How gas and oil developments affect the Ohio Valley and what citizens are doing about the changes. Special emphasis on housing and community development issues. 
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Sad news: Activist and friend Cody Chrisman was killed in a traffic accident on September 10, 2016. 
Our hearts go out to her family and friends. Her enthusiasm for justice will always inspire those who knew her.

Information with an attitude, an open mind, and an edge

RHINO has designed Gas Counties Project to provide you with information about the impacts of gas and oil development in the Valley but we have an attitude, an open mind, and an edge
  • Attitude:  Development only makes sense if it benefits the people of the community where the development is being done 
  • Open Mind:  Willing to listen to both sides of a story, but
  • Edge:  No sugar coating or beating around the bush about what's really going on.
Gas and oil development in the Ohio Valley
    The prolonged Oil Glut has taken its toll on gas/oil exploration and drilling. What was, for 18 months, a "blip" has become a profound depression forcing g/o companies to sell off assets and suspend operations. Exploration and drilling activities in Ohio are concentrated around I-70 in Belmont, Guernsey and Monroe Counties.
    Meanwhile the secondary industries, pipelines & infrastructure and chemical & electrical spinoffs, continue to grow slowly in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Carroll, and Harrison counties.

A legacy of extractive industries
Timber, coal, metal & ceramic, and gas & oil industries have shaped the Valley's history, leaving a legacy of environmental damage.


What's News?
(updated 2/16/17)

February 15, 2017 Columbus Dispatch Decision on Ohio 'cracker' plant delayed to late this year
HOUSTON — An Asian company considering construction of a big petrochemical plant in eastern Ohio said today that it needs more time before announcing its plans. PTT Global Chemical of Thailand says it will have a decision by late 2017, in contrast to its previous plan to make its decision this spring or summer. 'For some in the Belmont County community, especially the project area residents, we recognize this delay may cause further uncertainty and inconvenience, but we hope that the strong support we have received to date will continue," the company said in a news release.' "

December 30, 2016 vindy.com Frackfree service calls attention to injection wells
The Rev. Monica Beasley-Martin vividly remembers approaching her vehicle when she received a sudden, unexpected jolt. “I heard a loud boom and saw my ranch-style house shake,” she recalled, referring to the 4.0-magnitude earthquake that shook the Mahoning Valley on Dec. 31, 2011, and was linked to a fracking-waste injection well on Ohio Works Drive in Youngstown. The Rev. Ms. Beasley-Martin is with Defenders of the Earth Outreach Ministries, a faith-based group that tries to draw attention largely to environmental issues. She also was among those who attended a prayer service Friday afternoon at the Coitsville Township Administration Building on McCartney Road to remember the fifth anniversary of the temblor, which is Saturday.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday declined to comment on what its next step will be after a decision Friday by a Franklin County judge ordering the agency to allow a Weathersfield Township injection well to reopen.

December 22, 2016, The Plain Dealer, Tax relief for Ohio oil and gas drillers slipped into lame-duck bill calls for Gov. Kasich's veto: editorial
Maybe Ohio oil and gas drillers do deserve an estimated $264 million in tax refunds from the state and localities. But the way the General Assembly agreed to that, tucking it into a lame-duck "Christmas-tree" Senate Bill 235 without sufficient openness on the whys and wherefores, or the fiscal consequences, means the proviso all but invites a veto from Republican Gov. John Kasich.
Gov Kaisch vetos gas/oil tax break

December 22, 2016, The Plain Dealer, Tax relief for Ohio oil and gas drillers slipped into lame-duck bill calls for Gov. Kasich's veto: editorial
Maybe Ohio oil and gas drillers do deserve an estimated $264 million in tax refunds from the state and localities. But the way the General Assembly agreed to that, tucking it into a lame-duck "Christmas-tree" Senate Bill 235 without sufficient openness on the whys and wherefores, or the fiscal consequences, means the proviso all but invites a veto from Republican Gov. John Kasich. December 9, 2016 The Columbus Dispatch State report: Shale oil production falls again; natural gas rises
Oil production was 3.95 million barrels, down 18 percent from the prior quarter and down 34 percent from the third quarter last year. Gas production was 361 billion cubic feet, up 8 percent from the prior quarter and up 46 percent from a year ago.

December 8, 2016 Public Source We helped residents near a fracking site test their air quality. Here’s what we found.
Natural gas operations can have episodic spikes in emissions that last for a few minutes or hours. Federal and state standards for PM 2.5 are based on 24-hour averages and can miss these short-term spikes or “peaks” because the data gets averaged out, said David Brown, EHP’s lead toxicologist. Studies have shown that short-term exposure to increases of PM 2.5 can cause health issues. EHP researchers found that peaks of PM 2.5 at all five houses were high enough to potentially cause upper respiratory problems in sensitive populations including children, the elderly and people with asthma.

November 21, 2016 Ars Technica Abandoned oil and gas wells are still leaking methane
The development of oil and gas has a 150-year history in the US, with wells stretching across the nation from California to Texas to Pennsylvania. We continue to reap the benefits of the infrastructure we built in earlier eras. But the downside to this long history comes in the form of millions of abandoned, poorly documented wells scattered throughout the country.

Nov. 18, 2016 Toledo Blade Oklahoma town hit by quakes sues 27 energy companies Residents accuse companies of triggering destructive temblors
"Residents of a town hit by Oklahoma’s strongest earthquake have filed a class-action lawsuit against dozens of energy companies, accusing them of triggering destructive temblors by injecting wastewater from oil and gas production underground."

Nov 9, 2016 Canton Repository Rex Energy posts profit in third quarter
Rex has drilled 42 Utica Shale wells in Ohio. [ ] Thomas C. Stabley, Rex Energy president and chief executive, said during a conference call Wednesday that Rex will hold by production all but one drilling unit in Carroll County by the end of the year. Acreage is held by production when a well is drilled. Rex will have more than 7,000 acres with 75 future well sites held by production in the county.

November 9, 2016 vindy.com Youngstown voters reject anti-fracking issue for 6th time
For the sixth time, voters rejected the Community Bill of Rights that would ban fracking in the city but approved a charter amendment that gives additional rights to part-time workers that was on the ballot for the first time.
October 27, 2016 Plain Dealer/cleveland.com Chart Industries hurt by continued sluggish shale gas production, cheap oil
Chart manufactures equipment to liquefy, store and distribute natural gas, industrial gases and medical gases. The problem for Chart is that the adoption of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, as a fuel for trucks, cars, locomotives and ships slowed drastically when gasoline and diesel prices fell with oil.

October 28, 2016 Pittsburgh Post Gazette Doctors call for state ban on drilling and fracking
The Pennsylvania Medical Society’s 300-member House of Delegates unanimously approved a resolution calling for the fracking moratorium, registry and research at its annual meeting on Sunday. The Pennsylvania Medical Society has called for a moratorium on new shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing and is urging the state to establish an independent health registry and start studying fracking’s public health impacts.
October 27, 2016 Columbus Business First Murray sold the land to an undisclosed buyer for $63.6 million. The acreage is in Belmont and Monroe counties, two of the most active natural-gas production counties in the state.
Murray is based in St. Clairsville in Belmont County. In a statement, CEO Bob Murray said the sale allows the company to focus on its core business – which is coal, not oil and gas.

October 19, 2016 Canton Repository Ohio may be losing marginal oil, gas wells - depending on state's definition
Most of Stark’s wells — up to 90 percent, according to one estimate — are low-producing marginal wells, so called because their profitability depends a lot on the market prices of oil and natural gas. A single marginal well is insignificant, but collectively marginal wells account for about 70 percent of the oil and natural gas wells in Ohio and across the United States. Marginal wells were a nation-wide asset worth $18.1 billion last year. They also form the bulk of wells operated by small, Ohio-based producers.

October 18, 2016 Columbus Dispatch Wayne forest could be used for fracking
The federal government has given notice that it plans to auction oil and gas lease rights for 1,600 acres of Wayne National Forest near Marietta, a step that could lead to fracking on public land. Energy industry officials are applauding the decision, which affects parts of Monroe and Washington counties, while environmentalists are criticizing it.
October 7, 2016 Science Daily, Shale gas, not EPA rules, has pushed decline in coal-generated electricity, study confirms
Cheap shale gas produced by fracking has driven the decline in coal production in the United States during the last decade, researchers at the Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve University have found.
Power plants, which use 93 percent of the coal produced nationally, have been operating under the same EPA regulations signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Proposed new rules since then have all been challenged in court and not implemented until June 2016, when the EPA's restrictions on mercury and other toxic emissions were approved by the U.S. Supreme Court.

October 2, 2016 Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com Utica shale oil is in Ohio gasoline, new pipeline to feed Marathon's Canton refinery
Marathon Petroleum's 85-year-old refinery is once more using Ohio crude oil to make gasoline for motorists here and around the state. The clear light oils -- known as "condensates" because they can be condensed out of natural gas -- are not like the Ohio oils the plant began refining when it opened in 1931. And they are not like the various crude oils the refinery has been using in recent years, none of it from old Ohio vertical wells.
In Pennsylvania and other leading gas-producing states, a battle royal has developed over royalties, with landowners bitterly disputing the sums that some drillers have been taking from royalty checks already severely diminished by a collapse in prices. Chesapeake Energy Corp. alone is facing royalty lawsuits in Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Pennsylvania — including one filed by the Pennsylvania attorney general — and says it has received subpoenas from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Service and states over its royalty practices.

Some of the state’s highest ranking Republicans are coming out to support the oil and gas industry and its impact on Ohio in an effort to counter rhetoric in the presidential race. 

Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump addressed natural gas industry officials gathered for the annual Shale Insight conference Downtown Thursday. Trump promised to "lift restrictions" on energy development and ride herd on the Environmental Protection Agency and rid the regulatory body of "radicals."

September 14, 2016 Vindy.com Coalition again calls on city residents to vote no on anti-fracking in Youngstown
A group of business, labor, political and religious leaders is again calling for Youngstown residents to vote against the so-called “Community Bill of Rights” charter-amendment proposal – and not just because of its fracking ban. Members of the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth said at a Tuesday news conference at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 377 at 1223 Teamsters Drive that the ballot language gives people the authority to file lawsuits against anyone they believe is violating their rights to clean air and water.

September 3, 2016 USA Today Magnitude-5.6 Oklahoma quake shakes up the Midwest
State regulators have asked producers to reduce wastewater disposal volumes in earthquake-prone regions of the state. Some parts of Oklahoma now match northern California for the nation’s most shake prone, and one Oklahoma region has a 1 in 8 chance of a damaging quake in 2016, with other parts closer to 1 in 20. Read more here. and here. (Thx JoyceH)

Sep. 1, 2016 Canton Repository ODNR: Natural gas up, oil production down
Shale wells in Ohio continued to produce more natural gas, but oil production declined when comparing second quarter numbers to last year, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported.Ohio's horizontal shale wells continued to produce increased amounts of natural gas, while oil production slipped, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday.
Ohio wells produced more than 334.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas during the second quarter, a 50.6 percent jump from the 221.9 billion cubic feet produced during the same period last year, the state agency reported. Wells produced 4.83 million barrels of oil, down 18.7 percent from the 5.95 million barrels produced in 2015's second quarter.

August 27, 2016 USA TODAY NETWORK-OHIO Fracking activity continues despite end of boom
The fracking frenzy in Eastern Ohio has come and gone, and it might never be back again in quite the same way.
Spurred by high energy prices, improvements in drilling technology and an abundance of gas beneath Ohio, oil and gas companies began rushing to drill in Ohio in 2011. They brought with them an unprecedented surge in economic optimism: high-paying jobs, windfalls for land owners and new business for a range of establishments in an economically challenged region.

August 27, 2016 USA TODAY Well permit issued despite concerns
The site is in Westland Township, south of New Concord on the east side of Ohio 83. It is the fourth injection well in the New Concord vicinity. Three of the four wells are in Guernsey County, and one is in Muskingum County. Meghan Wynne heads the Concerned Citizens of New Concord, a group opposed to fracking wastewater injection sites in the area. Earlier this year, Wynne wrote a letter to ODNR requesting the permit be denied because of health and safety risks posed by fracking wastewater injection wells.
August 17, 2016 PRI Marketplace Natural gas leaks make natural gas dirtier
Scientists have traced a giant plume of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, over the Four Corners region of the Southwest to leaks from oil and natural gas fields. With the boom in natural gas drilling has come a spike in the amount of methane emissions. It is the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities, from fossil fuels to farming. As natural gas makes its journey out of the ground, through pipelines to stovetops, there are leaks everywhere. There’s even a sinister name for them: fugitive methane emissions.

August 13, 2016 Vindy.com Frackfree to tell state to shut down some Valley injection wells
Frackfree Mahoning Valley will ask the governor and the chief of the Ohio Department Natural Resources to stop the use of three injection- well sites in the Valley. The anti-fracking group believes the injection wells pose a hazard because they are too close to areas where seismic activity has occurred. The wells are in Vienna, Weathersfield and Coitsville. “The No. 1 concern is the seismicity,” said Ray Beiersdorfer, professor in the department of geological and environmental sciences at Youngstown State University.

August 12, 2016, Vindy.com Anti-fracking proposal back on Youngstown ballot for 6th time; failure doesn’t faze proponents
Two citizen-initiative charter-amendment proposals will be in front of Youngstown voters in the fall election. One of them should be extremely familiar while the other will probably leave plenty of people wondering what it’s about. The first is the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights anti-fracking proposal back for its sixth effort. It was rejected twice in both 2013 and 2014, and lost by only 2.5 percentage points in November 2015, the last time it was on the ballot. If it fails again, members of the committee that backs the proposal say it will return until it passes.

August 3, 2016 Pittsburgh Post Gazette Rice records loss, ramps up drilling
Rice Energy Inc. widened its loss for the second quarter to $138.7 million, or $1.07 per share, compared with a loss of $63.5 million, or 51 cents per share during the same three months last year. The Canonsburg-based oil and gas company said it has further lowered the cost of developing natural gas in the Marcellus Shale in southwestern Pennsylvania and the Utica Shale in Ohio and will reinvest the savings into drilling more wells during the rest of the year. As other oil and gas companies have done in response to a recent uptick in natural gas prices and slight decline in production, Rice announced it would accelerate its development schedule and said favorable pricing from its service providers prompted the company to add $65 million to its Utica drilling budget this year. The company also said it will increase its leasing budget to add more acreage to its holdings.

07/29/16 The Hill Trump indicates towns, states should be able to ban fracking
Donald Trump seemed to support state and local bans on fracking in a Colorado interview Friday. In a departure from the usual position of Republicans and the wishes of the oil and natural gas industry, the GOP nominee for president said he thinks voters should be able to ban fracking at the state and local level, despite his personal support for the practice. “I’m in favor of fracking, but I think that voters should have a big say in it,” Trump told Denver television station KUSA in an interview, a portion of which was posted Friday. “I mean, there’s some areas, maybe, they don’t want to have fracking. And I think if the voters are voting for it, that’s up to them.”

July 27, 2016 PRI Marketplace The amount of oil in the world is a mystery
Oil pumps in operation at an oil field near central Los Angeles. - MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
Later this week Shell and Exxon report earnings, and a big question is: Where will wobbly oil prices go next? It’s a matter of global demand and supply – as well as an important factor of how much oil is being stored around the world. For more than a year, the world has been working off an oil glut. Now, some of that surplus has gone into storage caverns and containers around the world. That has helped keep crude prices soft. Exactly how much is in storage is a bit of a mystery. “In the U.S. and in Europe, inventory data is quite good,” said oil market consultant Andrew Lipow in Houston. “However, if one were to look at Asia or Africa or South America, there’s a lot of missing pieces.”

'June 26, 2016 Pittsburgh Post Gazette Going, going, gone: Oil and gas auctions reflect industry woes
Mr. Stephan is a poster child for the new normal of the oil and gas world. He has been in the industry his whole career — some 35 years. Back in New York — where there is a moratorium on fracking — he has about 50 shallow oil and gas wells that are still producing but don't make enough to sustain him. They don’t even make enough money to cover their own maintenance. To pay for that, Mr. Stephan and his son service other peoples’ wells. “The only reason we’re not extinct is we can’t afford to get out of the business right now,” he said. “I have a lot of liabilities with my old wells. Can’t sell them and can’t give them away.”

June 23, 2016 Center for Public Integrity 'It just ruined everything — the whole life'
Feeling abandoned by state regulators, hundreds of rural Pennsylvanians endure contaminated well water they blame on fracking
more here

July 18, 2016 Pittsburgh Post - Gazette Fracking may worsen asthma for nearby residents, study says
Results show an association between the two, but as one health adviser points out, not a “cause and effect.” CHICAGO — Fracking may worsen asthma in children and adults who live near sites where the oil and gas drilling method is used, according to an 8-year study in Pennsylvania. The study found that asthma treatments were as much as four times more common in patients living closer to areas with more or bigger active wells than those living far away. But the study did not establish that fracking directly caused or worsened asthma. There’s also no way to tell from the study whether asthma patients exposed to fracking fare worse than those exposed to more traditional gas drilling methods or to other industrial activities.

July 18, 2016 Pittsburgh Post Gazette Pittsburgh airport gas — and royalties — begin flowing
Natural gas is flowing on Allegheny County Airport Authority-owned landed for the first time since Consol Energy and airport officials signed an oil and gas development agreement more than three years ago.

July 17, 2016 Tribune Review Shell's cracker plant could make land at airport hot property
Pittsburgh International Airport officials think they are poised to capitalize on the airport's real estate holdings because of an expected surge in businesses looking for space near Royal Dutch Shell's multibillion-dollar petro­chemical plant site. Shell officials in June said construction of the plant — the first major ethane cracker to be built outside the Gulf Coast in 20 years — will begin within 18 months and wrap up “early in the next decade.” Civic and business leaders believe the plant will be a boon for the region's economy. Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said airport officials will make it clear to developers that they'll need to act if they want to lease airport land, which is less than 15 miles from the cracker plant site. Authority staff are studying how best to maximize the airport's real estate assets in conjunction with Shell's plans, she said.

July 18, 2016 Pittsburgh Post Gazette Shell cracker plant could boost river infrastructure
River industry officials hope Shell Chemical’s decision to build an ethane cracker plant on the Ohio River will provide enough of an incentive to get a long-delayed, $2.3 billion lock and dam project off the ground.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been considering modernizing Depression-era locks and dams on the Ohio River at Emsworth, Dashields and Montgomery since 2003. The Corps is expected to sign off on a study justifying the work this fall, which would be enough time to get Congress to authorize the project before the current session ends. Shell has already built two docks for barges at the site, located in Potter and Center townships, Beaver County, and has moved in materials by barge as part of its preliminary work. Industry officials expect the company, a division of Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell, will rely on the river to move material and they say the businesses expected to be created by the cracker plant also will need dependable river infrastructure.

The Oregon Clean Energy Center near Toledo is one of six power plants under construction or in the planning stages in Ohio. Independent electricity companies, not utilities, are behind the projects, signaling how deregulation has taken root.
A power-plant building boom has hit Ohio, the first since shale natural gas changed just about everything in the state's energy landscape.

Fracking informational meeting in Johnstown
Ohio Community Rights Network will have a presentation on oil and gas industry fracking at 7 p.m. Monday in Johnstown Council Chambers, 599 S. Main St., Johnstown. The seminar will cover community rights related to fracking companies regarding issues of clean air, safe drinking water and safe soil. Many of the presenters are working on the Columbus Community Bill of Rights and Franklin County Charter Community Bill of Rights designed to preserve clean air, soil and water and assert rights to local self-government.

July 7, 2016, Vindy.com (editorial) Frick & Frack are back
Here’s a not-so-friendly suggestion for the advocates of the nonsensical proposal to ban fracking in the city of Youngstown: Track down some of the Vallourec Star workers who have been laid off and tell them why they deserve to lose their well-paying jobs. Indeed, it would be fun to watch Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer, who has slopped at the public trough for many years, preach to those private- sector workers that their loss of income is for the greater good. It’s easy to be a paragon of virtue when you have a cushy job as a professor at Youngstown State University, where the line between fantasy and reality is often blurred. Ray Beiersdorfer and his wife, Susie, have long been the driving force behind the effort to push through a charter amendment that would prohibit the use of fracking to extract oil and gas in the city of Youngstown. City voters have rejected the anti-fracking Community Bill of Rights charter amendment on five different occasions, but the Beiersdorfers and other members of FrackFree Mahoning Valley are undaunted.

June 28, 2016 Vindy.com An anti-fracking charter-amendment proposal could be in front of Youngstown voters for a sixth time
The Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee submitted petitions with 2,489 signatures to get a charter-amendment proposal back on the ballot to ban fracking, injection wells and other shale-gas infrastructure in the city for a sixth time. Most “voters want to keep our drinking water clean and want the right of local control over whether shale-gas infrastructure such as drilling, injection wells, pipelines, compressor stations, radioactive-waste streams can locate in our community,” said Susie Beiersdorfer, a committee member. “Who has the right to decide: the people in the community or drilling and waste-disposal corporations? Do the people have the right to self-govern to protect their health, safety and happiness or do the corporations have a right to profit no matter the cost to the people and the community?”

June 25, 2016 vindy.com Oil, gas output declines in state, Valley
Mahoning only county to report increases in both during first quarter. The state’s oil and natural-gas production has hit a much-expected slowdown. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported a year-over-year first-quarter increase in 2016, but fourth-quarter 2015 production compared with first-quarter 2016 production shows a drop in oil and just a slight increase in natural gas.

Thank You!
Contributors include JoyceH, JohnM, & Dr. Ellen

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