The Whole Story: Fact-Checking Reuters’ Latest Story on Philadelphia Natural Gas

Canonsburg, Pa. – Following up on the release of a news story by Reuters stringer Jon Hurdle this week indicating the city of Philadelphia’s intention to “refuse to buy natural gas obtained by the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing,” Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) president Kathryn Klaber issued the following statement and collection of supporting facts that, taken together, provide a degree of context not found in the original Reuters piece:

“This decision by the Philadelphia Gas Commission is not based in fact or reality and clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of how natural gas is transmitted and delivered to consumers.

“If what was passed yesterday is put into effect, PGC would essentially deny the residents and businesses in the City of Philadelphia access to the very energy source used to heat homes and offices, cook meals and deployed for other daily uses.  Gas and oil harvested from hydraulically-fractured wells is proven, safe and has been deployed for decades on more than 1.1 million occasions without harm to drinking water supplies.

“PGC’s position that it will prohibit the procurement of gas from hydraulically fractured wells disqualifies the vast majority of natural gas produced onshore in the United States. This is more than unfortunate for the residents of the City.”

Additional background/context:

  • State law directs PGW to purchase natural gas based on price. “Craig White, the city-owned utility’s executive vice president, said state and local regulations oblige PGW to buy the lowest-cost fuel on behalf of its customers, regardless of its origins. “PGW is required by both state law and city ordinance to pursue a least-cost procurement policy in order to benefit our ratepayers with a stable supply of natural gas at the lowest possible cost,” he said in written statement.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 9.28.10)
  • PGW is already under long-term contract to purchase natural gas from Gulf Coast.“White said that PGW buys all its natural gas under contract from Gulf Coast producers. It has signed long-term contracts with interstate pipelines to carry the fuel to Philadelphia.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 9.28.10)
  • Significant portion of PGW’s Gulf Coast natural gas comes from other U.S. shale formations, and is thus obtained through common hydraulic fracturing technologies.PGW procures a large quantity of its gas from the Transcontinental Pipeline, which connects up with many other pipelines as it makes its way from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. According to this transmission map posted on Transcontinental’s site (page 13), the pipeline gathers natural gas from a variety of sources – including the Haynesville, Eagle Ford and even the Marcellus Shale, all of which require fracture stimulation to remain viable.