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August 30, 2014
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Gas at a glance


New study: hydraulic fracturing ‘worse than coal on climate’

Cornell University professors are set to publish new research that concludes natural gas produced by “hydraulic fracturing” contributes to global warming as much as coal, or even more, according to The Hill, a Washington DC news outlet. Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell, argues that development of gas from shale rock formations produced through hydraulic fracturing brings far more methane emissions than conventional gas production. “Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years,” states the study. It further concludes that shale gas developed through fracking carries a higher greenhouse gas footprint because the “fugitive” methane emissions at the fracking sites are greater than releases from conventional gas wells. The study calls into question the value of seeing natural gas as a bridge fuel while alternative energy sources are being developed. It is slated to run in the journal Climatic Change.

Conference to focus on public health and environment

The Earth Institute, Columbia University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency present “The Path to a Sustainable Future: Public Health and the Environment,” a free day-long conference. Speakers include Judith A. Enck, Region 2, EPA; Joe Martens, Commissioner, NY DEC; Sandra Steingraber, ecologist, author; Joseph Heath, General Counsel, Onondaga Nation; and John Holko, President, Lenape Resources, Inc. The closing session will focus on hydraulic fracturing.The conference is free and open to all. It will be held on April 15, from 9:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Columbia University, Morningside Campus, Low Memorial Library, The Rotunda. Register at http://calendar.columbia.edu/sundial/webapi/get.php?vt=detail&id=standal... or contact events@ei.columbia.edu for more information.

DEP orders Catalyst Energy to stop gas operations

The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a cease and desist order to Catalyst Energy Inc. that prohibits the company from conducting all drilling and hydro-fracturing operations for the 36 non-Marcellus wells within 2,500 feet of two homes in the Yellow Hammer area of Hickory Township, Forest County. A DEP investigation confirmed that private water supplies serving the two homes had been contaminated by natural gas and elevated levels of iron and manganese from Catalyst’s operations. Catalyst must conduct an investigation to determine which wells may be responsible for the gas migration. That responsibility is part of Pennsylvania’s more stringent regulations, which went into effect Feb. 5, related to well construction and gas migration cases. Catalyst must also provide temporary whole-house water systems to the homes and either permanently restore or replace the water supplies by July 1. The company is required to submit a gas migration status report to DEP every ten days, which provides information on the progress of the investigation. The 22 wells in question are combination oil
and gas wells with an average depth of 1,500 to 3,000 feet.

Poll: 70% support gas tax, 65% say no to state forest leasing

According to PA Environment Digest, a recent poll by Susquehanna Polling found 70% of those polled support a Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction tax, including 62% of registered Republicans. A week earlier, a poll by Franklin & Marshall College found 62% of those surveyed support the tax. The new poll found 65% of voters were against opening any more state forest land to drilling. Only 17% supported continued budget cuts to the Department of Environmental Protection, which now has General Fund support below 1994 levels.