5 things you need to know about fracking

Fracking is short for "hydraulic fracturing," and the catch-all term used to describe the process of extracting oil and natural gas from shale rock formations deep underground. The process goes roughly like this: A company drills down more than a mile deep into the shale rock formations. Then comes what is known as "horizontal drilling" - effectively, the drilling turns 90 degrees, so that the well is exposed to more rock than it would be otherwise.



Energy industry develops nontoxic fracking fluids

The oil and gas industry is trying to ease environmental concerns by developing nontoxic fluids for the drilling process known as fracking, but it's not clear whether the new product will be widely embraced by drilling companies. Houston-based energy giant Halliburton Inc. has developed a product called CleanStim, which uses only food-industry ingredients. Other companies have developed nontoxic fluids as well.



More companies turning to alternative fuel to power fleets

Zoresco Equipment Co.'s longtime business has been outfitting trucks for tasks ranging from utility line work to hauling horses. But the Turtle Creek company has put more time in recent years into switching customers' fleet trucks from gasoline-only to "bifuel" vehicles that run on less expensive compressed natural gas (CNG) as well as traditional fuels, or sometimes to natural gas only.



LANTA to study natural-gas buses

The Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority will participate in a state study this year to help determine whether buses powered by clean-burning compressed natural gas would be suitable for the Lehigh Valley's public bus agency. LANTA is pleased with the performance of the five diesel-electric buses it acquired in 2010 and is putting 10 more of the fuel-saving vehicles on the road this year, said Planning Director Owen O'Neil. The agency plans to add nine more hybrids next year, he said, noting the vehicles yield a mileage gain of about 40 percent on average compared with their "regular" diesel-powered siblings.



Crowd packs fire hall to vent about gas drilling effects

On Thursday, the last of four town hall meetings hosted by state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, at the beginning of the new legislative session brought out the most constituents. It also was one of the more vocal groups he encountered. Everett, who represents the 84th Legislative District, has hosted town hall meetings in Antes Fort, Picture Rocks and Montoursville in the past two weeks.



Natural gas prices fall

The price of natural gas is going down, and so is the amount of it that most of us are using. Just in time for the return of winter, National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. announced that effective today the price of natural gas is dropping 6.7 percent to $8.26 per thousand cubic feet. The decrease will lower the monthly bill of a typical customer - one who uses 90,000 cubic feet of gas a year - from $76.61 to $71.45 a month.



Pa. moves to limit air emissions from gas industry

Pennsylvania's natural gas compressor stations will have to meet tighter air pollution standards under a mandate from the state environmental agency. The Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday its revised permit for compressor stations requires a 75- to 93-percent reduction in air emissions for the largest, most common types of engines used to power the facilities, which pressurize natural gas taken from the Marcellus Shale formation for movement along pipelines.



State, private data say gas industry creates fraction of state's air pollution

The deep-shale gas industry produced a small fraction of the state's air pollution in 2011, according to newly released state data and private research. Shale gas drilling and processing released less than 10 percent - and for some substances less than a fraction of a percent - of some of the most common air pollutants that came from the state's stationary polluters in 2011, according to an inventory the Department of Environmental Protection tallied. That includes such polluters as coal power plants and steel mills, but not cars and trucks.



Some 'fore,' some against drilling in Pulaski Twp.

Gas industry workers in Pulaski Township in Lawrence County not only drill holes, they're trying to make holes in one. Industry workers have begun frequenting the picturesque, 18-hole Rolling Hills Golf Course on Route 208 in Pulaski, said owner and local resident Richard Kinkela.



NATURAL GAS: The Constitution Pipeline: an answer to New England's price woes or a shale bonanza in the making?

The Constitution Pipeline is expected to jolt forward this spring when a joint venture between Williams Partners LP and Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. files with federal regulators for route approval to build from Pennsylvania across New York to deliver natural gas to New England's high-demand market. The $700 million venture, called Constitution Pipeline Co., is seeking to overcome concentrated opposition from environmental groups in New York to bring badly needed gas to New England, which has long dealt with higher power prices because of its relative isolation from domestic energy supplies.