PA DCNR Releases Report: Drilling Impacts on State Land/Forests

DCNR logoYesterday the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) released a new report titled “Shale-Gas Monitoring Report” (full copy embedded below), the first in a series of ongoing reports on the impacts of Marcellus Shale drilling on PA’s state-owned land, including state forests. The DCNR was given a $6 million budget more than three years ago to study drilling impacts. This is the first report, eagerly anticipated by anti-drilling groups like PennFuture. Unfortunately for them, the study contains no indications that drilling is a disaster for public lands, as they had wanted it to say. In fact, the report found that out of 2 million acres of state-owned land, only 1,500 acres were converted from “wild space” to use for drilling (roads, drill pads, compressor stations, etc.). That’s 0.075%–not even 1/10th of a single percentage point. In other words–nothing. Another 9,340 acres were partially developed. Still a very low number and not the environmental holocaust predicted by anti-drillers.

Dan Devlin, acting deputy secretary for Parks and Forestry, wrote this in the preface: “…shale-gas production on state forest lands is neither benign nor catastrophic. There are clearly impacts and tradeoffs associated with this activity. The question is what tradeoffs are acceptable. The Bureau of Forestry considers these tradeoffs and attempts to balance the various uses and values of the forest.” PennFuture president and CEO Cindy Dunn worked herself up into a lather, saying this about the report: “The suggestion that this industrial activity can be ‘carefully managed’ provides scant comfort to Pennsylvanians who frequent Penn’s Woods.” Below we have the full 268-page report, the DCNR press announcement about the report, and PennFuture’s snit fit response…
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FWW Targets Democrat Candidates to Sign No Fracking Pledge

In June 2013 when the official Pennsylvania State Democrat Party met in beautiful Lancaster, PA for their annual meeting, they voted to adopt a new official plank in the party that we pointed out is completely insane: an ongoing moratorium (in essence a ban) on all new Marcellus Shale drilling in the state (see PA Democrat Party Votes to End Marcellus Shale Drilling Statewide). For weeks MDN was the only “news” outlet where you could find any coverage of this lunatic action by one of two major parties in the state. In fact, you would still be hard-pressed to find any media mentions–they simply want to sweep it under the rug. We warned you at the time, and since that time, that this is a five-alarm political emergency. If these kooks retake power in the state and stop all new drilling, it would have a catastrophic effect on the entire nation’s economy, as our buddy Chris Acker points out (see Guest Post: Pennsylvania Drilling Moratorium – Good or Bad?). Folks, this is not hyperbole. It IS that serious.

The odious (and fascist) Food & Water Watch (FWW) has taken up the call of the official Democrat Party position with a new PR campaign called “Pledge to Halt Fracking.” FWW is pushing the five Democrat candidates running for governor to sign a pledge that they will obey the Party’s official moratorium/ban on new Marcellus drilling should they get elected to the governor’s chair. We continue to ring the alarm! FWW and the Democrats MUST BE STOPPED before they ruin not only PA’s economy, but the entire country’s economy, by shutting down the only thing keeping us from a full-on economic depression. Already one politically brain-dead Democrat candidate for lieutenant governor–Brad Koplinski–has signed it. Will more follow his foolish lead and jump off the political cliff?…
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Big News from Shell PA Meetings: Beaver County WANTS a Cracker!

Yesterday Shell held two meetings in Beaver County, PA to talk to area residents about their proposed plan to possibly build a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker plant. One session was from 11 am to 2 pm, the other from 4-7 pm, both held at the Shadow Lakes country club in Hopewell. Shell expected around 350 people to show up for the daytime session–more than 700 showed. By the end of the day, well over 1,000 people attended the two sessions. As predicted, Shell did not say they’ve decided to move forward, but they are still actively pursuing the project. From that perspective, neither event produced anything “newsworthy.”

Yet, there was big news coming from the two sessions: Attendance was twice what they expected, and the overwhelming majority of those attending support the project and want to see it built. We would go so far as to say Beaver County came out in force with open arms and rolled out the red carpet for Shell. They WANT this cracker plant, and they want it bad. Which is good news for Shell–to have such overwhelming community support…
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PA AG Kathleen “Anti-Driller” Kane Probes Chessy Royalty Issue

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office is interviewing people on the Chesapeake Energy royalties screwing scandal, reportedly. We have mixed emotions about it. Yes, the state needs to investigate and see if there has been malfeasance. However, we question whether an avowedly anti-drilling AG has the moral or ethical ability to do so honestly. Yes, we ARE questioning her fitness for the office. Problem is, Gov. Tom Corbett and other PA Republicans like State Sen. Gene Yaw asked her to investigate–so it’s on their heads if she turns into the proverbial bull in a china closet and takes the opportunity to try and destroy the drilling industry as part of her “investigation.”

Here’s the latest from the rumor mill on Kane’s so-called royalty investigation…
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Endeavour & SM Energy Settle Lawsuit over PA Marcellus Properties

In July 2011 MDN told you that independent energy company Endeavour International entered into a deal with SM Energy for 50,000 Marcellus Shale acres, three producing gas wells and a pipeline located in McKean and Potter counties in Pennsylvania. The deal was worth $110 million (see Endeavour International Buys Lease for Additional 50K Marcellus Acres & Local Pipeline in PA from SM Energy). Five months later Endeavour pulled out of the deal and SM Energy threatened to sue (see Endeavour Leaves SM Energy at the Altar, SM Ready to Sue).

SM Energy made good on its threat and for the past 2 1/2 years the deal has been tied up in court with both sides suing each other. Endeavour said there were problems with clear title to the property and that the pipeline was not up to scratch. SM said they didn’t misrepresent anything and Endeavour simply got cold feet. Lots of lawyers and legal fees ensued. Today Endeavour issued an announcement that all of the suing and counter-suing is over and both sides have now settled…
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3rd Person Pleads Guilty to Dumping Wastewater in Mahoning River

A few weeks ago MDN told you that a third person, Mark Goff, had been charged in last year’s Youngstown, OH frack wastewater dumping case (see 3rd Person Charged in Youngstown Frack Wastewater Dumping Case). He’s now plead guilty to violating the Clean Water Act by dumping frack wastewater into a drain that eventually emptied into the Mahoning River on nine different occasions…
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Kinder Morgan 1Q14 Update: Marcellus/Utica Important to Company

Kinder Morgan, the country’s largest midstream company and third largest energy company of any kind, issued an update yesterday on first quarter operations. The company reports that for the 51st consecutive time since 1997 the company is increasing their quarterly distribution to shareholders (technically unit holders). Kinder Morgan is the owner of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, among other assets in the Marcellus and Utica region. According to yesterday’s update, the Marcellus and Utica play an increasingly important role for the company.

We’ve selected out sections from the update that mention the Marcellus and/or Utica, so you’re quickly up to date on Kinder’s operations in the northeast…
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Pressure Rises for Fair Tax on News Industry (Absurdity Illustrated)

Since no one else but Gov. Corbett is sticking up for the existing impact fee on Marcellus drilling in PA that raises millions of dollars (and not doing all that great a job of it), on Monday MDN took a stab at making a case for the fundamental unfairness of targeting a specific industry or group of people for high taxes by justifying such an action as being “for the children” (see PA Dem Candidates’ Siren Song: Severance Tax “for the Children”). We told you that Democrats and their sycophantic supporters in the media would turn up the volume on a call for high severance taxes on the natural gas industry. We didn’t know just how quickly our words would come true!

Today, after having met with and getting stoked by extreme liberal Allyson Schwartz (who is running for governor), the liberal Democrat editorial propagandists at the Scranton Times-Tribune dedicated their precious editorial space to a call for high severance taxes–and to bludgeon Republicans into supporting those high taxes. So we thought we would take the opportunity to tweak their editorial and in every instance of “severance tax” and “natural gas industry” replace those words with “news tax” and “news industry.” We wonder if the Times-Tribune editors would be in favor of this tax if it specifically targeted–or included–their operation and the operations of their liberal brethren? And what if the severance tax bill also included a new, extra 5% tax on the salaries of PA legislators. Would it pass then? You get the idea. Targeting a specific industry or group of people, no matter how “noble” the cause in using the money raised, is an obscene governmental abuse. It is theft. Here is our attempt to illustrate the absurd by using absurdity and turning their argument right back on them…
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OH Anti-Driller Suing MWCD Asks EPA to Stop OH Injection Wells

The virulently anti-drilling and misnamed Fresh Water Accountability Project (FWAP) has just generated more toilet paper, er, a press release in which they claim they’ve written a letter to the Region 5 office of the federal Environmental Protection Agency asking the EPA to trample on the U.S. Constitution by stripping away the right of Ohio to issue permits for Class II injection wells. Nothing new there–such groups habitually like to enforce their fascism on common folks (which is why they should be vigorously opposed and defunded).

The interesting thing to MDN is not that the FWAP is generating yet another fundraising press release–but that it was written by Lea Harper–you know, the woman who’s suing the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District to try and stop fracking and drilling on MWCD land around Seneca Lake (see Anti-Drillers Win Minor Victory Against Muskingum Watershed Dist). It’s also no coincidence that Lea Harper and her FWAP is being partially (or wholly) funded by the odious and fascist Food & Water Watch. That is, FWAP is nothing more than a front for FWW. We just thought you’d want to know how incestuous it is with anti-drillers…
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Groundhog Day: Bloomberg’s Radioactive Reportage Keeps Returning

Another “It’s radioactive!” hit piece from Bloomberg. We swear that reporters with an anti-drilling agenda simply have an editorial calendar and every X months it’s “write another story about how the Marcellus is producing radioactive drill cuttings and wastewater.” Sprinkle said story with comments from discredited professors from places like Duke University, vague innuendo about glowing in the dark, and voilà–another deadline met, another hit piece delivered.

That about sums up the latest piece of rubbish that passes for journalism at Bloomberg–where the only thing radioactive is the reporting…
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Changes at the Top for Noble Energy – Chairman & CEO Retiring

Some top leadership changes are on the way for Noble Energy–a big energy company with big operations in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. Current Chairman and CEO Charles Davidson will retire May 1, 2015. Stepping up to the big chair will be David Stover. Stover, currently president and COO, will take on the CEO role in October of this year and (presumably) the chairmanship next May when Davidson retires.

Here’s the kumbaya press release from Noble announcing everyone loves everyone (and yes, Noble is a company we love and highly respect–we just couldn’t help poking a little fun at the announcement and its gushing tone):
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading:
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Fossil Creek Targets WV Utica Shale, Big Bucks for Leases/Drilling

Marcellus Utica ShaleThe Utica Shale “rush” has arrived–in West Virginia. Bedford, TX-based Fossil Creek Ohio (a company we’ve not heard of before today) is signing up Utica Shale leases in Marshall County, WV and says they will begin to sink wells “in the near future.” Fossil Creek President Chris Rowntree declined to say how much the company is paying for lease bonuses and royalties, but he did say it’s more than any other company is paying (which would indicate something north of $7,000 per acre and 20% royalties).

Also of interest to MDN are the numbers thrown out by Fossil Creek for how much they will spend to drill a single Utica well in WV: $22 million on average. That is a startling number. Most Marcellus wells in the area cost around $7 million to drill. If you spend three times that to drill a Utica well, you better be convinced you’ll get three times the return you would receive from a typical Marcellus well to make it a profitable venture–unless you simply have money to burn. Yes, color us skeptical that anyone will make money by spending $22M to drill a shale well! Here’s more on Fossil Energy and several other companies pursuing the Utica Shale “rush” in the Mountain State…
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Shell Meetings Today in Beaver County, PA on Ethane Cracker Plant

Shell is holding two public meetings today at the Shadow Lakes club in Hopewell (Beaver County), PA to discuss the possibility of building a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker plant in Monaca, PA. The meetings, according to Shell, are not an indicator that Shell has decided to move forward with the project. The meetings are, according to Shell, a way for the company to hear concerns from the people who live in the area and would potentially be affected by the plant, and for Shell to share information on where the project stands at this point and what’s ahead. It’s all about good, two-way communication.

More details about the meetings today, and a brief background on the proposed Shell ethane cracker…
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Obama/Biden Pittsburgh Visit Today: Don’t Expect NatGas Praise

President Barack H. Obama and Vice President Joe “the clown” Biden are visiting western Pennsylvania today to play Santa Claus–to talk about redistributing a half billion taxpayer dollars from your pockets to the pockets of the staff and students at community colleges–like Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center in North Fayette where they’ll make a stop. We suppose there could be worse uses for your money–but we believe you know how to best spend your own money. However, we digress.

Obama and Biden (the oafish Biden turns up simply to make Obama look good by comparison) are visiting the heart of Marcellus drilling country. Those from the gas industry, including Marcellus Shale Coalition president Dave Spigelmyer, are hoping Obama and Biden will at least pay some lip service to the enormous role gas drilling is having for PA’s economy and job picture. We say, don’t hold your breath…
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EIA Drilling Productivity Report – Marcellus Flirts with 15 Bcf/d

The monthly Drilling Productivity Report (DPR) from our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) was issued on Monday (see a copy embedded below). It shows that the average daily production from the Marcellus Shale will go up–again–in May. In April average daily Marcellus production was forecast at 14.52 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). In May it will be 14.77 Bcf/d–getting really really close to 15 Bcf/d.

Since last October when the EIA first started publishing the monthly DPR, Marcellus production has gone up each and every month–with no end in sight. Below is the full report from April, along with screen shots of two charts found on the EIA website but not (yet) in the report. We keep needling them to include these two charts in the PDF of the report…
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