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Marcellus shale news

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And conflict between drillers and environmentalists. Also home to that.

Wastewater from hydraulic fracturing could be more dangerous than government officials acknowledge, reports Ian Urbina at the New York Times:

The Times also found never-reported studies by the E.P.A. and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways. But the E.P.A. has not intervened. In fact, federal and state regulators are allowing most sewage treatment plants that accept drilling waste not to test for radioactivity. And most drinking-water intake plants downstream from those sewage treatment plants in Pennsylvania, with the blessing of regulators, have not tested for radioactivity since before 2006, even though the drilling boom began in 2008. In other words, there is no way of guaranteeing that the drinking water taken in by all these plants is safe.

Urbina writes that Pennsylvania has quickly become “ground zero” for drilling (as well as a role model for states like New York), catching regulators off guard.

Glenn Coin at the Post-Standard has a look at "force majeure" - the clause in leases that gas companies are claiming as they extend drilling agreements against the will of landowners:

Binghamton lawyer Scott Kurkoski said many landowners with older leases were paid $3 per acre and promised 12.5 percent of the gas royalties. New leases are netting thousands of dollars per acre and nearly 20 percent of royalties, he said. Many landowners want to end their leases outright or have a chance to renegotiate better deals. They’re angry about the letter from Chesapeake. “They made an agreement for so many years, and we want to be able to get out of them,” said Mark Tucker, co-owner of about 10 parcels leased to Chesapeake in the towns of Marcellus, Skaneateles and Spafford.

There's a stirring opinion piece by Ann Whitner Pinca at the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. The nature lover documents her Marcellus shale "nightmare," including news of vast natural gas reserves under her land:

We kidded each other when we eventually heard the news. Maybe we’d get rich. But it was only a joke, because we bought our land for the hemlocks, wildflowers and critters that lived on it, not for what was underneath. That first year, we delighted in the discoveries of our new purchase — trout lilies and red trilliums in spring, star-filled summer nights and brilliant reds and golds in fall against tall green hemlocks. We schemed to settle on our land when we retire. Our future was in Sullivan County, but now that future was threatened by a pipeline.

Meanwhile at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Amy Worden reports that the governor of Pa. has rescinded another natural gas drilling rule put in place by the previous administration - drilling air pollution will be considered on a case-by-case basis, allowing it to potentially skirt pollution controls.

Farm power
New York has 202 farms engaged in some sort of renewable energy production, reports Larry Rulison at the Times Union's Buzz blog.  The data comes from the USDA, which says farmers saved about $5,000 on their energy bills in 2009.

Forecasting wind
Brian Nearing at the Times Union has a profile of a company we looked at last year - AWS Truepower, which has set out to try to predict where the wind blows:

During its time, Truepower has consulted on alternative energy projects around the world totaling more than 40,000 megawatts -- that's the equivalent of more than 50 traditional fossil fuel-fired power plants. The company started by offering forecasts for wind and sun at potential sites for alternative power. Knowing how much wind or sun can be relied on over a stretch of years enables investors to decide whether projects are worthwhile and will repay initial expenses. And being able to predict wind or sun over the more immediate future, such as the next 48 hours, allows power grid managers to know when alternative plants will be producing, and when to turn instead to fossil fuel back-ups. Truepower can offer short-term wind forecasts over sites as small as a few acres. Forecasts are built on both long- and short-term weather data, real-time sensors in the field, and even upper-atmosphere weather balloons.

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