The panel will examine a number of topics including air, water, and climate concerns, but they will not issue specific recommendations, according to the Post-Gazette:
“This review will be successful if the current state of knowledge about shale gas drilling is clarified and the uncertainties identified so we have better understanding and insights to help manage the risks,” said Mitchell Small, the NAS committee chair and Carnegie Mellon University professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He will moderate a discussion this morning on a survey of concerns about lesser-studied drilling issues including impacts on rural quality of life, domestic animals, industry transparency and social justice.
Paul Stern, director of the review and senior scholar with the academy’s Board on Environmental Change and Society, said the review’s goal is to pull together the best available information for use by national and state policymakers.
Among the questions he faced were how much the state’s economy has benefited, and how Pennsylvania has managed to “beat the environmental groups.”
Corbett touted the jobs brought by the industry, and said fracking technology has been demonstrated to be safe.
“We passed a law last year, which is the toughest environmental law in the nation, when it comes to fracking” said Corbett, referring to Act 13. “We are following what the industry is doing and they have so far been safe. When there’s been accidents, they have been penalized for it.”
Dr. Amy Pare, a Washington County plastic surgeon, says she worries the requirement for healthcare providers to sign non-disclosure agreements will harm patient care.
State Rep. Greg Vitali, (D-Delaware County), says he’ll be introducing a bill to amend Act 13 public health provisions. One of the most controversial provisions of the state’s new drilling law requires doctors to sign non-disclosure forms in order to get information on chemical exposures to treat patients. The language of the law is vague, and has created confusion and fear among doctors and other health professionals.
Dr. Amy Pare, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon from Washington County, has spoken out against the provision.
“As I understand it,” Pare told StateImpact, “it’s legally binding, so if 20 years from now I hiccup that someone was exposed to zippity doo dah, I’m legally liable for that.”
Pare says it could also have larger implications regarding public health data.
Vitali says his bill would allow health workers to share that “trade secret” information with other health professionals and regulatory agencies for healthcare purposes. Continue Reading →
A Seneca Resources well pad in the Loyalsock State Forest on land leased from the state. Anadarko Petroleum actually owns mineral rights in the Loyalsock, which it plans to develop.
After facing mounting public pressure regarding the possibility of expanding natural gas drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has agreed to hold a public meeting on the issue.
“DCNR is responding to requests that the public be given the chance to provide the department with information and comments on possible gas development in the Loyalsock, in an area where we do not own the subsurface rights,” DCNR Secretary Richard Allan said in a statement.
At issue is a 25,000 acre swath known as the Clarence Moore tract. Anadarko owns about 50 percent of the mineral rights. DCNR officials say they’re legally required to provide surface access. But environmentalists say the state has the authority to limit access to some of the most sensitive areas. Conservation groups have been actively pushing for a seat at the table.
Anti-fracking activists protest gas drilling at Philadelphia's Love Park. Some activist groups are critical of the Environmental Defense Fund for working with industry.
Discord over how to best protect the environment from impacts of natural gas drilling has led to a coalition of grassroots environmental groups shunning the Environmental Defense Fund. The groups plan to hold a conference call on Wednesday to “send a message…disapproving of [EDF's] willingness to be coopted by industry interests on the issue of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.”
EDF recently drew the ire of fractivists when it announced its participation in The Center for Sustainable Shale Gas Development, a collaboration with energy companies and philanthropical organizations to develop performance standards related to protecting air and water quality. EDF is the only national environmental group to join the coalition, which also includes PennFuture, Group Against Smog and Pollution, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. [CSSD includes two organizations that also provide funds to StateImpact Pennsylvania: the Heinz Foundation and the William Penn Foundation.]Continue Reading →
"We have to be the voice of the birds," said Paul Zeph, of the Pennsylvania Audubon Society.
Deep in the Loyalsock State Forest, where no cell phone signal reaches, the sounds of rushing waterfalls and forest birds are suddenly interrupted by the sound of a helicopter.
Paul Zeph of the Pennsylvania Audubon Society says the noise could be related to gas drilling. Drillers will often drop seismic testing equipment into remote areas that are difficult to reach by roads. And that leads Zeph to cite one of the many worries that naturalists and outdoors lovers have with plans to expand drilling in the Loyalsock.
“Song birds identify one another through singing and they identify their territory through singing,” says Zeph. “With a very noisy environment, studies are starting to show that it’s impairing the ability to find mates.”
After battling the Department of Environmental Protection for a year to release water test records, the Scranton Times-Tribune has sifted through hundreds of documents that show incomplete record keeping and questions over the thoroughness of DEP’s investigations.
State environmental regulators determined that oil and gas development damaged the water supplies for at least 161 Pennsylvania homes, farms, churches and businesses between 2008 and the fall of 2012, according to a cache of nearly 1,000 letters and enforcement orders written by Department of Environmental Protection officials and obtained by The Sunday Times.
Penn State geologist Terry Engelder, who helped propel the state’s shale gas boom by revealing how much natural gas lies trapped within the Marcellus, says the industry would be better off with more disclosure. Speaking to Gas Rush Stories producer Kirsi Jansa after a panel discussion on the lack of openness at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Engelder says resources should be spent on making the DEP more transparent. Check out the video below for more:
In a closely watched decision, the Obama Administration has approved a second terminal to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) overseas, according to the Washington Post:
The Energy Department said Friday that it had given preliminary authorization to Freeport LNG Expansion L.P. and FLNG Liquefaction LLC to export up to 1.4 billion cubic feet per day of liquefied natural gas from its existing facility in Quintana Island, Texas. The Freeport project is a joint venture between ConocoPhillips and other private investors.
Energy Department approval is needed for exports to countries with which the U.S. doesn’t have a free-trade agreement, a category that includes major trading partners in Europe and Asia. The project still requires final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Freeport terminal is the second export facility approved by the Obama administration. Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass facility in Louisiana won approval to export LNG to the non-FTA countries in May 2011.
The push to export comes as the gas industry has seen a boom in shale production that has depressed prices in the U.S., while prices overseas remain high.
The industry welcomed the news, but continued to press for more approvals.