Lancaster Forum to Focus on Handling Anarchists in Pipeline Protest

We live in a country of laws, governed by “the rule of law.” That means we elect people to pass laws, and then we collectively live under those laws–whether we like them or not. If we don’t like the laws, we vote in new representatives to change the laws. Or we challenge the laws in court. But what if those laws become tyrannical? Our founding fathers, like Thomas Jefferson, said a little revolution every now and again isn’t a bad thing and may be necessary. There is a small but well-funded group of radical environmentalists who apparently believe the time has come for revolution. Their motivation is an irrational hatred of fossil fuels, operating under the wrong belief that by burning fossil fuels mankind is doomed. That belief motivates them to use (and abuse) the court system to try and block any and all drilling and pipeline projects. And when the courts don’t decide a case their way? They threaten revolution. They call it “peaceful protest”–but we’ve seen what they mean by that (see Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Turn Violent; Coming Here Next?). Just last week MDN highlighted words taken directly from some of these people, who claim they want to incite “riots, strikes, sabotage, occupations, expropriations, rebellion, revolt, insurrection, whether together or alone – we support liberatory revolt” (see Anti-Govt Radicals Begin 24/7 Tree Sit in PA to Block ME2 Pipe). Some of the same people who made trouble in North Dakota and have advocated for rebellion are now organizing to launch something similar in Lancaster County, PA–to try and block construction of the $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. State Senator Scott Martin is hosting a forum tomorrow in Lancaster, for local officials and law enforcement personnel, to prepare them for what may be coming. The forum (closed to the public) will feature a video link with North Dakota officials. Lancaster is gearing up for a battle against lawless anarchists…
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Sunoco LP Hiring 50% Local to Build Mariner East 2 Pipeline

As construction of the Mariner East 2 NGL (natural gas liquids) pipeline project heats up, thousands of Pennsylvanians are going back to work. Sunoco Logistics Partners (now called Energy Transfer Partners) said it would take some 8,000 workers to build the twin pipelines called Mariner East 2–from eastern Ohio through the state of Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia. When Sunoco LP signed a deal to hire union workers for the pipeline, the deal stipulates half of the hires are local–from within PA. Sunoco has lived up to its word, as evidenced by the testimony of the Operating Engineer’s Union (Harrisburg) who has already seen 50 of its members hired to work on the project. What about the other half, the “foreigners” who come from other states? They’re brought in because of required specialized skills. But even the out-of-staters are welcomed–they’re adding big bucks to the local economy…Continue reading

Antis Mad Middletown Won’t Block Mariner East 2 Pipe Near Homes

Looks like Middletown Township, in Delaware County, PA (Philadelphia suburb), has finally faced reality that the Mariner East 2 Pipeline is coming through town. To be fair, town council came to that conclusion last September when they voted to grant easements to Sunoco Logistics Partners to build Mariner East 2 across four parcels of public land (see SEPA Town Votes to Allow Mariner East 2 Across Town Land). However, Middletown has still officially opposed the pipeline. In January Middletown colluded with other towns to pass a resolution opposing it–a totally empty gesture meant to placate a few disgruntled residents (see Towns Near Philly Collude with CAC to Block Mariner East 2 Pipe?). Those disgruntled residents are still not placated. Six residents living near where the pipeline will pass asked town council to reject the path of the pipeline near their property because it would, supposedly, pass closer than town code allows. At a meeting earlier this week, town council told the residents they’re out of luck–the town will not pursue any action to block Mariner East 2. Period. The residents, amped up and agitated by Big Green groups, is considering a lawsuit against the pipeline to force it to conform with Middletown’s ordinance…Continue reading

PA Democrats Spout Lame Reasons to Support Severance Tax @ Hearing

It seems no matter how many times we calmly, rationally, factually respond to and refute the intellectual dishonesty around the issue of a severance tax in Pennsylvania, PA Democrats pop up to make the same already-refuted, debunked lies they spew, again and again. They must be of the opinion that if you repeat the same lies long enough, people will begin to believe them. And so a group of elected (and appointed) Democrat “leaders” gathered in Wilkes-Barre yesterday to rehash and repeat the same tired old lies about a severance tax. The organizer of the event was State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (Democrat from Wilkes-Barre) who stated at the event he doesn’t think the gas companies pay “their fair share.” That is such a bogus statement in so many ways. When did privately earned money suddenly belong to the state in the first place? Does Rep. Pashinski know that drillers already pay a severance tax–called an impact fee? And that by passing a severance tax on top of an impact fee, PA vaults to the top of the list–it would have the highest taxation of the industry in the United States at an effective rate of 9% (see PA Independent Fiscal Office: Wolf Severance Tax Highest in U.S.). There is NO doubt that drillers would shut down their programs in PA if such a tax were passed. But perhaps that’s what Rep. Pashinksi wants? Also at the meeting was a Democrat who is usually reasonable–Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Davin and his crew have done good work for the state, but unfortunately he answers to Gov. Tom Wolf (worst PA governor in living memory), and Wolf forces Davin to attend these types of meetings to wave the flag for Wolf’s idiotic severance tax proposal. It must be demeaning for Davin. If Davin really believes what he says about Wolf’s severance tax–we guess he’s not as smart as we thought he was. Here’s how the fawning establishment press reported yesterday’s “tax the $%#! out of drillers” meeting in Wilkes-Barre…
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New Waterless Frack Company Uses Rocket Fuel! Gets $3M Investment

Over the years MDN has covered waterless fracking technologies. Every now and again a waterless technology comes along as the next, great White Knight in Shining Armor that will sleigh all of the concerns by nutty anti-drillers. Never happens. The waterless fracking tech companies we’ve watched with interest, like GASFRAC, went belly up (see our stories about waterless fracking here). In speaking with experts at industry conferences, MDN editor Jim Willis was struck by the simple rejoinder to his questions about waterless fracking that even if a magical solution were to appear on the scene, there may be times and places when using water to frack just works better, given its physical properties. Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with using water for fracking. But hey, hope springs eternal. So when we saw yet another new waterless fracking technology company issue a press release to say they tried to raise $1 million and ended up raising $3.1 million, we were (of course) drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Canadian company RocketFrac Services Ltd. (gotta love the name, reminds us of Elton John’s iconic song Rocket Man) has an interesting twist on waterless fracking technology–they use solid rocket fuel. No danger of leaks. No worries about transporting it. No water involved. The company is making some pretty big boasts: “We are confident that our fracing process will rapidly become a valuable alternative, perhaps even the preferred choice, for oil and gas exploration and development companies around the globe.” Here we go again…
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Rex Energy Gets a New $300M Loan to Help Fund M-U Drilling

Yesterday Rex Energy, a driller focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA), signed paperwork for a new $300 million loan–due to be paid back by April 2021. Rex immediately withdrew $144 million from the loan, to pay back other loans it owed. When all is said and done with paying back this and that, Rex says they will have $110 million they can use for their Marcellus/Utica drilling program. Rex CEO Tom Stabley said that will be enough money to help fund the company’s two-year development program, including “the potential to access the M&A market.” Curious statement. We take that to mean that Rex is potentially in the hunt to add large acreage tracts (or perhaps buy and add a small driller) to its existing operations. Here’s the company statement from yesterday…
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Big Pittsburgh Foundation Funds Education for Shale Industry

Seems like every time we talk about Big Money foundations, those foundations (which are tax exempt) are far-left in philosophy and when they fund anything to do with the environment or education or business, it’s always with strings attached that said activity will have an anti-drilling bias. Need money for a new “study” to bash shale energy? Take your pick. In Philadelphia, there is the William Penn Foundation. In New York (and North Carolina) there’s the Park Foundation. And in Pittsburgh, the Heinz Foundation–run by Teresa Heinz Kerry (whom we call Mamma Teresa here on MDN). Hard left, all of them. So when we spotted an article about another Pittsburgh-based foundation–the Benedum Foundation–that is donating money to HELP the shale industry, well, we knew that’s a “man bites dog” story worthy of highlighting. The Benedum Foundation does a great deal of its grantmaking for science, technology, medical and engineering (STEM) education. Lately they’ve concentrated on training students who will, after school, land a job at someplace like CONSOL Energy, or the under-construction Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County. Although Benedum doesn’t spend nearly as much as the larger Heinz Foundation, we see Benedum as the antidote–a counterbalance–to some of the damage caused by Mamma Teresa and her married-into, huge piles of money that she spends to oppose shale energy…
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Environmentalist Argues Against Subsidies for Solar & Wind in Ohio

Michael Shellenberger

Michael Shellenberger is an American author, environmental policy expert, cofounder of the Breakthrough Institute and president of Environmental Progress. He was named a Time magazine Heroes of the Environment in 2008. He lives in San Francisco and is a big-time, lefty, lib, environmentalist wacko. But, he’s also an honest big-time, lefty, lib, environmentalist wacko. And for that, we respect him. Shellenberger sent a letter to the editor of the Akron Beacon Journal with the meme of stopping “discrimination against nuclear power.” Among his statements in the letter, Shellengberger says: “Like most environmentalists, I used to be opposed to nuclear power. I thought solar and wind would be enough. But the more I learned about solar and wind, I realized they could never power a high-energy industrial civilization.” Whoa, hold on. We’re dizzy and wobbling…having been knocked up side the head with straight truth from an environmentalist. Shellenberger goes on to make a very strong case that Ohio’s subsidies for solar and wind are, in part, killing nuclear energy in the state. He actually advocates an end to such subsidies. And for those who may not know, “subsidies” means Ohio Gov. John “foreigner hunter” Kasich wants to transfer money from the pockets of Ohio taxpayers into the pockets of businesses in the solar and wind industry. Shellenberger takes Kasich to task for such lunacy. Whoa, there we go again, wobbling…must hold on to something…
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Williams CEO Alan Armstrong Goes On the Record in PA

Alan Armstrong

Williams CEO Alan Armstrong, whom corporate raiders like Keith “Mini-Me” Meister tried to oust (unsuccessfully), recently made a visit to Pennsylvania. As part of that visit, he sat down for an interview in Harrisburg with the Central Penn Business Journal. During the interview, Armstrong talked about shale gas, PA regulation, and the $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project. Here’s a portion of the interview…
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Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Spreads $326,800 of Love in 11 PA Counties

Fire departments, schools, parks and townships are some of the 44 Pennsylvania organizations in 11 counties that will receive $326,800 in funding *this spring* from Williams–through its bi-annual community grant program. Grants up to $10,000 per organization are being awarded by Williams in communities where the proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project will be constructed and operated. This is the fifth round of grants for areas that will host or be affected by the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. All together (including this latest round of $326,800), Williams has now given away $1.79 million to communities on behalf of Atlantic Sunrise. Now that’s something worth celebrating! Is your organization eligible? Grant applications are available at www.williams.com/atlanticsunrise. Here’s a list of the organizations that will get grant money this spring…
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And Then There was One – Another FERC Commissioner Resigns

Colette Honorable

Just last week MDN highlighted the urgent need for more commissioners to be appointed by President Trump to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (see Dear President Trump: FERC Needs a Quorum. NOW.). FERC is the agency that, among other things, reviews and approves interstate oil and gas pipeline projects. A full commission has five members. The agency has been without a quorum since Feb. 3, when Norman “cry baby” Bay quit in a huff, leaving the commission with just two members (see FERC Commissioner Resigns Threatening Major M-U Pipeline Projects). Both sides of the isle–those who support drilling and pipelines, and those who don’t–have been pleading with President Trump to get new members appointed. Last Friday one of the final two members, Colette Honorable, said she will leave the commission when her term expires in June. The only commissioner left will be current Chairperson Cheryl LaFleur. What’s going on? Why hasn’t the White House nominated anyone yet?…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, May 2, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Vector Pipeline preps for Rover connection; Dominion set for Cove Point LNG pipeline maintenance; Mass. AG cuddles with McKibben; study says selling US LNG abroad will create 136K jobs here at home; pipeline companies push back on Trump directive to “buy American”; carbon intensity; new natgas engines for trucks; and more!
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WV Forced Pooling Lite Not Dead Yet – EQT Wants Special Session

In early April MDN reported that West Virginia’s effort to pass a law dealing with co-tenancy and joint development–what we called forced pooling lite–had gone up in pot smoke (see WV Force Pooling Lite Goes Down in Flames – Lawmakers Blame Pot). Legislators in the House go bogged down debating pot smoking and didn’t have enough time to finish debate and vote on Senate Bill (SB) 576 (for background on what the bill would do, see Analysis of New WV Bill SB 576 re Co-Tenancy & Joint Development). The West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) pulled out all the stops to support the legislation. They organized a bus-in rally at the Capital where nearly 1,000 people showed up to support the legislation (see WVONGA Delivers ~1,000 at Rally to Support Co-Tenancy, Joint Dev.). We thought for sure it was a fait accompli, because WV’s new Governor, Jim Justice, threw his support behind the bill. But at the last minute, the bill failed–as forced pooling bills have failed five times before. However, we did say this back in early April: “So is it curtains for the sixth time on forced pooling? We’re not ready yet to declare it dead during this legislative tenure. The governor in West Virginia has the power to convene a special session. We saw it happen when Earl Ray Tomblin was governor.” It seems our words were prophetic. EQT, one of the biggest drillers in the state, is pushing hard for Gov. Justice to convene a special session and to pass SB 576. EQT is providing some not-so-subtle pressure by indicating they may reallocate some of their drilling budget elsewhere if WV doesn’t pass the law…
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Nuverra Environmental Files for Chapter 11 Bankrutpcy

Nuverra Environmental Solutions (formerly Heckmann) is one of the largest companies in the United States that handles transportation and disposal of shale drilling wastewater and leftover rock and dirt from drilling. The company has major operations in the Marcellus/Utica region. In January 2016, the company, going through tough economic times, was de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange (see Nuverra Environmental Delisted from NYSE, Now a Penny Stock). In April they issued a full year 2016 update showing a $169 million loss for the year (see Nuverra Environmental 2016 Update – Red Ink Slows, Some). Although Nuverra says they had previously floated a “prepackaged plan of reorganization”–a euphemism for bankruptcy–we certainly hadn’t seen or heard of it. So we were somewhat (but not totally) surprised to see an announcement from Nuverra that the company has, as of today, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy…
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Cabot O&G 1Q17 – Oil Turning Cabot’s Eye Away from Marcellus

Last week one of our favorite Marcellus drillers, Cabot Oil & Gas, issued its first quarter 2017 update. There’s lots to see and to discuss. First up, Cabot’s production was up 7% from the same quarter a year earlier. And while Cabot lost $51 million in 1Q16, the company profited $106 million in 1Q17. So production went up a little, but profits went up a lot. Perhaps the main reason why Cabot made more money in 1Q17 is that the price they got for their natural gas went up 77% over the same period last year. Two items in particular caught our attention about the update: (1) Cabot predicts Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline will be fully permitted “by early July” and construction will begin in the third quarter. They are jazzed about shipping an extra 1 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day on the pipeline when its fully operational in 2018. (2) Other shale plays are now catching Cabot’s eye and CEO Dan Dinges is spending $125 million THIS YEAR on buying leases and drilling test wells–in plays they aren’t yet ready to disclose. The only hint we have is “that our focus is going to be oil.” Hmmmm. We don’t much like the sound of that. Cabot has developed a wandering eye for other plays. Make no mistake, Cabot will continue to drill aggressively in the Marcellus–but they will no longer be laser focused on the Marcellus. To be fair, the company has previously fiddled around in the Eagle Ford (an oil play in Texas). But apparently the Eagle Ford is not where “the next big thing” will be found. Cabot is looking elsewhere for the next miracle, like the one they found in Susquehanna County, PA with the Marcellus. Except this time it’s in oil and not gas…
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Southwestern Energy 1Q17: Production Falls 14%, Profits Soar

Southwestern Energy turned in its first quarter 2017 update last week. Not widely reported is that production for the company slipped by 14% during 1Q17 over 1Q16. Why? The company shut down new drilling for a good part of last year, when prices were low. However, the company got a lot healthier last year, financially. After losing $1.1 billion in 1Q16, Southwestern made $351 million in profit in 1Q17–almost a $1.5 billion swing from red to black. Southwestern also reported a new high for their proved reserves–now over 10 trillion cubic feet. CEO Bill Way said on an earnings call that Southwestern is investing 85% of their budget in the Marcellus/Utica this year. They are, without a doubt, one of the largest (if not THE largest) active driller in the Marcellus/Utica today. Here’s more about Southwestern’s 1Q17 performance…
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