Pennsylvania is no stranger to extractive industries–like coal and timber. By the early twentieth century its forests were decimated. Today they’ve grown back and trees are harvested in a sustainable manner.
But scientists say the state’s surge in natural gas development is having new kinds of dramatic effects on its forests.
A draft update of Pennsylvania’s Climate Change Action Plan lacks a specific target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The state’s previous Action Plan–published by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2009– set an emissions reduction target of 30 percent by the year 2020.
According to the DEP, there is no target this time because state law does not require one.
The new plan is the second in a pair of legally-mandated reports about climate change. As StateImpact Pennsylvania has previously reported, the publication of both documents has been fraught with problems.
Two years ago, Victoria Switzer and her neighbors had stopped speaking.
Switzer was one of the residents of Dimock who claimed natural gas drilling had ruined their water supplies. The small village in Susquehanna County became synonymous with flaming taps and jugs of muddy brown drinking water.
But the media blitz angered her neighbors, the Teels, who said it ignored the economic benefits of drilling.
The reporters, the activists and the industry haven’t gone away, but things have started to change.
The Marcellus Shale is one of the most productive natural gas formations in the world. But when it comes to measuring precisely how productive it is, Pennsylvania doesn’t audit the numbers.
Natural gas production data is submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection directly from drillers and published online before it’s verified.
As allegations of underpaid gas royalties continue, some landowners are frustrated there is nowhere for them to go to check how much gas is produced and what they’re supposed to be paid.
Yesterday the U.S. Energy Department announced a milestone last seen nearly two decades ago: the United States produced more crude oil in a month than it imported.
Morning Edition spoke with Wall Street Journal reporter Gregory Zuckerman, author of The Frackers, about the geopolitical implications of that increased domestic energy production. Zuckerman (not to be confused with the other Wall Street Journal reporter with a book that has the word “frack” in the title) said U.S. oil production made the current sanctions on Iran possible.
The state Department of Environmental Protection’s acting Secretary Chris Abruzzo says regulating the radioactive materials associated with gas drilling could be the “next frontier” of the agency’s oversight of the industry.
In an interview with the Scranton Times-Tribune, Abruzzo says the DEP is still in the midst of its year-long study into naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) and technologically enhanced material (TENORM).
“It will depend largely on what the results [of the study] show us,” Abruzzo told the newspaper. “It certainly has the potential to be the next frontier in terms of regulations coming out.”
Dairy farming doesn’t bring in the money it used to in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. So to make ends meet, farmer Brian Smith is also a school bus driver and a county commissioner.
A few years ago, Smith leased his land in Damascus Township to an energy company looking to tap into deposits of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale below his farm.
Smith said he wanted some financial security for his family of eight. “You start thinking as you turn 50 years old, if something happens to me, how are these kids gonna pay $300,000 to pay off the debt that’s on this farm?”
But in the parts of Pennsylvania that lie in the Delaware River watershed, natural gas drilling has been on hold for more than four years. That’s because the five-member Delaware River Basin Commission, the agency in charge of overseeing the region’s water quality, has been unable to come to a consensus about how to regulate it. The DRBC came close to voting on draft regulations in late November 2011, but the meeting was postponed indefinitely to give the commissioners more time.
For the last two years, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has been the commission’s only vocal “yes” vote. The other commissioners – the governors of New Jersey, New York and Delaware, plus a federal representative from the Army Corps of Engineers – haven’t taken a final stand.
Marie Cusick/StateImpact Pennsylvania permalink
Diana and Terry Van Curen are Chesapeake leaseholders in Bradford County who say the company has been underpaying them.