts to spur renewables and curb greenhouse gases.

The United States has managed to lower greenhouse gas emissions as well as energy prices as cheap shale gas has displaced coal, prompting calls from industry for Europe and others to follow suit.

The argument is that natural gas, which emits less CO2 than coal, can be a friend, not a foe, to environmentalists.

But investors say the shale gas revolution will not be repeated in Europe – a failure that could make way for greener fuel than gas.

"I wouldn’t completely write off shale gas development in Europe, but certainly the scale and speed at which it happens will not be like in the U.S.," said Chris Rowland, an associate at Ecofin, a British-based investment manager with around $1.9 billion of assets under management, covering global energy, utility, infrastructure and alternative energy sectors.

"It’s a good fuel for reducing emissions but not a good fuel for decarbonising," he added…
(23 August 2012)