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News stories about gas drilling, gas production, hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), pipelines, legislation, lawsuits, ethane, protests and environmental issues around Marcellus shale, Utica shale and other shale plays in the United States and around the world.

Allegheny River water quality good; pollution concerns remain for 2 creeks

By Mary Ann Thomas / TRIBLive / Dec 16, 2016

Blacklick Creek - Researchers this year continued to turn up high levels of bromide, a salt often associated with waste water from Marcellus shale fracking and abandoned mine drainage, in Blacklick Creek. The creek has the region's highest concentration of bromides, the most persistent pollutant in the study since it began. Bromides are not regulated by the state, so there is no legal limit. But levels are of concern to scientists, especially if the contamination is close to a drinking water source. Water from Blacklick eventually ends up in the Allegheny River, the drinking water source for the majority of Alle-Kiski Valley residents.

Environmental authorities have been monitoring the bromide problem since 2010, when the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) discovered a significant increase in bromides in Allegheny River water and trihalomethanes in drinking water. Long-term exposure to THMs might cause liver, kidney or central nervous system problems and increase the risk of cancer. The PWSA studies revealed that discharges of oil and natural gas waste water were the major source of bromides in the Allegheny River basin. Porter estimates bromide levels on Blacklick Creek are on the order of about five times greater than what is detectable in other streams. A suspected source is Fluid Recovery Services' waste processing plant in Josephine, Indiana County.

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Reversing Course, E.P.A. Says Fracking Can Contaminate Drinking Water

/ New York Times / Dec 13, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that hydraulic fracturing, the oil and gas extraction technique also known as fracking, has contaminated drinking water in some circumstances, according to the final version of a comprehensive study first issued in 2015. The report, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind to date on the effects of fracking on water supply, comes as President-elect Donald J. Trump has vowed to expand fracking and roll back existing regulations on the process. His choice to run the E.P.A., Scott Pruitt, the attorney general from Oklahoma, has built his career on fighting E.P.A. regulations on energy exploration.

Thomas A. Burke, the E.P.A.’s science adviser, and deputy assistant administrator of the agency’s Office of Research and Development, said that the new report found evidence that fracking has contributed to drinking water contamination in all stages of the process: acquiring water to be used for fracking, mixing the water with chemical additives to make fracking fluids, injecting the chemical fluids underground, collecting the wastewater that flows out of fracking wells after injections, and storing the used wastewater.

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Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120

CONTACT: Neil Shader, DEP 717-787-1323

Rice Energy Subsidiaries Assessed Over $3.5 Million in Penalties for Well Pad and Pipeline Violations

Pittsburgh, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) assessed civil penalties to Rice Energy subsidiaries for multiple violations of environmental laws at 10 well sites and 6 pipeline locations, with a total fine of over $3.5 million.

DEP and Rice Energy signed seven separate enforcement documents addressing the violations that occurred at sites in Washington and Greene Counties. The violations span several years and include failing to obtain required permits, failing to maintain erosion and sedimentation controls, releasing wastewater to the ground and waters of the Commonwealth, and failing to have a pre-operational inspection of a well site by DEP prior to drilling, among others.

“Minimizing the impacts that drilling activity has on Pennsylvania waterways is a key part of responsible development,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “While many of these violations have been corrected and remediated, they should have not happened in the first place. DEP will continue to hold responsible companies that act without permits and violate the rules and regulations of the Commonwealth.”

The fines include:

•    $1,633,550 for leaks from an unpermitted wastewater impoundment and insufficient erosion and sediment controls, failure to stabilize the well site, and other violations at two well sites in Jackson and Center Townships, Greene County.

•    $1,314,275 for failure to obtain a permit before earthmoving activities, failure to obtain a pre-operational inspection prior to drilling, and multiple erosion and sediment control violations in Washington and Greene counties.

•    $437,100 for erosion and sediment control violations and a well casing violation at sites in Washington and Greene counties.

•    $97,852 for failing to obtain a permit for a culvert, illegally discharging into a waterway, and erosion and sediment control violations at sites in Washington and Greene counties.

•    $14,850 for slope failure and sediment discharge outside of the permitted limit of disturbance at sites in Greene County.

•    $11,750 for violations associated with the company’s failure to maintain erosion and sedimentation controls in Washington County.

•    $35,075 for well site stabilization, casing, and road construction violations in Greene County.

Subsidiaries that are part of the enforcement actions are Rice Drilling B LLC, Rice Poseidon Midstream LLC, and Rice Midstream Holdings LLC. Sites formerly owned by Alpha Shale Resources, LP, now owned and operated by Rice, are also included.

Rice Energy has paid all civil penalties imposed by DEP and has either corrected or is under an enforceable schedule to correct the violations at its sites.

Audit: Vague guidelines led to improper spending of Pa.'s impact fees

By Laura Legere / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / Dec 6, 2016

Weak oversight and unclear limits in Pennsylvania’s impact fee law have allowed some local governments to spend the money in ways that have little to do with addressing the natural gas drilling-related pressures the funds were meant to offset, according to a report released Tuesday by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

The audit — covering four years of payments between 2012 and 2016 — found that a quarter of the impact fee funds in the 30 counties and municipalities the audit sampled were spent on “questionable costs” that appeared to be outside the scope of the law, like balancing budget deficits, paying salaries at county jails, building community swimming pools or buying fireworks for a holiday celebration.

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Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120

CONTACT: Neil Shader, DEP 717-787-1323

Statement on DEP Appeal to PA Supreme Court

Harrisburg, PA – The following statement can be attributed to Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell:

“Today DEP has filed an appeal of the Commonwealth Court decision to enjoin sections of the Chapter 78A unconventional drilling regulations to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. By the decision issued on November 8, the Commonwealth Court temporarily stayed limited provisions contained in the new regulations. These regulations establish basic protections for areas that could be impacted by unconventional drilling – places like schools, playgrounds, and other public resources. That ruling resulted in a narrow temporary stay, which DEP is now appealing.

“These commonsense regulations were the result of five years of public participation, including dozens of meetings with natural gas industry leaders and trade groups, as well as nearly 25,000 Pennsylvanians who made their voices heard by providing public comments.” 

Collier author writes young adult book with Marcellus Shale focus

By Kim Lyons / TribLive / Nov. 21, 2016

Neustadt wrote “Sebastian's Tale” (under the pen name Dylan Weiss) over the past nine years. She wanted to find a way to connect what she views as the dangers of Marcellus Shale fracking to younger readers. “I really think it should be debated, and young people need to be aware of the environmental risks,” Neustadt said. It's a story with a lot of local influence. It's inspired by current events in southwestern Pennsylvania and Neustadt was inspired to use the skunk as her title character after encountering one during a walk in Mt. Lebanon.

The villains of “Sebastian's Tale” are the land developers trying to take away the natural forest in Penns Wood where Sebastian and his friends live. But Neustadt says the book has themes of friendship and loyalty, and isn't too heavy a read for youngsters.

Full story

Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120

CONTACT: Melanie Williams, DEP 814-332-6615

DEP to Host Public Meeting and Hearing on Shell Chemical Appalachia Petrochemicals Complex Air and Water Discharge Permit Amendments

Pittsburgh, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will host a public meeting from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. followed by a public hearing from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 15, 2016 regarding both the Department’s intent to issue a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit amendment as well as its intent to authorize a modification to the existing Air Plan Approval for the Shell Chemical Appalachia Petrochemicals Complex located at 300 Frankfort Road in Monaca. DEP will record testimony and receive written comments throughout the hearing and will also accept written statements until December 26, 2016.

Those wishing to testify in person should contact Environmental Justice Coordinator Nora Alwine at 412-442-4137. Each individual will have up to 3 minutes to present testimony.

Written statements regarding the draft NPDES permit amendment may be sent to the Clean Water Program, at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

Written statements regarding the modification to the Air Plan Approval may be sent to the Air Quality Program, at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

More information about these pending authorizations, as well as other documents relating to the Shell facility can be found on DEP’s website at:

All documents pertaining to these pending authorizations are available for review by appointment between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at DEP Southwest Regional Office, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, 412-442-4000.

WHAT: DEP Public Meeting 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
DEP Public Hearing 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
WHEN: Thursday, December 15, 2016. Doors open at 5 p.m.
WHERE: Central Valley High School, 160 Baker Road Extension, Monaca, PA 15061

Individuals in need of an accommodation as provided for in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 should contact Nora Alwine at 412-442-4137.

VIDEO: Earth's Changing Climate with Dr. Julie Snow
climate change

Utica and Marcellus shale: Oil and gas drilling permits inch higher

Belmont County, Ohio, and Washington County, Pennsylvania, home to most permitting activity

By Susan Crowell / Farm & Dairy / Nov 9, 2016

Ohio now has 1,412 wells in production in the Utica or Point Pleasant shale plays, with another 421 wells either in the process of being drilled, or have been drilled and are waiting to go into production. Permitting activity continues to be strong in Belmont County. There were nine permits granted in September and another 22 in October. A total of 2,287 permits have been issued, to date, for horizontal well drilling in Ohio. There have been no drilling permits issued in Ohio’s Marcellus Shale in 2016, and only one was issued in 2015.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued 189 unconventional oil/gas well drilling permits in September and October, 95 in September and 94 in October. There were 43 permits issued in September and October in Washington County. Outside of western Pa., other key counties with oil and gas production include Bradford, which received 12 new permits for drilling during September and October; Susquehanna, which received 30 total permits; and Tioga, where 16 permits were issued.

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Trump victory reverses U.S. energy and environmental priorities

By Steven Mufson and Brady Dennis / The Washington Post / Nov 9, 2016

Donald J. Trump comes into office with a plan to toss out most of what President Obama achieved on energy and the environment. While vowing to “cancel” the international Paris climate accord Obama championed, Trump would also rearrange domestic energy and environmental priorities. He wants to open up federal lands to oil and gas drilling and coal mining. He wants to eliminate regulations he calls needless. He would scrap proposed regulations for tighter methane controls on domestic drillers. And he wants to shrink the role of the Environmental Protection Agency to a mostly advisory one and pull back the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s proposed plan to push utilities toward lower carbon emissions.

Although Trump has portrayed himself as the ultimate outsider, in putting together a transition team the New York real estate mogul has chosen veteran Washington insiders, many of them lobbyists for fossil fuel companies and skeptics about climate science. Oil industry executives were delighted.

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Fracking is harmful to health, Scottish Government report says

By Rachael Pells / Independent / Nov 8, 2016

A series of new reports published by the Scottish Government have revealed damning evidence of the impacts of shale gas fracking in Scotland. An investigation into the potential health effects of fracking found there was “sufficient” evidence to suggest that a number of “air and water-born environmental hazards” would be likely to occur should the operations go ahead.

Workers could also be at risk from breathing in dangerous crystalline silica during operations, the report found, a risk to health that could also affect those living near to fracking sites. However, the report – one of six to be published – found that there was “inadequate” data to determine whether the development of shale oil and gas or coal bed methane would pose a risk to public health overall.

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OPEC Has No Reason to Be Happy About a Donald Trump Presidency

Reuters / Nov 9, 2016

OPEC’s job of trying to prop up oil prices has just got much harder. With Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidential election, the 14-country oil-producing cartel may have to battle a sourer outlook for the global economy and weaker demand for crude.

It also faces the prospect of increased U.S. oil output—a major bugbear for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries—given Trump’s pledge to open all federal land and waters for fossil fuel exploration. OPEC’s internal dynamic could change, with Trump promising to tighten policies on Iran just as oil companies begin slowly to return to the Islamic Republic.

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O'MALLEY: Make ban on offshore drilling permanent

By Bill O’Malley / / Nov 6, 2016

In the final countdown to the presidential election, the remaining two months of the Obama administration might seem like an afterthought. But they are anything but, and President Barack Obama can help undo one of the largest environmental blunders of his administration: the attempts to open the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans for offshore drilling.

The president has an opportunity to steer America’s energy priorities away from dirty energy, provide certainty to coastal communities and businesses, protect our ocean and beaches, fulfill the commitment of the Paris Climate Agreement and state we should start to leave fossil fuels in the ground. The president has the authority to permanently protect the Atlantic and Arctic oceans — and he should use it.

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Oil and gas litigation's fate unclear under new president

By Ellen M. Gilmer / E&E / Nov 6, 2016

As the White House prepares for a changing of the guard, federal agencies are involved in several high-profile oil and gas lawsuits that will churn on no matter what the outcome on the ballots. But while elections have no bearing on day-to-day courtroom activity, several big cases are expected to face significant indirect effects from today's results.

On the regulatory front, the Obama administration is facing legal challenges to two major oil and gas rules: the Bureau of Land Management's hydraulic fracturing rule and U.S. EPA's new standards for methane emissions from the industry. Meanwhile, dueling lawsuits from industry and environmentalists seek to reform BLM's oil and gas leasing practices on public lands. Finally, the fever-pitched controversy over the Dakota Access oil pipeline will likely advance in federal court next year, with the Army Corps of Engineers at the center of the battle.

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Study underscores dangers of fracking

By Amy Xiong / Yale Daily News / Nov 8, 2016

A recent Yale School of Public Health analysis identified 55 known, probable or possible human carcinogens determined to be potential water or air pollutants from the fracking process. Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, has long been criticized for its detrimental effects on human health by causing contamination of nearby air and water. Researchers at the school, led by professor of epidemiology Nicole Deziel, analyzed more than 1,000 chemicals involved in hydraulic fracturing — the process of drilling down into the earth and injecting a high-pressure water and chemical mixture into the rock to release the gas.

According to the study co-authors, this investigation will inform future environmental and biological monitoring and human-health studies, adding that the development of unconventional oil and gas, or UO&G, drilling in the United States potentially exposes millions of people to water and air pollutants that include known or suspected carcinogens. Elise Elliott GRD ’18 served as lead author on the study, which was published Oct. 23 in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

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Pennsylvania: State senators file motion in drilling case

By Robert Swift / The Times-Tribune / Nov 7, 2016

HARRISBURG — Three senators are intervening in a lawsuit to end a gas-drilling moratorium in the Delaware River Basin on grounds it usurps a state Marcellus Shale drilling law. The senators filed a legal motion recently in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania making their case. The motion cites a comprehensive set of state laws and regulations to address gas drilling and the development of gas well pads, gas wells and related facilities that can’t be implemented in the Delaware River Basin because of the moratorium.

Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20 is one of the three senators who filed the motion. She voted against the drilling law, known as Act 13, in 2012. In 2012, Ms. Baker said the legislation didn’t address sufficiently her constituents’ concerns about the siting of compressor stations and other gas works. Ms. Baker said her concerns about Act 13 remain, but noted she joined the legal action as a way to press a broader issue about restoring loss of property rights. The other two senators who filed the motion, Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, R-25, Jefferson County, and Sen. Gene Yaw, R-23, Williamsport, voted for Act 13.

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North Dakota: Revised oil and gas rules forwarded for final approval

By Nick Smith / Bismarck Tribune / Nov 7, 2016

A set of revised administrative rules governing the oil and gas industry that regulators characterize as "robust" will go to lawmakers next month for final approval. North Dakota Industrial Commission members unanimously agreed to the set of proposed rules which govern underground gathering pipelines, requirements for dikes and berms as well as bonding for oil and saltwater-gathering pipelines.

Members of the Administrative Rules Committee meet Dec. 5 to review the proposed rules and, if approved, would go into effect on Jan. 1. “It’s very rigorous,” Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said. “I think these rules really raise the bar.” Among the changes is the addition of a 180-day time limit after notification by regulators for operators to construct six-inch berms around storage facilities and production sites.

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Texas: Community ponders Lake Houston fracking

By Jacqueline Havelka / The Tribune / Nov 7, 2016

Local residents met recently for a third time to share information about an ongoing concern - fracking in Lake Houston. In July, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) issued a permit for directional exploratory drilling to Tri-C Resources LLC, a privately owned, Houston-based oil and gas company. Because of its proximity to Lake Houston, Tri-C was required to obtain an additional drilling permit from the City of Houston. Community meetings were held in August and September, and a third meeting was held Thursday, Nov. 3, at Copeland Elementary School in Huffman.

More than 50 residents attended and voiced two main concerns. First, the drill site is only 3,700 feet from the northeast shore of Lake Houston, the major source of Houston’s drinking water. Residents are concerned about water and air pollution and health consequences. The site is also close to two Huffman elementary schools, Copeland and Ben Bowen Elementaries. The second major concern was voiced by frustrated residents regarding the noise and traffic at the drilling site. Homeowners report that the noise goes on 24 hours a day, and is so loud that many can hear it from inside their houses. 

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Scottish fracking impact studies to be published

BBC News / Nov 7, 2016

Nicola Sturgeon's government commissioned a series of independent research projects when it imposed a moratorium on fracking in January 2015. Unconventional oil and gas extraction has proved a controversial topic, with some political parties and green groups arguing it causes environmental damage, while others point to economic benefits.

The SNP's election manifesto committed to there being no fracking in Scotland "unless it can be proven beyond doubt that there is no risk to health, communities or the environment", while the first minister has declared herself "highly sceptical" about the technique. Friends of the Earth Scotland said they expected the research to "echo the growing body of evidence that documents the negative impacts of fracking".

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Earthquake Rocks Central Oklahoma Oil Town

By Justin Juozapavicius / AP / Nov 7, 2016

A sharp earthquake centered near one of the world's key oil hubs Sunday night triggered fears that the magnitude 5.0 temblor might have damaged key infrastructure in addition to causing what police described as "quite a bit of damage" in the Oklahoma prairie town of Cushing. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said it and the Oklahoma Geological Survey were investigating after the quake, which struck at 7:44 p.m. and was felt as far away as Iowa, Illinois and Texas.

"The OCC's Pipeline Safety Department has been in contact with pipeline operators in the Cushing oil storage terminal under state jurisdiction and there have been no immediate reports of any problems," the commission's spokesman, Matt Skinner, said in a statement. "The assessment of the infrastructure continues." The oil storage terminal is one of the world's largest. As of Oct. 28, tank farms in the countryside around Cushing held 58.5 million barrels of crude oil. The community bills itself as the "Pipeline Crossroads of the World."

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Alabama: Blast-damaged gasoline line back in service

By Byrnn Anderson / AP / Nov 7, 2016

HELENA, Ala. — A gas pipeline that exploded in Alabama last week is back in service, the pipeline company said Sunday. Service was restarted at 5:45 a.m. Sunday on the pipeline that transports gasoline from the Gulf Coast to New York City, according to Colonial Pipeline Co.

The pipeline exploded Monday while a crew was making repairs related to a September gas spill, killing one person and injuring four others. It may take several days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal after the service restoration, the company said.

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Obama Administration Finalizes Yet Another Expansion of Oil and Gas Regulations

By Michael Weller and Heather M. Palmer / The National Law Review / Nov 4, 2016

Lately, it seems as if a day does not go by without the Obama Administration unveiling a regulatory proposal targeting the oil and gas industry. We anticipate more of the same as the Administration winds down and the onslaught of midnight regulations commences. Today, the National Park Service (“NPS”) released final regulations (“NPS Final Rule”) applicable to non-federal oil and gas operations undertaken within NPS boundaries in all states except for Alaska.

The NPS Final Rule updates and expands NPS’s regulations at 36 CFR Part 9, Subpart B ("9B Regulations") that were first published in 1978. The NPS regulations currently effect just over 500 operations across 12 NPS system units; however, the NPS attempts to justify the rule in part because it anticipates future non-federal oil and gas operations within NPS boundaries to increase. Key updates to the 9B Regulations included in this final rule include, the elimination of exemptions effecting approximately 60 percent of the oil and gas operations on NPS lands, removal of the bonding cap, new well-plugging requirements, and new access fees for land use outside an operator’s mineral lease.

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New rules possible for Wyoming oil, gas wastewater cleanup

By Mead Gruver / Casper Star Tribune / Oct 31, 2016

Wyoming environmental regulators are considering the possibility of new rules on bonding to avoid having to spend state money to clean up abandoned oil and gas wastewater facilities. The cost would run into several million dollars should the state have to remediate several facilities. In 2013, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality spent $740,000 to clean up an abandoned commercial oilfield wastewater disposal facility in Sublette County. Such facilities — there are 35 in Wyoming — collect and treat millions of gallons of groundwater produced by oil and gas wells.

Under current rules, wastewater facilities less than 27 years old must be bonded. Eleven older facilities are grandfathered-in under rules that took effect in 1989 and aren’t bonded, meaning their owners haven’t set money aside to cover cleanup costs. Cleaning up, filling in and restoring every older oilfield wastewater disposal facility in Wyoming to a semi-natural state could cost between $7.2 million and $9.2 million, according to a DEQ report.

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Southern Utes, BLM settle fracking lawsuit

By Mary Shinn / Durango Herald / Nov 5, 2016

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Bureau of Land Management agreed Friday a tribal rule will govern hydraulic fracturing on tribal land. The tribe sued the Department of the Interior in summer 2015, challenging the Bureau of Land Management fracking rule. After the tribe amended its fracking rule, the BLM agreed the regulations meet or exceed the objectives of the federal rule, said Courtney Whiteman, a spokeswoman for the BLM.

The rules aim to ensure well integrity, water quality protection and public disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process. The tribe and the BLM signed the settlement documents Friday and they soon will be submitted to the U.S. District Court in Colorado so the lawsuit can be dismissed, Whiteman said.

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With fracking concerns growing in Alaska, group wants public hearings

By Alex DeMarban / / Nov 6, 2016

With a Texas oil company weeks away from launching drilling that will lead to large-scale hydraulic fracturing in Cook Inlet, a conservation group wants Alaska well regulators to change their rules so the public can weigh in on future fracking operations before they are approved.

Industry supporters say that being forced into a public hearing each time they're proposing to use hydraulic fracturing to increase the flow of oil or gas would add costs and time without any benefit because, they say, they're already following rules strictly enforced by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

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FirstEnergy's 6 power plants in Pa. up for sale

By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / Nov 5, 2016

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. revealed on Friday an accelerated effort to separate its profitable utility businesses from its troubled competitive generation side, promising to be a fully regulated company within 18 months. That means that its six Pennsylvania power plants, which employ more than 1,000 people, are either headed for a sale, closure or bankruptcy.

FirstEnergy already is talking to potential buyers to sell several natural gas power plants in Appalachia, including a large facility in Springdale and smaller units in Chambersburg, Hunlock, and Gans, Pa. The remaining units include the Bruce Mansfield coal-fired power station with 296 employees and the Beaver Valley nuclear plant with 744 employees, both in Beaver County.

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Three states suspend hours of service regulations for gas haulers

By Matt Cole / Overdrive / Nov 3, 2016

Governors in two other states have issued executive orders to suspend hours of service regulations for gas haulers. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the order Nov. 1 to suspend the regulations for 14 days through midnight on Nov. 15 for drivers hauling gas into the state. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed an executive order to extend the state of emergency he issued during Hurricane Matthew.

“The Colonial Pipeline disruption is a transportation challenge, not a production challenge,” McCrory said in a news release. “With my executive order, we are waiving certain state requirements to facilitate truck transport of gasoline and to protect consumers from price gouging.” Colonial Pipeline hasn’t said when gas will begin flowing through the ruptured line again, but initially said it could be down for up to a week.

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Frac sand ban step from approval

By Glen Olson Lee Newspapers / N0v 2, 2016

The Winona County Board of Commissioners took one big and nearly final step closer to a frac sand ban Oct. 25. The board voted 3-2 to direct county staff to create official language around a ban, asking the county attorney’s office to form an ordinance to be voted on at the board’s Nov. 22 meeting.

The two dissenting commissioners, Marcia Ward and Steve Jacob, both objected for a variety of reasons, ranging from not feeling the comprehensive plan and submitted documents had been explored adequately in terms of existing regulations, to reiterating that a full ban would discriminate against people in Winona County and the frac sand industry.

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Denver Water exploring water conservation plans by drilling into aquifers

By Adam Hammond / / Nov 2, 2016

DENVER -- People driving down Colorado Boulevard are noticing a funky fracking-looking drill at the intersection with 14th Avenue. The well isn’t fracking. It’s actually drilling into an aquifer hundreds of feet below us. “Right now we’re drilling in different sites around Denver to just collect data to see if the aquifers under our feet have good potential to store water,” said Denver Water Spokesperson Stacy Chesney.

If the aquifers do have a lot of potential, Denver Water could possibly take excess water during wet years and pump it into the ground to save, and then pump the water back out during dry years. Colorado Springs, Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch use techniques similar to this. Right now, Denver Water doesn’t take any water from the aquifers, but that could change if this test works.

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Gas drilling contamination case could go to State Supreme Court

By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / Nov 3, 2016

The 44-page Commonwealth Court decision, filed Oct. 26, affirms the state Environmental Hearing Board’s June 2015 ruling that although Mr. Kiskadden’s well water was contaminated, no hydrogeological connection was proved between Range’s gas drilling operation at the top of a hill and Mr. Kiskadden’s water well in a valley approximately half a mile away. But the majority opinion also noted that at least 15 leaks, spills and overflows occurred between March 2010 and June 2011 at the Yeager drill site in Amwell, impacting the environment and contaminating soil and springs.

“Range’s reckless business practices, combined with its repeated failure to report problems at the Yeager site, are irresponsible in the extreme,” the court wrote in its conclusion. “The list of leaks and spills is troubling.” Mr. Smith said his client’s appeal will focus on the Hearing Board’s failure to consider evidence of other well and spring contamination in the area caused by Range’s operations, as well as other legal issues. The Supreme Court has the discretion to hear the appeal or not.

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California: Youth groups settle lawsuit over oil drilling

By Tami DeVine / Los Angles Wave / Nov 3, 2016

The groups’ lawsuit, filed in November 2015, alleged that the city was approving oil drilling sites disproportionally in black and brown neighborhoods. The organizations said the city was violating anti-discriminatory protections and that they were not conducting environmental reviews required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The city agreed.

Now the youth and community organizations find themselves on the other end of a lawsuit. The California Independent Petroleum Association filed a cross-complaint, intervening on behalf of the oil drillers. Officials with the petroleum organization said in the complaint that the city and the community organizations had shut them out of communications regarding the case.

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Pennsylvania: McGinty And Toomey Agree On Fracking, But Not Regulations

By Paul Guggenheimer / WESA 90.5 / Nov 3, 2016

Among several key issues that U.S. Senate candidates Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Katie McGinty sharply disagree on is how to produce energy, while protecting the environment. For example, McGinty supports fracking in Pennsylvania, but with increased regulations and a severance tax. Toomey is also pro-fracking, but wants to limit its regulation.

McGinty feels government, at both the state and federal levels, needs to be proactive when it come overseeing such gas extraction operations. “I think we need to regulate it, zone it, tax it,” McGinty said. “In the previous administration with Gov. Corbett we didn’t get that balance right. The idea that we weren’t allowing good reasonable zoning regulations in terms of where that well development would happen is wrong. It’s also wrong that we’re just about the only state in the country with a shale gas industry that doesn’t pay its fair share in a severance tax.”

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Expert: Fracking and Florida don't mix

By Chad Gillis / / Nov 2, 2016

All the easy oil's gone, and modern extraction practices aren't good for Florida anyway. Those were two arguments made by an Ivy League engineer Wednesday in front of a group of about 200 people at the Florida Fracking Summit at Florida Gulf Coast University. Fracking ruins drinking water supplies and increases the amount of methane in the atmosphere, said Anthony Ingraffea, with Cornell University's civil and environmental engineering department.

"As usual, a few folks will get rich, everybody else will get negatively impacted, and the state will get left holding the environmental bag, and, finally, we will have killed the Everglades," Ingraffea said. There's still time to fend off controversial oil extraction methods, he said, but Floridians need to unite and get better educated about the dangers of forcing hundreds of chemicals beneath drinking water aquifers.

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Solar City, eyeing growth in Pittsburgh region, opens operations center

By Daniel Moore / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / Nov 4, 2016

The country’s largest residential solar installer, which began sales in the Pittsburgh area in April, unveiled its new operations center in Emsworth on Thursday. Across 18,000 square feet of a former steel plating facility, SolarCity is constructing office space for sales staff, a storage unit with stacks of panels and shelves of supplies, and a place to house up to 10 installation crews. So far, the company has assembled three five-person crews, along with dozens of site surveyors and sales staff. When fully staffed, the center is expected to house more than 125 people total.

Helped by falling hardware costs and quicker installation techniques, Solar City was attracted by the prospect of growth in the Steel City. “We’ve probably installed in the last three months as much as was installed in the last decade” in the Pittsburgh area, said Lee Keshishian, regional vice president for SolarCity’s East Coast operations. The company is known for its financing options, which include a leasing program that allows customers to avoid large upfront costs to install solar systems and to see the savings on energy bills immediately.

Full story     Solar City website

Florida: Dana Young says accusations she profited from fracking are false

By William March / Tampa Bay Times / Nov 2, 2016

TAMPA — A left-leaning political advocacy group is accusing state Rep. Dana Young of benefiting from the oil drilling and fracking industry while voting for legislation that would encourage drilling and fracking in Florida.

The organization, Florida Strong, says Young, a Republican from Tampa, has become wealthy while in the Legislature from the proceeds of her husband's investment firm, which has had stakes in companies that profit from the oil industry.

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Saskatchewan to drill most oil and gas wells in 2017, says PSAC

By Kyle Bakx / CBC News / Nov 2, 2016

Saskatchewan is expected to lead the country in oil and gas drilling in 2017, narrowly surpassing Alberta, according to the Petroleum Services Association of Canada's latest forecast, which was released Wednesday. There are several reasons why Saskatchewan is expected to surpass Alberta in activity, such as a shallower basin, operational changes, and a more attractive environment for investors.

"Saskatchewan will outperform Alberta in wells drilled for the first time in the 36 years I've been in the industry and probably the first time ever," PSAC president Mark Salkeld told CBC News. "It's a drive to get the wells drilled, completed, producing and getting cash. It's a hole-making factory that they've got going on down there." Alberta will still lead the country in the amount of oil produced because of the oilsands.

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Colorado: BLM receives plenty of input on Uncompahgre

By Dennis Webb / The Daily Sentinel / Nov 1, 2016

The Bureau of Land Management will have plenty of public input to consider following the closure of a comment period on its draft resource management plan for its Uncompahgre Field Office. Much of that input involves decisions that could affect how much oil and gas development will occur within the office’s jurisdiction, particularly in the North Fork Valley, where some are calling for numerous protections against drilling.

The draft plan addresses energy development, travel management, livestock grazing, recreation and other issues on about 675,800 acres of BLM-administered lands and 971,220 acres of subsurface federal minerals in Delta, Gunnison, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties. Johnson estimated that local groups likely gathered more than 1,000 unique comments, the majority of them probably referencing oil and gas concerns in the North Fork Valley. The BLM several years ago proposed leasing about 30,000 acres in that valley for oil and gas development, but later deferred the proposal following local outcry.

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California: Can Fracking Bans Succeed in Oil and Gas Country? All Eyes Are on Monterey

By Amy Harder / Wall Street Journal / Nov 3, 2016

SALINAS, Calif.—The movement to ban fracking is winning victories across the U.S. Yet the campaign has largely failed to win where it matters most—in places oil and natural gas are produced. A Nov. 8 ballot measure will test that pattern in Monterey County, famed for its farms and scenic coastline.

Two counties bordering Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz, have banned fracking, although neither has a sizable oil industry. Monterey’s San Ardo oil field has been churning out crude for nearly 70 years, and the county has no ban. Measure Z, an initiative on Monterey County’s ballot, seeks to ban fracking and new wells, and to restrict how oil companies use water byproducts.

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Fracking threatens unique desert oasis in west Texas

EarthWorks and Save Our Springs Too / Nov 3, 2016

Toyahvale & Dallas, TX, Nov 3 -- Released today, a new scientific analysis of the system of springs feeding Texas’ Balmorhea State Park in the Chihuahuan Desert indicates that new oil and gas production proposed by Apache Corp. could pollute or otherwise disrupt the springs that make Balmorhea a global tourist destination. The report was authored by hydrologist Tom Myers, Ph.D for the Balmorhea-community group Save Our Springs Too and national environmental group Earthworks.

“This report shows that oil and gas production threatens everything that makes our desert oasis special,” said Neta Rhyne owner of Funky Li’l Dive Shop in Toyahvale, home to Balmorhea State Park. She continued, “The springs are the heart of our economy and our community. People aren’t going to come from all over the world to swim and scuba dive in water polluted by fracking.”

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North Dakota: Pipeline company could face fines; protesters pepper-sprayed

By Blake Nicholson and John L. Mone / AP / Nov 2, 2016

CANNON BALL, N.D. — Officers in riot gear clashed again Wednesday with protesters near the Dakota Access pipeline, hitting dozens with pepper spray as they waded through waist-deep water in an attempt to reach property owned by the pipeline’s developer. The confrontation came hours after North Dakota regulators criticized the pipeline company for not immediately reporting the discovery of American Indian artifacts and a day after President Barack Obama raised the possibility of future reroutes to alleviate tribal concerns.

Julie Fedorchak, the Public Service Commission chairwoman, said she was “extremely disappointed” that Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners waited 10 days before reporting last month’s discovery of stone cairns and other artifacts. The panel could decide to levy fines of up to $200,000, Ms. Fedorchak said, though she said such a high amount would be unlikely. After an inspection, company consultants decided to divert the construction by about 50 feet.

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Pennsylvania: Gov. Wolf announces $24 million in grants for pipeline projects

By Marie Cusick / StateImpact / Nov 1, 2016

Governor Tom Wolf’s administration announced Tuesday it would begin accepting grant applications to fund up to $24 million in projects to make natural gas available to Pennsylvania schools, manufacturers, hospitals, and other businesses. The Pipeline Investment Program (PIPE) grants will help construct the last few miles of natural gas distribution lines needed to connect supply with demand.

“Since day one Governor Wolf has advocated for the creation of this program,” said Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin in a statement. “Today we’re finally able to celebrate its opening.” The PIPE program is funded by shifting $12 million annually for the next two years from the state’s Alternative Energy Investment Act, which provided grants for clean energy projects. The Wolf administration says it has been underutilized. Wolf had previously sought to fund last-mile pipeline projects with a severance tax on drillers, but after that proposal failed in the legislature, he agreed to this funding mechanism.

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Feds to Auction Off Ohio's Only National Forest to Fracking

By Lorraine Chow / EcoWatch / Nov 2, 2016

Following its final Environmental Assessment and a "Finding of No Significant Impact," the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has decided to offer 40,000 acres of Wayne National Forest—Ohio's only national forest—up for fracking. The BLM is now planning an online auction on Dec. 13 to lease the first 1,600 acres of the forest near Monroe, Noble and Washington counties to oil and gas development. The minimum acceptable bid can be as little as $2 per acre.

Heather Cantino, ACFAN steering committee chair said, "The 2006 Plan, which the BLM and USFS cite as the basis for their recent decision to go ahead with leasing, did not evaluate impacts of fracking. The current BLM EA is a shoddy, inadequate document not even worthy of a high school science report. The feds apparently want to give away our forest, climate and communities to the fracking industry and will stop at nothing. NEPA and science don't seem to be relevant anymore to federal actions. This is a horrifying denial of science, law, and justice."

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North Dakota Regulator: Pipeline Company Too Late in Reporting Artifacts

AP / Nov 2, 2016

A North Dakota regulator on Wednesday criticized the company developing the Dakota Access pipeline for waiting 10 days before reporting that American Indian artifacts were found last month along the route. In an Oct. 27 letter, a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners notified the Public Service Commission that stone cairns and other artifacts had been found in mid-October. Consultants determined there was a "low likelihood" for buried artifacts and recommended avoiding the site.

Julie Fedorchak, the PSC chairwoman, said she was disappointed regulators weren't notified earlier. The matter was to be discussed at a PSC meeting Wednesday. The potential for damage to American Indian sites and artifacts has been a flashpoint in a months-long protest over the pipeline, which is intended to carry crude from western North Dakota almost 1,200 miles to a shipping point in Patoka, Illinois.

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Bernie Sanders gets fiery in call for oil pipeline constuction to stop

By Sarah D. Wire / Los Angeles Times / Nov 2, 2016

Sen. Bernie Sanders weighed in on the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline during an impassioned moment at a rally for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton Tuesday. "Damn right!" Sanders (I-Vt.) shot back when an attendee interrupted his speech to yell "Stop the Dakota pipeline!” Sanders has long called for construction of the pipeline to end, including in an open letter to President Obama last week.

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Cancelled licences shows lack of interest in hydraulic fracturing: Graham Oliver

By Frank Gale / The Western Star / Nov 2, 2016

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board advised Tuesday that Exploration Licences 1127 and 1128, each held 100 per cent by Black Spruce Exploration Corp., have been cancelled due to non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the licence agreement. Further, the 30-day period afforded to Black Spruce Exploration Corp. to request a hearing before the Oil and Gas Committee regarding Exploration Licences 1127 and 1128 has expired with no such request. Those lands now revert to the Crown.

Oliver, a member of the Port au Port/Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Committee, said the C-NLOPB has been in the practice of extending these licenses, so to see them cancel licences shows there’s little interest in hydraulic fracturing on the west coast of the province. Oliver said this falls in line with Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the State of New York, which have banned hydraulic fracturing. He said it’s worthy to note the health association in Pennsylvania has now asked for a ban on hydraulic fracturing.

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Congressional Democrats want Colonial Pipeline investigation after Alabama explosion

AP / Nov 2, 2016

A fire sparked by a huge explosion on a major gasoline pipeline continued burning Wednesday two days after the fatal blast as congressional Democrats sought an investigation of the Georgia-based operator. Colonial Pipeline Co. said the fire in a rural area southwest of Birmingham was "significantly smaller" since Monday, and an environmentalist said the blaze had shrunk considerably from when it was shooting flames hundreds of feet in the air like a geyser of fire.

Meanwhile, U.S. House Democrats asked for an investigation of Colonial Pipeline. The House members cited the deadly explosion earlier this week and a large spill in September just a few miles away. The company said the pipeline exploded as a nine-person crew was attempting to make a temporary repair that would allow for a permanent repair to the area where the spill occurred. The letter also mentioned smaller spills in 2015 in North Carolina and Virginia, where several thousand gallons of petroleum product spilled.

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Colonial Pipeline plan to cut off dirty jet fuel could hit airlines

By Devika Krishna Kumar and Liz Hampton / Reuters / Nov 2, 2016

Major airlines including Delta, United and American could face higher fuel costs if U.S. regulators allow Colonial Pipeline Co to stop shipping a dirtier blend of jet fuel by 2018. The Colonial system carries most of the jet fuel that is delivered via pipeline to the East Coast and used by busy airports serving New York, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, along with U.S. military bases.

The pipeline company said earlier this month it would ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to halt shipments of high-sulfur jet fuel and diesel. Preliminary estimates indicate that jet fuel prices could rise significantly if Colonial wins approval, said John Heimlich, chief economist for the industry trade group Airlines for America (A4A). Rising fuel prices could make certain flights unprofitable, forcing airlines to cut service and sell fewer seats - likely at higher prices.

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Pittsburgh-based EverPower partners with Amazon on Ohio wind farm

By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / Nov 1, 2016

A Strip District-based wind company has secured a contract with online retail giant Amazon to build a large wind farm in Ohio that will power the distribution company's data centers there.

EverPower Wind Holdings Inc. announced today that its first project in Ohio will be a 189 megawatt wind farm in Hardin County. It will be built by the end of 2017 and will feed power into the local grid from which Amazon Web Services, an company, draws its electricity.

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Obama: Army Corps Examining Possible Rerouting Of Dakota Access Pipeline

By Rebecca Hersher / NPR / Nov 2, 2016

President Obama said Tuesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is examining possible alternate routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Protesters have been occupying land along the current pipeline route near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. A federal judge has ruled that work on the pipeline can go forward, but the Army Corps and two other agencies said work would not go forward in an area particularly sensitive to the tribe until a review was completed.

"We're monitoring this closely and I think, as a general rule, my view is that there's a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans," President Obama said in an interview with the news organization Now This. In a response to the president's statement, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, Dave Archambault II, said, "We believe President Obama and his administration will do the right thing."

Full story

US Justices Drill Down on Venezuela Oil Rig Dispute

Reuters / VOA / Nov 2, 2016

Some U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday appeared wary about the foreign policy implications of making it too easy for foreign governments to be sued in U.S. courts as they considered a lawsuit by an Oklahoma-based oil drilling company that claims Venezuela unlawfully seized 11 drilling rigs six years ago. The eight justices heard an hour-long argument in Venezuela's appeal of a lower court ruling that allowed one of the claims brought by Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Company against the South American nation to proceed.

The company sued both the Venezuelan government and state-owned oil companies under a U.S. law called the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, claiming among other things that the property seizure violated international law. That law allows for foreign governments to be sued in U.S. courts under certain circumstances, including when private property is seized. Justice Anthony Kennedy was among those concerned about the foreign policy implications, noting the "extreme sensitivity with reference to suing foreign sovereigns." But other justices including Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed more sympathetic to the company's arguments.

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Kentucky proposes radioactive waste penalty

By James Bruggers / Courier-Journal / Oct 31, 2016

The Estill County dump that accepted radioactive waste will install monitors, fund school radon testing and develop a corrective action plan, under a draft agreement the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. Cabinet officials are inviting the public to comment through Nov. 21 on the agreement, which also carries a $95,000 penalty to be spent by the Blue Ridge Landfill on the school monitoring and other environmental programs.

At issue is more than 1,000 cubic yards of radioactive oil and gas drilling waste that state officials say was brought into Kentucky illegally and dumped at the Estill landfill from July through November 2015. State officials traced the waste to fracking operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Public forum on the radioactive fracking waste and the Estill County landfill: Estill County High School Auditorium, 2675 Winchester Road, Irvine, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Nov. 14, For more information and how to comment: Go online to .

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Activists target N.Y. disposal of frack waste

By Joe Mahoney / CNHI State Reporter / Nov 2, 2016

ALBANY — When the Cuomo administration slammed the door on the controversial drilling technique known as fracking in 2014, the gas industry kept taking advantage of state environmental regulations that allowed it to dump sludge and other debris from Pennsylvania sites at New York landfills. All told, nearly 600,000 tons of solid fracking waste and 23,000 barrels of liquid from Pennsylvania drilling operations have been carted to New York landfills since 2010, according to Environmental Advocates, a nonprofit group lobbying to stop the practice.

"It is coming over to New York because it is cheaper to get rid of it here and because it is geographically convenient," said Elizabeth Moran, a researcher for Environmental Advocates. The push to tighten regulations on drilling waste comes as the state Department of Environmental Conservation is in the process of rewriting its rules governing solid-waste disposal. The DEC "strictly regulates" the four landfills that accept the drilling waste, said Erica Ringewald, the spokeswoman, in an email. She noted the landfills use radiation detectors to ensure no "regulated radioactive materials" are accepted at the landfills. Further, she noted, state monitors inspect the dumps to ensure they are in compliance with regulations.

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Colorado: How Fracking Impacts Water-Stressed Regions

By Meg Wilcox / EcoWatch / Nov 1, 2016

Weld County sits on top of the Niobrara (DJ Basin) shale formation and that makes it the number one hotspot in the U.S. for new hydraulic fracturing activity. Over the past five years, close to 7,000 wells were drilled within its 3,996 square-mile area. Among the myriad impacts of fracking on county residents is stress on their water supply. To recover the natural gas unevenly distributed throughout the shale formation, the hydraulic fracturing process blasts large volumes of water, fine sand and chemicals into the ground to crack open the formations.

Weld County's nearly 7,000 fracking wells, in fact, used 16 billion gallons of water over the past five years, more than any other county in the U.S., according to new research by Ceres. And that's a concern because Weld County is a region with extremely high water stress, according to the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Map. Extremely high water stress means that more than 80 percent of the county's available water resources are already allocated for municipal, industrial and agricultural uses.

Full story and map

Pennsylvania: Woman appeals approval of well pad near Fort Cherry schools

By Gideon Bradshaw / Observer-Reporter / Nov 2, 2016

A grandmother of Fort Cherry School District students wants a Washington County judge to send a gas well driller’s application back to Mt. Pleasant Township supervisors, arguing officials should have allowed her to comment at a hearing on the well pad near the district campus before they signed off on the plans. Attorney Jordan Yeager, who represents Jane Worthington of Ross Township, wrote in a land use appeal filed Friday in Washington County court Worthington’s two grandchildren, 10 and 12, “will have extended exposure to the health risks of the unconventional natural gas development” because of the amount of time they spend near the planned well pad.

The appeal accused supervisors of breaching Worthington’s rights under the state constitution by improperly denying her the chance to testify at a public hearing and failing to consider health implications of approving the plans. Township solicitor Thomas McDermott couldn’t be reached for comment. Supervisors gave conditional approval Sept. 28 for Southpointe-based Range Resource’s plans to build a well pad at the Yonker site, roughly three-quarters of a mile from the complex that contains the two district school buildings.

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Judge considering Ohio authority to regulate injection wells

AP / Observer-Reporter / Nov 1, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The operator of a Youngstown-area injection well for fracking wastewater is challenging the authority of Ohio’s oil-and-gas chief to regulate its operations, calling his actions illegal and contrary to science. American Water Management Services argued in a case before Franklin County Judge Kimberly Cocroft Tuesday the official acted unreasonably against its well in Weathersfield Township. The facility was shuttered after at least 20 small seismic events occurred nearby in 2014.

State regulators believe the tremors tapped the same fault as a 4.0 magnitude earthquake in Youngstown in 2011 that prompted a temporary injection moratorium in the area. American Water Management contends the law doesn’t give the chief the right to suspend its permit based on speculation about the possibility of future earthquakes – “not actual and reliable scientific evidence.” The Ohio Department of Natural Resources argued the chief’s role includes protecting the public from the threat of human-induced earthquakes and other public safety hazards.

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Wisconsin: DNR to study possible link between frac sand mines, contaminated groundwater

By Rich Kremer / Wisconsin Public Radio / Oct 30, 2016

The state Department of Natural Resources is planning to study whether heavy metals from ponds at Wisconsin frac sand mines are leaching into and contaminating groundwater. The study comes three years after water samples from some frac sand mine ponds showed concentrations of metals many times higher than state groundwater standards recommend. Areas like a section of land outside Arcadia, where the Tunnel City and Wonewoc sandstone formations meet, are especially rich in minerals containing heavy metals, according to Wisconsin Geological and Historical Survey geologist Jay Zambito.

The minerals keep metals locked inside the rock formations, Zambito said. His theory is that when miners break up the rock, the minerals might dissolve. When the DNR sampled water used by companies to wash frac sand in 2013, it didn't answer the question of whether metals from mines are contaminating water. They found aluminum concentrations 178 times higher than state standards, along with lead and manganese levels four times what the agency recommends for groundwater.

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Ohio: Court ruling raises questions about pipeline

By Shane Hoover / / Oct 31, 2016

Earlier this month, a judge near Toledo ruled that Kinder Morgan couldn’t use eminent domain to take land for its Utopia East pipeline. Here’s a quick look at the decision and how it could impact the outcome of similar cases in Stark County and elsewhere.

Wood County Judge Robert C. Pollex rejected Kinder Morgan’s argument the pipeline would be necessary and for a public use. The pipeline wouldn’t benefit Ohioans by carrying fuel; rather, it would ship ethane to a single company in Canada that would use it to make plastics, the judge said. Are similar cases pending in Stark County? Kinder Morgan has filed 17 lawsuits in Stark County Common Pleas Court seeking easements from landowners who have rejected the company’s offers. Six of those cases remain open. The rest have been dismissed by Kinder Morgan, which files lawsuits as part of its negotiation process.

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Arkansas: State's 3 gas utilities raising rates

By David Smith / Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette / Nov 1, 2016

Arkansas' three natural gas utilities will raise their rates starting today, primarily because of the increase in the price of natural gas, the companies told the state's Public Service Commission on Monday. The three companies -- CenterPoint Energy, Black Hills Energy and Arkansas Oklahoma Gas -- were required to file their winter rates by Monday.

Monthly bills for CenterPoint Energy, the largest natural gas utility in the state, will increase 19 percent compared with last winter. About 8 percentage points of CenterPoint's increase are driven by the change in the natural gas prices. Arkansas Oklahoma Gas will have a 13 percent increase in its bill compared with last year, said Kim Linam, president of the utility. "It's just the national landscape of natural gas prices being higher than they were last winter," Linam said, "because our rates are based on the indexes that are published nationally."

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Largest U.S. Fuel Pipeline Shuts After Workers Trigger Blast

By Laura Blewitt / Bloomberg / Nov 1, 2016

The biggest fuel pipeline in the U.S. shut its mainlines Monday after an explosion and fire in Alabama that killed at least one person. Gasoline futures surged, refiner stocks gained and traders rushed to book cargoes from Europe. Colonial Pipeline Co., which carries refined products to New York Harbor from Houston, shut the lines for the second time in two months. A contract crew working miles from the site of a Sept. 9 spill ran into the pipeline with a trackhoe, igniting gasoline and causing a fire, Colonial said in a statement.

One person died at the scene and five others were transported to Birmingham-area hospitals for treatment. The spill in September shut the line for 12 days, cutting supplies to 50 million Americans in the Southeast. The pipelines remained shut and fire continued to burn as of 10:45 p.m. Monday local time, Colonial said in the statement. Emergency crews built a barrier 8 feet (2.4 meters) tall and 80 feet long to contain the burning fuel

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Mexico: Pajaritos complex JV cracker remains shut; Mexichem eyes ethane availability

Platts / Oct 27, 2016

Mexican petrochemical producer Mexichem's joint venture cracker at the Pajaritos complex in Veracruz state remains shut after an April explosion there, the company said Thursday. CEO Antonio Carillo said during the company's third-quarter earnings results call that the ethylene plant is under a mechanical integrity evaluation, but it appears that no damage has occurred.

The explosion on April 20 at Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo's Pajaritos complex resulted in a force majeure event for several of PMV's products. PMV, a joint venture between state-owned energy company Pemex and PVC-maker Mexichem, uses the bulk of its ethylene for the production of vinyl chloride monomer, which is used in PVC applications. Two out of three of PMV's facilities are located in Pajaritos, including the VCM and ethylene plants.

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The protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, by the numbers

By Alene Tchekmedyian and Melissa Etehad / Los Angeles Times / Nov 1, 2016

For months, protesters have stood in the path of an oil pipeline that is under construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which straddles North and South Dakota. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has opposed the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline since it was first proposed in 2014.

Demonstrations began in April with a handful of people praying in a camp on the reservation, and have since grown to include hundreds, sometimes thousands, of activists. As the protests continue, here’s a quick overview of the situation by the numbers. 

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Pennsylvania: Bill to Guarantee Natural Gas Royalties Fails in Harrisburg

By Allen Vickers / WNEP 16 / Oct 28, 2016

TOWANDA -- A bill that would have ensured natural gas royalties to property owners died in the state House of Representatives. That affects thousands of people across northeastern and central Pennsylvania. Many of them were fighting for it. Hundreds of homeowners went to Harrisburg this fall to fight for House Bill 1391. That law would guarantee that a royalty payment would not be less than 12.5 percent. Some companies have been reducing royalty payments by deducting what are known as post-production costs.

The bill was on the floor at the House, but due to a lack of voting, it did not pass. "House Bill 1391, they let die at the vine. It was pretty well done; they loaded it up with amendments no one would vote for and then they just ran the clock out," said Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko. Commissioner McLinko says this means a quarter of a billion dollars is gone out of northeast Pennsylvania, a loss for thousands of people. "The Republican Party, which I am a part of, in Harrisburg thinks they own rural Pennsylvania had just turned their backs on us and walked away," said Commissioner McLinko.

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VLEC: Samsung Delivers World's Largest Ethane Carriers

By MarEx / The Maritime Executive / Oct 28, 2016

India's Reliance Industries celebrated the delivery of the world's largest ethane carriers on Wednesday, the 87,000 cubic meter-capacity Ethane Crystal and Ethane Emerald. Until recently, the world's largest ethane carriers were in the range 22,000 cubic meters. Lloyd's Register played a leading role in designing ships in Reliance’s much larger vessel category, which its creators have named the Very Large Ethane Carrier (VLEC). The Crystal and Emerald will carry liquefied ethane from Enterprise Product Parters' terminal on the Houston Ship Channel to Dahej, India, where the gas will supply three Reliance petrochemical plants. 

Reliance plans to build four more of the vessels with Samsung. The gas supply comes from Enterprise's Mont Belvieu fractionation complex in Texas, which is connected to production from the East Coast's Marcellus and Utica Shale regions via the ATEX pipeline. The Marcellus and Utica are also the natural gas source for the shipments leaving Sunoco's Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania terminal for ethylene plants in Europe. Analysts with Genscape expect demand to outgrow the U.S. ethane supply potential by 2018, due to rising exports and new petchem plants on the Gulf Coast.

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India: RIL receives first order of world's largest ethane-carrying ships

By PTI / / Oct 28, 2016

Reliance Industries Ltd has received the delivery of world's first very large ethane carrying ships that will be used for ferrying the fuel from the US. Reliance had in 2014 ordered building of six Very Large Ethane Carriers. VLECs are a hybrid of LNG carrier and LPG carrier. The VLECs are to transport liquefied ethane from the US to the Dahej terminal in Gujarat, which will be used to supply feedstock for RIL's crackers in Dahej, Hazira and Nagothane. The vessels are the first to feature new membrane technology from French specialist GTT, considered key to the execution of the project.

RIL plans to ship 1.5 million tonnes a year of ethane from its US shale joint ventures to its chemical complex in Gujarat. The firm has two joint ventures in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale - one with Chevron, and another with Houston-based Carrizo Oil & Gas. It has a third JVin Texas' Eagle Ford Shale with Dallas-based Pioneer Natural Resources. RIL has an ethane supply contract in place with Enterprise Product Partners out of their Morgan's Point terminal in the US Gulf, which exported its first ethane cargo in September on a 27,500 cubic meter vessel for Ineos.

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Washington: Tacoma LNG plant clears hurdle, company plans to break ground in ‘near future’

By Walker Orenstein / The News Tribune / October 31, 2016

Puget Sound Energy’s quest to build a liquified natural gas plant in Tacoma passed a major hurdle Monday when a state commission approved a financial agreement between the utility company and regulators. PSE is aiming to open the plant by 2019. Puget Sound Energy supplies gas and electric service to thousands of homes and businesses in Western Washington.

Under the arrangement, the Macquarie Group — the multinational consortium that owns PSE — will create a subsidiary called Puget LNG to handle the new plant’s commercial business. PSE and Puget LNG will jointly own and operate the Tideflats plant. The plant will be able to produce 250,000 gallons of LNG a day, with an 8 million gallon on-site storage tank. The plant is planned for a 30-acre site leased from the Port of Tacoma.

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Heating Degree Days Hurting Natural Gas And Oil

By Robert Boslego / Seeking Alpha / Oct 31, 2016

Last week, I wrote that the heating season is off to a miserable start for natural gas. October was shaping up to be the warmest in at least 10 years. My update for this week is, unfortunately, no better. Heating degree days (HDDs) for the heating season, which, by convention begins July 1st every year, are far below normal and even much lower than last year, which turned out to be the warmest winter ever recorded in North America.

For the week ending November 5th, NOAA is forecasting HDDs to be 50%, 30% and 55% below normal, and -21%, +2% and -28% below last year, respectively. Warm weather is particularly bad for natural gas demand and prices, because space heating is its predominant use. But it also adversely impacts the oil market by reducing demand for distillate fuels.

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World's Biggest Operator of Onshore Oil Rigs to Form Drilling Venture With Saudis

By Alex Nussbaum / Bloomberg / Oct 31, 2016

Nabors Industries Ltd., the world’s biggest operator of onshore oil rigs, will form a joint drilling venture with Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, Saudi Aramco, cementing its presence in one of the industry’s largest markets.

The two companies will be equal partners in the venture to own, manage and operate oil and natural gas rigs in Saudi Arabia, Houston-based Nabors said in a statement Monday. Saudi Aramco and Nabors will each contribute land rigs in the first years of operation and will commit capital toward future rigs to be manufactured in Saudi Arabia, according to the statement.

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Japan protests China's drilling activity in East China Sea

Fox News World / Nov 1, 2016

TOKYO –  Japan's government has lodged a protest with China over drilling activity in the waters between the two countries. Japan has complained about similar activity before, largely in the waters between the Chinese mainland and Okinawa and other southern Japanese islands.

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West Virginia: Judge tentatively OKs $151M settlement in chemical leak suit

By John Raby / AP / October 31, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge on Monday tentatively approved a $151 million settlement involving two companies sued over a 2014 chemical spill that contaminated drinking water in southern West Virginia. Stuart Calwell, an attorney representing residents and businesses, said that under the settlement, West Virginia American Water Co. will pay $126 million and chemical maker Eastman Chemical will pay $25 million. The money will be distributed to any resident or business in the affected area through an application process to be determined later.

In January 2014, a tank at Freedom Industries in Charleston leaked thousands of gallons of coal-cleaning chemicals into the drinking water supply for 300,000 people in and around Charleston, prompting a tap-water ban for days. Businesses were temporarily shut down and hundreds of people headed to emergency rooms for issues from nausea to rashes. More than 224,000 area residents, more than 7,300 business owners and an undetermined number of hourly “wage earners” were part of the class of plaintiffs in the suit.

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Largest U.S. Gasoline Pipeline Shuts After Alabama Explosion

By Laura Blewitt / Bloomberg / October 31, 2016

The biggest gasoline pipeline in the U.S. shut its mainlines Monday after an explosion and fire in Alabama, sending prices of the fuel surging as supply disruptions loom. Colonial Pipeline Co., which carries refined products to New York Harbor from Houston, shut the lines for the second time in two months after a spill in September knocked them offline for 12 days, cutting supplies to 50 million Americans in the Southeast. Major fuel suppliers began notifying wholesalers in South Carolina late Monday of allocations.

The explosion, which injured eight or nine people, occurred while contractors were working in an area home to a “complex series of pipelines,” Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Major Ken Burchfield said by phone. Colonial had planned to remove a temporary bypass pipeline that was built around the site of the Sept. 9 gasoline spill between late October and mid November.

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Oil patch states may have seen the last boom

By Mike Lee / E&E News / October 31, 2016

A growing body of research says that changes in the international oil market, rapid advances in wind- and solar-powered generation and regulations aimed at curbing climate change may hold down the price of oil and natural gas for years or even a decade. That means the fracking-fueled bonanza that pushed American oil production to levels not seen since the early 1970s may be remembered as more than just another high point for the states that depend on the oil industry. It could be the last oil boom.

And it could extend the economic pain that's already rippling across a half-dozen states dependent on taxes on oil production, from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico. In North Dakota, a handful of small towns took on hundreds of millions in debt to pay for schools, parks and other projects. A prolonged oil bust could send those communities into a downward spiral in which a dwindling population is forced to pay for boom-time debts with a shrinking tax base. As much as two-thirds of the new electric generating capacity around the world in the next 25 years will come from wind, solar and hydrodynamic power.

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Clinton, Trump supporters deeply divided over use of fossil fuel energy sources

By Brian Kennedy / Pew Research FacTank/ October 31, 2016

Supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump disagree on whether to support or oppose expanding the production of a range of fossil fuel energy sources, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. Most Trump supporters favor increased production from coal mining, fracking or offshore oil and gas drilling, while most Clinton supporters oppose expanding the use of these sources.

The largest difference between Clinton and Trump supporters is over expanding coal mining. About seven-in-ten (69%) of Trump supporters favor more coal mining, while 30% oppose it. In contrast, only 22% of Clinton supporters favor expanding coal mining, a difference of 47 percentage points between the two groups of voters. Roughly three-quarters (76%) of Clinton supporters oppose more coal mining. Trump supporters are also far more likely than Clinton supporters to favor more offshore oil and gas drilling (66% vs. 28%) and hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas (58% vs. 28%).

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Consol, Noble end Marcellus partnership

By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / October 31, 2016

Consol Energy Inc. and Noble Energy Inc. have called it quits on their 5-year-old partnership in the Marcellus Shale. Cecil-based Consol said today that the split gives it more control over how quickly it develops its assets and which ones it can sell off. The separation ends a 2011 deal valued at $3.4 billion at the time which gave Texas-based Noble a 50 percent interest in 663,000 of Consol's acres in a swath of southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The agreement established two areas of development — one mostly in West Virginia which would be developed by Noble, and the other in Pennsylvania to be developed by Consol — and gave both companies 50 percent of the interest in the assets across both areas.

The deal included a $1.07 billion cash payment from Noble to Consol and a "drilling carry" of $2.13 billion, which was money that Noble agreed to reimburse Consol for its drilling expenses. Since the original deal, the total number of acres involved in the partnership had changed, bringing the value down. But the carry was only active when benchmark natural gas prices were above $4 per million British thermal units for three months in a row. It has been suspended since 2012 except for an eight-month period in 2014. The price of gas isn’t expected to reach above $4 until 2028, Consol said.

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Editorial: PA doctors’ fracking ban a call for more research

By The Editorial Board / Pitt News / October 31, 2016

Following the lead of New York, Maryland and Vermont, doctors in Pennsylvania want the state to be the next to initiate a ban on fracking. Last week, the Pennsylvania Medical Society called for a statewide moratorium on new shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing after a new Yale study found that about 80 percent of the 1,000 chemicals that are released into the air or water by fracking had insufficient research on their cancer-causing potential.

Furthermore, the study found that several carcinogens used in fracking could potentially contaminate the air and water of nearby communities and could increase the risk of leukemia in children. When the 16,000-member medical society is advocating a halt in fracking until we have a health registry and more research to assess the health risks and safety concerns of the practice, we should be listening to them.

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Southern California's deadliest quake may have been caused by oil drilling, study says

By Rong-Gong Lin II / Los Angeles Times / October 31, 2016

A new study suggests that the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, the deadliest seismic event in recorded Southern California history, may have been caused by deep drilling in an oil field in Huntington Beach. The study, written by two leading U.S. Geological Survey scientists in Pasadena and to be published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America on Tuesday, also suggests that three other earthquakes, including magnitude 5.0 earthquakes in 1920 in Inglewood and in 1929 in Whittier, may also be linked to oil drilling.

The two government scientists, Susan Hough and Morgan Page, wrote the report after a review of nearly forgotten state oil drilling records. They discovered that the epicenter of some of the Los Angeles Basin’s largest earthquakes between 1900 and 1935 happened shortly after significant changes were made in oil production in nearby fields. During this era, the Los Angeles area was one of the world’s leading oil producers.

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Doctors Orders: Stop Fracking Pennsylvania

By Lorraine Chow / EcoWatch / October 31, 2016

One study linked Pennsylvania's unconventional natural gas development to migraine headaches, fatigue, and nasal and sinus symptoms. In another study, researchers combed through years of health records from 40 counties in north and central Pennsylvania and determined that people who live close to fracking wells have a higher risk of asthma attacks among asthma patients. Last week, the Yale School of Public Health published a study determining that 55 unique chemicals could be classified as known, probable or possible human carcinogens. They also specifically identified 20 compounds that had evidence of leukemia/lymphoma risk.

Furthermore, the resolution highlights how fracking has been associated with significant environmental harm. It argues that highly toxic fracking chemicals have been making their way into aquifers and contaminating drinking water, that 9 percent of gas wells leak methane directly into the atmosphere contributing to climate change, and that the disposal of fracking fluid in waste injection wells can cause earthquakes.

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BLM increases drilling permit fee

By Leigh Black Irvin / Farmington Daily Times / October 30, 2016

FARMINGTON — BLM has announced an annual adjustment to the fee it charges to process oil and gas drilling permits on public and Indian lands. The fee increase, attributed to inflation, went into effect Oct.1, and will now be $110 more per permit, raising the permit fee to $9,610, according to a Sept. 26 BLM press release. The non-refundable processing fee will be collected when an oil and gas operator submits an "Application for Permit to Drill," or APD, and is required whether or not a particular permit is subsequently approved, says the release.

Congress directed the BLM to adjust the APD fee annually for inflation over 10 years, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. According to information provided by Farmington BLM spokesman Zach Stone, prior to 2008, no APD fee was required, but following the signing by President Bush of the fiscal year 2008 Omnibus Appropriation Bill, the BLM was required to charge a $4,000 processing fee for each new APD. The fees were increased in 2010 to $6500, then again in 2015 to $9,500, said Stone.

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G.E. to Combine Oil and Gas Business With Baker Hughes

By Chad Bray / New York Times / October 31, 2016

General Electric said on Monday that it would combine its oil and gas business with Baker Hughes, looking to increase its scale to battle the effects of a prolonged slump in oil prices that has eaten into results and prompted job cuts across the petroleum sector. The new company, which G.E. referred to as the “new” Baker Hughes, would be one of the world’s largest providers of equipment, technology and services to the oil and gas industry. In 2015, the businesses had $32 billion in revenue, and operations in more than 120 countries. It also would be better able to compete with Schlumberger and other oil services companies.

The deal came after Baker Hughes and Halliburton called off a $35 billion merger in May, following a lengthy regulatory review and a lawsuit by the Justice Department to block the transaction on antitrust grounds. After the deal, G.E. would own 62.5 percent of Baker Hughes. Shareholders of Baker Hughes would own the rest.

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Pennsylvania: Amish oppose use of drilling 'brine' wastewater on roads

By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / October 30, 2016

RUSSELL, Pa. — “The Amish are desperate to get it stopped,” Ms. Lawson said during a recent drive through the area, when she pointed out several hand-lettered “NO BRINE” signs posted on roadsides near their farms. “They’re worried about their wells, about their water, about the industrial smell, about having to drive their buggies through it, and their health. There’s a general feeling of malaise, and many have developed breathing problems and cancers, but they don’t put two and two together.”

Barbara Arrindell, director of the Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, a grass-roots environmental organization opposed to shale gas development, said the brine is “neither benign nor beneficial” for township residents. “Whether it comes from conventional or non-conventional wells is not important,” Ms. Arrindell said. “Calling it brine is a misnomer. It’s drilling waste and using it on roadways is a type of, essentially, dumping.”

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The Latest: Anti-pipeline protesters arrested in Iowa

AP / October 30, 2016

When a few dozen people began camping in North Dakota to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline, they set up a GoFundMe page with a $5,000 goal. That account now tops $1 million. The fund is among several cash streams that have provided at least $3 million to help with legal costs, food and other supplies to those opposing the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline.

Eight people are facing trespassing charges after protesting in the path of the Dakota Access oil pipeline in northwest Iowa this weekend. The Omaha World-Herald reports the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office says the arrests happened Saturday on a farm near Rockwell City, Iowa. Hundreds of protesters have gathered in southern North Dakota near the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's reservation to object to the project. That has led to clashes with law enforcement and more than 140 arrests in the past week.

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Dakota Pipeline

Oklahoma Tribal Leader Arrested at Dakota Access Pipeline Site

By Jessi Mitchell / / October 30, 2016

CADDO COUNTY, Oklahoma - A local Caddo Nation tribal leader is free after spending two days behind bars in North Dakota, but family members say she was just an innocent bystander in a clash between police and protesters there. Family members of Caddo Nation chairwoman Tamara Francis-Fourkiller said an anonymous donor paid $2.5 million late Saturday afternoon to release everyone arrested on Thursday at the Dakota Access Pipeline site. They said, however, that Francis-Fourkiller should not have been arrested in the first place.

An expert on sacred burial grounds, Francis-Fourkiller was one of the tribal leaders visiting the Sioux of Standing Rock to advise them during negotiations with the Dakota Access Pipeline construction team. “Remains were being desecrated in this pipeline, so they had asked a bunch of people to come up there, so there’s a big conference,” Francis-Fourkiller's sister Loretta Francis said. Francis said her sister had no access to her medication while in custody in Cass County, North Dakota, and now faces charges of conspiracy and rioting.

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West Virginia: Three Hurt In Fire at Wetzel County Well Pad

By Casey Junkins / Wheeling Intelligencer / October 29, 2016

NEW MARTINSVILLE — Two natural gas well operators and a mechanic suffered burn injuries at Stone Energy Corp.’s Howell pad in Wetzel County after a “flash fire” Friday afternoon, according to West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater. The pad is located along Turkey Run Road off W.Va. 20 between New Martinsville and Reader. The cause of the fire was not known late Friday.

Gillenwater said the workers were performing maintenance on the well when the flash fire took place at approximately 4:49 p.m. All three workers were transported to hospitals via medical helicopter for injuries of uncertain severity, she said. The fire was contained by about 6 p.m., according to Gillenwater. “All the wells on the pad are shut in,” Gillenwater said. “We believe the situation is under control.” Officials with Stone Energy could not be reached for comment. The Lafayette, La.-based company recently filed for bankruptcy.

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West Virginia: Crews Respond to Well Pad Fire in Wetzel County

WTRF7 News / October 28, 2016

Three people are in the hospital with burn injuries as crews continue to work to put out a well pad fire in Wetzel County Friday evening.

Officials said the fire broke out sometime after 6 o'clock at the Howell Well Pad on Turkey Run Road. Three people have been hurt, two of which were flown by medical helicopter to hospitals. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, as crews worked for hours to beat the blaze.

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Pennsylvania: Columbia Gas customers to pay an average 7.12 percent more Dec. 19

Tribune-Review / October 28, 2016

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania has been approved for a $35 million increase in annual operating revenues that will raise rates by an average 7.12 percent for its 421,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers statewide, effective Dec. 19. Residential customers will take the biggest hit, with an average customer using about 70 therms per month increasing from $77.33 to $83.05 — or 7.34 percent.

In approving the settlement Thursday, the state Public Utility Commission noted that Columbia originally asked for a $55.3 million rate hike that would have meant an average 11.23 percent increase. However, utilities almost always ask for a higher rate than is ultimately approved by the PUC.

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Ireland: Delaying fracking ban decision 'contradicts climate change commitments'

By Press Association / Belfast Telegraph / October 26, 2016

Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, has agreed to the reform but it has been put on hold for at least eight months. The legislation was put forward by Tony McLoughlin, Fine Gael TD for Sligo Leitrim, one of the areas identified for potential shale gas exploration. It aims to ban energy companies from using high-pressure water and other additives to extract raw fuels from rocks, sands and coal seams.

While Mr McLoughlin said it has been accepted by ministers, it will not come under committee scrutiny until after June 30 next year following an intervention by the Government, potentially delaying an outright ban until 2018. Oisin Coghlan, director of Friends of the Earth Ireland, said: "Our concern with the Government amendment is that it looks like an attempt to delay the progress of that bill by a year or more. Fracking is banned in France, Germany and New York among others. Scotland has a moratorium on it and the Welsh parliament has voted against it while licences have been granted in England.

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Baker Hughes US oil drilling rig count 441 vs 443 prior

By Adam Button / / October 28, 2016

Weekly drilling rig data from Baker Hughes

  • First decline since June 24 week
  • Prior was 443
  • Natural gas rigs 114
  • Prior natural gas was 108
  • Total rigs 557
  • Prior total rigs were 553

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Newly active oil fields make companies turn down some business

By Jordan Blum / Houston Chronicle / October 28, 2016

The industry has added about 150 active drilling rigs to the nation's oil and gas fields in the past five months, largely focused in West Texas' Permian Basin. The sentiment is that any recovery will be slowed by a labor shortage, resulting from many workers leaving the industry after losing jobs. Companies like Patterson-UTI are banking on oil producers being willing to wait until the services providers can get to them.

Patterson-UTI could find itself in a bit of a sweet spot because it's focused on drilling and fracking in North America, which is one of the few parts of the global energy sector that's beginning to rebound. Still, success is relative. Patterson-UTI posted an $84 million loss for the third quarter, an improvement from the$226 million loss during the same quarter last year.

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Wisconsin: EPA asked to review sand mining permits

By Lee Bergquist / Milwaukee Journal / October 28, 2016

An environmental group filed a petition with federal regulators this week objecting to the Department of Natural Resources’ approval of an air permit for sand mining facilities in western Wisconsin because the group said the DNR’s analysis fell short of federal requirements. Midwest Environmental Advocates, an environmental law firm, asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reject air permits for Superior Silica Sands, Fort Worth, Texas, because the state allowed the company to expand operations without evaluating the potential of emissions of ultrafine air particles.

The air particles can cause respiratory and heart problems. MEA said the air permit approved by the Department of Natural Resources violates the federal Clean Air Act. The petition is the most recent action by the Madison-based group to highlight what it claims is a pattern of weak enforcement by the DNR on air and water pollution matters. Among others, MEA is representing the Ho-Chunk Nation, which has trust land in sand mining regions.

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New Mexico: Court denies request to halt drilling in basin

By Susan Montoya Bryan / Farmington Daily Times / October 28, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE — An effort to temporarily halt drilling across part of one of the nation’s largest natural gas fields has been rejected by a federal appeals court, leaving environmentalists to push their case against hydraulic fracturing in district court. A coalition of environmental groups sued the Bureau of Land Management in 2015, accusing the agency of failing to study the effects of fracking on local communities, the area’s cultural resources and the environment as it approved dozens of drilling permits in the San Juan Basin over a five-year period.

The groups appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals when a federal judge rejected their request to put drilling on hold while the merits of their case were heard. The appeals panel backed the lower court in a ruling issued Thursday, finding that the groups did not present any argument or evidence to warrant a halt to drilling in the region. The lawsuit challenges the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of some 260 drilling applications, citing violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

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YPF, Statoil Will Study Drilling Offshore Argentina's Atlantic Coast

Reuters / E&P / October 28, 2016

Argentina's YPF said on Oct. 28 it signed a deal with Norway's Statoil ASA (NYSE: STO) to study potential drilling sites offshore Argentina's Atlantic coast. The seismic tests will be undertaken in waters 500 meters (m) to 3,500 m deep.

Argentina has vast oil and gas reserves that have gone untapped, in part due unpredictable policies and cyclical crises over recent decades. The country's new president vows to normalize the economy and attract investment.

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Drilling activity focuses on central, western areas of Oklahoma

By Adam Wilmoth / The Oklahoman / October 28, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oil and natural gas drilling activity is growing throughout central and western Oklahoma, according to speakers Thursday at the DUG Midcontinent conference in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma’s STACK and SCOOP areas have seen more drilling activity over the past six months than any play other than the Permian Basin in west Texas and southeast New Mexico. The trend is likely to continue, said Subash Chandra, managing director and senior equity analyst at Guggenheim Securities LLC.

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UK public support for fracking is collapsing

By Ed King / ClimateHome / October 27, 2016

The UK government has tracked attitudes on climate change and energy since 2012, releasing new data every few months. This month it released findings from its 19th survey, based on face-to-face home interviews with around 2,000 citizens.

For a government that is committed to exploiting the country’s shale gas resources through “fracking” it’s not good news – support is plummeting. Attitudes towards wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy paints an equally intriguing picture. Despite lukewarm government support for these technologies support remains “consistently high” with solar, offshore wind and tidal power scoring approval ratings above 75%.

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Louisiana: Attorneys in BP oil spill settlement will divide $555.2 million

AP / / October 27, 2016

NEW ORLEANS — A judge has ruled a group of attorneys will divide $555.2 million for their work on behalf of people and businesses who suffered economic damages because of BP's 2010 Gulf oil spill. The award, which was requested by the attorneys, amounts to about 4.3 percent of the settlement.

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Montana: State, federal agency seek damages for Yellowstone oil spill

AP / Billings Gazette / October 28, 2016

The state of Montana and U.S. Department of Interior have notified a Wyoming company that they'll seek compensation for damages caused by more than 30,000 gallons of oil that spilled into the Yellowstone River from a broken pipeline. More than 90 percent of the crude was never recovered following the Bridger Pipeline Company accident in January 2015 near Glendive. The river was frozen when the break occurred and the spill temporarily contaminated water supplies for 6,000 people living downstream of the break.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said it's too early to say how much money will be sought from Bridger. Exxon Mobil recently agreed to pay $12 million in environmental damages for a 2011 spill into the Yellowstone near Laurel, Montana. In both cases, the broken lines had been installed just a few feet beneath the riverbed. The companies subsequently spent millions of dollars re-installing the lines more deeply beneath the Yellowstone and other river crossings in the state.

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Colorado: 150 barrels of oil spill in Fort Collins

By Jason Pohl and Jacy Marmaduke /  Coloradoan / October 28, 2016

Crews from local, state and federal agencies responded to north Fort Collins Friday for an oil spill estimated at 150 barrels, the largest oil spill on record in Larimer County. Poudre Fire Authority crews were notified of the spill Friday morning at a crude oil processing facility operated by Prospect Energy at 1229 E. Larimer County Road 54, also known as Douglas Road, in the far northern reaches of Fort Collins.

A pipe valve on a tank battery used to store crude oil failed, releasing approximately 150 barrels of oil — roughly 6,500 gallons — onto the ground sometime Thursday, said Madeline Noblett, PFA spokeswoman. Oil is piped into the facility from nearby wells.

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Nigeria to spend $10bn to end conflict in oil-rich Niger Delta

BBC News / October 28, 2016

Nigeria will invest $10bn (£8bn) in its oil-rich south to end an insurgency by militants, the oil minister has said. The money would be used to build infrastructure, including roads and railways, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said.

Militant attacks have severely disrupted oil production, fuelling a recession in the West African state. The militants have been demanding that the government spend more of its oil wealth on tackling widespread poverty in a region, known as the Niger Delta. They also accuse multinational firms of polluting the environment, destroying the livelihoods of farming and fishing communities.

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China’s Oil Giants Shrink Their Spending

By Brian Spegele / Wall Street Journal / October 28, 2016

BEIJING—Sinopec, PetroChina and Cnooc report capital expenditures far below budgeted levels. China’s once-freewheeling oil giants are singing a new tune: They’d rather sit on stockpiles of cash than produce more energy. As the commodities slump stretches into its third year with uncertainty over prices still rattling markets, earnings this week by China’s three big state-owned oil and gas companies had something in common.

The companies all said capital expenditures fell far below budgeted levels in the first nine months this year. Most dramatically, China Petroleum and Chemical Corp., also known as Sinopec, said Thursday that its capital spending in the first three quarters was under 25 billion yuan ($3.7 billion). By contrast, the company previously said it planned to invest around 100 billion yuan this year.

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North Dakota: Oil pipeline protesters burn vehicles, set roadblock

Fox News / October 28, 2016

CANNON BALL, N.D. –  Protesters ousted from private land where they tried to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline burned vehicles and built roadblocks along a North Dakota state highway where they faced off Friday with authorities. Officers with bullhorns commanded the protesters to leave the roadway, but the approximately two dozen people stood in defiance with their arms in the air.

One roadblock on state Highway 1806 was comprised of a burned SUV and sheets of plywood, and another was made up of two burned heavy trucks on a bridge over a small creek. Numerous military vehicles and work trucks were parked in the area early Friday, and officers in riot gear were present. Authorities did not immediately have details on damage to the bridge, or on plans to remove the roadblocks, and it wasn't immediately clear whose vehicles were burned.

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Exxon Concedes It May Need to Declare Lower Value for Oil in Ground

By Clifford Kraus / New York Times / October 28, 2016

HOUSTON — Exxon Mobil, in a concession to market and regulatory pressures, said Friday that it might be forced to write down the value of some of its oil and gas assets in Canada and elsewhere if energy prices remain low through the end of the year. The announcement, which accompanied the company’s release of another quarter of lackluster earnings, was an apparent reversal of Exxon Mobil’s stance in recent years.

The company has long insisted that it has been adequately accounting for the value of its oil and gas reserves — even as many other petroleum companies have taken big write-offs to reflect a two-year price slump. On Friday, though, the company acknowledged that it faced what could be the biggest accounting revision of reserves in its history. Exxon Mobil might have to concede that 3.6 billion barrels of oil-sand reserves and one billion barrels of other North American reserves are currently not profitable to produce.

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Photo of the Week: The Raging Inferno of Iraq’s Oil Fields

By Laura Mallonee / Wired / October 28, 2016

As Iraqi and Kurdish forces join US allies taking back Mosul, retreating Islamic State forces are setting fire to oil fields and other chemical facilities, burning some 5,000 barrels daily and blanketing the region in acrid smoke.

Getty photographer Carl Court saw the devastation late last week while working 35 miles south of the city. “It was apocalyptic,” he says. “It sounds cliché, but it was.” Court immediately sought something to provide a sense of scale.

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Live updates from Dakota Access Pipeline protests

By the Staff / Seattle Times / October 28, 2016

Hundreds of protesters have joined the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in their effort to block construction of the pipeline they say threatens water supplies and sacred sites. Follow our live coverage.

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Battle over Pennsylvania’s new drilling rules continues

By Marie Cusick / StateImpact / October 27, 2016

The state Department of Environmental Protection was back in court this week, facing a lawsuit from Marcellus Shale drillers over its new oil and gas regulations. Although nearly a decade has passed since Pennsylvania’s gas boom took off, the state only finalized the new regulations within the past month. The new rules have spurred a bitter fight between environmentalists, the industry, legislators and state regulators, which is still unfolding.

Among other things, the new rules create tougher standards for waste management and replacing damaged water supplies. Another section gives DEP more oversight of well permit applications near public resources, such as parks– a provision that’s a major sticking point for drillers. Perry repeatedly urged the industry reps to work with the agency.

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Doctors group calls for moratorium on fracking in Pennsylvania

By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / October 27, 2016

The state’s largest association of doctors has called for a moratorium on new shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and is urging the state to establish an independent health registry and initiate a study on its impacts on public health. Protect Pennsylvania: Health Professionals for a Livable Future, an activist alliance of physicians’ and nurses’ organizations opposed to shale gas development, said in a news release it supports the Medical Society’s resolution, and criticized the state Legislature for failing to establish a health registry or fund research into the health impacts of the decade-old shale gas drilling and fracking industry in Pennsylvania.

The Medical Society’s call for a moratorium came just a day before the release of a new study by the Yale School of Public Health that found numerous carcinogens used in fracking have the potential to contaminate the air and water of nearby communities, and increase the risk of childhood leukemia. Published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, the study examined more than 1,000 chemicals that may be released into the air or water by fracking and found that information on their cancer-causing potential was lacking on 80 percent of the compounds. Of the remaining 119, 55 were identified as confirmed or possible carcinogens, and 20 of those are linked to increased risk for leukemia or lymphoma.

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GE explores acquisition of Baker Hughes: source

By Arathy S Nair and Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru and Mike Stone / Reuters / October 27, 2016

General Electric Co has approached No. 3 oilfield services provider Baker Hughes Inc to discuss the possibility of an acquisition, according to a person familiar with the matter. GE said last week that it believes the oil market has bottomed, but that demand for the infrastructure equipment the company makes would take longer to recover, probably after the first half of next year.

Baker Hughes' planned merger with bigger rival Halliburton Co, valued at $34.6 billion when it was announced in November 2014, fell through in May due to opposition from regulators.

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Ireland: Fracking ban receives cross-party support

Belfast Telegraph / October 27, 2016

Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, warned that the proposed legislation may not achieve what is intended due to the complexities of gas exploration. But he added: "To be quite clear, there is no great strategic imperative or agenda by Government to pursue the use of fracking. The primary aim, as legislators, is to ensure that we give proper consideration to the issues and evidence, avoid unintended consequences, and provide legal clarity."

Even though the Government tried unsuccessfully to stall the legislation for eight months, potentially delaying an outright ban until 2018, Mr Naughten said it was " another step in protecting Ireland's environment and future". The proposals to ban fracking will now be passed to an Oireachtas committee for further scrutiny within 12 weeks. Friends of the Earth Ireland described the cross party support for the legislation as " a crucial step to ban fracking".

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North Dakota: Dakota Access Pipeline: Authorities start removing protesters

By Holly Yan and Marlena Baldacci / CNN / October 27, 2016

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters have set fire to a bridge, tires and debris, North Dakota Department of Emergency Services spokeswoman Cecily Fong said. Authorities from seven other states have been called in to help remove protesters, she said. As of Thursday afternoon, about 100 protesters remained.

The monthslong protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline have come to a head, as North Dakota authorities have started removing illegal roadblocks and protesters they say are trespassing on private property. More than 127 protesters have been arrested.

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Will lasers drill oil wells in 2050? Will there even be wells?

By David Hunn / The Houston Chronicle / October 26, 2016

The future of oil and gas drilling won't look anything like the present. Industry scientists imagine lasers, not rotating drill bits, cutting well holes. They envision computers so small they can be injected underground like grains of sand to log well pressure and chemical makeup in real time. They contemplate, one day, the end of oil drilling and the start of oil mining, with robots sent down shafts, two miles deep, to recover oil and gas.

In 50 years, today's cutting-edge drilling technique, hydraulic fracturing, "could be rendered quaint and obsolete," said Jim Krane, an energy fellow at Rice University. "Energy technology advances pretty quickly." Since the first oil rush in Pennsylvania more than 150 years, oil and gas companies have survived and prospered through innovation, finding ways to extract oil and gas from the most inhospitable and challenging places, from Arctic tundra to open seas to previously impenetrable shale rock.

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Connecticut abandons review of gas pipeline proposals

AP / October 27, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut energy officials are abandoning a review of pipeline proposals to bring more natural gas into the state and the region.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says the decision was based on rulings in Massachusetts and New Hampshire that would have prevented the cost of upgrading pipelines from being passed along to ratepayers.

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England: Horseback protest against ‘danger’ of oil drilling traffic

Midhurst and Petworth Observer / October 27, 2016

Horse riders held a demonstration in Stoughton last weekend in protest at plans for an exploratory oil drilling site in the South Downs National Park. Residents and members of the Markwells Wood Watch campaign group rode the route that would be taken by lorries and tankers to illustrate possible dangers to cyclists and riders if drilling goes ahead.

The plans from UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) would see up to 20 heavy goods vehicles a day making return trips along the rural roads around the village of Forestside during development. Demonstration organiser Tracey Hodkin said: “The bridleways and livery yards come out onto that road so horse riders have to come onto that road.

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Judge weighs whether to put new Pa. shale drilling rules on hold

By Laura Legere / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / October 27, 2016

HARRISBURG — Attorneys for the Marcellus Shale Coalition argued Wednesday that several contested sections of Pennsylvania’s new shale gas drilling regulations inherently violate current law and cause immediate harm to its members as they sought to convince a Commonwealth Court judge to put a temporary hold on those rules. The North Fayette-based industry trade group is asking Judge P. Kevin Brobson to stay key sections of expansive new state Department of Environmental Protection regulations that took effect earlier this month until the court can consider the heart of its case that portions of the shale gas rules are illegal and overreaching.

The hearing’s only witness, Scott Perry, DEP’s deputy secretary for oil and gas, testified on behalf of the department about the substance of the new rules as well as the unusual length and depth of the process that DEP followed to develop them. The regulations took effect Oct. 8 after five years of preparations. DEP has characterized the rules as both nation-leading and conservative in that they cement many practices that companies already follow voluntarily or through policy.

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Are We Fracking Away Our Health?

By Mary Anne Mercer / The Huffington Post / October 27, 2016

We know enough about the some fracking chemicals to have realistic concerns. Many, such as benzene, lead, ethylene chloride, and methanol, are known or suspected carcinogens or are otherwise toxic to humans. Fracking solutions can also include endocrine disruptors, which can be particularly harmful during fetal development. These substances are an urgent concern for the health of future generations: exposure even at low levels during pregnancy is associated with newborn birth defects.

But there is another problem. Montana regulations require oil developers to disclose the contents of the fracking solutions used for each well. The exception: if a company deems its chemical product a “trade secret,” the product doesn’t need to be disclosed. In one study of the hazards of fracking chemicals that are used in oil and gas wells in neighboring North Dakota, 37% of the products used were labeled “confidential trade secrets” and so were not disclosed. The public has no way of knowing what they are, or how toxic they might be. How can we be sure that dangerous chemicals aren’t being released into water sources, the earth, or our food crops, whether by accident or carelessness?

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Pennsylvania: Fort Cherry parents complain about prep for planned Yonkers pad

By Gideon Bradshaw / Observer-Reporter / October 26, 2016

Several parents spoke during the board of supervisors monthly meeting, saying trucks belonging to a subcontractor working for Range Resources interfered with school bus traffic during students’ morning commute earlier this month. Township supervisors granted a permit for a well pad at the Yonkers site – about 3/4 mile from the district campus, 110 Fort Cherry Road – Sept. 28.

Less than a month later, some argue Carmel Stabilization Group’s trucks, arriving early Oct. 12 to work on Baker Road near the planned well pad, pushed buses to the side of the road and equipment piled on Fort Cherry Road blocked the entrance to the two district school buildings, breaching a “total blackout” on heavy truck traffic during the schools’ pickup and dropoff times the township imposed as a condition of approval. Township solicitor Tom McDermott denied the incident constituted a violation. He went on to call events that morning “a minor first-day glitch and not a violation” of the conditions of the permit.

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Oil drilling underway beneath Ecuador's Yasuní national park

By John Vidal / The Guardian / October 26, 2016

Ecuador has confirmed that oil drilling has begun under the country’s Yasuní national park, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. But the government claims that there has been only minimal disturbance to the Unesco biosphere reserve in the Amazon rainforest since extraction of 23,000 barrels of oil a day began last month.

Ecologists, environmentalists and political groups in Ecuador and elsewhere condemned president Rafael Correa when in August 2013 he scrapped a pioneering conservation plan to leave oil under the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) area of the park, in return for $3.6bn (3bn) compensation.

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Drilling Down: Batteries upend Peak Oil debate

By Angela MacDonald-Smith / Financial Review / October 27, 2016

If "peak oil" conjures up thoughts of when oil output will reach its maximum then you're way behind the times. Now it's all about demand. And rather than a debate about the geology, it's about technology, and when batteries will force consumption of oil – or at least oil used for transport fuels – into terminal decline.

In an assessment last week by Fitch Ratings of credit risks to various sectors from a breakthrough in battery technology, oil came at the top of the list, meriting a "serious threat" diagnosis. While the utilities and automotive sectors can scratch out some new opportunities from the rise of batteries, it's all downside for oil producers. With electric vehicles currently less than 1 per cent of automotive sales, the starting point is low, but Fitch is predicting a drawn-out and potentially painful process, particularly if technical advances in batteries come faster than currently assumed.

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Communities challenge oil trains in their neighbourhoods

By Bruce Campbell / National Observer / October 26, 2016

The railway and oil industries exert enormous power over governments, tilting decision-makers toward “economic considerations” which often compromises public health and safety, and our environment. This power is reinforced by a consensus that issues related to the transport of oil by rail are the exclusive jurisdiction of the feds.

However, communities are challenging this consensus. They are becoming increasingly vocal in demanding a say about dangerous goods passing through their communities. In a precedent-setting ruling, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board granted the town council of Benicia, California, the legal authority to reject an application by oil giant, Valero, to build an major rail loading facility which the council deemed a danger to the community.

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US: 220 'Significant' Pipeline Spills Already This Year Exposes Troubling Safety Record

By Dan Zukowski / EcoWatch /October 25, 2016

Three major U.S. pipeline spills within the last month are just a small part of the 220 significant incidents reported so far this year—and 3,032 since 2006—that provide a stark reminder of the environmental hazards of an aging pipeline infrastructure carrying fossil fuels. The costs of these leaks since 2006 has amounted to $4.7 billion.

Based on data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of significant pipeline incidents grew 26.8 percent from 2006 to 2015. Some 55 percent of the U.S. network of 135,000 miles of pipeline is more than 45 years old. Of 466 incidents studied by Reuters, only 22 percent, or 105, were detected by advanced detection systems. The others were found in different ways, with the public finding 99 of the leaks.

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Marcellus, Utica production will not grow unchecked: researcher

Kallanish Energy / October 26, 2016

Some industry watchers have predicted Marcellus-Utica production could hit 40 billion cubic feet per day in the next decade, but Tom Choi, director of the California-based Berkeley Research Group, said he’s unsure that will happen. The Marcellus and Utica together now produce about 20 Bcf/d of natural gas. Choi said he anticipates “moderate growth” in the Marcellus and Utica shales, but that the 40 billion estimate may be too rosy.

There will be increasing competition from more economical shale basins, he said. As production drops from Marcellus and Utica wells, drillers will shift to less-productive wells and that will hurt Marcellus-Utica growth, he said. Many Marcellus-Utica wells have less-than-stellar production results, Choi added. Both plays are dominated by big, very successful wells that drive production, he said. The Appalachian Basin is also still suffering from infrastructure constraints, he said.

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North Carolina: Benefit held in Asheville to help Dakota Access pipeline 'water protectors'

By Jerrika Insco  / WLOS13 / October 25, 2016

WLOS — ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- A benefit was held on Tuesday to help protesters, who call themselves "water protectors," of the Dakota Access pipeline. At the Regeneration Station, they're collecting donations and supplies for people in the middle of that chaos in North Dakota. While blocking construction of that oil pipeline, they need supplies to live in difficult conditions. People throughout the country are showing support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

"It's already the largest gathering of first nations in 140 years," Riley Bigg said. "The Regeneration Station is taking up a 75-foot trailer as soon as that gets filled," Bigg said. "For a cause that affects us all. Nobody is immune from hydrocarbons in the atmosphere, burning oil, exporting, and protecting one of the largest watersheds in the world," Bigg said. The Regeneration Station held a live auction, smashed a car and sold T-shirts at the benefit. They raised a total of $2,400.

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Oklahoma: Meeting addresses how to drill without triggering earthquakes

By Sheldra Brigham and Kevin Ogle / KFOR4 / October 25, 2016

OKLAHOMA - The uptick in Oklahoma quakes has been linked to post-fracking wastewater disposal wells. Many officials are concerned underground pressure brought on by wastewater disposal wells could trigger another large quake. Our last three largest rattlers: September’s 5.8 near Pawnee, the magnitude 5.1 near Fairview in February and the 5.7 by Prague in 2011 - all man-made.

Tuesday, a lawmaker called for a special meeting at the state capitol to look at how to keep drilling without triggering earthquakes. “We have some very real concerns within the Ponca Nation about what’s going on with the earthquakes up there,” said Mekasi Horinek, Ponca Nation. “Because the earthquakes underneath us have created a situation where our well water is poisoned, the pipes have been so shook up that they are busting and breaking every three or four days,” Horinek said.

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Gore slams 'dangerous' Dakota pipeline project

By Devin Henry / The Hill / October 25, 2016

Former Vice President Al Gore on Tuesday praised demonstrators protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline project in North Dakota, calling the project “dangerous.” Gore said he is opposed to the $3.8 billion pipeline project and supports the fight to stop it in North Dakota, where the pipeline has become a rallying point for American Indian rights and anti-fossil fuel activists alike. 

“The non-violent resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline is also one of the frontline struggles that collectively mark a turning point in the decision by humanity to turn away from the destructive path we have been following and aim instead toward a clean energy future for all,” Gore said Tuesday. “The courage and eloquence of the Standing Rock Sioux in calling all of us to recognize that in their words, ‘Water is Life,’ should be applauded, not silenced by those who are driven by their business model to continue spewing harmful global warming pollution into our Earth’s atmosphere.”

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Poll Finds Marylanders Oppose Fracking by Two to One

Morgan County USA / October 26, 2016

With the clock winding down on Maryland’s two-year moratorium on fracking, a statewide poll of Maryland voters released today shows broad public support for permanently banning the risky drilling practice. In Garrett County, a prime target area for the oil and gas industry, voters oppose fracking by an even stronger margin. The poll, conducted by the nonpartisan firm OpinionWorks, found that Maryland voters support a ban on fracking by a 2-to-1 margin, with a 56 percent majority supporting the ban and only 28 percent opposed.

This poll follows on the heels of a recent Washington Post poll finding that a similarly strong majority of Marylanders opposes fracking. The OpinionWorks poll provides additional insights for state legislators who will weigh legislation to ban fracking in the 2017 Maryland General Assembly. Contamination of water was the top concern cited – with one-third of voters worried about the risks – while harm to human and animal health was the second-biggest concern.

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Minnesota: Winona County Board moves closer to a frac sand mining ban

By Josephine Marcotty and Pat Pheifer / Star Tribune / October 25, 2016

Winona County commissioners on Tuesday ordered the county attorney to finalize language that would make it the first county in Minnesota to ban the highly contentious industry of frac sand mining. After lengthy discussion weighing several options, commissioners voted 3-2 for language that would impose an outright ban on all industrial mineral operations, including frac sand mining, that initially was proposed last spring. A final vote is expected at the board's Nov. 22 meeting.

Sand mining in Minnesota and Wisconsin has boomed and waned along with the oil and gas production practice known as hydrofracking. The particular kind of sand found in parts of southeast Minnesota was in huge demand by exploration companies. While some townships in southeast Minnesota have adopted bans or severe restrictions on sand mining, Winona is one of several counties that has struggled to manage proposals for massive sand pits in the face of often fierce local opposition. The administration of Gov. Mark Dayton has issued some regulations for sand mining, including a one-mile setback from trout streams.

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California: Is Measure Z really about fracking Monterey County?

By Brittany Nielsen / KSBW8 / October 25, 2016

Even actor Leonardo DiCaprio jumped into the Measure Z debate Tuesday, tweeting, "Help keep Monterey County safe from #fracking pollution. Support #YesOnZ:"

But Measure Z is actually much more. Measure Z would not only ban fracking, but also wastewater injection and new oil wells in Monterey County -- issues that have the potential of moving oil production out of the county.

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U.S. oil and gas producers stir from hibernation: Kemp

By John Kemp / Reuters / October 24, 2016

U.S. oil and gas drillers are reporting the biggest and most sustained upturn since oil prices began slumping in the middle of 2014. The number of rigs drilling across the country has risen by 149, or 40 percent, since hitting a cyclical low at the end of May. The active rig count has risen in 18 of the last 21 weeks confirming that a sustained upturn in drilling is occurring.

Most of the extra rigs are targeting oil-rich formations (127) rather than gas-bearing formations (21) though most wells will produce a mix of hydrocarbons. More than two-thirds of the extra rigs have been deployed in the neighboring southwest states of Texas (80), New Mexico (+16) and Oklahoma (+14). Within those states most of the additional rigs have been deployed in the Permian (90) and Anadarko (11) basins of western Texas, eastern New Mexico and western Oklahoma. The Permian and Anadarko offer near-ideal conditions for low-cost and low-risk oil and gas production despite the continuing slump in other regions.

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Protesters Rally In Canada Against Trans Mountain Pipeline Extension

By Erwin Cifuentes / / October 26, 2016

Approximately one hundred people gathered on Monday in the Canadian capital city of Ottawa to protest against the planned expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline. Billed by rally organizers as “the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history,” the mostly student protesters journeyed from the University of Ottawa to Parliament Hill. The marchers carried signs reading “Keep it in the Ground” and unfurled a banner reading “Climate Leaders Don’t Build Pipelines.”

Originally it had been reported that up to one hundred protesters were arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for attempting to break security barricades. The RCMP later clarified, saying that some fifty demonstrators were briefly detained for trespassing and ticketed without arrest. According to Kinder Morgan, the proposed expansion would cost some US$6.8 billion, add around 980 kilometers of new pipeline, and allow for the additional transport of “heavier oils with capability for transporting light crude oils.”

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California: Stop Irrigating Your Produce With Oil Wastewater

By Karuna Jaggar / EcoWatch / October 26, 2016

Would you eat oranges grown with oil wastewater? You might be already without knowing it. In a new report released earlier this month by PSE Healthy Energy—Healthy Energy, University of California—Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific, researchers call for a more thorough investigation of the potential health risks associated with using oil wastewater for crop irrigation in light of the potential health harms and gaps in safety testing.

The report finds that despite oil corporations being required to report chemical additives, 38 percent of the chemical additives could not be "sufficiently identified for preliminary hazard evaluation" because oil corporations are concealing them as trade secrets. Of the chemicals these scientists were able to analyze, they found that "43 percent of them can be classified as potential chemicals of concern from human health and/or environmental perspectives." They found that 10 chemicals are known or potential carcinogens.

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US on edge over new powder keg in the South China Sea

By Clay Dillow / CNBC / October 21, 2016

China and the Philippines could begin exploiting long-untapped energy reserves in the South China Sea, according to reports coming out of this week's meeting between Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte and high-ranking Chinese officials — including a Thursday sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping — in Beijing. China has long sought to exploit what it believes could be more than 100 billion barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas lurking beneath the South China Sea.

The Philippines, long a U.S. ally in the region, has moved away from its bilateral ties and military entanglements with the United States and instead embraced a budding new friendship with China, long a regional rival. A joint energy-exploration deal between China and the Philippines could serve as a way to dodge thorny questions of national sovereignty and begin extracting energy wealth from the South China Sea, potentially setting a precedent for future energy development deals.

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EQT to acquire Trans Energy, add acreage in region

By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / October 25, 2016

The Downtown-based company said it has reached agreements to acquire 42,600 acres and 42 Marcellus wells from Trans Energy Inc., a West Virginia firm focused on the wet portion of the Marcellus Shale in Marshall, Wetzel and Marion counties, and its joint venture partner Republic Energy, based in Texas.

In a separate deal, EQT will pay $170 million to an undisclosed seller of 17,000 acres and two Marcellus wells in southwestern Pennsylvania, with the majority of leases covering Washington County. Because these acquisitions add to EQT's existing holdings, they will allow the company to extend the length of the horizontal wells it drills on some 190 locations, more than doubling the distance that would be covered by each lateral.

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Range Resources Corporation: Range Announces Third Quarter 2016 Results / October 25, 2016

Third quarter 2016 drilling expenditures of $90 million funded the drilling of 39 (38 net) wells. The Company expects to average 9 rigs running for the fourth quarter of 2016, with 5 in the Southern Marcellus Division and 4 in the North Louisiana Division. For NGLs, Range recently supplied a shipment of ethane to INEOS' facilities in Grangemouth, Scotland. This was the first shipment to the United Kingdom of ethane produced from shale reservoirs.

Range continues to sell propane from the Marcus Hook export terminal, placing over 1.8 million barrels of Range propane into international markets during the third quarter of 2016. Total Marcellus production for the third quarter averaged 1,396 net Mmcfe per day, a 9% increase over the prior-year quarter. The Southern Marcellus Shale Division averaged 1,228 net Mmcfe per day during the quarter, a 23% increase over the prior-year quarter. The Northern Marcellus Shale Division averaged 169 net Mmcf per day during the quarter, a 39% decrease compared to the prior-year quarter.

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Colorado: Louisville, Lafayette residents denounce potential for fracking at Mayhoffer farmland development

By Anthony Hahn / Daily Camera / October 25, 2016

A chorus of protests and jeers filled a small conference room at the Louisville Recreation Center on Tuesday night, as more than 150 residents from Lafayette and Louisville loudly condemned plans for development on 200 acres of farmland at the corner of Colo. 42 and Empire Road in unincorporated Boulder County — plans that include the potential for a small-scale fracking operation on the site.

Under such a plan, the roughly 200-acre parcel of land would be subdivided to allow for five large "luxury estates" that would sit on plots of land ranging from 35 to 50 acres each, according to development concept drawings. Adding to the outcry on Tuesday night was the revelation that the plan included a 5-acre parcel of land to be allocated for a potential well site for fracking operations — eliciting a collective gasp from the residents in attendance.

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Canada: Justice Delayed? Ernst Fracking Case Still Awaits Supreme Court Ruling

By Andrew Nikiforuk / The Tyee / October 25, 2016

Ernst, a patient landowner, didn’t expect immediate results. But nor did she anticipate nine years of treading water. Now her case, which seems mired in a swamp of delays and formalities, is no closer to presenting evidence on the industrial contamination of groundwater, a public resource, than it was nine years ago. Encana, which has been at the centre of other high-profile water contamination cases, didn’t file a defence until Aug. 19, 2013. The corporation says the case is without merit. Yet the landmark lawsuit highlights a continent-wide problem aggravated by a haphazard technology: hydraulic fracturing.

A 2014 report by the Harvard Law School on fracking in the U.S. spelled out the central issue. As complaints of water contamination in areas being fracked by industry (more than 1,000 water complaints alone in Pennsylvania) were rising, regulatory statutes and procedures were “often insufficient to respond adequately to landowner concerns,” the Harvard Law School report found. In addition, hydraulic fracturing has caused thousands of earthquakes in the Western Canadian sedimentary basin, with little or no monitoring on the impact on groundwater and gas migration. Yet come this December, Ernst’s case will have languished in Canada’s court system for nine years and consumed $360,000 of her savings.

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Fracking Linked to Cancer-Causing Chemicals, New YSPH Study Funds

By Denise L Meyer / Yale School of Public Health / October 24, 2016

An expansive new analysis by Yale School of Public Health researchers confirms that numerous carcinogens involved in the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing have the potential to contaminate air and water in nearby communities. Fracking is now common in the United States, currently occurring in 30 states, and with millions of people living within one mile of a fracking site. The study suggests that the presence of carcinogens involved in or released by hydraulic fracturing operations has the potential to increase the risk of childhood leukemia.

“Because children are a particularly vulnerable population, research efforts should first be directed toward investigating whether exposure to hydraulic fracturing is associated with an increased risk,” said lead author Nicole Deziel, Ph.D., assistant professor. Childhood leukemia is a particular concern because of the severity and short latency period of the disease. The team examined an extensive list of more than 1,000 chemicals that may be released into air or water as a result of fracking. Of the 119 compounds with sufficient data, 44 percent of the water pollutants and 60 percent of air pollutants were either confirmed or possible carcinogens. Furthermore, 20 chemicals had evidence of increased risk for leukemia or lymphoma specifically.

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Texas: Basic Energy Services files for bankruptcy to reduce debt burden

By Steve Kaskovich / Star-Telegram / October 25, 2016

Basic Energy Services, which has been working with creditors to restructure its debt in the face of depressed energy prices, filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition in Delaware, the company said Tuesday. The Fort Worth-based oilfield service company had said Monday that creditors, including secured term loan lenders and senior unsecured bondholders, had agreed to a prepackaged reorganization plan that will reduce debt and provide $125 million of liquidity, according to the statement.

Launched in 1992, the company grew with the drilling boom of the past decade only to suffer as the drop in oil prices reduced drilling activity. The “sharp and prolonged period of depressed commodity prices” in recent years sapped operating cash flow, Chief Executive Officer Roe Patterson said in Monday’s statement.

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Colorado: FRACTURED: Why it took years to shut down Texas Tea

By Daniel Glick & Kelsey Ray / Colorado Independent / October 23, 2016

In late spring, the chief regulator of Colorado’s oil and gas industry, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission [COGCC], finally brought the hammer down on Texas Tea, LLC. The small oil and gas operator, which incorporated in Colorado with more than 30 wells around Weld and Adams counties, had been on the state’s enforcement radar for years. The Commission had tagged Texas Tea with repeated violations dating back to 1999, including spills, mechanical failures, abandoned wells and, as time went on, accumulating unpaid fines. Eighteen years passed between the first violation notice and the shutdown order. In that time, Texas Tea racked up 54 more violations and accrued fines of more than $320,000, which will likely go unpaid.

In the aftermath of the company’s closure, the city of Brighton and other communities have been left with abandoned wells that local officials fear may leak into the community’s groundwater. Meanwhile, Texas Tea’s financial guarantee, even combined with the potential sale of its assets, almost certainly won’t be enough to cover the cleanup and plugging of its wells, leaving the Commission responsible for cleaning up whatever mess the company left behind. The oil and gas industry is renowned for its shifting and fragmented ecosystem of operators. Lepore said that as far as he knows, the COGCC has shut down only three other companies besides Texas Tea since its establishment in 1951.

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Pennsylvania Op-Ed: Gas drillers need to work with our communities, not against them

By Sen. Wayne D. Fontana / Bucks County Courier Times / October 25, 2016

I was disappointed to hear that the Marcellus Shale Coalition is already scurrying into court in an attempt to overturn parts of Pennsylvania’s new gas drilling regulations.

The industry needs to understand that our people are entitled to safety, security and a clean environment. Our communities deserve a say in where gas drilling should take place, how it can be safely conducted and what precautions should be in place.

Hopefully, we learned a few retrospective things from the state’s coal and steel industries of days gone by. Taxpayers are still footing the bill to clean up hazardous waste sites, and bring life back to our polluted lands and streams. We are not going to stand back again and meekly allow these new gas drilling conglomerates to hobble modern day taxpayers with the same shameful legacy of abandoned strip mines, brownfields and rusting eye sores.

It’s important to emphasize that these new drilling regulations were not some hastily crafted, one-sided, unreasonable attack on the Marcellus Shale industry. The state Department of Environmental Protection spent a great deal of time taking input and testimony from citizens, community leaders, environmental experts, as well as industry advocates. Thousands of people offered input and many hearings were held around the state.

While the new regulations may not be perfect, they are a reasonable and balanced means to assure that our people and environment come first. The regulations also provide fair and clear direction to those who are engaged in the state’s booming Marcellus Shale industry.

The Shale Coalition is doing the public a disservice by attempting to weaken or eliminate provisions that were crafted after years of hearings and study. I’m also disappointed that the industry is commandeering its assault on the new regulations through costly court suits.

There are pending bills in the legislature that can be used to address many of the issues that the industry objects to. Before attacking the state’s new rules in courtrooms, industry proponents should have reached out to legislators and state regulators to try and find common ground or workable resolutions to their issues.

Instead of finding legal loopholes in regulations that require them to spare endangered species, plug abandoned wells, and responsibly deal with spills and site restoration, industry representatives should embrace the opportunity to be good corporate partners and stewards of our lands and waterways.

Gas drillers should not take an adversarial role against our government leaders and environmental advocates.

Pennsylvania welcomes the industry’s growth, its jobs and its contribution to our state’s economy. All we are asking is that drillers be responsible, respectful and accountable to our people.

Sen. Wayne D. Fontana is a Democrat from Allegheny County, Pa.

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Niger Delta Avengers say attacked Nigeria's Chevron Escravos pipeline

By Tife Owolabi / Reuters / October 25, 2016

Nigerian militant group the Niger Delta Avengers said it attacked an oil pipeline in Nigeria's restive southern energy hub on Tuesday and warned international oil companies (IOCs) not to carry out repairs on damaged energy infrastructure. Nigeria's oil output, typically close to 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd), fell to less than 1.3 million bpd this spring as militants bombed energy facilities.

The group has said it wants a greater share of the OPEC member's wealth to go to the Niger Delta, where most of the country's crude is produced. Government sources told Reuters the government would hold a meeting with community leaders and militant representatives next week. It is the first attack claimed by the Avengers since late September, when it said it attacked a crude export line as a "wake-up call".

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Deep down fracking wells, microbial communities thrive

By Rebecca A. Daly et al / / October 25, 2016

Microbes have a remarkable ability to adapt to the extreme conditions in fracking wells, according to a study published in the October issue of Nature Microbiology. Scientists led by researchers at Ohio State University found that microbes actually consume some of the chemical ingredients commonly used in the fracking process, creating new compounds which in turn support microbial communities below ground. The process allows the microbes to survive in very harsh environments that include very high temperatures, pressures, and salinity.

The team found that fractured shales contained similar microbial communities even though they came from wells hundreds of miles apart in different kinds of shale formations. The complex mix - with some microbes producing compounds that others use or feed upon - produces some interesting outcomes. One particularly interesting compound, glycine betaine, is what allows the microbes to thrive by protecting them against the high salinity found in the wells. Other microbes can subsequently degrade the compound to generate more food for the bacteria that produce methane. The scientists even discovered a new strain of bacteria inside the wells which it dubbed "Frackibacter."

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Canada: Offshore drilling ‘incident’ a harrowing warning

By Peter Puxley / / October 25, 2016

Both Shell and the industry regular are to blame for a near oil drilling disaster that could have contaminated the Nova Scotia coastline. Battling unexpectedly high waves, the drill ship crew successfully secured the well and disconnected the ship from the wellhead to protect the operation. The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) released only a summary of Shell’s investigation report, omitting key facts, such as the near hit at the wellhead when the riser pipes hit the seabed, and the poor preparedness of personnel for handling the technology connecting the riser stem and the drill ship.

Shell is drilling Cheshire and its sister well, Monterey Jack, in water deeper than almost any other well in the world, significantly deeper than BP’s Deepwater Horizon well. Reliable experience in such deep water is almost non-existent. Shell’s exploratory wells lie close to our most productive sustainable fishery, to key spawning and nursery grounds for scallops, lobster, haddock and halibut, and not far from the massive daily tidal in- and outflow from the Bay of Fundy. Clearly, deciding acceptable risk must involve southwestern Nova Scotia communities dependent on those resources. A blowout would have catastrophic consequences.

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Dozens of Students Arrested in Ottawa Protesting Kinder Morgan Pipeline

By Cameron Fenton / CommonDreams / October 24, 2016

OTTAWA - Today, 100 students and youth from across Canada were arrested in Ottawa in the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history. The students marched from the University of Ottawa to Parliament Hill where they were arrested trying to cross police barricades towing an oversized chalkboard sporting climate science backing up their message for the Prime Minister – climate leaders don’t build pipelines.

Youth travelled from all across Canada to participate in and support the action, including Cedar Parker-George, a member of the Tsleil Waututh Nation, whose traditional territory faces the terminus of the Kinder Morgan pipeline in the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, BC. Organizers of the action cited the rising political power of millennials, expected to be one of the largest voting blocs in Canada by the next federal election, in their reasons for taking action. According to polling, 45% of people 18-24 voted liberal in the 2015 election and people under 35 oppose pipelines more than older generations.

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Oil and gas battles return to West Texas

By Chris Tomlinson / Houston Chronicle / October 25, 2016

Hunn's reporting from West Texas shows that while the Permian Basin is shaping up to be the first to bounce back from the oil bust, there is a growing number of residents who would just as soon see the next boom pass them by. The roaring opposition to a pipeline that would carry Texas natural gas to Mexico is another example. Environmentalists oppose the Trans-Pecos Pipeline because they say it will despoil the Big Bend region.

West Texas is no longer as welcoming to the oil and gas industry as it once was, largely because residents value the land more than money. That puts the impetus on energy companies to prove they'll do the right thing by the landowners and future generations. If either project results in a major incident or long-lasting pollution, though, the entire industry's reputation will be permanently marred along with the environment. I hope the leaders at these companies understand what's at stake and take every precaution. Anything less is unforgivable.

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North Dakota: Tribe Seeks Justice Department Review of Pipeline Protest Enforcement

By Kris Maher / Wall Street Journal / October 24, 2016

The head of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe urged the Justice Department on Monday to investigate the tactics used by police in North Dakota against protesters of an oil pipeline, a day after local authorities said protesters blocked a highway with barbed wire and threatened a helicopter with a drone. The focal point of opposition to the nearly 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, which would carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, remains near construction activities in North Dakota along the Missouri River.

The pipeline is owned by Energy Transfer Partners LP, which has said the project meets all federal requirements. The company recently said it expects approval soon from the federal government for the river crossing, so it can complete the pipeline. Over the weekend, police in Morton County arrested 127 people for charges that included reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, engaging in a riot and assault on a police officer, bringing the total number of people arrested there to 269 since early August.

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Anti-pipeline protestor tosses pumpkin seeds at Canada's Trudeau

By David Ljunggren / Reuters / October 21, 2016

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is usually greeted by cheering crowds when he goes out in public but received a less pleasant welcome in Hamilton on Friday - a handful of pumpkin seeds thrown by a green activist. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp said the woman shoved past reporters and threw the seeds at Trudeau before police wrestled her to the ground. Trudeau, who appeared unharmed, was hustled into his car.

The woman later told the CBC she was protesting about plans to expand an Enbridge Inc. oil pipeline that runs through Hamilton, a city some 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Toronto. Trudeau's Liberal government is under increasing pressure from environmentalists to block major pipeline projects by Enbridge, Kinder Morgan Inc. and TransCanada Corp.

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Australia: Curtis Island flaring brings plume of black smoke

By Paul Braven / The Observer / October 24, 2016

IF YOU were wondering about the big black plumes of smoke coming in from Curtis Island on Friday last week, QGC initiated "an unplanned shutdown of Train 2".

The reason for the smoke was because the supply of natural gas to the train was reduced and flaring was used to evacuate propane from the train's processing systems so work could be safely undertaken.

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Oklahoma: Authorities are looking into oil spill at Seaway pipeline in Cushing

By Paul Monies / NewsOK / October 24, 2016

CUSHING — An oil spill from an older section of the Seaway pipeline in Cushing temporarily shut down service Monday on the pipeline system, which transports crude oil to the Texas Gulf Coast. "The impacted segment of the legacy pipeline has a capacity of 50,000 barrels (2.1 million gallons), however the actual amount of crude oil released will be significantly less and won't be determined until recovery efforts are complete," the company said in a news release.

Officials from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and Department of Environmental Quality were at the site Monday, along with federal officials to assess the situation. The Seaway pipeline system, which transports crude oil from Cushing to the Gulf Coast, has a maximum capacity of 850,000 barrels per day. The pipeline is a 50-50 joint venture of Enterprise Products Partners LP and Enbridge Inc.

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Scotland: 'Artificial' clouds captured at sunset in Forth Valley

BBC News / October 22, 2016

Pink and orange clouds appeared in the sky above Falkirk on Thursday evening. The anthropogenic, or artificial, clouds were captured in photographs taken around Forth Valley by BBC Scotland News website readers and BBC WeatherWatchers.

The clouds are believed to have come from the Ineos petrochemical plant in Grangemouth. A spokesman for Ineos said "the clouds of water vapour most likely emanated from our cooling towers".

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Pennsylvania: Westmoreland County bus fleet set for fuel conversion

By Rich Cholodofsky / TribLive / October 23, 2016

Westmoreland County Transit Authority will begin converting its bus fleet next year to compressed natural gas as part of a statewide project. PennDOT last year launched an $84.5 million project with Salt Lake City, Utah-based Trillium CNG to convert 29 public transportation centers throughout Pennsylvania to natural gas fueling centers over the next five years. It will take about a decade to convert the authority's entire fleet, transit officials said.

The authority has 41 buses, and 23 vehicles are slated to be replaced within the next year. Blahovec said the authority will buy buses that use compressed natural gas, or CNG. PennDOT will pay to install the CNG depot, and the authority will pay a 60-cent surcharge on each gallon of natural gas purchased. Westmoreland County is part of the second phase of the statewide conversion effort. Installation of CNG fueling stations started earlier this year in Centre, Cambria and York counties.

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Denmark: Maersk Drilling announces layoffs at HQ

By Ole Andersen / Shipping Watch / October 24, 2016

Maersk Drilling will dismiss as many as 70 employees at its headquarters north of Copenhagen as a consequence of the slowdown in the oil industry, informs the company in a press release on MOnday. Of the 70 positions set to be terminated at the company, 20 are currently not filled and will remain so.

"The combination of low activity levels and excess capacity of drilling rigs continue to drive lower utilization and lower day rates. At present, nine out of Maersk Drilling’s 23 units are lying idle, and we expect the market balance to be challenged in the coming years," says Maersk Drilling CEO Claus V. Hemmingsen in the press release. The drilling company has laid off 600 offshore employees over the past year.

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OPEC may not be cutting crude oil production after all

By David Scutt / Business Insider Australia / October 23, 2016

The prospect of a crude oil production cut from OPEC — tentatively agreed to late last month — may be scuppered before it’s even been inked if the latest headlines are anything to go by. The latest source of unease comes from Iraq, which, over the weekend, joined the likes of Iran, Nigeria and Libya in seeking an exemption to cutting oil output for an OPEC deal, scheduled to be discussed at the group’s upcoming meeting in late November.

Dhar also says that Russia, a non-OPEC member, has also refused to commit to cutting output to support an OPEC deal, stating that “Russia’s latest draft of its energy strategy points to a mild increase in oil output from 10.9mb/d currently to 11.1 mb/d by 2020”.

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Canada: Precision Drilling Hires 1,000 In Oilpatch

By Michelle Butterfield / The Huffington Post Alberta / October 24, 2016

Precision Drilling Corp., one of Canada’s largest drilling companies, announced late last week that they have hired 1,000 employees — many of them former Precision employees who had been laid off in Alberta's energy downturn. President and CEO Kevin Neveu told the Financial Post that his company is in "the early stages of this rebound," having recently reactivated 53 rigs in North America.

The pain felt in Alberta's oil patch has been far-reaching. The BOE Report estimates upward of 100,000 people have lost jobs in Alberta, in occupations both directly and indirectly linked to the oil industry. And companies continue to announce layoffs; last week Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced it would cut 370 Canadian jobs across its operations following a company-wide organizational review.

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Enterprise says part of Seaway Pipeline shut after Cushing, Oklahoma spill

Reuters / October 24, 2016

The Seaway Pipeline Co shut down part of its pipeline system following a leak of crude oil in Cushing, Oklahoma on Monday, said Enterprise Products Partners LP, which operates the pipeline in a venture with Enbridge Inc. The 500-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline system connects the U.S. crude storage hub of Cushing to the Freeport, Texas area, and a terminal and distribution crude oil network that serves all the refineries in the Greater Houston area.

Energy intelligence firm Genscape also reported the shutdown of its 450,000 bpd Seaway Twin pipeline, which twins the existing Seaway pipeline. The Seaway Pipeline system has a total capacity of about 850,000 bpd, according to the company website. The Seaway spill comes on the heels of a Sunoco Logistics Partners LP pipeline spill on Friday, which released about 1,300 barrels (55,000 gallons) in the vicinity of the Susquehanna River in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.

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Josh Fox: Arrest of Journalists and Filmmakers Covering the Dakota Pipeline is a Threat to Democracy

Democracy Now / October 24, 2016

Award-winning filmmaker Josh Fox joins us to discuss the arrest of fellow filmmaker Deia Schlosberg, who is charged with three felonies for filming an act of civil disobedience in which climate activists manually turned off the safety valves to stop the flow of tar sands oil through pipelines spanning the U.S. and Canada.

"These people are not accessories to the crime, they are they media," Fox says. "This is a constitutionally protected activity." Schlosberg was the producer of Fox’s recent documentary, "How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change."

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Pennsylvania: Taking a 'stand': Atlantic Sunrise pipeline opponents rally at their new gathering spot

By Jennifer Kopf / Lancaster Online / October 24, 2016

Native American blessings and words of support from environmental groups, college students, local activists and an order of nuns carried across the farm hillside. It was the start of a program that would stretch into the evening hours, with some participants camping out for the night. “Maps show horizontal drilling beginning right about where the music stand is,” said pipeline opponent Mark Clatterbuck, pointing to the spot held down Saturday afternoon by speakers and singers. “So the point of The Stand,” as protesters have dubbed the 14-foot-tall structure, “really is to serve as an encampment if or when construction begins.”

Lancaster Against Pipelines hopes to have the events on a semiregular basis, Clatterbuck said, keeping people engaged until spring when the real work on the proposed pipeline may begin. Saturday afternoon, speakers said they’re looking to spread word about the Atlantic Sunrise project to other groups working to change or halt similar projects. Representatives from some of those groups were present Saturday to lend their support and to network. “I’ve been involved with fighting fracking for years,” said Barbara Banhorn of Perry County. “I have strong feelings that (grassroots groups with similar agendas) have got to get together.”

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Maryland: Frostburg Students and Residents Rally for a Local Ban of Fracking at City Council Meeting

By Madie Wilson / The Bottom Line / October 23, 2016

Dozens rallied on Thursday night, October 20, in protest of the current Zoning Ordinance at the City Council Meeting. The group calls themselves “Frack-Free Frostburg” and includes Frostburg residents, FSU and ACM students, and many more from Maryland and neighboring states.

The current Zoning Ordinance is set to expire in October of 2017. It was rewritten and established in 2014, and it states that the extraction of any mineral is prohibited within Frostburg. However, according to Kathy Powell, a professor in the department of social work at FSU, “The current ordinance does leave room for interpretation. There are potential loopholes allowing energy companies to frack.”

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Pennsylvania: Section of damaged pipeline removed after 55,000 gallons of gasoline spill into Susquehanna

By Tom Knapp / Lancaster Online / October 23, 2016

Repairs have been completed after a broken pipeline in Lycoming County on Friday dumped 55,000 gallons of gasoline into the Susquehanna River. Sunoco Logistics officials said Sunday evening that an 80-foot section of the pipeline had been removed and the line capped on each end. As the river, swollen with 6 to 8 inches of rain that fell overnight Thursday, rushes south, Lancaster County officials are continuing to monitor any potential contamination of the local water supply.

“With the amount that spilled, we certainly could see some impact on our intake along the Susquehanna River,” Charlotte Katzenmoyer, director of public works for Lancaster, said Friday afternoon. “We’ll continue to monitor it.” “Certainly it’s something to be concerned about,” added Randy Gockley, director of the Lancaster Emergency Management Agency. “We don’t know yet the speed it will travel down the river.” State officials said Friday the gasoline could reach the Lancaster area early Tuesday morning.

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California: Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon Join Protest Against the North Dakota Pipeline

Reuters / Fortune / October 24, 2016

Hundreds of people gathered in Los Angeles on Sunday to protest against climate change and show support for activists demonstrating against the construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota. Several Hollywood stars, including Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon, were among the more than 800 people who attended the climate rally in MacArthur Park. Rallygoers carried signs urging to “shut it all down now” and chanted slogans like “water is life.”

“Not only is it an environmental, but it’s a problem in terms of social justice,” Sarandon told the rally. “We can do it. We can stop fracking. We can stop the pipeline. But really it’s only because of great numbers of people.” Also among celebrity attendees was actress Shailene Woodley, who earlier this month was arrested in North Dakota while protesting the planned pipeline in an incident that was live-streamed on Facebook. In North Dakota, more than 80 protesters were arrested on Saturday after clashing with police near a pipeline construction site, according to the local sheriff’s department, which pepper sprayed demonstrators.

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Maryland: Duo walks 313 miles to promote statewide ban on fracking

By Allie Berube / /October 23, 2016

HANCOCK, Md. - Two girls in Maryland are promoting the need for a statewide ban of fracking brought them to Hancock Sunday afternoon on their 313 mile journey. The sound of chanting and singing flooded the C&O Canal Park in Hancock. The group raising is their voices, fighting against the proposed pipeline that would run under the canal to the Potomac River.

While this has been a cause many in our area have protested for weeks, they had special visitors at their protest in Hancock. "There's a potential pipeline here,” said Water Walk MD participant, Aeryn Boyd. “Pipelines are very dangerous, especially going under the Potomac River, it can effect the wildlife and the ecosystem here." Kim Alexander and Boyd are walking from Oakland through Maryland to raise awareness of the dangers of fracking and promote a state-wide ban.

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1 killed, several injured in clash over pipeline in Mexico

AP / Fox News / October 22, 2016

MEXICO CITY –  One person has been killed and several others injured in a clash between members of the Yaqui indigenous group divided over construction of a gas pipeline in northwest Mexico.

Sonora state public security chief Adolfo Garcia Morales said in a news conference late Friday that a protest began around 9 a.m. outside a school in Loma de Bacum. About 400 people between the two sides had gathered by noon. Garcia says shots were fired and one man was killed. He says the conflict at the root of the clash is internal to the Yaquis.

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New York: Nuclear and natural gas in tug of war over energy future

By Brian Nearing / Times Union / October 21, 2016

A challenge by natural gas power plant owners to a multibillion dollar state subsidy for nuclear plants revealed a tug of war between nuclear and gas interests that has been playing out behind the scenes in a New York climate change program. Gas plant owners sued this week to block a new state subsidy — called a zero emissions credit — that could be worth billions over the next 12 years to four upstate nuclear power plants under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration's new Clean Energy Standard.

The ZEC is meant to keep financially stressed nuclear plants from closing down, which could require more fossil-fuel power plants or alternative energy sources, like wind and solar, to make up for the lost power. Now that it has gotten its lifeline subsidy, the nuclear industry appears to be seeking further advantage. Filings with the state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which limits climate-changing emissions from power plants, show the state's largest nuclear energy company is urging changes to the program that could raise costs on competitors in the natural gas plant industry.

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Pennsylvania: Opponents build wooden structure to block Atlantic Sunrise pipeline

By Marie Cusick / StateImpact / October 21, 2016

Opponents of the Atlantic Sunrise interstate natural gas pipeline are building a wooden structure in southern Lancaster County, in an attempt to block the pipeline’s construction. Mark Clatterbuck of the group, Lancaster Against Pipelines, says they were inspired by Native American groups’ opposition to the Dakota Access oil pipeline earlier this year. He says the structure will serve as a place for people to come together.

“Our whole point is to say, ‘We’re not going to let you come through,’” he says. “This is a blockade for the project. We want to derail the project.” Nicknamed “The Stand,” the structure is located on a farm in Conestoga, in the path of a proposed route. The group plans to hold a dedication ceremony Saturday. The $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, proposed by Williams Partners LP, has not yet received final approval from federal regulators. It’s designed to move natural gas from northeastern Pennsylvania southward to markets along the eastern seaboard.

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West Virginia: WVU a Hotbed Of Research Activity

ByJanet Metzner / Wheeling News-Register / October 23, 2016

Basically, it’s the water coming out of the well, called end-of-cycle water, that is contaminated, not the water going into the wells, Ziemkiewicz said. And the big issue is “what to do with the water coming out,” he said. Then later in the process, there is end-of-cycle water that contains a lot of sodium chloride and calcium. Then it gets a higher barium and strontium content, “and other stuff that’s not so good,” he said. By the 160th day of fracking, the end-of-cycle water coming out is only 12 percent water, with the majority of it sodium, he said. “It’s really (very) saline.”

“That water flowback in these wells is extremely dynamic,” Ziemkiewicz said. During the fracking process there is one week where there are 1,800 barrels (75,600 gallons) coming out per day, he explained. That then drops off to 4-6 barrels per day. While drilling mud is recycled, there’s a disposal afterward that’s necessary, as well, Ziemkiewicz said. Those flowback solids “wind up in the bottom of ponds and tanks,” and have some radiation, he said. It’s the white-looking silt that sits in these old, abandoned mine voids, that are of concern, he said.

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North Dakota: Sheriff -- Drone Approached Helicopter Near Pipeline Protest

AP / ABC News / October 23, 2016

Law enforcement officials fired at an unmanned aircraft and a large group of opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline blocked a North Dakota state highway Sunday, capping a weekend of protests. A helicopter helping monitor a protest against the four-state pipeline Sunday morning was approached by a drone in a "threatening manner," the Morton County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. An officer in the helicopter told law enforcement on the ground that the pilot and passengers were "in fear of their lives" and that the unmanned aircraft was going after them. Less-than-lethal ammunition damaged the droned, which was then landed by its operator.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said drones flying near protests and near the area where hundreds have been camping out are not being operated according to federal regulations. After 2 p.m. Sunday, the large group of protesters had blocked the highway with hay bales, rocks, tree stumps and other items to create a roadblock north of the encampments, to where at times thousands of people have flocked. The North Dakota Department of Transportation closed the highway down.

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Pennsylvania: Sunoco gas pipeline ruptures in Lycoming County

By Susan Phillips / StateImpact / October 21, 2016

Flash floods and landslides in north-central Pennsylvania have caused a Sunoco pipeline to rupture, spilling an estimated 55,000 gallons of gasoline into a tributary of Loyalsock creek in Lycoming County. Sunoco’s control center responded to the rupture at about 3 a.m. Friday morning, after a decrease in pressure was detected and residents noticed a strong smell of gasoline. Several area towns have had to shut off or alter their drinking water sources.

“When I took these photos around 8:30 am this morning,
the air in the area was still rank with petroleum fumes.”
Carol Kafer, Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association

Sunoco had shut down the 8-inch line that runs from Reading to Buffalo, N.Y. Sunoco has taken a lot of heat for its pipelines recently. Local opposition against the Mariner East 2 pipeline has resulted in arrests and lawsuits. Sunoco is also behind the planned Dakota Access pipeline that has drawn international attention for protests by Native Americans. And a recent analysis by Reuters of government data on pipeline spills shows Sunoco pipelines leak more often than any other operator, with 200 releases since 2010.

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Washington: Hundreds express dissent for shipment of fracking sands through Port of Olympia

By Amelia Dickson / The Olympian / October 22, 2016

The demonstration came about a month after the Port of Olympia received a shipment of ceramic proppants, also known as fracking sand. The product is sent to North Dakota to aid in the removal of Bakken oil. The September shipment was the first since January 2015, with shipments ceasing due to the drop in oil prices.

Event organizer Zoltan Grossman explained that Saturday’s event was a reaction to the shipment of proppants and a way to show solidarity with protesters in North Dakota. “We do not want our public port complicit with big oil by contributing to carbon pollution, water contamination, or an oil war against native peoples,” Grossman said.

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Colorado: How Fracking Changed This Woman’s Life

By Jason Schwartz / EcoWatch / October 22, 2016

What would you do if one day you woke up and the water in your well was a brown, viscous mess? That's what happened to Tachia Sandoval almost 20 years ago. She came from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Las Animas County, Colorado, in the 1990s, getting away from decades in the city to live on the land and get back to her country roots. She found a beautiful piece of land with a modest house that she made into the home of her dreams, a place for her and her many animals to roam, and some space to spend more time making the art and jewelry that give her life balance.

But not a year had passed before the fracking started all around her. Dozens of roads to hundreds of wells went up. The sound of rumbling trucks replaced what had once been silence. And the water went foul. Now, Tachia spends many hours each week hauling water to and from her land. Colorado has been overrun by the oil and gas industry in the last few decades. It is one of the most fracked states in the country, with tens of thousands of active wells dotting the once pristine landscape, roads to and from them stretching across the land like thin scars.

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Ireland: Anglers stage lake protest in support of anti-fracking Bill

By Marese McDonagh / The Irish Times / October 23, 2016

Anglers and canoeists held a rally at a Border lake on Saturday in a bid to put pressure on political parties to support a Private Member’s Bill to ban fracking. Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin’s Bill is due before the Dáil this Thursday. The issue is getting international attention, and a related social media campaign by the Love Leitrim group has been supported by a number of celebrities. Bianca Jagger and musician Glen Hansard are among those who have re-tweeted the group’s message to “Back the Bill”.

The Love Leitrim group has also exchanged messages of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in the US, who are protesting against the construction of the 1,800km Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota. On Saturday morning, dozens of anglers carrying “Back the Bill” banners gathered on the shores of Lough MacNean on the border between counties Leitrim, Cavan and Fermanagh, while a number of canoeists and stand-up paddlers took to the water in support. Mr McLoughlin said he believed that a long-awaited EPA report on the environmental impact of fracking, which campaigners have described as “deeply flawed”, will be published at the end of November.

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North Dakota: Standing Rock Sioux Pediatrician: Threat from Fracking Chemicals is "Environmental Genocide"

Interview by Amy Goodman / Democracy Now / October 18, 2016

In an extended interview with one of the first people arrested in the resistance movement against the Dakota Access pipeline, Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle explains, "as a physician, I’m very aware of what the health effects could be of a pipeline spill … among our communities." Jumping Eagle is a pediatrician and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

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Texas: More environmentalists scrutinize Balmorhea-area drilling plans

 By David Hunn / The Houston Chronicle / October 21, 2016

A growing number of environmental organizations are scrutinizing plans by Houston-based Apache Corp. to drill for oil and gas around West Texas' popular Balmorhea State Park and its famous spring-fed pool. Earthworks officials plan to speak at a community meeting on Nov. 5. The group also commissioned an assessment of the potential risks from Apache's project to the local waters, which it plans to release at the meeting.

Apache announced last month the discovery of 15 billion barrels of oil and gas along a narrow strip of southern Reeves County, in the Permian Basin. The company said it could dig 3,000 wells over the next 20-plus years. But as it drilled test wells and leased land, residents began to worry the work would contaminate the San Solomon Springs, which provides more than 22 million gallons of water a day to area farmers and to the state park's crystal-blue pool. Tourism is a major employer in the region; about 160,000 visitors came to the park last year. Water concerns have drawn interest from university scientists and environmental organizations alike.

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Pennsylvania: Legislature running out of time to act on natural gas minimum royalty payment bill

By John Beauge / PennLive / October 21, 2016

Time is running out if the Legislature this session is going to address an issue with natural gas royalty payments. "I'm fighting to keep it alive," Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, said Thursday. "We just want to get it up for a vote." He is the prime sponsor of a bill that would amend the Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act of 1979 to ensure lessors' payments would not fall below the required 12.5 percent. The bill was scheduled for a vote this week but it was not called up. Everett said he has been told the more than 20 amendments will be considered Monday with a floor vote scheduled Tuesday.    

The majority of the amendments are designed to kill the bill but a few would improve it, he said. He accused the Marcellus Shale Coalition and lobbyists for natural gas companies of trying to kill the measure. Everett drafted the bill because payments to landowners in many cases decreased after a 2010 state Supreme Court allowed drilling companies to consider the cost of moving gas from the wellhead to market in calculating royalties. Some landowners in Bradford County have complained their royalties have been reduced to little or nothing and in some cases they have received bills.

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Democracy Deferred: Ohio Removes Anti-Fracking Measures From County Ballots

By Simon Davis-Cohen / Truthout / October 21, 2016

This September, county-level "community bills of rights" in Medina, Portage, Athens and Meigs were removed from these Ohio counties' respective ballots, despite all four gathering enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. The bills of rights would have banned fracking-related projects, established enforceable rights for ecosystems and carved out powers for localities to improve state protections for health, safety and welfare. Some, like Medina's, would have halted construction on the fiercely contested NEXUS fracked-gas pipeline.

But as a result of the removal of these measures from local ballots, no votes will be cast. They were removed by county boards of elections working closely with the Secretary of State to apply stringent pre-election requirements. It is a virtual repeat of 2015, when the Ohio Supreme Court sided with Secretary of State and gubernatorial hopeful Jon Husted in a decision that effectively pulled four county-wide initiatives -- in Medina, Fulton, Meigs and Athens counties -- from their ballots, ahead of the November 2015 elections.

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Court defines Pa. utility regulators' "narrow" authority on alternative energy

By Laura Legere / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / October 21, 2016

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission might have narrower authority to regulate some facets of alternative energy generation than the agency has asserted, according to a recent decision by a state appellate court. In a 5-2 decision last week that cheered alternative energy advocates, a majority of judges on the state’s Commonwealth Court cast doubt on the PUC’s ability to place limits not explicitly defined in state law on the types of alternative energy generators that qualify for above-market-rate reimbursements for the excess electricity sent back to the grid.

Roughly 9,260 alternative energy customer-generators were connected to the grid as of May 31, 2015, with a combined generating capacity of about 218 megawatts, according to a PUC report released last month. The PUC is currently finalizing controversial regulations that exclude some classes of alternative energy generators from the incentive — known as net metering — that allows customers who generate power from sources like solar panels to be reimbursed at retail rates for their surplus electricity.

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Environmentalists: Fracking Could Pollute Iconic Texas Park

By Mark Richardson / Public News Service / October 21, 2016

ALPINE, Texas – Environmentalists are deeply concerned over plans by a Texas oil company to drill thousands of wells near iconic Balmorhea State Park in the Big Bend region. Houston-based Apache Corporation has leased 300,000 acres surrounding the environmentally sensitive park and plans to use fracking techniques to search for oil and gas deposits. Robin Schneider, executive director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment, said despite assurances by both Apache and state officials that the park's environment will be protected, state regulators can't always be trusted.

Balmorhea is a 46-acre state park built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The park, surrounded by miles of arid desert, is a fragile oasis with a freshwater spring, desert wetlands and a popular spring-fed swimming pool. There's evidence that both Clovis and Apache tribes lived near the springs more than a thousand years ago. She said more than 6,000 West Texas residents have signed petitions opposing the fracking.

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Vermont: 6 - including some from NH - arrested at protest of natural gas pipeline

AP / NH1 / October 21, 2016

HINESBURG, Vt. (AP) — Police say six people from Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have been arrested while protesting a natural gas pipeline in the town of Hinesburg.

Police say the protesters were charged Thursday with unlawful restraint, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. They were cited and released. The protest organized by Rising Tide began in Geprags Park, near the pipeline work site. Vermont Gas workers were blocked in by protesters for several hours before arrests were made.

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US EPA Releases Ozone Guidelines for Oil, Natural Gas Systems

By Jack Fitzpatrick / Morning Consult / October 20, 2016

The Environmental Protection Agency released guidelines Thursday for how the oil and natural gas industry can reduce smog-forming emissions in areas that violate health standards for ozone. The control techniques guideline defines which technologies are reasonable for oil and gas systems to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds, and isn’t a rule in itself. But it still provoked a polarized response from the environmental advocates and the oil and gas industry.

Conrad Schneider, advocacy director for the Clean Air Task Force, said in a statement the guidelines are “a major step forward” in reducing asthma attacks caused by high ozone levels. The guidelines affect oil and gas facilities in the East Coast “Ozone Transport Region” from northern Virginia to Maine, along with other areas that aren’t in compliance, particularly the Dallas-Fort Worth area, California’s Central Valley, and Southern California. Unlike an earlier draft, the final guidelines do not exclude smaller wells that produce less than 15 barrels of oil per year. Schneider called that an improvement, saying it would have exempted about 70 percent of wells in the area.

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New EPA Guidelines Will Help Oil And Gas Communities Breathe Easier

By Felice Stadler / Environmental Defense Fund / October 20, 2016

While air quality as a whole has been improving across the United States over the past few decades, many areas that are ground zero for the nation’s expanding oil and gas industry have shown an increase in dangerous pollutants. In fact, states with substantial drilling activities saw worsening air quality recently, according to the American Lung Association’s last State of the Air report. That’s because the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which mix with NOX and sunlight to form ground-level ozone, also known as smog. Additionally, existing oil and gas sources do not face comprehensive nationwide limits for this type of pollution.

Over 12 million Americans live within a half-mile from oil and gas facilities, and many more live downwind from the smog caused by these operations. These communities urgently need the clean air protections that these new Control Technique Guidelines will begin to deliver.  Even so, they are just one piece of the clean-air puzzle, and we must move forward toward final, comprehensive standards that address both new and existing sources of pollution, without exceptions.

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Chesapeake Energy Declares ‘Propageddon’ With Record Frack

By Joe Carroll and David Wethe / Bloomberg / October 20, 2016

Chesapeake said Thursday at an analyst conference that it set a record for fracking by pumping more than 25,000 tons of sand down one Louisiana natural gas well, a process the shale driller christened "propageddon.” The super-sized dose of sand -- known as "proppant" -- is able to prop open bigger and more numerous cracks in the rock for oil and gas to flow. Output from the well increased 70 percent over traditional fracking techniques, Jason Pigott, vice president of operations, said during a presentation.

Shale drillers aren’t holding back in North American shale fields, where the average amount of sand used for each well has doubled since 2014, according to Evercore ISI. At the same time, the length that wells are drilled sideways underground has grown by 50 percent, and the number of zones for hydraulic fracking are also up by half. Each zone of the well isolated for each frack is also growing larger as service companies attempt to break down more of the oil-soaked rock into rubble and cram more sand into the crevices for the hydrocarbons to escape.

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House Dems push EPA on fracking study

By Devin Henry / The Hill / October 20, 2016

A group of House Democrats on Thursday urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider a major agency report on hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. A draft version of the EPA’s study concluded last year that fracking doesn't have a major impact on drinking water supplies around the country. 

In August, the agency’s independent Science Advisory Board said the agency should bolster its report and “provide quantitative analysis that supports its conclusion that hydraulic fracturing has not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.” The board called the report “comprehensive but lacking in several critical areas,” and said it needs to be clarified and present more evidence to back up its conclusions. In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Thursday, more than 50 Democrats, led by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), said the agency should follow the board’s advice before finalizing the fracking study.

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A climate activist tried to buy oil and gas land in Utah. The federal government just said no.

By Sammy Roth / The Desert Sun / October 20, 2016

When the environmental writer Terry Tempest Williams offered up $2,500 for 1,120 acres of federal land in rural Utah earlier this year, she didn't expect to spend months fighting President Barack Obama's Bureau of Land Management. She saw her spur-of-the-moment decision to lease the land as a statement: Rather than drill for oil and gas, as the federal government intended, she would keep those planet-warming fossil fuels in the ground, her own small contribution to the fight against human-caused climate change. Federal officials had other ideas.

This week — eight months after the Salt Lake City oil and gas lease auction Williams attended — the Bureau of Land Management's Utah branch rejected her bids and said it would return most of her money. The rejection was a small but symbolic blow to the "keep it in the ground" movement, which has urged the Obama administration to stop allowing new fossil fuel extraction on federal land. In a letter to Williams rejecting her bids, BLM Utah Director Edwin Roberson cited a provision in the bureau's standard lease agreement requiring buyers to "exercise reasonable diligence in developing and producing" oil or gas.

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Fracking industry advances with phase one exploratory applications in South Africa

By Jasper Finkeldey / The Ecologist / October 20, 2016

Proposals to get fracking started in South Africa first surfaced in 2008 when three multinational oil and gas companies asked for permission to prospect in the Karoo. Those applications are still pending and so whilst to date, fracking has not commenced either in the Karoo or elsewhere in the country those companies anxious to get started have not gone away and if current applications are successful, an initial fracking exploratory phase could start in a matter of weeks.

Several transnational as well as local companies have registered their interest in prospecting for unconventional gas resources in South Africa but whilst the application to frack the Karoo came to a halt due to a government-initiated strategic assessment that was released earlier this month, there are still sustained efforts to advance with the applications to prospect in large parts of KwaZulu-Natal province, as well as in the Free State and in the Eastern Cape.

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New Mexico: Feds to launch expanded review of drilling in Chaco region

By Susan Montoya Bryan / AP Miami Herald / October 20, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE - The federal government is planning an expanded review of public lands management in northwestern New Mexico to address concerns about oil and gas development surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Chaco includes the remnants of an ancient civilization whose monumental architecture and cultural influences have been a source of mystery for years. Native American groups, archaeologists and environmentalists have been pushing for years for the Bureau of Land Management to consider the historical and cultural significance of the area as it develops a new resource management plan for the San Juan Basin, one of the largest natural gas fields in the nation.

For more than a year, all new leasing within a 10-mile radius of Chaco park has been deferred pending the completion of an updated plan. U.S. Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor announced Thursday that the agency and the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Navajo Regional Office are joining forces to take a closer look at management across federal and tribal lands throughout the region. This will mark the first joint review for the two agencies.

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UK: Chester court hears anti-fracking councillor called police 'shameful'

By David Holmes / The Chester Chronicle / October 20, 2016

Labour councillor Matt Bryan, who represents Upton on Cheshire West and Chester Council, is among eight accused on trial at Chester magistrates. All have pleaded not guilty to charges resulting from the enforcement of a High Court writ on January 12 to evict activists from a field off Duttons Lane, Upton, which had been earmarked as a test drill site for potential coal-bed methane extraction. The operation involved bailiffs supported by about 200 police officers.

Inspector Gallagher of Cheshire Police, giving evidence in court, said Cllr Bryan had been made aware prior to the eviction that closing the road was always an option. He had not set out to close the road beforehand but had decided on health and safety grounds to make the closure order on the day. The next sequence of footage shows Cllr Bryan sitting on top of the retracted arm of a cherry picker aboard a stationary low loader intended to be used in removing protesters from trees and tall structures on site.

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America’s Best Oil Field Is Thriving Despite Low Crude Prices

By Alex Nussbaum / Bloomberg / October 20, 2016

The Permian Basin, a 75,000-square-mile patch of scrubby desert stretching across West Texas and into New Mexico, has emerged as the most resilient oil field in America. Overall crude production in the U.S. is down by about a million barrels a day over the past 12 months, but output from the Permian continues to grow. Drillers have added 67 rigs in the region since May, bringing the total in September to more than 200.

Wells in the Permian are producing more oil at faster rates, enticing billions of dollars of fresh investment. Permian-related oil and natural gas companies have raised $9 billion in new equity this year. Explorers including Anadarko Petroleum, Pioneer Natural Resources, and EOG Resources have spent $14 billion buying up some of the most productive sites. The best land has gone for as much as $60,000 an acre.

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New York: Natural gas takes on state over nuclear power subsidy

By Brian Nearing / TimesUnion / October 19, 2016

Companies that use natural gas to make electric power in New York are challenging a new state subsidy aimed at supporting electricity made from nuclear power. On Wednesday, a coalition of power plant owners sued the state Public Service Commission in federal court over a multibillion-dollar, 12-year program approved in August as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's ambitious new Clean Energy Standard. The program sets increasing goals for carbon-free electricity to help combat climate change. Also under the program, four upstate nuclear plants in April can start charging customers a premium — called a Zero Emission Credit — not available to owners of power plants fueled by natural gas, oil or coal, or to wind or solar farms.

In the first two years of the program, that subsidy could be worth $965 million, according to a PSC study, while the natural gas lawsuit estimates it higher, at more than $1.2 billion. Natural gas has grown in recent years to become the state's single largest source of electricity at 37 percent of total generation, overtaking nuclear power, which now accounts for 35 percent. Owners of nuclear plants have been under increasing financial pressure as electricity prices have dropped in step with the price of natural gas, reflecting a supply glut from hydrofracking in Pennsylvania and other states. Average electric rates paid by New York homeowners are at their lowest in more than a decade.

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Fracking's unlikely friend in Hillary Clinton

By Chris Tomlinson / Houston Chronicle / October 19, 2016

In the latest case of unlikely allies, Hillary Clinton supports hydraulic fracking and has no intention of banning it or shutting down the oil and gas industry. Bernie Sanders must be angry that Wikileaks didn't release transcripts from her private, paid speeches while the Democratic primary was still raging. "My view is I want to defend natural gas. I want to defend repairing and building the pipelines we need to fuel our economy," Clinton told the Building Trades Union in September 2015. "I want to defend fracking under the right circumstances."

She also dismissed environmentalists who support the "Keep It In The Ground" movement, which wants to stop new drilling or mining for fossil fuels. They wrongly believe it's the only way to prevent climate change. "They say, 'Will you promise never to take any fossil fuels out of the earth ever again?'" the Democratic nominee reportedly said. "No. I won't promise that. Get a life, you know?"

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Texas: 165 train cars ‘brake’ record

By Gregory Ripps / Wilson County News / October 19, 2016

A railroad train rumbled into history Oct. 13 when it arrived at the Alamo Junction Rail Park in Elmendorf. The arrival marked the completion of BNSF Railway’s delivery of 165 cars full of frac sand to the Alamo Junction facility of oilfield developer Halliburton. According to spokesmen for Rail Logix, which owns the rail site, this is the largest frac-sand unit train to date. Six locomotives -- three in the front and three in the rear -- were used to safely move the train’s trailing weight of 23,099 tons.

The length of the train, excluding the locomotives, was 6,879 feet. Rail Logix Safety and Compliance Manager Robert Bailey said a typical frac-sand train has 115 cars and weighs 16,000 trailing tons, which excludes the weight of the locomotives. He noted that a previous record-setting frac-sand train had about 150 cars. “From my understanding, 180 cars is the limit, because of the braking system,” he said. The train was loaded Oct. 9 with the sand from the U.S. Silica sand mine in Ottawa, Ill.

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Shale Drillers Going Long -- Not Deep -- in the Oil Patch

By Jim Polson and David Wethe / Bloomberg / October 19, 2016

The average length of laterals has increased by hundreds of feet in both oil- and gas-bearing rock this year, with an unofficial record 18,544 feet, about 3.5 miles, claimed by a well in Ohio. Denver-based SM said it expects to drill 10,000-foot (3,048-meter) laterals over most of its Texas property in the Permian. And it’s not alone. Cash-strapped Chesapeake Energy Corp. has pushed out its laterals 31 percent to average about 8,000 feet this year in Texas’s Eagle Ford shale and is targeting 10,000 feet in the Haynesville shale centered in Louisiana, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Still, the unofficial record set by Eclipse Resources Corp.’s Purple Hayes well in Ohio may stand for a while. At 18,544 feet, the super lateral, as Eclipse calls it, has exceeded expectations even at current oil prices, Chief Executive Officer Ben Hulburt said by phone. “We fracked it cheaper and faster than we thought we would,” Hulburt said. “You’re getting about two and a half wells for the cost of about one and a half.” Eclipse plans two, 19,000-foot laterals in the Utica shale of the eastern U.S., but it won’t drill them unless oil prices top $50 a barrel, Hulburt said.

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Local Bans on Fracking Hang in the Balance in Colorado Ballot Fight

By Marianne Lavelle / InsideClimate News / October 19, 2016

In the wake of helping defeat two recent ballot measures that could have reined in fracking in Colorado, the state's oil and gas industry is leading a campaign to sharply limit future citizen initiatives. A so-called Raise the Bar question will be asked on the Colorado ballot on Nov. 8. It is being promoted as a way to make the controversial process of amending the state constitution more fair.

But as the proponents' motto implies, Amendment 71 would increase the hurdles for citizen activists seeking to change Colorado's constitution through ballot initiatives. And with the energy industry contributing 74 percent of the $4.2 million raised for the Raise the Bar drive, fracking foes say it is clear that one goal is to stop any citizen effort to bring drilling regulation questions to the voters. "Basically what oil and gas is trying to do is shut down any future initiatives on oil and gas," says Kaye Fissinger, president of Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, one of the citizen groups behind  the failed effort to get anti-fracking measures on this year's ballot.  

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Kentucky: Forum on dumping of fracking waste Nov. 14

By Register Staff / Richmond Register / October 19, 2016

On Nov. 14 at Estill County High School, representatives of the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) and the Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) will conduct a public forum on their investigation into the illegal dumping of radioactive fracking wastes at Estill County landfill near Irvine. “Many questions remain regarding the illegal dumping of an unknown number of truckloads of radioactive waste (perhaps more than 80) from hydraulic fracturing operations in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania into Advanced Disposal’s Blue Ridge Landfill near Irvine,” according to an announcement from the Concerned Citizens of Estill County.

The Radiation Health Branch of the CHFS regulates the disposal of low-level radioactive waste in Kentucky under Central Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact between Kentucky and Illinois. To knowingly import or dispose of low-level radioactive waste into Kentucky from any state other than Illinois is a Class D felony, the CCEC news release stated. The EEC, which regulates the disposal of waste in Kentucky’s landfills, on March 8, issued a notice of violation to Advanced Disposal’s Blue Ridge Landfill for the disposal of 47 loads of radioactive fracking waste.

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Canada energy regulator could be curbed after pipeline fiasco

By David Ljunggren and Nia Williams / Reuters / October 19, 2016

OTTAWA/CALGARY, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Canada's government may curb the national energy regulator's power, including stripping it of sole oversight for new projects, as part of reforms to a body under pressure over a botched pipeline hearing, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Ottawa, responding to what it says is general public displeasure with how environmental assessments of energy projects are carried out, is eyeing major reforms and tentatively plans to push them through in 2018, said one of the sources.

Such changes will irritate industry players who insist the National Energy Board (NEB) is working well. Critics say the NEB is too close to the energy industry. The Liberal government has named an expert panel to review potential changes to the environmental assessment system and will wait for it to report back early next year before deciding which approach to take. The panel can recommend the NEB's responsibilities be amended, said a spokesman for the panel. Critics say giving the NEB more powers was a mistake.

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New Jersey: Opponents, supporters debate pipeline at DEP hearing

By David Levnisky / Burlington County Times / October 19, 2016

BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP — Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline through northern Burlington County argue that the line is a safety and pollution risk whose true purpose is to enrich the profits of the utility company that plans to build and operate it. Supporters counter that the pipeline and a related compressor station will provide much-needed energy reliability for close to a million New Jersey residents and businesses, predominantly in Ocean and Monmouth counties.

Both sides of the debate over New Jersey Natural Gas' Southern Reliability Link pipeline were well-represented Wednesday during a public hearing on a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection water permit required for the controversial project. Held at Bordentown Regional High School on Ward Avenue, the hearing was the first of two planned this week on a coastal zone and wetlands water permit the utility needs in order to move forward with construction of the 30-mile pipeline through Burlington, Monmouth and Ocean counties. A second hearing is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the high school.

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Pennsylvania: Murrysville puts off hearing on fracking ordinance

By Patrick Varine / TribLive / October 19, 2016

Murrysville Council will wait until December to hold a public hearing on its pending oil and gas ordinance. The ordinance, which regulates where hydraulic fracturing — fracking — can take place, has been in development for several years. Most recently, council chose to move several items from the oil and gas ordinance into its subdivision and land development ordinance, commonly referred to as the SALDO.

Among those items are a requirement that developers show what “best-management practices” they are using. Another is showing how their development process will preserve tenets of the state constitution's Environmental Rights Amendment, which guarantees citizens' “right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment.” Council's rationale in modifying the SALDO is to ensure that oil and gas developers are not singled out and are subject to the same requirements as other developers.

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UK: Ineos hits out at Corbyn over fracking ban policy

By Daniel Sanderson / Herald Scotland / October 19, 2016

ONE of Scotland's most influential firms has launched a new attack on Labour over its policy to ban fracking. Ineos, which wants to establish a shale gas industry in Scotland and wider UK, told Jeremy Corbyn in an open letter that his newly-adopted policy would mean a reliance on "unstable and illiberal regimes" for energy imports. The UK party recently adopted Scottish Labour's plan to back an outright fracking ban.

It is understood that Ineos, owner of the Grangemouth petrochemical plant and oil refinery which accounts for four per cent of Scottish GDP, has also written to Labour MSPs Jackie Baillie and Claudia Beamish calling for a rethink. A moratorium in Scotland is set to end next year, following a period of evidence gathering and a public consultation which will inform a decision over whether to ban fracking or give it the green light. A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "Labour has been clear - we will ban onshore fracking.

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Iowa: King & Weaver weigh in on Dakota Access Pipeline

By Woody Gottburg / KSCJ / October 19, 2016

Republican Congressman Steve King says he’s hearing from landowners who’re complaining the government’s “eminent domain” authority has been used to seize their private property for the Bakken oil pipeline that’s being built through his district. King is not opposed to construction of the pipeline, but suggests Iowa officials should have decided whether the pipeline was “a public utility” before granting developers permission to seize property for the project.

King’s Democratic opponent is Kim Weaver of Sheldon says she is not in favor of the pipeline at all. The underground pipeline will ship crude oil from North Dakota, through South Dakota and diagonally through 18 Iowa counties enroute to a refinery in Illinois.

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New York: Dominion Defends Pipeline as Necessary for State's Electric Needs

By Karen DeWitt / NCPR / October 19, 2016

Pipeline companies aren’t having a lot of success in New York so far in 2016. Opponents say they are dirty and continue New York’s overreliance on fossil fuels, and two projects have already been canceled. Until recently, expanding and building pipelines was not terribly controversial, as most people agreed that there was a common need to transport oil and gas for fuel and electricity. But that’s different now, particularly in New York state, where two major pipelines have been derailed.

Now, a decision on three air-quality permits to build bigger compressors for the New Market-Dominion pipeline has been delayed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation after the agency extended the public comment period. Frank Mack, the communications project manager for the pipeline, said the company has purchased 80 to 100 acres around each of the three sites where natural gas air compressors will be built or expanded.

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Nebraska: Emergency responders prepare for pipeline leaks

By Dave Roberts / KETV 7 / October 19, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. —First responders were in Lincoln on Wednesday to be trained on how to be better prepared in the event of another pipeline emergency in Nebraska. The training, put on by the Nebraska Pipeline Association, comes after one person died and dozens were evacuated from their homes after an ammonia pipe burst Monday night near Tekamah. “You can suffocate quickly if you're caught in the vapor field,” said Mark Courtney, who is a training instructor at Paradigm.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration mapped out 13 leaks on the recently ruptured ammonia pipeline. The same data shows the pipeline’s operator, Magellen, paid $7 million to clean up and repair leaks nationwide since 2006. "Whenever it's in the newspapers or on the evening news, people all of a sudden recognize it and maybe there's an increased awareness and they all of a sudden noticed those pipeline markers they hadn't noticed right outside the ends of their driveways before,” said Kirk Morrow, who is a Nebraska DEQ emergency response coordinator.

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California: Conservation groups sue federal agencies over fracking in Los Padres

By Brenna Swanston / Sun / October 19, 2016

Three environmental conservation groups are bringing a lawsuit against federal agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) regarding oil drilling in Los Padres National Forest. The groups—comprising Los Padres ForestWatch, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Defenders of Wildlife—filed a notice of intent to sue on Oct. 11, calling for supplemental environmental review of oil drilling plans for Los Padres.

The groups claim that the Endangered Species Act approvals on a 2005 Forest Service plan permitting expanded oil and gas development throughout Los Padres are “outdated” in light of recent research on fracking and climate change. In Santa Barbara County, the 2005 plan permitted oil drilling in parts of the forest in Cuyama Valley, including the northern foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Apache and Quatal canyons.

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Florida: Sabal Trail protesters camp outside pipeline route

By Thomas Lynn / Suwannee Democrat / October 19, 2016

LIVE OAK — Around a dozen Sabal Trail protesters have camped out near where the natural gas pipeline is scheduled to be laid at 199th Place and 197th Place near Interstate-10. Gregory Payne is an organizer with American Indian Movement and said their goal is to slow down operations at the site. “We are 100 percent peaceful, but if we can stop 10 men for one hour, that’s 10 man hours wasted,” Payne said.

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, with the Sierra Club, stopped by the protest early Monday morning. She has been one of the most active voices against the Sabal Trail pipeline. “This company has been given free range to do anything they want,” Malwitz-Jipson said. “There’s no oversight at all.” She mentioned that Sabal Trail was granted a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission based on a Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) completed by the company. Along with the WWALS Watershed Coalition, Malwitz-Jipson has fought to have the Army Corps of Engineers do its own EIS with little success.

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United in fossil-fuel fight, NW tribes inspire N.D. pipeline foes

By Lynda V. Mapes / The Seattle Times / October 19, 2016

The Lummi are still savoring their victory last May, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blocked plans for a $665 million coal-export port proposed by SSA Marine at Cherry Point near Bellingham. The Corps ruled that the project would infringe on treaty-protected Lummi fishing rights. The Lummi’s blockbuster victory is encouraging to the Standing Rock Sioux and others fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). “They are going through the same thing we did,” said James.

David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, expressed his thanks for the support of Washington tribes — and their inspiration. “It’s important because of their direct connection with water,” he said of Washington tribes. “This is what we are fighting for, and they know intimately how important this is. It is always a moral shot in the arm when indigenous rights are protected.”

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Nebraska: Driver killed by anhydrous ammonia leak from Magellan Midstream pipeline

AP / Tulsa World / October 19, 2016

TEKAMAH, Neb. (AP) — Officials in Nebraska attempted Tuesday to determine how anhydrous ammonia escaped from an underground pipeline owned by Tulsa-based Magellan Midstream Partners, killing a man who was driving by. Magellan Midstream said in a news release that the leak occurred Monday night on its 8-inch pipeline system. The Burt County Sheriff's Office said the odor was reported around 9:20 p.m. Monday, about eight miles north of Tekamah in northeast Nebraska, which is nearly 40 miles from Omaha.

Anhydrous ammonia is a farm fertilizer with suffocating fumes that cause breathing difficulty and irritation to eyes, nose or throat. The company said about 40 people who live in 23 homes near the pipeline leak still weren't able to go home Tuesday afternoon while officials monitored the fumes. Magellan owns and operates the pipeline system, which originates in Texas and terminates in Minnesota, Heine said.

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North Dakota: More cattle reported shot near pipeline protest site in Sioux County

By Amy Dalrymple / The Jamestown Sun / October 19, 2016

SIOUX COUNTY, N.D. - The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office is investigating more reports of cattle that were shot this week near the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp. One cow was shot and another cow had two arrows sticking out of its ribcage, said Sioux County Sheriff Frank Landeis. The animals, discovered Monday, Oct. 17, appeared to had been shot recently and were treated by a veterinarian, Landeis said, the location is “right next to the protest camp” on the south side of the Cannonball River.

However, authorities do not have any information that connects the reports to the protest, Landeis said. North Dakota’s congressional delegation issued a statement Tuesday, Oct. 18, denouncing the butchering or displacement of livestock. The members renewed their call for federal resources in the area of the protest to keep tribes, ranchers, workers and their property safe. The cattle discovered this week belong to the same producer who reported finding two cows and a saddle horse dead on Sept. 27 and finding two dead cow heads in a pasture on Oct. 9, Landeis said. In addition, three bison were reported dead in the area in September.

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Ohio: Public input encouraged at gas pipeline meeting

By Alex George / WKBN 27 / October 19, 2016

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is holding a public meeting Wednesday to talk about a proposed pipeline that would move natural gas from Columbiana County to Fulton County. The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Elyria High School, 601 Middle Ave., Elyria, Ohio. State officials will present details about the proposed 225-mile pipeline, which is being constructed by Nexus Gas Transmission. About 13.5 miles of that pipeline will go through Homeworth, Chambersburg, New Alexander and Hanoverton in Columbiana County.

Ohio EPA officials say discharges from the project could have the potential to impact the quality of streams and wetlands from the Mahoning County Watershed. The Mahoning Watershed reaches the western half of Trumbull County, most of Mahoning county and the northwest portion of Columbiana County. Anyone not able to attend the meeting can comment via mail or email through Oct. 26. AT Ohio EPA – DSW, Attention: Permits Processing Unit; Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049, or via email:

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Georgia: Kinder Morgan to begin construction on Elba Liquefaction project November 1

Reuters / October 19, 2016

Kinder Morgan will begin construction on its Elba Liquefaction project near Savannah, Georgia, on Nov. 1, ahead of a final ruling from federal regulators on rehearing requested by environmental activists, the company said on Wednesday. The company received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 1, but the Sierra Club and associated individuals have since filed a request for a rehearing, which is still pending FERC.

The project, which is supported by a 20-year contract with Shell, will be constructed and operated next to the existing Elba Island liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and have capacity to export 2.5 million tonnes per year of LNG. A number of other projects under construction by the midstream giant are facing regulatory and legal hurdles at a time when energy infrastructure projects in North America are drawing increased scrutiny from environmental and native American groups.

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North Dakota: Authorities highlight criminal histories of some pipeline protesters

By Mike Nowatzki / The Jamestown Sun / October 19, 2016

BISMARCK, ND – Authorities are compiling criminal histories and in some cases detailed dossiers on those arrested during Dakota Access Pipeline protests – including digging through their social media accounts – as they try to familiarize themselves with what Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said are sometimes professional protesters with past arrests. Information shared with Forum News Service by the sheriff’s department included extensive reports on four people arrested for criminal trespass during protest actions, including their personal information, background, protest history and criminal records.

In the public relations battle over the pipeline controversy, Hall said it seems authorities are using more negative language -- such as describing protesters as “rioters” -- and disseminating more bad news about the protest movement in an attempt to shift public opinion their way. “I believe they are using a different language because there’s something in the works here,” he said. The detailed reports highlight anti-police propaganda and speech that some of those arrested have previously posted to Facebook and Instagram.

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Landowners, Exxon Mobil attorneys spar in appeals court

AP / October 19, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Attorneys for landowners along a crude oil pipeline that ruptured in Arkansas in 2013 say Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. breached its contract because the pipeline interferes with their ability to enjoy their property. The landowners are asking the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate their case, after it was dismissed last year. Oral arguments will be held Wednesday in Minnesota.

The 850-mile-long Pegasus Pipeline runs through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Texas. It ruptured in March 2013, about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock, Arkansas. In their lawsuit, landowners demanded the pipeline be replaced, fixed or removed. But a judge sided with Exxon and dismissed the case, saying easement contracts between Exxon Mobil and property owners don’t require the company to maintain the pipeline.

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Georgia: Pipeline issue pops up again Thursday

By Mary Landers / Savannah Morning News / October 19, 2016

A state commission tasked with recommending changes to the way Georgia evaluates petroleum pipelines will hold its first of three public hearings at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Armstrong State University Center. Representatives from the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Division will walk attendees through the existing legal process as it was carried out for the rejected Palmetto Pipeline, said state Rep. Bill Hitchens, a commission member. The hearing will also include presentations from the Petroleum Council of Georgia, the Savannah and Ogeechee Riverkeepers, the Georgia Sierra Club Coastal Group and the Center for a Sustainable Coast. After the presentations the commission will open the hearing for public comment, limiting individuals to three minutes each. 

The commission is designed to hear from all sides regarding petroleum pipelines and then make recommendations on new legislation if needed, Hitchens said. Natural gas pipelines are regulated by the federal government but petroleum pipelines like the proposed Palmetto are covered by a hodgepodge of laws that vary from state to state. In Georgia, the current state statute dates to 1994 and was enacted after a petroleum pipeline leaked on the property of a middle Georgia pecan farmer, ruining his deep well.

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Gas pipeline hope heals rupture in Israel-Turkey ties

By Selin Girit / BBC News / October 19, 2016

Last week, Yuval Steinitz became the first Israeli minister to visit Turkey since 2010, for talks with his Turkish counterpart, Energy Minister Berat Albayrak. The visit signalled a significant turning-point in relations as they agreed to deepen co-operation and discussed the possibility of building a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey. Hours later, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the two nations would be exchanging ambassadors within 10 days.

It has taken several rounds of secret talks and negotiations for the two countries to get to this point. Israel is building regional energy co-operation links with Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus and Greece, but sees Turkey as an important potential partner. At the moment, Turkey has few major gas sources, with Russia supplying around 56% of its overall needs.

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Challenging the ‘delusion’ of cheap, safe shale gas extraction

By Alex Russell and Peter Strachan / / October 18, 2016

There are distinct similarities between the 1848-1855 gold rush and the recent US frenzied rush to tear apart its shallow shale beds regardless of cost to people and the environment. Greed drives the free world to the strangest activities which are then justified by the buying of scientific ‘objective’ evidence in support of its folly. Both ‘rushes’ were short lived and mining communities sprang up only to disappear again with the low oil price being the culprit in the case of shale fracking around 2014. True, the US shale industry is fighting a rallying rearguard action to restart large scale production.

Unfortunately the US-led shale revolution and its resultant production turf war with OPEC (basically Saudi), which drove down oil prices, has been the single biggest reason for the loss of 120,000 North Sea oil-related jobs. An alternative and credible explanation for the sustained drop in prices is that the US decided it could live with low oil prices in the short-to-medium term and cooperated with its ally Saudi Arabia to reduce oil prices and thereby attempt to bring oil dependent Russia and Iran to their economic knees for reasons connected with issues in the Ukraine, the Crimea and in Syria. In both scenarios US action has led to UK North Sea job losses.

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Florida: Mining, oil drilling possible on conservation land

By Bill Smith / / October 18, 2016

Lee County, Florida commissioners want more information on joining a federal program to protect birds on islands off the county coast, and whether owners of mineral rights under conservation land can still drill for oil or mine for rock after it's sold to the county. New rules for acquiring land for environmental protection under the Conservation 20/20 program have raised the question of what happens if the county buys land on which the underground mineral rights are owned by a different party.

Over the years, some landowners have sold parcels of land to other parties while keeping the right to the minerals below the ground. County Attorney Richard Wesch told commissioners that the county buys land but those mineral rights owners have the right to go onto county property to drill for oil or dig for rock. But, he said, the county can buy out that right.

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Shell releases possible location of 94-mile ethane pipeline

By Jared Stonesifer / Times Online / October 18, 2016

A 94-mile ethane pipeline that would supply Shell Chemicals’ multibillion-dollar cracker plant in Potter Township would be built in 2018 and be operational by 2020, according to information released by the company Monday. Called the Falcon Ethane Pipeline System, the pipeline is expected to carry about 107,000 barrels of ethane per day. The Falcon project would be built by Shell Pipeline LLC, a subsidiary tasked with pipeline operations.

According to the release, plans are for the Falcon pipeline to connect three major ethane source points in Ohio and Pennsylvania to the cracker plant in Potter. Those locations are Scio and Cadiz in Ohio and Houston, Pa. The preliminary map shows the Houston segment of the pipeline originating in Washington County, traveling into Allegheny County underneath Route 30, then north into Beaver County. Once inside Beaver County, the proposed pipeline would run parallel to Interstate 376 before meeting up with the Scio pipeline at a location just north of Green Garden Road in Raccoon Township.

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New study to characterize methane emissions from natural gas compressor stations

By Anne Ju Manning / Source / October 18, 2016

Colorado State University, home to some of the world’s top researchers on methane emissions, will lead a major project to analyze emissions from a specific part of the natural gas supply chain: compressor stations. The new project will help scientists develop a more complete picture of overall emissions. Methane is the primary component of natural gas and a powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 84 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. Significant quantities of methane are emitted from its million-plus miles of pipeline, half million wells, and thousands of gathering, processing, transmission, storage and distribution facilities.

Daniel Zimmerle, senior researcher at CSU’s Energy Institute, will lead the two-year, $1.8 million U.S. Department of Energy-funded project. CSU, engineering firm AECOM and industry partners will conduct a 20- to 26-week field campaign focusing on natural gas gathering compressor stations. Natural gas from wells is “gathered” into pipelines and boosted in pressure at compressor stations for transport to downstream processing plants and on to the transmission system. The CSU study is expected to measure emissions from 80 compressor stations nationwide and more than 300 individual compressor units.

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Virginia: Conservation groups seek to block new Atlantic Coast Pipeline route

By John Downey / Charlotte Business Journal / October 18, 2016

A coalition of conservation groups has petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reject the latest route proposed for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in western Virginia, saying it could run through almost a dozen conservation easements. The groups argue that converting the conservation easements to allow pipeline development on the sites would violate Virginia law.

Greg Buppert, senior attorney for Southern Environmental Law Center, argues in the petition that Virginia law says that converting easements is legal only if the development directly benefits the local community where there easement lies. The easements at question in the petition are all in Bath and Nelson counties in western Virginia. Those counties are not expected to get any long-term benefits from the pipeline. The natural gas is slated to be transported through them to coastal Virginia and eastern North Carolina. Those regions will receive the economic and development benefits from the project.

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Pennsylvania: Newtown Twp tables fracking ordinance, will wait for Wrightstown

By Kevin Lorenzi / Calkins Media / October 18, 2016

On Tuesday, the Newtown Township Planning Commission decided not to vote on a fracking ordinance that is making the rounds in Bucks County municipalities. Chairman Curtis Silva said the commission will wait until Wrightstown passes the measure before considering the controversial ordinance, which has been opposed by environmentalists who say it will encourage fracking. The bill's author, Wrightstown solicitor Terry Clemons, has said it would make the area uninviting for the fracking industry. 

Silva said the commission will not act on the bill before Wrightstown, which tabled its version of the ordinance on Oct. 13. Newtown Township, Wrightstown and Upper Makefield are linked by a Municipal Zoning Ordinance, the only one of its kind in the state. A planning board made up of representatives from each township meets to recommend mutual zoning laws, which then must be passed by each township's supervisors to take effect. All three are considering versions of a fracking ordinance that comes out of Wrightstown. The Delaware River Basin Commission's fracking moratorium is set to expire in 2018.

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US: Oil Disasters Redefined as "Gas Hikes" While Pipeline Industry Receives Billions in Subsidies

 By Jacqueline Marcus / Truth-Out / October 18, 2016

There are approximately, hold on to your seat, 185,000 oil spills and pipeline ruptures that happen every single day in the United States, alone. Reports on these daily disasters are deliberately censored. And now, devastating oil spill impacts are being redefined in the media as "gas hike warnings" instead of environmental disasters.

The federal government has not enforced safety regulations; thus when eroding oil pipes rupture, Big Oil's message is: You, Mr. and Mrs. America, will pay the price with gas hikes. Not only is Big Oil responsible for creating the deadly toxic mess by not upgrading their eroding pipelines, they make hard-working Americans pay for the ruptured pipes by raising gas prices. And if that doesn't tick you off, the oil pipeline industry receives billions of your tax dollars in subsidies.

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Colorado: Longmont council reacts to suggestion of new fracking moratorium

By Karen Antonacci / Times-Call / October 18, 2016

Karen Dike — a board member on the local group Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont — asked the Longmont City Council on Tuesday to consider a one-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Dike said Longmont residents demand the council enact a moratorium because the oil and gas regulations that survived a lawsuit were written in 2012 and are now out of date. "The current Longmont city regulations were written in 2012 and no longer reflect even the minimal setbacks required by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission," Dike said. "They don't reflect Air Quality Control Commission regulations written in 2014."

Longmont became embroiled in two separate lawsuits related to oil and gas or fracking. The city-enacted rules and regulations require an operation to be 750 feet from an occupied building. Citizens, who thought the city-enacted regulations didn't go far enough, voted a ban on fracking within city limits into Longmont law in 2012. The industry sued Longmont on both measures. The city settled the oil and gas regulations lawsuit as part of a compromise between fracking activists and Gov. John Hickenlooper. Longmont took the fracking-ban lawsuit to the Colorado Supreme Court, where the judges ruled that Longmont has no right to ban the practice within city limits. The Colorado Supreme Court struck both down.

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Virginia: Franklin County votes against Mountain Valley Pipeline easement

By Casey Fabris / The Roanoke Times / October 18, 2016

ROCKY MOUNT — The Franklin County Board of Supervisors voted not to sell an easement to Mountain Valley Pipeline for land in the county’s new 550-acre business park. The decision came after supervisors heard impassioned pleas against the sale from nearly 20 pipeline opponents during a Tuesday night public hearing, which became heated at times. Numerous speakers said that entering into an easement agreement before the pipeline has been approved would be premature and urged the board to wait.

Mountain Valley Pipeline, which seeks to build a 42-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline, offered the county just under $92,000 to acquire the easement, which included temporary and permanent rights of way on the business park property. Boone District Supervisor Ronnie Thompson made the motion to tell Mountain Valley that the county wouldn’t be taking any action at this time. Blue Ridge District Supervisor Tim Tatum said entering into an agreement before the project has approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would be premature and could send the wrong message.

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White House report seeks to curtail natural gas blowouts

By Matthew Daly / AP / October 18, 2016

WASHINGTON — A year after a leaking well near Los Angeles spewed natural gas for nearly four months and drove thousands from their homes, a White House task force is recommending dozens of safety changes for the nation’s 400 underground natural gas storage wells. A report being released Tuesday recommends that operators of gas-storage facilities conduct strict risk assessments and develop robust safety procedures, including ensuring that wells have backup systems to contain gas flows in the event of a leak.

The gas leak was the largest-known release of climate-changing methane in U.S. history, according to scientists. It spewed an estimated 107,000 tons of methane before being controlled in February. The blowout sickened residents in the Porter Ranch neighborhood and surrounding suburbs who complained of headaches, nausea, nosebleeds and other symptoms from the foul-smelling gas.

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New York: Pipeline Foes Give Tour Near Indian Point to Concerned Medical and Disaster Experts

By Lanning Taliaferro / Peekskill Patch / October 18, 2016

CORTLANDT, NY — A group of opponents of the Algonquin Pipeline expansion plan took health care professionals, nuclear and disaster experts, public officials and members of the public on a tour of the pipeline's route past the Indian Point nuclear plant Tuesday morning. The tour and press conference was hosted by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), a national organization comprised of medical professionals, that has been advocating for public health and safety for over 50 years.

The activists complained in a press release of the "dangerous siting of the 42 inch diameter, high pressure Spectra AIM gas pipeline only 105 feet from vital structures at the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant located near two major earthquake fault lines in the most densely populated region in the nation.

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Most natural gas rigs in Pennsylvania since January

By Paul J. Gough / Pittsburgh Business Times / October 18, 2016

Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry continues its steady upward climb, adding another rig last week to have the most working in the commonwealth’s gas fields since January. The Baker Hughes rig count showed 25 rigs working in Pennsylvania last week, up from 24 the week before and 15 at the beginning of August.

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Building Our Future: The uncertain future of Illinois 'fracking'

By Tony Huffman / The Daily News / October 18, 2016

Southern Illinois residents are still boiling over about how the debate over fracking played out. On the one hand, proponents in the oil industry feel slighted from a missed economic windfall when the state put a stop to the hydraulic fracturing, and regulations were later passed. On the other hand, environmental advocates contend the risks of fracking aren’t worth the reward.

Chris Young, an Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesperson, confirmed Whitehead’s contention about a loss of interest in fracking in southern Illinois, where the majority of fracking was to take place. “Nobody has applied for a permit for high-volume hydraulic fracturing this year,” said Young. Among the many restrictions, the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act prohibits drilling within certain distances of bodies of water and streams.

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Pennsylvania: Judge drops testing laboratory from suit over well water

By Gideon Bradshaw / Observer-Reporter / October 18, 2016

A Washington County judge has dismissed a testing laboratory from a lawsuit accusing natural gas drillers of contaminating residents’ water near an Amwell Township well site. Senior Judge William Nalitz wrote in his decision that the allegation TestAmerica Laboratories Inc. “posted partial data results so that (Southpointe-based Range Resources Appalachia LLC) could thereby deceive a government agency and thereafter gratefully favor TestAmerica with future business is only that, an allegation, based purely on speculation, with no support whatsoever in the record.”

Problems at the Yeager site were part of a $4.15 million fine the state Department of Environmental Protection assessed against Range in 2014. Full test results obtained by the Voyles’ attorneys in discovery showed findings left out of from the results provided to DEP included chemicals used in fracking operations, levels of nitrates that exceeded the maximum limits and other substances. The family’s attorneys wrote in a court filing that the lab “followed Range’s direction not to provide the test results to the Voyles, but instead assisted Range with ‘customizing’ its results to ‘hide’ certain parameters” from the family.

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Colorado: BLM offers parcels for oil and gas lease

Aspen Daily News Online / October 18, 2016

The Bureau of Land Management on Monday announced it will offer 31 parcels, totaling 20,135 acres, in the Colorado River Valley, Grand Junction and Royal Gorge field offices during its Dec. 8 quarterly oil and gas lease sale which begins at 9 a.m. The 24 leases held within the Grand Junction field office, which encompass both federal surface and split estate in Garfield and Mesa counties, may be of local interest.
“Each lease, if issued, will contain stipulations and best management practices designed to address air quality and water resources while ensuring safe and environmentally responsible development,” according a release from the BLM. The public may protest any of the parcels offered in the sale until Nov. 14, 2016. Submit protests to: BLM Colorado State Office, 2850 Youngfield St., Lakewood, CO  80215.
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Greenpeace sues Norway over Arctic oil drilling

By Richard Milne / Financial Times / October 18, 2016

Environmental groups are trying to stop new drilling for oil in the Norwegian Arctic by suing the government in Oslo in a groundbreaking legal action using the recent global agreement on climate change. Greenpeace and Nature & Youth, two environmental groups, on Tuesday launched legal action under Norway’s constitution, arguing that awarding of new exploration licences in the Barents Sea breaches the right to a healthy environment. 

They will seek to use last year’s Paris agreement on climate change — which will soon enter into force after countries such as Norway ratified it — to back their claim, arguing that Oslo is undermining its commitment to reduce emissions by opening up areas of the Arctic for drilling. The action opens a new front against Arctic oil after campaigners successfully fought to stop Royal Dutch Shell’s plans to drill off Alaska. Norway awarded licences in May in new areas in the Barents Sea to companies including Statoil, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Aker BP and Lukoil.

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Ohio: Monroe County Signs Oil and Natural Gas Lease/Royalty Contract

By Janell Hunter / The Intelligencer / October 18, 2016

The Monroe County Board of Commissioners signed a lease/royalty agreement with Eclipse Resources on Monday that will add $130,000 to the general fund. The agreement calls for oil and gas wells to be developed on 26 acres of county-owned property.

The terms of the five-year contract state the county will be paid $5,000 per acre in advance and will receive 20 percent in royalties after production begins. The wells will be developed in Adams, Green and Lee townships, with portions of the wells being beneath county roads. Eclipse’s original offer of $4,000 per acre and 20 percent in royalties was renegotiated by Monroe County Prosecutor James Peters.

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Planet Earth: 5 Issues That Deserve More Love--Or Hate

By Nate Hopper / TIME / October 24, 2016

Since 1993, 1.3 million square miles of wilderness--10% of what's left on Earth--has disappeared, mostly plundered by lumbering or oil and gas exploration. Scientists recently found that in less than a century, there could be no wilderness left--nowhere for untouched evolution or natural carbon storage, or human escape.

In New Ozone Alert, A Warning
Of Harm to Plants and to People

By Jim Robbins / Environment 360 / October 17, 2016

For the last four years Jack Fishman, a professor of meteorology at St. Louis University, has guided the planting of five gardens in the Midwest, gardens that have a distinct purpose: to show the impacts of an invisible gas that is damaging and contributing to the premature death of forests, crops, and other plants — and also humans. "The idea of the ozone garden is that it is a canary in the coal mine," said Fishman, who recently planted one of the gardens at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The snap beans, milkweed, coneflowers, and other plants that turn brown and sickly from exposure to ozone when it occurs at ground level, he said, are "natural bio-indicators showing this pollutant is harmful to anything that lives — a human, a squirrel, or plants. It's the only way to show the real-time impacts of something that's happening to our planet."

The ozone crisis may fly under the radar compared to climate change, but it is entwined with that mother of all problems. And it’s nothing new for Fishman. He began studying ground-level ozone for NASA in 1977 and has been warning about its impacts since the 1980s. Ozone is highly toxic, even at very low concentrations. A major and growing source of ozone in the United States is oil and gas fields. Over the last 40 years, ethane levels had dropped by 60 percent. But a study published earlier this year in the journal Nature Geoscience found that much of that drop had been reversed in the last five years by emissions from oil and gas wells.

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Colorado: State agency approves Greeley’s Triple Creek oil, gas project; neighbors cry foul

By Sharon Dunn / The Greeley Tribune / October 17, 2016

Several west Greeley residents whose newest neighbor is expected to be an industrial plot of 22 oil and gas wells continue to fight against it, but their options are running out. Staff at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Friday approved a permit by Extraction Oil and Gas to site 22 oil and gas wells on a plot of land surrounded by west Greeley neighborhoods, giving the controversial project the go-ahead after a several-month delay.

Triple Creek, situated north of 18th Street in an empty field just west of 71st Avenue, was expected to proceed last March when the Greeley City Council approved the project, overturning its planning commission’s denial. But Triple Creek was the first project in the state to meet definitions under new state rules implemented this year. Triple Creek was the first large-scale project approved with new state rules that were supposed to find more protections for them from encroaching oil and gas development, but neighbors say it is now clear they’re not working. The plan is to put the facility on a 14-acre section of a 69-acre property, which also is surrounded on all sides by about nine existing well sites — and residences.

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Shell Pipeline Announces Open Season for New Ethane Supply Pipeline in the Northeast

EconoTimes / October 17, 2016

Houston -- Shell Pipeline Company LP (SPLC) today announced that it will launch a binding open season for transportation commitments on a new 94-mile common carrier ethane supply pipeline which will be constructed in Southwestern Pennsylvania and extending into West Virginia and Ohio. The location of the pipeline will be in a key area as more than 70 percent of the North American polyethylene market sits within a 700-mile radius of Pittsburgh. 

SPLC anticipates the proposed Falcon Ethane Pipeline System (Falcon) will connect three major ethane source points within Pennsylvania and Ohio, in the rich gas portions of the Marcellus and Utica shale reservoirs, to a petrochemical plant in Monaca, Pennsylvania. Construction of the pipeline is scheduled to begin in late 2018.

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Germany: BASF Faces Prolonged Shut-Down After Chemical Site Explosion

By Sheenagh Matthews and Oliver Sachgau / Bloomberg / October 17, 2016

BASF SE faces a prolonged shut-down of production units at a chemical site in Germany, the largest of its kind in Europe, where a deadly explosion and fire killed two employees and injured dozens. The German manufacturer said two steam crackers at the installation remain halted and another 20 facilities are either stopped or only partially working, according to a statement Tuesday. Crackers are the starting point for producing basic chemicals that go into everything from insulation materials to solvents.

The supply of raw materials has been interrupted and while the company hasn’t provided details about products, it has said the pipelines that burned included ones that carry ethylene and propylene, building blocks for more specialized chemicals. There is still a “slight” leakage of gas, likely ethylene or propylene, in the area, the company said Tuesday. The North Harbor, where the explosion took place, is a terminal for combustible fluids such as naphtha, methanol and compressed liquefied gases.

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Norway: Authorities probe oil rig fire and leaks

Views and News from Norway / October 17, 2016

Norway’s state regulator of the oil industry, Petroleumstilsynet, claimed on Monday that workers could have been killed over the weekend when two gas leaks and a fire broke out on three of Statoil’s offshore installations. They intend to launch a full investigation.

“We are taking all three incidents very seriously,” Inger Anda, director of communications for Petroleumstilsynet, told newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad. “All three are in a category where there was a high risk of a major accident.” Anda also said that the fire on board the Statfjord A platform along with gas leaks on the Gullfaks A platform and the drilling rig Songa Endurance were all “serious enough that lives could have been lost.”

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North Dakota: Judge Throws Out Charges Against Journalist Who Covered Dakota Access Pipeline

By Will Greenberg / Mother Jones / October 17, 2016

A North Dakota judge on Monday dismissed the criminal charges that had been filed against a journalist over her reporting on a controversial oil pipeline project. Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, was facing riot charges related to a report she filed earlier this month from a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. At a hearing Monday in the city of Mandan, Judge John Grinsteiner ruled that there was no probable cause to support the allegations, and he dismissed the case.

Goodman is not the only journalist to be arrested this month while covering pipeline protests in North Dakota. Last week, documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg was arrested while filming demonstrators who shut down tar sands pipelines in Wallhala. Deia is facing three felony charges, which reports say carry a combined maximum sentence of 45 years in prison. The charges against Goodman were filed after she reported on a clash between protesters and Dakota Access Pipeline security officers, who used dogs and pepper-spray in an attempt to disperse the crowd. The video went viral, surpassing 14 million views on Facebook.

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Pennsylvania: Forest Hills to adopt zoning ordinance for conditional oil, gas drilling

By Don Gilliland / TribLive / October 17, 2016

Forest Hills — one of the first Pennsylvania municipalities to ban fracking — is set to adopt a zoning ordinance that would allow conditional oil and gas drilling in some areas. The borough adopted its fracking ban in 2011 before passage of Act 13, which prohibited such bans; although numerous aspects of the state law have since been challenged and overturned in the courts, outright bans remain prohibited.

The proposed zoning ordinance sets out a series of requirements for zoning approval — from setbacks to traffic studies — designed to address concerns raised by communities across the state. The ordinance includes three provisions most others do not, according to DeMarco, who said she reviewed all similar ordinances in the state. Specifically, the Forest Hills ordinance would require air monitoring, strict noise controls and “closed loop” storage systems for wastewater to reduce the risk of contamination. A copy of the ordinance is on the Forest Hills website.

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$100,000 reward offered after pipeline construction equipment set on fire in Iowa

By Forum News Service / Duluth Tribune / October 17, 2016

MORTON COUNTY, N.D. — The company and contractor for a 1,172-mile pipeline that’s been the subject of protests in North Dakota and Iowa have issued a $100,000 reward for damage to construction equipment. In a news release Monday, Oct. 17, Dakota Access LLC said intentional burning of construction equipment has caused millions of dollars in damages. Arson was reported at a Dakota Access site in Iowa on Saturday.

Dakota Access and contractor Precision Pipeline said the companies are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of arsonists who burned the equipment. The $3.8 billion project stretches across four states and would be the largest pipeline out of North Dakota’s prolific Bakken oil fields, carrying approximately 470,000 barrels of crude per day to a hub in Patoka, Ill., with the ability to expand to up to 570,000 barrels per day.

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U.S. Rig Count Continues Steady Climb to 8-Month High

By Nilanjan Choudhury / / October 17, 2016

In its weekly release, Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. BHI reported a rise in the U.S. rig count (number of rigs searching for oil and gas in the country) - the fourteenth increase in 16 weeks. This can be attributed to addition in the tally of both oil and gas-directed rigs as the commodities' prices tick up. Rigs engaged in exploration and production in the U.S. totaled 539 for the week ended Oct 14, 2016. This was up by 15 from the previous week's rig count.

The natural gas rig count - which plunged to their lowest level on record in Aug - increased for the fifth time in 7 weeks to 105 (a gain of 11 rigs from the previous week). Still, as per the most recent report, the number of natural gas-directed rigs are languishing 93% below the all-time high of 1,606 reached in late summer 2008.

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UK: Horse Hill oil developers apply for further 'significant' drilling

By Oliver Haill / DigitalLook / October 17, 2016

UK Oil & Gas and its partners in the Horse Hill Developments (HHDL) company drilling for oil close to Gatwick Airport, have applied for planning permission with Surrey County Council for a further round of drilling. The HHDL group, in which AIM peers Alba Minerals, Doriemus, Gunsynd (until recently called Evocutis), Stellar Resources, Regency Mines and Solo Oil all have a stake, has applied for further "significant" appraisal testing and drilling at the oil discovery in the PEDL137 licence area, which they expect to take around 13 weeks.

If approved, the companies intend to extend production testing of four zones to confirm the commerciality of the discovery, and to examine a previously untested area. The planning application includes a possible two-well drilling phase to see how much further the oil field spreads out, with a deviated sidetrack to be drilled from the existing HH-1 borehole, together with a new well, called Horse Hill-2.

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Another arson incident suspected on Bakken pipeline equipment

By Mitchell Schmidt / The Gazette / October 17, 2016

Police are investigating another incident of suspected arson after fires appear to have been intentionally set to construction equipment working on the Bakken pipeline. It’s the fourth suspected arson on pipeline construction equipment in that area since August. Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty said the incidents are being treated as connected arsons.

A preliminary investigation indicates the fires were intentionally set to three bulldozers and one excavator. The equipment was being used by one of the companies contracted by Dakota Access to work on the Bakken pipeline project. The fire is estimated to have caused about $2 million in damage, the release states.

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Russia's Gazprom Adopting U.S. Horizontal Fracking Techniques

By Richard Zeits / Seeking Alpha / October 17, 2016

Despite the U.S. sanctions that explicitly prohibit the transfer of unconventional oil and gas extraction technologies to Russia, Gazprom and other Russian operators appear to be moving ahead with adopting the techniques that have been the driver of the North American shale revolution for more than a decade.

In 2015, Gazprom Neft was expecting to drill a total of 334 horizontal wells, including 238 high-technology wells completed with multi-stage hydraulic fracking. In 2016 year to date, the number of horizontal wells drilled by the company has already reached 380. Most recently, the company reported that it had completed a horizontal well with a ~6,200-foot lateral in its East Messoyakha field, which is the northernmost discovered onshore oil field in West Siberia. The well targets an oil formation deposited at ~2,600-foot vertical depth.

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Texas: Drilling surge in Permian Basin could add to natural gas glut

By Christine Buurma & Jonathan N. Crawford / Star-Telegram / October 17, 2016

One of the biggest threats to an extended rally in U.S. natural gas prices is lurking in the oil patch. Gas production in most of the country has dropped amid cost-cutting. Not so in the Permian Basin, the nation’s biggest crude reservoir and one of the few places where drilling has remained profitable.

Permian drillers led by Occidental Petroleum and Irving-based Pioneer Natural Resources are pumping more oil as prices rise, pushing natural gas extracted as a byproduct from the West Texas play to almost 7 billion cubic feet a day, Bloomberg Intelligence data show. That’s about 8 percent of U.S. supply. The Permian’s resilience may blindside gas bulls who nudged prices above $3 per million British thermal units for the first time in 16 months, following record demand during a hot summer and rising exports. At the same time, Permian drillers have added 45 rigs in three months, and a new discovery by Apache Corp. in the area promises to chase higher demand with a production surge starting in mid-2017.

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New Jersey: PennEast fights back against state's criticism of pipeline

By Mike Deak / / October 17, 2016

TRENTON - The war of words over the proposed PennEast pipeline accelerated Monday with the pipeline developer releasing a report critical of the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel's opposition to the $1 billion natural gas pipeline that would cross the western half of Hunterdon County. The New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, an independent state agency, filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last month that questioned the need for the 120-mile pipeline from northeastern Pennsylvania to Mercer County that would daily carry one billion cubic feet of natural gas.

But Concentric Energy Advisors said the "comments demonstrate a lack of understanding of how local distribution companies contract for pipeline capacity and make a number of incorrect assumptions.” Opponents of the pipeline, who welcomed the state's report, condemned PennEast's rebuttal. “PennEast is trying to change its tune about the need for the project and ignores the fatal flaw pointed out by the Rate Counsel that self-dealing contracts between affiliated companies don’t demonstrate public need,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director for ReThink Energy NJ and New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

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Ohio: Wayne forest could be used for fracking

By Dan Gearino / The Columbus Dispatch / October 17, 2016

The federal government has given notice that it plans to auction oil and gas lease rights for 1,600 acres of Wayne National Forest near Marietta, a step that could lead to fracking on public land. With the notice, a 30-day clock starts in which opponents can file a formal protest. The government will review the objections before moving ahead with an online auction scheduled for Dec. 13.

"This decision is bad for wildlife, bad for recreation, and bad for the overall health of the Wayne," said Nathan Johnson, an attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council, in an e-mail. He said his group will appeal the decision on the grounds that the government has not done enough to consider environmental concerns. The land to be leased is in the far eastern part of the forest, where there are substantial oil and gas reserves and less public opposition to drilling for energy.

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Pennsylvania: Lost gas - Push on to track down gas lost from pipelines

By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / October 17, 2016

In 2015, 4.4 percent of the gas that Peoples Natural Gas took into its system wasn’t there when the utility tallied the volumes it delivered to customers. The company has been working on the issue -— it has accelerated plans to replace bare steel infrastructure, and for the past year it has been working to map leaks from its pipelines within the City of Pittsburgh though car-mounted emission sensors. But its rate of unaccounted for gas — a metric that utilities operating in Pennsylvania must report to state regulators -— remains the highest of its peers.

What makes Peoples’ situation unique, however, is that in addition to gas mains and distribution lines that crawl underneath 700,000 homes and businesses in Western Pennsylvania supplying customers with natural gas for cooking and heat, the company also operates more than 1,000 miles of gathering pipelines. These are tubes carrying natural gas from old, shallow oil and gas wells — most of them drilled decades ago — that still supply a healthy chunk of the gas sent to Peoples customers. And in these gathering pipes, 9.2 percent of the gas that goes in at the meter behind the well sites is unaccounted for at the other end.

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India, Russia Discuss US$25 Billion Gas Pipeline

By Irina Slav / / October 17, 2016

India and Russia are studying the construction of a gas pipeline to transport Russian gas from Siberia to India, over 2,800-3,700 miles. The value of this giant infrastructure project is estimated at up to US$25 billion. A memorandum of understanding was signed by state company Engineers India Ltd. and Gazprom on Saturday. The length of the pipeline would vary depending on the route that will be chosen, should the two nations agree to go ahead with the project. If the partners choose the route through the Himalayas and into northern India, it will be the shortest one.

The two other alternatives are building it through Central Asia, Iran and Pakistan, to western India, or – the longest route – through China and Myanmar. It’s the longest route that has been estimated to cost the US$25 billion. There is, however, an alternative to a Russia-India pipeline, and this is a project for the transportation of Iranian gas via Pakistan into India.

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Florida: Levy County family's ashes are in pipeline's path

By Andrew Caplan / The Gainesville Sun / October 16, 2016

In Levy County, an American flag is flown at half-staff in Robin Koon’s yard. Koon, a Bronson resident for about 25 years, leaves it that way to commemorate five relatives, some of them veterans, who died in the last 15 years. Their ashes are spread about 50 yards away from the flag along a tree line, which splits his 2 acres of land. In the coming months, the $3 billion Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline will barrel through Koon’s land, excavating away any remaining ashes, memorials or trees in its way.

“I told them to just go 50 feet that way,” said Koon, pointing past the trees into his next lot. “These are my loved ones.” Unfortunately for Koon and his family, the time for negotiations has passed. Koon, 56, is just one of many landowners affected by the 515-mile pipeline that will cross 1,551 landowners’ properties and span 25 counties throughout Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Although 89 percent of landowners took offers or are negotiating with Sabal Trail Transmission LLC., the company sued the rest, claiming eminent domain citing the Natural Gas Act of 1938.

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Colorado: Expect large flames, smoke on Sunday over Suncor’s refinery in Commerce City

By Tamara Chuang / The Denver Post / October 16, 2016

On Friday, yellow-orange smoke burst out of Suncor’s refinery in Commerce City, Colorado prompting some road closures and a school lockdown. Fire officials said there were no public safety concerns downwind from the plant. Suncor officials said the smoke was the result of a power failure, and the smoke was a result of the plant’s shutdown procedure. The colorful plume was the release of sulfur dioxide, and air-quality tests found no hazardous emissions released, Suncor officials said Friday.

Sunday’s burnoff uses flames to burn off excess gas to prevent potentially harmful vapors from escaping. The company also is monitoring air quality and noise as part of its regular safety procedures, Fisher said. The burnoff is not expected to last beyond the weekend. Calgary, Alberta-based Suncor turns oily sand into gasoline and other products consumers pay for. The company has three refineries in Canada and one in Colorado — the Commerce City location.

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Public Opposition to Fracking Grows Worldwide

By Paul Brown / EcoWatch / October 16, 2016

Public opposition to pumping water and chemicals into the ground to extract gas from shale—the technique known as fracking—is growing even in the countries whose governments are most in favor. Although only four countries—France, Bulgaria, Germany and Scotland—have an outright fracking ban at the moment, many districts in countries that allow fracking in some areas ban it in others. This is true in the U.S. and in Canada, where potential wells will not be developed because local authorities have refused permission.

The carrot for governments generally has been the promise from the fossil fuel companies of large quantities of cheaply-extracted gas that will last for decades and cut their reliance on imports. But it seems unlikely that fracking will have an easy ride even in England. A report by the University of Nottingham on public attitudes to the new industry has shown that support has sunk to an all-time low in the UK. It has dropped from 58 percent in favor in July 2013 to just more than 37 percent in October 2016—the first time that a majority of people has been against fracking.

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'We cannot breathe:' A poor Alabama town has lived with the rotten egg stench of gas for 8 years

By Ivan Penn / Los Angeles Times / October 15, 2016

When methane started leaking out of a well at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility outside Los Angeles last October, noxious fumes blanketed the nearby Porter Ranch neighborhood for months. Residents complained of nausea, nosebleeds and vomiting; more than 8,000 families were forced out of their homes by the stench of the chemical odorant added to natural gas to help detect leaks.

Two thousand miles away, in a poor Alabama community, residents are complaining of similar symptoms after lightning struck equipment at an underground pipeline. An estimated 500 gallons of the same chemical spilled into the soil and groundwater, according to state environmental officials. But, unlike in affluent, predominantly white Porter Ranch, residents in Eight Mile have been largely ignored, stuck for eight years with the stifling rotten egg stench that still hovers over the low-income, mostly African American enclave just north of the Gulf of Mexico.

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Texas: Traffic from Brady frac sand mines helps drive transportation improvement efforts

By McEwen / Midland Reporter-Telegram / October 15, 2016

At least five sand mines are in operation around Brady and Voca, mining sand to be used in fracturing operations. “I understand four of those have interests in the Permian Basin,” said James Beauchamp, president of the Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance. One such mine is the Permian Frac Sand mine in McCulloch County. The mine, which opened last year, has an initial capacity of 100 tons per hour of either fine or coarse grades of sand.

Beauchamp said that 18 months ago there were 600 trucks a day along the corridor that leads from the mines to oil fields in the Permian Basin. Today, that count stands at a little more than 1,000 trucks a day, and the alliance projects that will rise to 2,000 trucks a day. A lot of sand has been railed in, “but even if it’s railed in, you still have to truck it to location,” he said. “If you look at the current designation, but you’re going from 1,000 vehicles to six times that many, it makes sense from an economic standpoint. You have to build where the traffic is,” Beauchamp said.

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Amy Goodman Is Facing Prison for Reporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline. That Should Scare Us All.

By Lizzy Ratner / The Nation / October 15, 2016

This coming Monday, as the sun hits its peak over Mandan, North Dakota, the award-winning journalist, and host of Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman will walk into the Morton County–Mandan Combined Law Enforcement and Corrections Center and turn herself in to the local authorities. Her crime: good, unflinching journalism.  Goodman had the audacity to commit this journalism on September 3, when she was in North Dakota covering what she calls “the standoff at Standing Rock”: the months-long protests by thousands of Native Americans against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Goodman’s arrival at the main protest site, the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp, was significant. At the time, not a single one of the major broadcast networks had sent a reporter to cover the Standing Rock mobilization; none had even bothered to mention it on the air. But there was Goodman, standing at the edge of a grassy plain that was in the process of being churned into gullies of dirt, reporting on one of the most significant stories of the day.  Yet, on September 8, Goodman received the news that Morton County, North Dakota, had issued a warrant for her arrest.  When asked to explain the grounds for arresting a working journalist, Erickson told the Grand Forks Herald that he did not, in fact, consider Goodman a journalist.

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Why the Dakota pipeline protest still has traction

By Rowena Lindsay / The Christian Science Monitor / October 15, 2016

As the weather gets cold, the nearly 7,000 people camping out in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline are settling in for the winter. Although the protest has gone on for a month and a half now, the movement has only gained momentum with new campers arriving every day and “weekend warriors” joining in whenever they can. In addition to drawing attention to the disproportionate consequences native people face from the proliferation of the energy industry, the protests have also served as a platform to address other systemic issues confronting tribes, including poverty, racism, substance abuse, and inferior school systems.

The Standing Rock protest acted as a catalyst, a call to action for many young native people who, frustrated with their circumstances, saw an opportunity to fight back against the myriad injustices they and their families have faced for generations. "Three years ago, not very many young indigenous people in the plains were speaking out about natural energy extraction in our homelands because we didn't have access to the information to learn about what was happening in our backyards," Frank Waln, an Sicangu Lakota hip-hop artist and activist, told Fader. “Now, we have powerful movements being started by youth from our communities. Our people are waking up, resisting colonialism, and organizing like I've never seen in my lifetime.”

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Pipeline protesters stop construction at Iowa worksites

By Kelly McGowan / The DesMoines Register  / October 15, 2016

More than 50 protesters briefly stopped construction at Dakota Access pipeline worksites Saturday in west central Iowa, and two were arrested. The protest was organized by Bold Iowa and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. It voiced opposition to the $3.8 billion oil pipeline project that will run underground through four states to bring crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois for Houston-based Dakota Access LLC.

Associated groups protested at 10 to 12 sites in the area Saturday, he said, each with the intention of stopping construction and then moving to the next site. The Iowa protests came as around 300 tribes and indigenous nations, along with their allies, are peacefully protesting the pipeline at the Oceti Sakowin Camp in North Dakota.

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In Scotland, gusts of wind usher in a quiet energy revolution

By Griff Witte / The Washington Post / October 15, 2016

Scotland over the past decade has set a series of increasingly ambitious renewable-energy targets and has surpassed every one. More than half the country’s electricity now comes from zero-carbon sources such as wind, hydro and solar, and the latest target of 100 percent by 2020 may be within reach. The United States — with a population 60 times as large and a land mass 120 times greater — is nowhere near that level, hovering at around 13 percent.

But Scotland’s experience with renewables is instructive. For decades, this nation within the United Kingdom floated on a sea of lucrative oil and gas. With those supplies dwindling, however, Scots from across the political spectrum launched a concerted effort to tap another rich vein of energy, one far more obvious than the fossil fuels buried deep offshore. “We have a great resource,” said Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, an industry association. “It’s Scotland’s terrible weather.” 

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Public hearing gathers voices for and against Winona County, Minnesota frac sand ban

By Brian Todd / Post Bulletin / October 15, 2016

The public hearing, which lasted more than three hours and heard from 109 members of the public, was held to get input on the amendment to the Winona County Zoning Ordinance that was put forth by the county planning commission to restrict -- but not ban -- mining of silica sand for the hydraulic fracturing industry. But the night came down to veritable referendum on the two options: pass the ban or pass the restriction amendment referred to as the planning commission compromise.

Forty-four of those 109 people who stepped to the microphone spoke in support of the planning commission's proposal to limit frac sand mines to a total of six with a limit of 40 acres per mine. That left 65 people who supported the ban on mining for frac sand, but allowing the mining of silica sand for other purposes such as agricultural uses or construction materials.

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Pipeline developers push to overcome opposition to projects that would carry Pa. gas

By Laura Legere / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / October 15, 2016

State College, PA - Patrick Henderson, director of regulatory affairs for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said the delay in infrastructure development is contributing to the large price disparity that is putting Pennsylvania gas producers at a disadvantage. The settlement price of gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange in October is $2.95, he said. But, in Pennsylvania, the average price is 87 cents this month.

Pennsylvania economic development officials made the case that the best way for companies to gain community support for their projects is to use more of the gas in the commonwealth, even as they send much of it to higher-priced markets elsewhere. After describing half a dozen major pipeline projects that plan to ship natural gas and liquids out of the state, Denise Brinley, special assistant to the secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, said DCED wants “these highways to have off ramps to Pennsylvania manufacturers, to homes, to businesses, to as many places as we can get.”

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Tired of China's grip, Iran confronts harsh oil reality

By Marc Champion / Bloomberg / October 15, 2016

A decade of international sanctions aimed at blocking Iran's nuclear program has left China the country's dominant investor and trade partner. Now, with those restrictions formally lifted, a more pragmatic Iranian government has been trying to ease dependence on China, only to find itself stymied by hard-line resistance and residual U.S. sanctions. "China has done enough investment in Iran," said Mansour Moazami, who was deputy oil minister until taking over as chairman of the massive Industrial Development & Renovation Organization this year. "We will provide opportunities and chances for others."

Western investors have been slow to arrive, forcing Iran back into the arms of the Chinese. That's especially true in the energy sector, where pressure to increase production is intense. Elsewhere, Western clearing banks still refuse to do business with Iran for fear of falling foul of non-nuclear U.S. sanctions that remain in effect, meaning Western companies can't raise project finance. The sanctions period was a boon for China because other countries forced their companies to leave. From trading half as much with Iran as the European Union before sanctions, China had five times as much Iran commerce as the EU by 2014, tailing off since due to the falling price of oil.

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How to Fight Big Oil: Join Your Neighbors

By Sarah van Gelder / CommonDreams / October 15, 2016

The last few weeks and months have seen major victories for communities resisting oil trains, coal terminals, pipelines, and strip mines. This is big news at a time of an out-of-control climate crisis—this July and August tied as the hottest months ever recorded. Could these stories represent our best shot at taking on the giant corporations and banks that are trying to build new fossil fuel projects at a time when we need to be phasing out carbon-based fuels?

Case in point: On Oct. 5, the San Louis Obispo County Planning Board rejected the application by Phillips 66 to build a railroad spur to its Nipomo Mesa refinery, based on widespread safety concerns. Coincidentally, that same day, Shell Oil Co., pulled its plan for an oil train line north of Seattle that would have brought Bakken oil to the company’s Anacortes refinery.

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Oil and gas operators get their ducs in a row

By Mella McEwen / Midland Reporter-Telegram / October 15, 2016

There are essentially three breeds of DUCs (drilled uncompleted wells) being tracked throughout the nation’s oil patch in an effort to gauge the industry’s health. Tanya Andrien, vice president, strategic development with Drilling info, has categorized them as work-in-progress, deferred completions and dead DUCs — those that most likely never will be completed. When the company began charting DUCs, from November-December 2014 into early 2015, the four-month period when oil prices first plummeted, “we saw a rise in deferred completions.” 

The Energy Information Administration estimates that as of the end of August, the nation’s DUC count was 4,117 in the four oil-dominant regions — the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Niobrara and Permian. The EIA said in the four oil regions, the count rose during 2014-15 but has decreased by about 400 over the last five months. The EIA counted 1,310 drilled uncompleted wells in the Permian as of September and forecast that tally to rise to 1,348 in October, a gain of 38 DUCs. e Permian is the only one of the EIA’s seven regions — including the three gas-dominated regions of the Haynesville, Marcellus and Utica — to show an increase from September to October.

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Central European nations oppose Russian-German gas pipeline

Associated Press / October 15, 2016

WARSAW, Poland – Poland's president says his nation and three others in the region are united in opposing a pipeline that would deliver natural gas directly from Russia to Germany because it would harm Europe's ability to create an efficient energy system. President Andrzej Duda spoke Saturday in Rzeszow, southern Poland, on the last day of a two-day meeting with the presidents of Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Duda described the Nord Stream 2 project, which would bypass traditional transit pipelines in Ukraine and Slovakia, as having "no economic justification," describing it as a political project implemented by Gazprom on behalf of Russia. Polish media reported that the four nations, known as the Visegrad Four, were united in taking steps to decrease their dependence on Russian energy.

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Shale gas industry challenges Pennsylvania drilling rules in court

By Laura Legere / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / October 15, 2016

The North Fayette-based Marcellus Shale Coalition, whose members include Pennsylvania’s major shale gas operators and ancillary companies, asked Commonwealth Court late Thursday to halt implementation of the challenged rules, which took effect Oct. 8.

Specifically, the organization is challenging sections that require its members to:
▪ coordinate with agencies that manage features like state parks and school playgrounds to minimize disturbances when drilling is planned nearby,
▪ identify and monitor nearby active and abandoned wells that might be disrupted by hydraulic fracturing in new wells,
▪ close or rebuild fluid impoundments to satisfy more stringent construction standards,
▪ submit monthly, rather than twice-yearly, waste reports,
▪ and meet stricter standards for processing waste on drilling sites, restoring well sites and cleaning up spills.

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Pennsylvania: Giant flare burns for hours in Marcus Hook

By Kathleen E. Carey / Delaware County Daily Times / October 14, 2016

MARCUS HOOK >> Casting a light over the town akin to a fireworks display, a gigantic flare shot out of one of the Sunoco Logistics towers for hours, starting Thursday evening and going into the early morning hours of Friday. Some in the town Thursday night said they could only remember one flare that large, a long time ago. Construction is ongoing to accommodate the second part of the project, dubbed Mariner East 2, to move up to 270,000 barrels daily of ethane, propane and butane from the same region to store, process and distribute locally and globally.

“We were doing work on one of the pumps in western Pennsylvania along the line,” Sunoco Logistics spokesman Jeff Shields said. “That pipe went down for a while. When that happens, there will be some excess ethane that needs to be processed.” As certain equipment is being built at the Marcus Hook site, not all of it was available to handle that level of capacity. “The full system wasn’t available to process the (ethane/propane),” he said. Borough Manager Aubrey Mulholland added that since the refinery has been closed, people are not used to such activity, which occurred on a regular basis when it was operational. “They’re not used to the flare anymore,” she said, adding that once the site is at its maximum capacity, the community will be once again familiar with flare activity.

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California: AQMD cites Torrance refinery, saying gas flares caused air pollution

By Christopher Goffard / Los Angeles Times / October 14, 2016

Air quality regulators have issued a notice of violation to the Torrance Refining Co., saying the 750-acre refinery — whose flare stacks shot flames and billowed thick black smoke Tuesday — had caused a public nuisance with air pollution. The former Exxon Mobil refinery “has been responsible for an unacceptably high number of flaring events resulting from shutdowns at its Torrance facility,” the South Coast Air Quality Management District said in a news release Thursday.

The refinery, owned by New Jersey-based  PBF Energy, lost power Tuesday morning as a result of faulty wiring during the upgrade of a substation, according to Southern California Edison. The shutdown left about 100,000 customers without electricity in the South Bay, and the resulting eruptions from the refinery prompted the city to order residents to keep their doors and windows closed.

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Ohio: BLM official signs plan to allow oil and gas leasing on Wayne National Forest

By Terry Smith / The Athens News / October 14, 2016

The federal government has scheduled a lease sale for 1,600 acres of public land in the Wayne National Forest’s Marietta Unit for this December, dealing a blow to area environmentalists who oppose oil and gas drilling on the national forest. On Friday, Dean Gettinger, district manager of the Northeastern States District of the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), signed a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for drilling on 40,000 acres in the Marietta Unit, which covers parts of Washington, Noble and Monroe counties, northeast of Marietta.

Oil and gas companies so far have filed expressions of interest to drill for natural gas on 18,000 of those acres, with 1,600 acres contained in the first round of land entering the lease program. According to the document, “the BLM plans to lease some parcels now and make the rest available in the future.” The sale notice issued Friday initiates a 30-day protest period. All protests must be received no later than Nov. 14, 2016. Protests may be mailed to the BLM-Eastern States office at 20 M Street, Suite 950, Washington, D.C. 20003, or faxed to the attention of State Director at (202) 912-7710.” To view the documents along with the actual Environmental Assessment, go to this website.

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Pennsylvania: Homeowner Sues Over Noise Like a 'Jet Engine' From Nearby Oil and Gas Well

By P.J. D'Annunzio / The Legal Intelligencer / October 14, 2016

A Northeastern Pennsylvania landowner having second thoughts about her oil and gas drilling lease sued the energy company working on her property for being too loud and disruptive when drilling for resources. U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo of the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied Southwestern Energy Co.'s request for summary judgment on Stephanie Tiongco's private nuisance claims. Tiongco seeks compensation for eight weeks' worth of alleged disruption of her peace of mind caused by exploratory drilling on her property.

Tiongco alleged that when she entered into an oil and gas lease with Southwestern, referred to by the court as SEPCO, she was told by a salesperson that drilling would take place farther away from her property. But Tiongco claimed the drilling occurred close enough to her house that it rattled the building. She further claimed that the noise rose to the level of a "jet engine" and that construction lights lit up on her property "24/7" for eight consecutive weeks. She testified that she was unable to sleep and required a prescription for Xanax.

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Transocean Winner rig on way to Malta from Lewis

By Angus MacDonald / BBC News / October 14, 2016

The Transocean Winner rig ran aground at Dalmore on Lewis in a storm in early August while being towed to Malta. It was refloated after three weeks and anchored at Broad Bay on Lewis before being put on board the Hawk last week. The rig's grounding on 8 August sparked pollution fears due to the 280 tonnes of diesel on board.

Investigations found two of its four fuel tanks were damaged in the incident which resulted in the loss of 53,000 litres of fuel, most of which is thought to have evaporated with no damage to the environment. Transocean, the owner of the rig, has donated £120,000 to Dalmore and Carloway, the communities closest to where the structure washed up in early August. Last week, Transocean Winner was floated on to the deck of the Hawk, a semi-submersible ship used for transporting large maritime structures over long distances.

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PA Senate race: A proxy war for national interests

By Susan Phillips / StateImpact / October 14, 2016

For large national environmental groups, backing McGinty is a no-brainer. She was a protégé of Al Gore, she served as Pennsylvania’s environmental protection secretary under former Gov. Ed Rendell, and she is committed to fighting climate change. Toomey, on the other hand, while not denying climate change exists, has questioned whether humans are the primary cause. Toomey is an advocate of smaller government, which means fewer regulations across the board for energy production and fewer rules for environmental protection. Toomey opposes the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s landmark proposal to make electricity cleaner and reduce greenhouse gas causing carbon emissions.

The Center for Responsive Politics also reports that Freedom Partners Action Fund, a super PAC associated with the Koch Brothers, whose family fortune came from oil refining, has spent $7.2 million to help elect Pat Toomey. Koch Industries has expanded its reach beyond oil refineries, and now manufactures a whole host of products. Freedom Partners backs a number of conservative causes in addition to fossil fuel production. When it comes to individuals and PACS associated with the oil and gas industry, Toomey ranks in the top ten Congressional recipients with $287,338 in donations during the 2015/2016 election cycle.

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Canada energy companies, police scramble to protect pipelines

By David Ljunggren and Nia Williams / Reuters / October 14, 2016

Canadian energy companies and officials share intelligence, scour social media and send up surveillance drones but even so they say preventing a disruption to the country's vast pipeline network is near impossible and each side wants the other to do more. This week, five oil pipelines carrying Canadian crude were halted in the United States in an audacious act by protesters opposed to oil sands development and a proposed new pipeline in North Dakota.

The coordinated attacks in isolated locations near the Canadian border sparked a flurry of exchanges among pipeline operators, police, Canada's national energy regulator and a U.S. counterpart to assess the impact. While they quickly consulted about the risk of the attacks spreading, the disruption focused attention on how Canada would deal with an assault on a huge network of pipelines crisscrossing a country with the world's third-largest proven oil reserves.

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Pennsylvania: Marcellus Shale Coalition files suit against sections of new gas operations rules

By Michael Bradwell / Observer-Reporter / October 14, 2016

A trade group representing natural gas drilling companies and their supply chain partners is petitioning Commonwealth Court to declare portions of a recently passed rule regarding surface activities for gas production as unlawful. The Marcellus Shale Coalition said in a news release Friday it has filed a petition for declatory judgement seeking a declaration from the court that certain sections of Chapter 78a are against the law.

The final rules went into effect following their publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Oct. 8. The state Department of Environmental Protection began drafting revisions to the rules shortly before Act 13 became effective in 2012. Chapter 78 applies to surface activities related to oil and gas production, such as water replacement standards, waste handling, site restoration and spill reporting. In its most recent form, the act also applies to pipelines and impoundments.

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Majority of potential UK fracking sites are rich in important wildlife

By Nicola Davis / The Guardian / October 14, 2016

Many of the areas that have been recently marked as potential sites for fracking are rich in wildlife that perform crucial functions from pollination to decomposition, researchers have found. Scientists say that almost two-thirds of the areas that have been labelled as suitable for shale gas extraction have levels of biodiversity equal to or above the national average, according to a new analysis of records collected from across the country.

“A lot of the areas that have opened up to shale gas licensing actually harbour much higher than average levels of biodiversity,” said Tom Oliver, of University of Reading who is a senior author of the study in the Journal of Applied Ecology. “We only have one natural heritage and we have to protect it and so using these data to highlight those very valuable sites and to facilitate their protection is hopefully a useful thing to do.”

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Virginia: Dominion wants to put a pipeline through farmland designated for conservation

By Samantha Page / ThinkProgress / October 14, 2016

On Thursday, the Southern Environmental Law Center filed a motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), asking the body to reject Dominion Virginia Power’s permit application for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina. According to the motion, Dominion’s proposed route goes through at least 10 properties that owners have placed into a Virginia conservation program intended to prevent future development.

“Dominion has proposed the largest conversion of conservation easement land ever undertaken in Virginia,” the motion says. “If allowed, it would seriously undermine public trust in the state’s conservation easement program and jeopardize the continued vitality of this critically important tool for open-space land protection.” Dominion originally proposed that the pipeline would go through the George Washington National Forest, along the West Virginia-Virginia border, but the U.S. Forest Service rejected that route last winter.

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It's Official: Injection of Fracking Wastewater Caused Kansas’ Biggest Earthquake

By Lorraine Chow / EcoWatch / October 14, 2016

The largest earthquake ever recorded in Kansas—a 4.9 magnitude temblor that struck northeast of Milan on Nov. 12, 2014—has been officially linked to wastewater injection into deep underground wells, according to new research from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The epicenter of that extremely rare earthquake struck near a known fracking operation.

The USGS scientists believe that the 4.9-magnitude earthquake was triggered by wastewater injection for the following reasons:
There had not previously been similar earthquakes in the area.
There were waste-water injection wells nearby.
The earthquake activity started after the amount of water injected in the wells increased.
There's a piece of earth that could be activated by changes in pressure.

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North Dakota: Filmmaker Arrested At Pipeline Protest Facing 45 Years In Felony Charges

By Nick Visser / The Huffington Post / October 14, 2016

A documentarian arrested while filming an oil pipeline protest on Tuesday has been charged with three felony conspiracy charges ― and could face decades in prison if convicted. Deia Schlosberg, the producer of the upcoming documentary “How to Let Go of the World and Love All Things Climate Can’t Change,” was detained while filming a protest against TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota. Activists at the event, associated with the group Climate Direct Action, shut down the pipeline, which carries oil from Canadian tar sands to the U.S, for about seven hours.

Two of the protestors, Michael Foster and Samuel Jessup, were also charged and Schlosberg’s equipment and footage from the event was confiscated. She has been charged with three felonies: conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service. Together, the charges carry 45 years in maximum prison sentences. 

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Ohio court rules Kinder Morgan can’t use eminent domain for pipeline

Staff and wire reports / Sentinel-Tribune / October 13, 2016

A decision in Wood County Common Pleas Court late Wednesday found a private company cannot use eminent domain to take private property for its pipeline project. The ruling by Judge Robert Pollex protects the property rights of dozens of Ohioans represented by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law and others along the pipeline route. However, given the escalation in private pipeline construction throughout the Ohio and the nation, the decision is anticipated to have impact well beyond just the immediate parties to the case or the Utopia Pipeline.

The court’s ruling draws a distinction between takings for pipelines facilitating home heating or energy independence and pipelines for purely private commercial interests. While public utilities may exercise eminent domain to provide service to Ohioans’ homes, and certain oil and gas pipelines may even possess eminent domain authority, the Utopia Pipeline remains submerged through the entire state, providing no service to Ohioans.

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Connecticut: Branford’s RTM sends fracking waste ban ordinance back to committee for further review

By Sam Norton / New Haven Register / October 13, 2016

BRANFORD, Conn. - In an effort to prevent an ordinance banning the storage, disposal or treatment of fracking waste in town from being defeated, members of the Representative Town Meeting unexpectedly sent the proposal back to the Rules and Ordinances Committee to be further vetted. The original proposal called for the Branford Police Department to enforce the ordinance, and issue citations to those who violated the regulation. However, after law enforcement officials expressed concerns over how the department was able to enforce the ordinance, Sullivan said the RTM sought to clarify the language so police would not be responsible for identifying fracking waste.

If the ordinance is approved, Branford is slated to become the sixth municipality to enact such a regulation in anticipation of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s decision to rewrite the state laws concerning the possible importation of fracking waste. The towns of Andover, Washington, Coventry, Mansfield and Portland have all imposed their own laws banning fracking waste.

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North Dakota oil production drops below 1 million barrels

By Nick Smith / Bismarck Tribune / October 13, 2016

Oil production in North Dakota dropped below the symbolic mark of 1 million barrels per day in August, the first time production has been south of that figure since April 2014. Helms said anecdotally, he’s heard that multiple operators in the oil patch have intentionally shut in some wells to keep production down while prices remain low. Prices for West Texas Intermediate, a U.S. benchmark for oil, were just above $50 per barrel Thursday. Despite the decline in oil production, the amount of flared natural gas increased from 10.5 percent to 11.4 percent.

Helms said the new Bear Creek natural gas processing plant in Dunn County recently came online, with capacity of 80 million cubic feet per day. This plant, which is running at 50 percent capacity, should help reduce flaring as it takes on more product. Another small plant in Williams County may also help, he said. Total wells waiting on completion from hydraulic fracturing in August were down to an estimated 888. The total was 912 the previous month. Despite the decrease in production, the total number of producing wells statewide reached a new high in August of 13,289.

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Canada: Refinery blames 'malicious activity' for explosion at Come by Chance

By Terry Roberts / CBCnews / October 12, 2016

The operators of the Come by Chance oil refinery say "malicious activity" is to blame for an explosion at the site last week that caused alarm and attracted police to the site. NARL Refining released a statement Wednesday which said the incident was unrelated to the plant's ongoing operations or process units. It said the incident "appears to be have been the result of malicious activity by non-North Atlantic employees."

There were no injuries or property damage reported. NARL is not releasing any details of the incident, but said an investigation is ongoing. However, sources tell CBC News that the loud bang was caused by the lighting of acetylene gas in a temporary fabrication tent on refinery grounds, and that some workers with Local 740 Plumbers and Pipefitters were dismissed from the site following the incident.

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Ohio: OSU will study impact of gas pipeline construction on agricultural fields

By James F. McCarty / The Plain Dealer / October 10, 2016

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Ohio State University will launch a study this fall in conjunction with a planned $500 million, 215-mile petroleum pipeline from Harrison County in Eastern Ohio to the Michigan border. The Utopia East pipeline project will transport 50,000 barrels a day of ethane and ethane-propane mixtures for use in plastics production. Ethane is a byproduct of fracking used to extract oil and natural gas from Utica shale. Kinder Morgan Inc. will construct, own and operate the Utopia pipeline.

Construction is scheduled to begin next month and be completed in 2018. The Ohio stretch of the pipeline will link to existing pipeline in Michigan, for delivery of petroleum products to NOVA Chemicals Corp., in Windsor, Ontario. During construction, OSU's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will conduct a three-year study on soil disturbances caused by pipelines and its impact on farmland. The study will be partially financed by a $200,000 gift from Kinder Morgan, and will focus on 50 fields statewide, predominantly in rural areas.

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Scientists Perfect a Way to Sense Airborne Methane

By John Fialka - ClimateWire / Scientific American / October 5, 2016

The plane seemingly loitering overhead that May was a De Havilland Twin Otter, part of the aerial fleet of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And the scientists who had sent it to patrol the Bakken were developing a new approach to tracking methane. Among other gases, the plane was hunting for ethane, a colorless, odorless gas. It dissipates in a few weeks, but it is a compound that responds to analysis with a crisp signal and is always found with methane in natural gas emissions.

What they found in the skies over the Bakken that May was the equivalent of 1 to 3 percent of the world’s estimated emissions of ethane floating over a relatively tiny place. It was evidence that the Bakken was leaking raw natural gas, including huge amounts of methane, which is 86 times more potent as a global warmer than carbon dioxide during the first nine years of its life. Then it decays into carbon dioxide, which can last for centuries. The study concluded that the Bakken was leaking methane at a rate of 275,000 tons per year. That meant finding and closing the leaks would have about the same impact on climate change as removing 1.45 million cars from the nation’s highways for a year. The ethane leak, of similar size, was so big that it was detected in Europe.

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Ohio: Warren man gets no prison time for dumping drilling waste into the Mahoning River / October 4, 2016

YOUNGSTOWN - A fourth person has been sentenced for his part in purposely dumping oil and gas well drilling waste that eventually seeped into the Mahoning River. David Jenkins of Warren appeared before a federal judge Tuesday and was placed on probation for three years after pleading guilty earlier to allowing an unpermitted discharge in violation of the Clean Water Act. The judge also ordered Davis to complete 150 hours of community service. Prosecutors say that when Jenkins worked for Hardrock Excavating in Youngstown in 2013, he ordered that drilling waste being stored on the property to be dumped into storm sewers along Salt Springs Road.

Jenkin's name first became publicly associated with the investigation in June when the Ohio Attorney General's office filed a civil suit against him, two former co-workers, and their boss, Ben Lupo. The suit seeks penalties in excess of $25,000 from the four men for their part in dumping what the government estimated was one-quarter-a-million gallons of oil and oilfield waste. Two other Hardrock employees, Mark Goff of Newton Falls and Michael Guesman of Cortland, pleaded guilty to federal charges and were placed on probation. Lupo, the owner of Hardrock, was sentenced to 28 months in prison and fined $25,000 for violating the Federal Clean Water Act.

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Chemicals in Natural Gas Operations




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