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Natural gas production drops off in NYS

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Drilling fewer wells has led to less natural gas production as existing bores get tapped out.

With an effective moratorium on drilling new horizontal wells for hydrofracking in New York State, the gas coming from existing wells is starting to slow, reports Steve Reilly at Gannett:

...the figures show statewide natural gas production dropped 20 percent from 2009 and has plummeted 29 percent since 2008, when the state produced 50.3 billion cubic feet. "We're not actively putting up new wells, but what we had existing is still producing," said Talisman Energy spokeswoman Natalie Cox. "Most of our focus is on the Marcellus in Pennsylvania and Eagle Ford in Texas."

How natural gas wells are constructed is shaping up as a key controversy in New York's new draft regulations on hydrofracking, reports Edward McAllister at Reuters.  The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says it's learned from Pennsylvania's experiences with drilling:

Despite the extensive DEC report, some question whether operations on the ground will actually be different for gas drillers in New York compared to Pennsylvania. In New York, there are proposed buffers between drilling wells and water sources -- 4,000 feet for watersheds, 2,000 feet for primary aquifers, 500 feet for private water wells -- and the DEC's recommendations are far more detailed than the Pennsylvania laws. But where companies can drill, there is the potential for business as usual, some say. "I don't believe at first blush that there are going to be substantial differences," said Thomas West, an attorney representing oil and gas companies in Albany, New York.

AP's Kevin Begos has a profile of the men and women of the cloth embroiled in the debate over hydrofracking in Pennsylvania:

"I believe personally that the church does have responsibility to engage the wider body of the community about what's moral and what's not. What's ethical and what's not," said [Methodist Bishop Thomas] Bickerton. He said he doesn't want to inhibit economic growth, yet is concerned that some in his congregation have been taken advantage of, such as with contracts they don't understand or side effects [of drilling] they haven't considered. Norman Wirzba, a professor of Theology, Ecology, and Rural Life at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina, said he thinks it's noteworthy that Bickerton, the leader of a large congregation, is speaking out. "There is a history within American Christianity with just being concerned with getting the soul to heaven," Wirzba said. Religious environmental activism dates back to the 1950s and 60s, but it often presents great challenges at the local level. If a religious group seeks to change the whole economic system, then the very livelihood of the people they serve can be put into jeopardy, he said.

Fuel cells

At the Times Union, Larry Rulison has a profile of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's fuel cell research:

Although fuel-cell research has been taking place atRPIfor a while now, the fuel-cell center is relatively new. It is led by assistant professor Dan Lewis, who this year won a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation worth $630,000 over five years. It is one of the most competitive NSF grants. Lewis says the fuel-cell center is capable not only of testing fuel-cell materials but also building fuel cells from the ground up. "We can do soup to nuts," Lewis said.

Cuomo and Indian Point

At the Daily News, Bill Hammond opines that Governor Cuomo needs to get a move on if he really plans to follow through with threats to close down Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.

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