Recent Stories

Franklin & Marshall Poll Gauges Pennsylvanians’ Attitude toward Restore PA Plan

Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Opinion
Research has released
the results for their August 2019 poll. The poll grades citizens of
Pennsylvania’s attitudes on several current issues, including prospective state
policies. This poll asked citizens about their opinions on Gov. Tom Wolf’s
Restore PA policy proposal and yielded interesting results. Gov. Wolf’s Restore PA proposes $4.5 billion in
infrastructure incentives that will be paid for with a new severance tax on
natural gas extraction. The $4.5 billion would be borrowed, and paid off over a
20-year period with severance tax revenues.

New EQT Leader Reaches Out About Changes

The new CEO of EQT, the largest gas producer in
Pennsylvania, recently went on the road to assure landowners that his takeover
of the company will pay dividends. Toby Rice is already well-known in Southwestern Pennsylvania
and Ohio as the former president of Rice Energy, a company which had many
leases and wells in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio and was ultimately acquired
in 2017 by EQT. He recently went on a two-week outreach campaign to connect
with landowners in Southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. This
campaign consisted of holding well-attended events for landowners and community
members at which he spoke about his background and business philosophy, which
revolves around technology, planning, and relationships. He calls it the
“shalennial approach” to gas development.

Research Studies Impact of Shale Development in PA State Parks

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), natural gas extraction takes place on approximately 700,000 acres of state forest. While Governor Wolf issued a moratorium that stopped new leasing of state lands 2015, these lands remain impacted today. State lands are maintained by the DCNR, and much of it is open for recreational use. The DCNR monitors shale gas activities on state lands. Its Gas Monitoring Program works to track and monitor the effects shale gas development has on the natural resources, land uses, and the changes in monetary values that development causes to state forest land.

EQT Settles WV Lawsuit

EQT has agreed to pay $53.5 million to settle a federal class-action
lawsuit with West Virginia residents who claimed the company was
shortchanging them on gas royalty payments by deducting a variety of
post-production expenses. The lawsuit, which included about 9,000 people, was filed in
2013 and a trial was scheduled for November. EQT, which is the second-largest
gas producer in the state, will pay the money into a settlement fund and it
will be distributed based on factors such as the type of lease held, the amount
of gas produced from each well and how much was deducted from royalty checks. The suit claimed that EQT deducted money from royalty checks
for its post-production activities, such as the cost of transporting and
processing gas. EQT, which claimed the deductions were proper, said the
settlement demonstrated “the company’s commitment to fostering a good
relationship with landowners.

CEPM Director Teaches Fullbright Scholars at W&J

For the third consecutive year, Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) hosted a group of German students participating in a language and cultural exchange program organized by the German-American Fulbright Commission. The prestigious program is held at two universities in the United States each summer, and the 2019 hosts were W&J and Virginia Tech. Participants at W&J stayed on campus for three weeks and took courses offered by W&J faculty. Corey Young, Director of W&J’s Center for Energy Policy and Management, the host department for the Shale Gas Knowledge Hub, led a seminar for students titled “The Urban Turnaround: The Transition from Smokestacks to Sustainable Industries”. In that course, students learned about Pittsburgh’s steel heritage, the collapse of the steel industry, and the City’s efforts to reinvent and revitalize the region.

Down the Pipeline: Downstream Potential in Pennsylvania

Shale development in Pennsylvania is moving downstream. With
upstream operations now a functioning constant in the Commonwealth, natural gas
companies and investors have set their sights on downstream opportunities. Shale gas developments are categorized by three
classifications: upstream, midstream, and downstream. Gas extraction and any
operations at the well site are considered upstream, midstream covers pipeline
transfer of gas, and downstream encompasses the final use of the raw natural
gas. While upstream and midstream operations are generally limited to gas
extraction and transfer, downstream operations cover a broad spectrum of
possibilities.

Ohio Grant a ‘Positive Step’ Toward Final Decision on Second Appalachian Cracker Plant

Plans to build a second ethane cracker plant in the
tri-state region are moving forward. PTT
Global Chemical America has been studying the project in Belmont County,
Ohio, since 2015 and is close to making a final investment decision. In late July, JobsOhio, the state’s private economic
development organization, awarded a $30
million revitalization grant toward site preparation, which is expected to
cost about $65 million. It’s one of the largest awards ever offered by the
agency as an incentive to attract the plant. “JobsOhio’s revitalization grant will support initial site
preparation work, which will begin later this month.  While this is an important and positive step
for the project, no final investment decision has been made,” said JobsOhio
spokesman Matt Englehart.

Study Finds Unconventional Natural Gas Development Associated With Hospitalizations for Urinary Problems

Various studies have indicated
that an increase in unconventional natural gas development can lead to a
paralleled rise in certain health problems, including asthma, childhood cancer
and pneumonia in the elderly. However, these studies all
targeted specific conditions, and no broad analysis had yet been performed to
look for additional associations that may be less obvious. Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and
Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences recently
used data from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Pennsylvania
Unconventional Gas Wells Geodatabase of the Marcellus Shale and hospital
discharge records from 2003 to 2014 from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost
Containment Council PHC4 database to determine if the increase in unconventional
natural gas development in certain areas led to an increase in hospitalizations
by types of diagnosis. The time frame spans the period before Marcellus gas
well development began to the period after the height of well drilling. The PCH4 data included
the patient’s county of residence and the primary diagnosis.

Increase in Wastewater Pipelines Raises Regulation Questions

Natural gas companies are looking for better, more efficient ways to transport and dispose of contaminated wastewater used in the hydraulic fracturing process. Other shale basins across the United States have employed the use of a pipeline system to transport wastewater to other wells or treatment facilities rather than trucking it to reduce costs and community impacts. Major natural gas companies in Pennsylvania are following suit, though major questions linger about their monitoring to ensure there are no leaks.

DEP Reports Record Well Production in 2018

Pennsylvania natural gas wells produced a record amount in
2018, according to the recently released annual
report from the state Department of Environmental Protection. Gas production in the state reached more than 6.1 trillion cubic
feet in 2018, an increase of .8 trillion cubic feet over the previous year. The
amount of gas produced in Pennsylvania has risen each year since 2011, the
earliest year included in the report, when 1.06 trillion cubic feet was
produced. Pennsylvania is second only to Texas in the amount of gas
produced, the vast majority from unconventional gas wells, which use hydraulic
fracturing to access large amounts of gas trapped in layers of shale thousands
of feet beneath the surface. The wells use long lateral lines that travel
vertically out from the horizontal well boring to access more area.

New EQT Leader Reaches Out About Changes

The new CEO of EQT, the largest gas producer in
Pennsylvania, recently went on the road to assure landowners that his takeover
of the company will pay dividends. Toby Rice is already well-known in Southwestern Pennsylvania
and Ohio as the former president of Rice Energy, a company which had many
leases and wells in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio and was ultimately acquired
in 2017 by EQT. He recently went on a two-week outreach campaign to connect
with landowners in Southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. This
campaign consisted of holding well-attended events for landowners and community
members at which he spoke about his background and business philosophy, which
revolves around technology, planning, and relationships. He calls it the
“shalennial approach” to gas development.

Research Studies Impact of Shale Development in PA State Parks

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), natural gas extraction takes place on approximately 700,000 acres of state forest. While Governor Wolf issued a moratorium that stopped new leasing of state lands 2015, these lands remain impacted today. State lands are maintained by the DCNR, and much of it is open for recreational use. The DCNR monitors shale gas activities on state lands. Its Gas Monitoring Program works to track and monitor the effects shale gas development has on the natural resources, land uses, and the changes in monetary values that development causes to state forest land.

EQT Settles WV Lawsuit

EQT has agreed to pay $53.5 million to settle a federal class-action
lawsuit with West Virginia residents who claimed the company was
shortchanging them on gas royalty payments by deducting a variety of
post-production expenses. The lawsuit, which included about 9,000 people, was filed in
2013 and a trial was scheduled for November. EQT, which is the second-largest
gas producer in the state, will pay the money into a settlement fund and it
will be distributed based on factors such as the type of lease held, the amount
of gas produced from each well and how much was deducted from royalty checks. The suit claimed that EQT deducted money from royalty checks
for its post-production activities, such as the cost of transporting and
processing gas. EQT, which claimed the deductions were proper, said the
settlement demonstrated “the company’s commitment to fostering a good
relationship with landowners.

CEPM Director Teaches Fullbright Scholars at W&J

For the third consecutive year, Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) hosted a group of German students participating in a language and cultural exchange program organized by the German-American Fulbright Commission. The prestigious program is held at two universities in the United States each summer, and the 2019 hosts were W&J and Virginia Tech. Participants at W&J stayed on campus for three weeks and took courses offered by W&J faculty. Corey Young, Director of W&J’s Center for Energy Policy and Management, the host department for the Shale Gas Knowledge Hub, led a seminar for students titled “The Urban Turnaround: The Transition from Smokestacks to Sustainable Industries”. In that course, students learned about Pittsburgh’s steel heritage, the collapse of the steel industry, and the City’s efforts to reinvent and revitalize the region.

Down the Pipeline: Downstream Potential in Pennsylvania

Shale development in Pennsylvania is moving downstream. With
upstream operations now a functioning constant in the Commonwealth, natural gas
companies and investors have set their sights on downstream opportunities. Shale gas developments are categorized by three
classifications: upstream, midstream, and downstream. Gas extraction and any
operations at the well site are considered upstream, midstream covers pipeline
transfer of gas, and downstream encompasses the final use of the raw natural
gas. While upstream and midstream operations are generally limited to gas
extraction and transfer, downstream operations cover a broad spectrum of
possibilities.

Ohio Grant a ‘Positive Step’ Toward Final Decision on Second Appalachian Cracker Plant

Plans to build a second ethane cracker plant in the
tri-state region are moving forward. PTT
Global Chemical America has been studying the project in Belmont County,
Ohio, since 2015 and is close to making a final investment decision. In late July, JobsOhio, the state’s private economic
development organization, awarded a $30
million revitalization grant toward site preparation, which is expected to
cost about $65 million. It’s one of the largest awards ever offered by the
agency as an incentive to attract the plant. “JobsOhio’s revitalization grant will support initial site
preparation work, which will begin later this month.  While this is an important and positive step
for the project, no final investment decision has been made,” said JobsOhio
spokesman Matt Englehart.

Study Finds Unconventional Natural Gas Development Associated With Hospitalizations for Urinary Problems

Various studies have indicated
that an increase in unconventional natural gas development can lead to a
paralleled rise in certain health problems, including asthma, childhood cancer
and pneumonia in the elderly. However, these studies all
targeted specific conditions, and no broad analysis had yet been performed to
look for additional associations that may be less obvious. Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and
Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences recently
used data from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Pennsylvania
Unconventional Gas Wells Geodatabase of the Marcellus Shale and hospital
discharge records from 2003 to 2014 from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost
Containment Council PHC4 database to determine if the increase in unconventional
natural gas development in certain areas led to an increase in hospitalizations
by types of diagnosis. The time frame spans the period before Marcellus gas
well development began to the period after the height of well drilling. The PCH4 data included
the patient’s county of residence and the primary diagnosis.

Increase in Wastewater Pipelines Raises Regulation Questions

Natural gas companies are looking for better, more efficient ways to transport and dispose of contaminated wastewater used in the hydraulic fracturing process. Other shale basins across the United States have employed the use of a pipeline system to transport wastewater to other wells or treatment facilities rather than trucking it to reduce costs and community impacts. Major natural gas companies in Pennsylvania are following suit, though major questions linger about their monitoring to ensure there are no leaks.

DEP Reports Record Well Production in 2018

Pennsylvania natural gas wells produced a record amount in
2018, according to the recently released annual
report from the state Department of Environmental Protection. Gas production in the state reached more than 6.1 trillion cubic
feet in 2018, an increase of .8 trillion cubic feet over the previous year. The
amount of gas produced in Pennsylvania has risen each year since 2011, the
earliest year included in the report, when 1.06 trillion cubic feet was
produced. Pennsylvania is second only to Texas in the amount of gas
produced, the vast majority from unconventional gas wells, which use hydraulic
fracturing to access large amounts of gas trapped in layers of shale thousands
of feet beneath the surface. The wells use long lateral lines that travel
vertically out from the horizontal well boring to access more area.

Study Finds Low-level Exposure to Produced Water has Minimal Effect on Aquatic Life

The hydraulic fracturing process requires water and chemicals to be pumped beneath the earth’s surface at high pressures to “free” natural gas that is trapped in tight rock formations. When the fluid comes back up to the surface, it is known as produced water. Produced water can contain a number of chemicals including, but not limited to, ions, heavy metals, inorganic solids, and trace radionuclides. When produced water is accidentally spilled or otherwise discharged, it can harm the environment, especially aquatic life.