The following information is an update of recent, local, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Publishes 2015 Oil and Gas Annual Report
According to the DEP report, Pennsylvania produced more than 4.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas which is a significant increase from the 1.06 trillion cubic feet produced in 2011. A vast majority of the natural gas produced in 2015 was from the Marcellus shale at a volume of 4.47 trillion cubic feet. The DEP notes that while the Utica and Point Pleasant shale formations are not currently producing as much natural gas, both formations may contain amounts of natural gas comparable to that of the Marcellus shale play.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration Projects a Decline in Shale Oil Output
The Annual Energy Outlook 2016 released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on August 22, 2016 said that tight oil production accounted for 52% of crude oil production in the United States in 2015. However, the EIA projects a decrease in tight oil production of 700,000 barrels per day from 2015 to 2017. Meanwhile, natural gas production from shale accounted for 50% of the U.S. natural gas production and should continue to increase over the next fifteen years.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Fines CNX Gas Company LLC and CONE Midstream Partners LP
The DEP Newsroom released notice of fines issued against CNX and CONE on August 22, 2016. It was determined that several pipelines owned by both companies were not constructed to their Erosion and Sediment Control General Permit standards. Some pipelines were located outside the area designated by the permit while other violations were for missing details in the permit application. For the noncompliance, CNX was fined $139,000 and CONE was fined $45,000.
Environmental Health Perspectives Publishes Study Examining Relationship Between Illness and Hydraulic Fracturing
A study published on August 25, 2016 in Environmental Health Perspectives found that certain maladies could be associated with proximity to unconventional natural gas development. The study surveyed 23,700 Pennsylvania adults and identified those experiencing sinus problems, migraines, and symptoms of fatigue. The study looked at the township where participants lived and noted proximity to the time and location of unconventional natural gas development.
USDA’s Economic Research Service Publishes Study Examining Energy Trends
The United States Department of Agriculture released the August 2016 “Trends in U.S. Agriculture's Consumption and Production of Energy: Renewable Power, Shale Energy, and Cellulosic Biomass.” The USDA found that amount of land being taken from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was greater in counties with shale gas than in counties without shale. The acreage of land in the CRP in shale counties declined by 32 percent from 2006 to 2013 whereas the acreage only declined by 22 percent in non-shale areas. Currently, 28 percent of the acreage in the CRP is located over shale plays.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Discusses Methods to Convert Natural Gas Into Chemicals With a Lower Carbon Footprint
On August 17, 2016 the National Academies Press released a report from their workshop held earlier this year. The workshop examined how natural gas could be converted to more valuable chemicals as well as how to develop chemical catalysts that will produce fewer byproducts. The report states that while commercial viability of these processes is still being developed, this new research could lead to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Written by Jacqueline Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator