Fracking Ban Defeated in Illinois Even As Other Anti-Development Efforts Take Root


Governor vetoes tax break for oil and gas industry. Utilizing the line-item-veto, Governor Mike Beebe removed a $5 million tax provision aimed at waiving sales taxes on specific fracking related expenditures from an appropriations bill passed by the state legislature.  The provision’s sponsor, State Senator Jonathan Dismang, claimed the tax provision would help encourage further investment in the Fayetteville shale play.  Legislators have indicated they may attempt to override the veto.


Thousands of environmentalists organized a protest at California’s state capitol on Saturday to demand Governor Jerry Brown ban hydraulic fracturing. California’s recent drought emergency has prompted some lawmakers to push for a statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, as a recent Ceres report found that 96 percent of California fracking wells are located in the areas experiencing drought and high water stress.

ENGOs claim recent earthquake caused by fracking.  The epicenter of the 4.4 magnitude earthquake that hit Los Angeles on Monday was located 7.5 miles from an injection well used to store waste water from hydraulic fracturing.  While officials did not link the injection well location to the quake, ENGOs have been quick to point to increased seismicity at or near injection wells around the country.

Santa Barbara Group launches effort to ban fracking in Santa Barbara County.  A grassroots group called Santa Barbara County Water Guardians kicked off a petition drive Tuesday for an initiative banning fracking in Santa Barbara County.


Water dispute pits local ranchers against oil and gas producers. Boxelder Properties LLC is proposing sinking four wells to draw 500-acre feet of water annually for the fracking and other oil-drilling operations. Meanwhile, ranchers and farmers along the Box Elder say the plan will dry out wells and pools used by cattle, as well as kill vegetation along the creek’s banks east of Aurora. The county commissioners have sent a letter opposing the project to the Colorado Division of Water Resources, which must decide on the proposal. The proposal has become so controversial that Houston-based Conoco-Phillips, the main company drilling in the area and Houston-based Select Energy Services, the Conoco contractor that initiated the plan, have also abandoned the idea. Still, the permit application to drill the wells is pending with the water division, also called the Office of the State Engineer.


Environmental groups protest proposed exploration in Southwest Florida.  Florida has granted a Texas oil company permission to drill an exploratory well in the western part of the Everglades in Naples. The Dan A. Hughes Co. is also seeking permission to build an injection well.  The company claims there will be no fracking involved, but Florida’s rules would allow the company begin fracking if the company decides to move forward. Naples residents and environmental groups are calling on both the Environmental Protection Agency to deny the Dan A. Hughes Co.’s request and the state of Florida to reverse its decision on exploratory drilling in the Everglades.

FL legislature unlikely to take up fracking disclosure bill.   Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, who is sponsoring legislation requiring the state to put disclosure requirements in place for operators utilizing hydraulic fracturing in the state, has expressed concerns that his bill may not be taken up by the legislature this year.  HB 71, the Fracturing Chemical Usage Disclosure Act, would the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to “establish and maintain” an online registry for all of the wells in the state where fracking treatments are performed.


Ballot effort to ban fracking in Johnson County, Illinois fails.   By a vote of 2,223 to 1,602, the ballot measure failed. The near 60 percent of voters in opposition expressed a range of considerations, but one of the more compelling reasons was the fear that such a ban could lead to other limitations on agricultural, industrial, or other business activities in the county.

Shale development and affordable natural gas rebuilding American manufacturing.  Drew Greenblatt, President of Baltimore-based Marlin Steel Wire Products, authored an op-ed explaining the resurgence of American manufacturing as a result of shale development and the importance of the Cove Point LNG terminal for local jobs, both during the construction and operational phases of the project.  He note the extensive review processes involved and the positive impact the project will have for suppliers and associated industries in the region.


ENGOs plan public meetings to build opposition to fracking in Michigan.  The Sierra Club Nepessing Group and Marathon Township are hosting an informational meeting in Columbiaville on hydraulic fracturing, one of several meetings scheduled in Genesee and Lapeer counties over the next few weeks on the issue.  The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 26 at the Columbiaville Community Center, and will include a presentation on gas and oil development in Michigan and environmental risks associated with fracking.  The issue has come to the forefront in Genesee and Lapeer counties after  Ludington-based Western Land Services began seeking leases in the area for rights to drill in Richfield Township that could include seismic testing and fracking.


Nevada officials hold public meeting on fracking rules.  Officials from the Nevada Division of Minerals met with conservationists, tribal members and members of the public worried that plans to begin drilling for oil using hydraulic fracturing could bring serious problems to Northern Nevada.  The meeting was held on Monday in Carson City and comes as Noble Energy seeks to explore for oil near Wells, NV. Additional workshops are scheduled for Wednesday in Elko and Friday in Las Vegas.

New Jersey

Environmental groups are calling on the Delaware River Basin Commission to make the temporary moratorium on fracking in the watershed permanent. The demand was coordinated with the release of Shalefield Stories, a new compilation of personal testimonies of families directly impacted by fracking throughout the Marcellus Shale region.  The effort was also coordinated with an op-ed written by NJ Rep. Rush Holt opposing fracking.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a ban on treating or storing waste products created by natural gas drillers. A state Senate committee advanced a bill this week that would prohibit the treatment, discharge, disposal or storage of any wastewater, solids, sludge or other byproducts resulting from hydraulic fracturing

North Carolina

Cary leaders urge greater local powers to ban fracking.  Western Cary is part of a large basin which may contain gas reserves, but the potential for extracting shale gas remains unclear. Cary doesn’t have fracking rules, but council members say they want “strong” regulations. The resolution asks for a “regulatory framework that protects the health, safety and welfare” of residents and the environment.  The council passed the resolution without commenting on the merits or detriments of fracking.  Cary’s Shale Gas Development Subcommittee agreed in December that it will recommend town leaders ban fracking until the Environmental Protection Agency releases a much-anticipated study on the practice in 2016.

North Dakota

At the March 6 House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing titled “Benefits of and Challenges to Energy Access in the 21st Century: Fuel Supply and Infrastructure“, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres) Oil & Gas and Insurance Programs Director Andrew Logan testified that 36 percent of the gas by-product from oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin was flared off as waste.


Geologists note increased seismicity near fracking waste disposal wells.  Over the last few weeks, Geologists say there have been 12 earthquakes near an active fracking well in northeastern Ohio.  From January 2011 to February 2012, researchers recorded more than 100 earthquakes there that eventually were linked to the pumping of fracking waste deep underground into an injection well in the Youngstown area.

A major oil pipeline owned by Sunoco Logistics Partners LP leaked thousands of gallons of crude oil into a nature preserve in southwest Ohio late on Monday. Between 7,000 and 10,000 gallons (26,000-38,000 liters) of sweet crude leaked into the Oak Glen Nature Preserve about a quarter of a mile from the Great Miami River, according to early estimates from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.


The Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved new rules to monitor earthquakes.  The rules could help determine whether oil and natural gas operations are connected to the increased seismicity experienced by the state. The commissioners unanimously approved rules requiring water injection well operators throughout the state to collect daily information on injection volume and pressure. The operators must be able to provide the information if the commission asks for it.


Pennsylvania DEP considering “forced pooling” in PA counties.  20 state environmental groups are asking that March 25 and 26 hearings on proposed “forced pooling” be postponed. The hearing would be the first step toward a DEP decision on whether Hilcorp Energy Company can force landowners to allow gas and oil drilling.  Hilcorp claims to have contracts signed by 99 percent of the landowners in the affected areas but is seeking to force the few remaining holdouts to sign a contract. The areas in question are located in Pulaski Township Lawrence County and Shenango Township Mercer County.

Leaders from Ukraine and other Eastern European Countries seek information on shale development from the Marcellus region.  Despite regulatory challenges faced in Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine, numerous Eastern European nations are seeking out expertise from Pennsylvania’s regulators and operators as they look to unlock their own domestic resources as Russia continues to use gas supplies to exert influence on the region.

Technological advancements in oil and gas development in the Marcellus are safeguarding the environment even as production continues to grow.  This article in the Daily Review tracks numerous advancements made by Chief Oil and Gas and Cabot Oil and Gas to streamline production activities, minimize above ground disturbances, and protect the environment.


Referendum on fracking planned for Denton, TX.  Organizers in Denton, Texas have collected enough signatures to force a referendum on an ordinance banning hydraulic fracturing in the city.


WY fracking disclosure rule draws legal questions about what constitutes a “trade secret.”  In 2011, four environmental organizations filed a request for information on the chemicals used by oil and gas companies for hydraulic fracturing in the state.  The WY Oil and Gas Commission released a list of the chemicals with several items redacted, citing the trade secrets exemption to the Wyoming Public Records Act. Last week, the WY State Supreme Court ordered a lower court to rehear the case and determine whether or not chemical disclosure of the particular chemical redacted would compromise an actual trade secret.

OSHA Silica Rule public hearings begin this week.  Public hearings are beginning this week on a proposal to control silica dust created by construction, hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and other industries.  The rule is in response to concerns that inhaling silica dust can lead to lung diseases including silicosis and cancer. The rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would limit emissions of the dust at work sites to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The current standard is 250 micrograms for construction workers and 100 micrograms for other industries.

New report shows methane emissions could be reduced through cost-effective monitoring and repair.  About 30% of the US anthropogenic methane emissions originate from the oil and natural gas sector. Emissions are partly leaks and partly engineered vents. Almost 30% of methane emissions from onshore oil and natural gas facilities are from leaks, which here means fugitive leaks past static seals on valves, connectors, regulators, or other components. The study is based on data from 4,293 surveys of oil and gas facilities in the USA and Canada. These surveys identified 58,421 components, which were either leaking or venting gas; leaks were detected from 39,505 components.



China is stepping up its intake of propane from the United States’ shale boom after taking its very first shipments last May. The U.S. sent 111,000 metric tons of propane to China last year and another 74,000 tons in January, according to customs data. And that’s only going to continue to grow, with a long-term contract announced for China’s biggest oil refiner, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., to buy propane, a byproduct of oil refining and the extraction of natural gas, from U.S. refiner Phillips 66.


German utility company RWE AG agrees to sell its Dea oil and gas production unit to Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s L1 (LetterOne) Energy in a deal valued at about $7.1B. The move would give L1 energy assets in the U.K., Germany, and the North Sea, and RWE much-needed cash after reporting its first full-year loss since WWII. The purchase is the first for L1, which has earmarked up to $10B for investments after the $14B Fridman and co-investor German Khan raked in from the sale of their stake in the TNK-BP oil venture.


Ukrainian crisis spurs Poland to issue tax-free invitation to shale developers.  To encourage development of shale gas in Poland, the government has adopted policies making oil and gas extraction activities from shale tax-free until 2020.  The first commercial shale well in the country is expected by the end of 2014, and as many as 30 fracking wells could be drilled this year.

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