Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Waste to work: Penn State researchers use industrial waste in hydraulic fracturing

While the debate over the long-term environmental impact of what is commonly known as fracking  rages, researchers at Penn State University say they have discovered how to use industrial waste products to make the practice more sustainable. During the lifetime of a fracking well, millions of gallons of water are pumped deep into the ground, causing immense fractures and releasing natural gas from the underlying shale deposits. Mixed into the water are chemicals of variable toxicity. But it also contains sand particles to keep fractures open, allowing the natural gas to continue flowing. These particles, known as proppants, are the focus of Penn State material scientists John Hellmann and Barry Scheetz’s research.

The processing plant and rail loading facility visible from inside the mine gates is tucked into a hill, hiding most of the building from the highway and subdivision to the north. The company has 1,039 acres permitted for mining and has taken steps to reduce impacts on neighbors. Photo: Alison Dirr.

Fracking sand mines credited for fluctuating property values

By Alison Dirr
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Perry Schmitt describes himself as pro-mining but blames the frac sand mine across the highway from his home for driving down the asking price by more than $25,000, to $189,000. His neighbors made out better. Kari Curran and her husband sold 130 acres for $1.5 million to a company affiliated with Unimin Mining Corp., operator of the mine. The property was previously valued at about $225,000. “It was kind of bittersweet,” Curran said.

This story is part of Great Lakes Echo's 'Landscope' series.

Landscope: Increasing presence of well pads in Michigan

By Evan KreagerGreat Lakes Echo 

Take a look at this map. Cover the title, key and footer. It looks as if someone had a blank map of Michigan and began splattering paint across it. It’s like a work of art. But when the title of the map is revealed, it becomes obvious that all those pretty colors are actually different types of wells strewn across Michigan’s mitten.

A Watershed Decision

(NY) The New York Times – The decision by the Chesapeake Energy Corporation not to drill for natural gas in New York City’s watershed is a smart and welcome move on the company’s part, and very good news for the 8.2 million New York City residents who depend on this environmentally sensitive region for their drinking water. The threat has not, however, disappeared. Chesapeake is believed to be the only leaseholder in the watershed, but its decision is voluntary and not binding on other oil and gas companies. New York State needs to adopt regulations that place the watershed permanently off limits, while imposing the strictest possible safeguards on drilling anywhere else where drinking water supplies might be affected. More