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Energy

Ohio pushing back against Pennsylvania fracking waste

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J. Stephen Conn
/
via Flickr
Ohio might welcome you - but it's not welcoming Pennsylvania's fracking waste.

Ohio and Pennsylvania are tussling over the brine that results from hydrofracking operations.  Ohio upped its fees on the waste, hoping more of it would stay in Pennsylvania - and then Pa. forced drillers to quit dumping in streams, reports Spencer Hunt at the Columbus Dispatch:

From January through March, nearly half the brine that went into disposal wells in Ohio came from Pennsylvania and other states, said Tom Tomastik, chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' disposal-well program. That's 1.18 million barrels of brine, enough to fill 76 Olympic-sized swimming pools. "It's a dramatic increase," Tomastik said. "No one was really foreseeing Pennsylvania shutting down its treatment plants." None of this sits well with environmental groups that consider brine - and the hydraulic fracturing process used to draw gas from the ground - a threat to groundwater and drinking water.

Donald Gilliland at the Patriot-News has a profile of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission's rise to fame as an agency on the front lines of the fracking debate:

The commission regulates water withdrawals, and Executive Director Paul Swartz said the rapid growth of drilling in the Marcellus has transformed the agency. The daily workload today was unimaginable just three years ago. The size of the commission staff has doubled — to 65. Its budget has tripled — from $4 million a year to $12 million. The SRBC has even opened a satellite office in the northern tier and is looking for new office space in Harrisburg because it has outgrown its Front Street complex. The Marcellus “has fundamentally changed how we do business,” Swartz said.

Hydroelectric

An over-budget and over-schedule project to supply 1.6 terawatts of hydroelectricity to Ontario is making headway, reports Maryellen Tighe at the Buffalo News.  The Canadians are working to extract the maximum allowed water from Niagara Falls, to create greener energy:

"The Ontario government, when they got elected, they got elected on a 'closing coal' program," [Ontario Power Generation spokesman Ted] Gruetzner said. "Coal was playing a fairly large role, so you cannot just turn that off." Last year two of the eight coal burning units in Nanticoke Generating Station, in Nanticoke, Ont., were shut down, and this year another two will be, Gruetzner said. The plant may later be converted to burn natural gas or biomass. The Niagara Tunnel is one of many solar, wind, hydroelectric and natural gas projects that will fill the void left by fewer coal plants, he said.Paying for the tunnel "will add about 50 cents a month to people's bills," he said.

Wind power

A wind conference in Rochester last week revealed that investors are still nervous about the technology - especially when natural gas in the Marcellus Shale presents a potential alternative, reports Tom Tobin at the Democrat and Chronicle:

The fledgling wind industry nationally and in upstate New York is being tested by weak public policy, heavy competition from China and the emergence in the Northeast of hydraulic fracturing to release huge stores of underground natural gas, one of wind's chief competitors as a power source. Still, the value of being in the Rochester region — where wind power, especially offshore wind, is a significant resource — brought several local companies to Henrietta last week to a conference on the wind energy supply chain. The session was sponsored by Greater Rochester Enterprise and Phillips Lytle LLP, an upstate law firm with a focus on renewable energy. The conferees were there in part because, though wind power is still small, there is opportunity afoot.

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