Pennsylvania state Rep. Jesse White, a Democrat from the southwestern corner of the state, has introduced House Resolution 593 asking drillers to commit to a set of “Marcellus Shale Principles,” that include hiring local workers, protecting the environment and acting transparently in dealings with stakeholders. “Drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale has created thousands of jobs, and has the potential to create thousands more at a critical time in our economy, and in areas that have historically suffered from high unemployment rates for many years…However, we can’t simply hand free reign over without any forethought to consequences and how our local communities could be affected for generations to come,” White said.

Given an unusually mild January and February weather pattern, expectations are running high that North Dakota will report record high new crude oil drilling and production figures. However, a spokesperson in the state’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) said the data isn’t confirmed and won’t be until later reports in March and April. Preliminary statistics in January showed new well starts up to 212 from 181 in December, and ahead of 140 recorded in January 2011 when the state was hit by one of its coldest, snow-laden winters ever. The only new statistics verified by DMR’s Alison Ritter were that the spud count for January increased considerably and the rig count had increased to 205 as of the end of February. However, she noted that number is still lagging previous projections for lifting the rig count up to 225 this year.