Even as the state’s legislators debate a Marcellus Shale extraction tax, Brian Grove, a corporate spokesman for Chesapeake Energy knows one thing is certain.

The natural gas companies that have started moving into Pennsylvania are here to stay -- probably for decades.

“Most Pennsylvanians still don’t see it as real,” he told a Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County gathering Wednesday morning. “In northeastern Pennsylvania, where I’m from ... we have 19 drilling rigs right now active in the northern tier. That’s as many, right now, as our company has in the Barnett Shale in Texas.”

He warned that a heavy extraction tax or overly heavy regulation and enforcement could retard the growth of the industry.

That has been the industry’s perspective over the last several years whenever a severance tax has been under discussion.

(Click to read the entire article)

The Marcellus Shale natural gas industry wants to see legislation attached to any severance tax adopted by the state that would force property owners who refuse leases to allow drillers to gather the gas beneath their land, an industry coalition leader said Monday.

Calling it the most economical and conservative land-use approach to drilling for gas, David Spigelmyer, Chesapeake Energy's regional vice president for government relations, said in a Times-Tribune editorial board meeting that "forced pooling" is a key element of any legislation the state's Marcellus drillers could support and is actively being discussed during budget negotiations in the capital.

Mr. Spigelmyer said he does not expect forced pooling to be adopted in the coming days as part of budget talks, but he said "an agreement" likely will emerge with the budget "to talk about (the severance tax) holistically" with other industry-supported legislation on forced pooling.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an organization of the state's Marcellus drillers, "has not said, 'Hell no'รข€‰" to a severance tax, said Mr. Spigelmyer, the group's vice chairman. "We've said there needs to be a broader discussion."

(Click to read the entire article)

Gas drilling task force takes shape

Applications are now available for residents interested in joining the county’s Natural Gas Task Force.

Legislature Chairman Pat Donnelly, R-Bath, said members of the task force’s Steering Committee met last week to develop a mission statement and approve the application for three sub-committees: Public Safety, Roads and Infrastructure, and Housing.

The task force was set up in response to anticipated drilling in to the Marcellus Shale natural formation located roughly a mile below the surface throughout parts of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The state Department of Conservation is in the process of adopting guidelines for the drilling process.

Drilling has become a divisive issues with advocates claiming the gas industry will create needed jobs and generate revenues for landowners and municipalities. Opponents charge drilling poses environmental risks and urge more studies and safeguards.

Donnelly said the sub-committees are expected to provide neutral input for the task force to consider.

(Click to read the entire article)

It is unclear if state lawmakers will place a moratorium on horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which are techniques used to extract natural gas from underground reserves.

Regardless of whether or not a bill reaches the legislature floor in the coming weeks or after a summer recess, government agencies charged with regulating the process are yet to take a stance on the divisive issue.

At stake: The future of using the techniques to tap into the natural gas reserve in the Marcellus Shale, which mainly expands beneath much of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

The decision involves two main factors: Potential environmental impacts and possible revenues for residents, localities and the state government.

Much of the debate centers around the process of hydraulic fracturing.

(Click to read the entire article)

A natural gas drilling company whose work in Pennsylvania was shut down by regulators after a blowout at one of its wells three weeks ago learned Friday that it can resume hydraulic fracturing at its other wells in the state.

Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Neil Weaver said the state agency was satisfied by its review of the well sites where Houston-based EOG Resources Inc. is drilling and wants to break up mile-deep shale using the hydraulic fracturing process, also known as fracking.

"We looked at their operations, we reviewed their plans and operations in general in regard to the fracking and didn't find any issues or violations," Weaver said.

Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand into a well at high pressure to create cracks in the thick shale, freeing trapped gas and allowing it to flow to the surface.

EOG is one of dozens of companies from around the world flocking to Pennsylvania in pursuit of the rich Marcellus Shale gas reserve, which lies beneath much of Pennsylvania.

(Click to read the entire article)


A GREAT VICTORY !!! Cohocton Wind Watch is one of the plaintiffs in this suit.

Thanks Much to our friend Jim Ostrowski for his courage and leadership.

James Hall




Jim Ostrowski
(716) 435-8918

Pork Lawsuit Appeal Victorious! Press Conference at 5pm.

Buffalo, NY. June 24, 2010. In a decision that will send shockwaves throughout New York State, the Third Department Appellate Division today revived a citizens' lawsuit that seeks to outlaw billions of dollars in cash grants to private firms for alleged "economic development."


The plaintiffs will hold a press conference to discuss the victory today (Thursday) at 5pm in front of Erie County Hall in downtown Buffalo (92 Franklin St.) and will gather at the Pearl St. Grille at 6pm to celebrate this rare victory of taxpayers over the political class.

The Court agreed with the plaintiffs' main contention that the State may not funnel its funds through public benefit corporations such as Empire State Development Corporation as a means to avoid the Constitution's ban on gifts to private firms.

The case now goes back to Supreme Court, Albany County where the defendants must file an answer. Should the plaintiffs win the case, the current practice of giving billions of dollars of tax money to private firms, many of which then kick back campaign donations to politicians, will abruptly end.

The case also has implications for New York State's chronic budget deficits since eliminating these illegal grants could possibly lead to a balanced budget.

James Ostrowski, a solo practitioner and tea party activist from Buffalo, New York, is counsel for the plaintiffs. Andrew Cuomo is the attorney for the numerous state defendants including Governor Paterson and Speaker Sheldon Silver. Cravath, Swain and Moore represented defendant IBM on appeal.

Ostrowski said his group will now file a class action suit against every municipality in the state that provides cash grants to private firms under a similar but separate clause in the state constitution.

White Plains, NY - The Board of Legislators has made official its opposition to proposed natural gas drilling projects in the Catskill Delaware region of the Marcellus Shale rock formation.

A resolution approved unanimously, sponsored by Peter Harckham (D – Katonah), urges Governor Paterson and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to ban hydrofracking – or drilling, for natural gas within the areas of the Shale that coincide with the Catskill and Delaware watersheds, where New York City and Westchester get 80 - 90% of their drinking water. Legislators are also asking that a moratorium be placed on hydrofracking throughout the state pending further comprehensive and independent review of the technology, which involves the use of chemicals that can infiltrate source and groundwater, and pose other environmental and public health hazards.

“There are just too many unanswered questions about the safety of this technology, the chemicals used in the process, the amounts of water used and contaminated, as well as other risks to the environment,” said Harckham, who chairs the Board’s Energy & Environment Committee.

"The technology behind hydrofracking is imperfect at best,” echoed committee member Legislator John G. Testa (R – Peekskill). “Moreover, the injection of toxic chemicals and the environmental damage they could cause is too great to allow its use in New York.”

(Click to read the entire article)

A documentary called "Gasland" that premieres Monday night on HBO is a critical look at the natural gas drilling boom that's happening across the country, including western Pennsylvania.

Team 4 investigator Jim Parsons said the film is airing in the midst of a political firestorm in Pennsylvania that was sparked by two recent natural gas drilling accidents in the region.

On June 7, drillers hit a pocket of methane at a Marcellus Shale gas well in West Virginia, touching off an explosion and sending seven workers to hospitals with burns.

On June 3, a Marcellus well that was being drilled in Clearfield County, Pa., suffered a blowout and spewed 35,000 gallons of gas and wastewater into the sky.

(Click to read the entire article)

U.S. natural-gas company Chesapeake Energy Corp. said it has sold $900 million in preferred stock to a group of private investors, including Asian sovereign wealth funds, cashing in on heightened interest in onshore energy following the BP PLC offshore drilling disaster.

This follows Chesapeake's sale of $1.7 billion worth of preferred stock last month.

In a placement that closed Friday, Chesapeake sold shares to sovereign wealth funds China Investment Corp. Corp., Korea Investment Corp. and Temasek Holdings, the New York-listed firm said in a statement Monday. Other investors were Hopu Investment Management Co., a Chinese private-equity fund, and the Li Ka Shing Foundation, a charitable foundation established by a Hong Kong tycoon, the company said.

According to a person familiar with the deal, Abu Dhabi Investment Council, Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, and Japan's Daiwa Securities also invested in the deal.

(Click to read the entire article)

Albany takes a look at fracking

There are currently more than a dozen pieces of legislation proposed in both houses of the state Legislature that seek to establish new regulations on drilling as the gas industry prepares to ramp up production in upstate New York’s shale formations.

How many of the bills actually reach the Legislature floor or are ultimately passed remains to be seen.

Two pieces of legislation, however, are drawing quite a bit of attention. Both would put a moratorium on shale drilling.

One is a twin bill in the Assembly and Senate that would ban drilling using the controversial process of high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” until the federal Environmental Protection Agency completes a comprehensive study, launched in March, of fracking’s impact on water supplies and public health.

The EPA study was expected to take two years. The EPA has scheduled a public hearing on Aug. 12 in Binghamton to gather input.

(Click to read the entire article)

ALBANY -- As environmentalists and the natural-gas industry spar over the potential effects of controversial drilling techniques, they do have one thing in common: Both sides have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying in Albany.

A report Friday from the good-government group Common Cause/NY showed that the drilling industry has increased its spending substantially since 2008. And a Gannett Albany Bureau review of lobbying records also showed a spike in spending by environmental groups, although not to the level of the pro-drilling groups.

Two major gas companies -- Chesapeake Energy and Talisman Energy (formerly Fortuna Energy) -- and one trade group, the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, shelled out $668,984 in lobbyist compensation and expenses in 2009. The three entities spent just $109,747 the year before, Common Cause's report shows.

In the first four months of this year, Chesapeake Energy alone has spent $658,273 on lobbying expense, according to the report.

(Click to read the entire article)

Natural gas producers in the state are facing tougher regulations on the disposal of wastewater from Marcellus Shale drilling operations, now that a state regulatory panel has voted to enact the new measures.

After three hours of deliberations Thursday, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted 4-1 to approve the regulations, which are intended to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals that natural gas producers release into Pennsylvania waterways.

The state's burgeoning natural gas industry has begun drilling deep underground in the widespread areas of Marcellus Shale present in Pennsylvania. Drillers use chemicals like arsenic, aluminum and cadmium mixed into pressurized water, which is shot more than a mile underground to fracture rock formations. The process is known as "hydraulic fracturing" or "fracking."

The new regulations aim to limit the chemicals, called "total dissolved solids," to no more than 500 milligrams per liter when they are released into waterways.

John Hanger, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, told regulatory panel members that maintaining low levels of solids is important because many water treatment plants can't remove them from the water.

(Click to read the entire article)

A key piece of the state's approach to controlling water pollution from Pennsylvania's fast-expanding natural gas drilling activity cleared a major hurdle Thursday.

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted 4-1 over the objections of the gas industry to approve the Rendell administration's proposal to prevent pollutants in briny drilling wastewater from further tainting public waterways and household drinking water. State environmental officials say too much of the pollutants can kill fish and leave an unpleasant salty taste in drinking water drawn from rivers.

"Drilling wastewater is incredibly nasty wastewater," state Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said after the vote at the panel's public meeting. "If we allow this into our rivers and streams, all the businesses in Pennsylvania will suffer ... all those who drink water in Pennsylvania are going to be angry and they would have every reason to be, and all of those who fish and love the outdoors are going to say, `What did you do to our fish and our outdoors?'"

The vote comes at the beginning of what is expected to be a gas drilling boom in Pennsylvania. Exploration companies, armed with new technology, are spending billions to get into position to exploit the rich Marcellus Shale gas reserve, which lies underneath much of the state.

The rule would put pressure on drillers to reuse the wastewater or find alternative methods to treat and dispose of the brine, rather than bringing more truckloads of it to sewage treatment plants that discharge into waterways where millions get drinking water.

(Click to read the entire article)

Serious consequences await the state's rapidly growing natural gas industry if companies are caught cutting corners of safety measures to pump up profits, Pennsylvania's top environmental regulator warned Wednesday.

Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger told a state Senate committee that companies flocking to Pennsylvania to exploit the rich Marcellus Shale natural gas reserve must stop well blowouts, gas migration and water pollution.

He said he has seen examples of negligence and accidents and cited his agency's actions to withhold new permits, stop a company's operations or seal wells when safety is compromised.

"We need this industry to get the message from us that we expect that safety is not going to be sacrificed when those decisions have to be made, and there will be serious consequences" if it is, Hanger said.

(Click to read the entire article)

ALBANY -- A bill that would put a one-year moratorium on new natural gas drilling permits in New York received the backing Monday of key lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly.

The bill would suspend until June 1, 2011, hydraulic fracturing for the extraction of natural gas, a controversial process that uses water and chemicals to break up rock formations and make the gas more accessible.

The chairmen of the Environmental Conservation committees are sponsoring the bill: Sen. Antoine Thompson, D-Buffalo, and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, D-Babylon, Suffolk County.

The measure, which will mainly impact the Southern Tier, passed the Senate Environmental Conservation committee on Monday, but it was unclear if or when it would be brought to a vote of the full Legislature.

Drilling in shale bringing little tax

Hill said the state Supreme Court in 2002 ruled that counties had no statutory authority to tax oil and gas because state assessment law specifically includes coal but makes no mention of oil or gas.

Since that time, oil and gas interests have been escaping local property taxes, which had been paid in oil and gas-producing counties since at least the early 1900s, according to a position paper released by the association.

“Producers of other minerals such as coal and limestone already pay their fair share of the property tax. Counties support reversing the Supreme Court’s 2002 decision to assure that oil and gas companies contribute their share to the local tax base as well,” the paper states.

Hill said House Bill 10 of 2009, sponsored by state Rep. Bill DeWeese, D-Greene County, would restore property tax assessment authority on oil and gas.

The levy proposed in the bill would apply only to proven wells. “If there’s nothing to be extracted or (the gas) can’t be extracted, then there is no value,” Hill said.

Hill said there is, of course, opposition to the bill from the oil and gas industry. But he pointed out that other oil and gas producing states assess oil and gas extraction. Hill also said that large, multinational companies involved in Marcellus Shale exploration already had payment of such a tax built into their business plans and were surprised to learn that Pennsylvania counties can’t assess natural gas extraction.

(Click to read the entire article)

Despite Pennsylvania's efforts to encourage alternative energy use, a state tax credit to encourage such systems has quietly been pulled back, a casualty of the 101-day budget standoff earlier this year.

Gov. Ed Rendell last July announced the Alternative Energy Production Tax Credits to cover 15 percent of the total cost of a project up to $1 million per taxpayer. But the money—about $50 million over eight years—was eliminated as the recession reduced revenues and a proposed tax on natural gas extraction was defeated.

"This is one of a number of good programs ... that were unfortunately reduced substantially or put on hiatus," Rendell spokesman Michael Smith said. "We're still making great headway in building a green economy here."

John Hanger, the state's secretary of environmental protection, acknowledged that elimination of the credit at least through June 2011 was "not a good thing." But he said that and other cuts were needed to ensure funding for public education, prison systems, and Medicaid for senior citizens living in nursing homes.

(Click to read the entire article)

Activists are trying to drum up support for a bill that would ban a controversial natural gas drilling technique in New York until the Environmental Protection Agency affirms that it is safe.

The group told reporters at City Hall on Friday that it has serious concerns about the drilling method, called high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

It involves injecting huge amounts of pressurized water into the ground to crack rock and force gas to the surface.

Critics say it can lead to groundwater pollution. They also question the safety of chemicals used during the drilling process.

The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York says hydraulic fracturing has been used safely in the state for 60 years without any harm coming to drinking water.

As part of an ongoing examination of the possible impacts of shale gas well development in Wyoming County, the Board of Supervisors has recently established a new standing sub-committee. The Marcellus Shale Gas Sub-committee chaired by Supervisor James Fleischman of the town of Java, is represented by various county departments and agencies, as well as town supervisors: Chairman A.D. Berwanger of Arcade, Douglas Patti of Attica, Joseph Gozelski of Castile, Joseph Kushner of Eagle, Larry Rogers of Pike and John Knab of Sheldon.

New advances in the technology used to extract natural gas from tight rock formations like shale have revolutionized the ability of drilling companies to vastly increase the recovery of gas trapped in rock formations such as the Marcellus Shale. Estimated to contain trillions of cubic feet of high-quality natural gas, the Marcellus Shale formation underlies portions of eight states including New York's southern tier and Wyoming County.

Currently, New York State has enacted a moratorium restricting the use of horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing; the two techniques being employed in neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia in the Marcellus and also used in Texas, and Louisiana in gas plays such as the Barnett and Hainesville shale groups among others. The moratorium will remain in force while the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) develops new regulations regarding these drilling practices for inclusion in the state's generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) and permit process.

The DEC received and is responding to approximately 14,000 comments from the public prior to making its final determination. One important aspect of the statewide GEIS as it relates to gas and oil extraction is that "home rule" has been superseded, meaning that local communities have very limited control over gas and oil drilling operations.

(Click to read the entire article)

Canada's Forbes Energy Services Ltd (FRB.TO) said it idled two rigs in the Marcellus Shale on June 4, following an unexpected gas release and hired an independent consulting firm to investigate the incident.

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania regulators ordered C.C. Forbes, a unit of oilfield services contractor Forbes Energy, to stop work on all Marcellus Shale wells following a well blowout on June 3. [ID:nN09163618]

"Forbes received the cease order on June 9, five days after idling the rigs. There were no injuries and no significant equipment damage from this incident in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania," the company said in a statement.

Forbes, which provides drilling and production-related services to oil and natural gas companies, mainly onshore in Texas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Mexico, said idling of the two rigs will have no material impact on its future results of operations.

(Click to read the entire article)

In New York, where there's the prospect of a natural gas drilling boom, there's another question: what lessons from the spill can be applied to drilling in the Marcellus Shale? State environmental officials are reviewing new regulations that would apply to deep horizontal wells used in combination with hydraulic fracturing. The unconventional combination has never been used in New York.

(Hydraulic fracturing - hydrofracking, as it's commonly called - is an extraction method where a mix of water, sand, and chemicals is forced down a well at high pressure to break apart the rock and release the gas.)

The BP spill illustrates that it's cheaper and better for the environment to prevent pollution as opposed to cleaning up a disaster, says Dereth Glance, program director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. And once pollution occurs, she says, there's no guarantee you can clean it up.

Detailed plans need to be prepared in anticipation of any problem that might arise, Glance says.

Sally Howard, a member of the Federation of Monroe County Environmentalists, says there should be safety measures and backup safety measures to protect fresh-water resources from contamination. Howard wasn't speaking on the group's behalf.

(Click to read the entire article)

Pennsylvania environmental officials on Monday suspended drilling operations of a Marcellus Shale natural-gas operator whose Clearfield County well erupted last week into an uncontrolled geyser of gas and wastewater.
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger ordered Texas-based EOG Resources Inc. to suspend its drilling activities in Pennsylvania until DEP has completed an investigation into the spill Thursday at the Punxsutawney Hunting Club.

The 16-hour eruption caused no injuries and no fire, and DEP officials on Monday described the environmental damage as "modest" - no fluids reached any streams.

A contractor dug trenches to contain 35,000 gallons of spilled fluid, mostly salt water that was trapped deep underground, but including trace elements of drilling chemicals.

The accident's timing was critical, coming amid Gov. Rendell's effort to push a reluctant legislature to enact a tax on natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale, the mile-deep formation that underlies much of Pennsylvania and several surrounding states.

"We needed a severance tax even before the accident," Rendell said, adding he hopes the accident will mean the industry will "stop battling the tax."

The blowout also bore a stark similarity to the BP oil-well disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. In both accidents, a mechanical safety device known as a blowout preventer failed.

(Click to read the entire article)

Chief Oil & Natural Gas LLC said a rig was damaged in a fire after workers hit a pocket of methane while drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale near Moundsville, West Virginia.

“We will be able to continue drilling once we get a new rig in,” Kristi Gittins, a spokeswoman for Chief Oil, said in a telephone interview. Seven workers suffered injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening, she said.

The accident comes after a “blowout” June 3 at a natural gas well operated by EOG Resources Inc. in Pennsylvania. The incident sent natural gas and drilling fluids onto the ground and 75 feet (23 meters) into the air, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

More accidents will increase pressure on state and federal agencies to create and enforce stronger regulations for the development of onshore oil and natural gas, Amy Mall, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based advocacy group.

(Click to read the entire article)

Winding country roads, abundant wildlife, sprawling farmlands and small-town charm used to be Bradford County's lure.

Today's draw is the natural gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale that lays thousands of feet below the county's 1,161-square-mile surface.

Ten years ago, not a single well was drilled in Bradford County, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Last year, 119 wells were drilled, the DEP website reports. This year, 81 wells have been drilled since Jan. 1.

Plenty more are planned.

Since January, 367 gas-well permits were granted in Bradford County, with the largest number — 123 — granted in March.

The county's landscape is changing. Energy companies continue to lease land and drill at a gold-rush pace. Helicopters hover overhead loaded with supplies for survey crews. Well pads are being constructed in old pastures.

(Click to read the entire article)

Panel OKs bill to delay drilling

ALBANY — A bill that could place a lengthy moratorium on natural gas drilling in the Marcellus shale formation came one step closer to making it to the Assembly floor after it was approved by the Environmental Conservation Committee.

In all, 10 bills relating to potential drilling in New York's portion of the gas-rich Marcellus shale were moved out of the Assembly committee, four of which have sponsorship in the Senate.

Gas companies and some landowners are eager to begin drilling. Environmentalists are worried about the effect on groundwater of hydraulic fracturing, the process used to make the gas more accessible.

With strong support from environmental groups, the committee approved a bill 22 to 7 that would place a moratorium on hydrofracking. The bill was sent to the Rules Committee.

If passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. David Paterson, the moratorium would be enacted until 120 days after a federal environmental impact study is finalized. The report was started in March but is expected to take months, possibly years, to complete.

Another bill approved by the committee would require that gas companies disclose what materials they use during the hydrofracking process.

PENFIELD, Pa. -- An out-of-control natural gas well in a remote area of Pennsylvania shot explosive gas and polluted water as high as 75 feet into the air Friday before crews were able to tame it about 16 hours later.

The gas never caught fire and no injuries were reported, but state officials worried about an explosion before the well could be controlled. The well was brought under control just after noon after it started spewing gas and brine, said Elizabeth Ivers, a spokeswoman for driller EOG Resources Inc.

Houston-based EOG, formerly part of Enron Corp., was drilling into the Marcellus Shale reserve, a hotly pursued gas formation primarily under Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio that some geologists believe could become the nation's most productive natural gas field.

There are more than 1,000 Marcellus Shale wells in Pennsylvania alone, some of them within view of homes, farmhouses and public roads.

(Click to read the entire article)

The New York Power Authority says it has received five proposals to develop wind farms offshore in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

NYPA issued a request for proposals for what's known as the Great Lakes Offshore Wind project on Dec. 1, and the proposals were due June 1.

NYPA did not reveal the names of the developers or companies that submitted proposals, but it would be the first project of its kind in New York state, which is seeking to increase its production of electricity from wind turbines.

A preferred developer is expected to be selected late this year or next year, and the selected project is expected to be operational by 2016.

Pennsylvania environmental officials said natural gas and polluted drilling water are pouring from an out-of-control well in rural Clearfield County.

A one-mile radius of Moshannon State Forest was evacuated Friday morning after a gas well ruptured near the Punxsutawney Hunting Club.

The leak happened at a Marcellus drilling operation on McGeorge Road in the forest. The gas well is owned by EOG Resources , Inc., officials said.

Around 10:30 a.m., officials were checking camps to make sure all campers were evacuated around the site of the leak. Officials said they were dealing with gas leaking into the air.

According to state Rep. Bud George's office, initial reports from Process Equipment Manufacturers' Association said three of four wells were secured. The other well was releasing frack water and unignited wet gas, which caused the evacuation. Officials said an estimated 1 million gallons of frack water was uncontrolled as of 11 a.m. in the area of exit 111 on Interstate 80.

Hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" is the process of blasting millions of gallons of water deep underground to break up the shale and release the gas. Most of the frack water stays underground, but what comes up must be treated or disposed of in approved facilities.

The state Senate passed a bill this week that would require public utility companies, including Rochester Gas and Electric Corp., to pay prevailing wage for cleaners, security guards and other service employees.

Opponents of the measure worry that the added costs might be passed along to consumers, raising their monthly bills.

Lawmakers said the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Eric Schneiderman, D-Manhattan, closes a loophole in state labor law that requires state agencies to pay the standardized rate for service workers but exempts public utilities.

Handymen, janitors, groundskeepers, cooks and other workers providing basic services for the utility companies would be subject to prevailing wage, which is an hourly rate set by the state Labor Department on a county-by-county basis for individual service occupations.

The measure has yet to pass the Assembly.

RG&E and its sister company, New York State Electric and Gas Corp., said the bill "would put upward pressure on energy prices without providing any benefit to consumers."

(Click to read the entire article)

They're betting that the U.S. will pass a law that requires utilities in every state to buy electricity from renewable resources.

State support helped new wind farms match natural-gas plant additions over the past two years even as gas prices sank 59 percent. Absent a federal mandate, wind turbine factories, touted as job creators by President Barack Obama, may sit idle.

"New orders depend a lot on what goes on in Washington over the next 60 days," Steve Dayney, chief executive officer of Repower Systems AG's U.S. unit, said in an interview. Repower, which is 91 percent owned by India's Suzlon, manufactures most of its large components for the U.S. market domestically, he said.

"Right now, there's a lot of uncertainty in the U.S."

With the first annual decline in U.S. electricity demand in 50 years, and with natural-gas prices down 25 percent this year to about $4.20 per million British thermal units, utilities and state regulators are reluctant to spend more for wind power.

(Click to read the entire article)

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