Two Bills in NY Legislature Will Kill Drilling in the Marcellus Shale

New York State Senator Tom Duane (Democrat-Manhattan), and New York Assemblyman James Brennan (Democrat-Brooklyn) have introduced bills in the state legislature that would kill Marcellus Shale drilling in New York State.

[The] two bills…would prohibit any permits for oil or gas drilling from being issued for two years, prohibit drilling within five miles of the New York City water supply and ban drilling anywhere within the Delaware River watershed.

The bills introduced by Duane and Brennan have already attracted a number of Democratic co-sponsors in the Assembly from both upstate and downstate.*

Sen. Duane says there is no such thing as safe hydrofacturing drilling. The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York State opposes the legislation, as does the Business Council of New York and many other organizations and individuals.

MDN recommends landowners who support drilling should make their voices heard. Call Sen. Duane and Assemblyman Brennan to register your opposition. And check in with your local Senator and Assemblyperson while you’re at it.

  • Sen. Duane’s phone numbers
    District Office – (212) 633-8052; Albany Office – (518) 455-2451
  • Assemblyman Brennan’s phone numbers
    District Office – (718) 788-7221; Albany Office – (518) 455-5377

*City Hall (Mar 1) – Legislators In Albany And New York Float Hydrofracking Bills

Susquehanna County, PA Landowner Offered $800K for Mineral Rights to 153 Acre Farm

A landowner in Brooklyn Twp. (Susquehanna County), Pennsylvania faces a big decision. Denise Dennis owns 153 acres and a farm that is eligible to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Her ancestors moved to the land in 1811. They were African American and they were free landowners during a time when slavery was legal.

Ms. Dennis does not want to “destroy the property or the landscape,” but she needs money to fix up the buildings, the cemetery and the stone walls. According to a news report, she has been offered $800,000 for the “mineral rights” to the farm. No word on which drilling company made the offer, and what those rights entail (i.e., does that include royalties?).

Ms. Dennis is mulling over the proposition.

See: WBNG-TV (Mar 1) – The Price of History

Tennessee Gas Pipeline from PA to NJ Clears Major Hurdle

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Upgrade Project (previously reported on here), also known as the 300 Line Project, has just cleared a major hurdle on its way to becoming reality. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has completed an environmental assessment of the proposed project and has found there will be no major impact to the environment from the proposed pipeline.

The 300 Line Project involves the installation of seven looping segments in Pennsylvania and New Jersey totaling approximately 128 miles of 30-inch pipeline, and the addition of approximately 55,000 horsepower following the installation of two new compressor stations and upgrades at seven existing compressor stations. The new stations will be built in northwestern Pennsylvania.*

Construction is set to begin in the later half of 2010, and the pipeline will come online by the end of 2011.

*Wayne Independent (Mar 1) – Gas pipeline project clears review

WV Senate Votes on Change of Definition for Marcellus Drilling from Deep to Shallow

The West Virginia State Senate is set to vote on a bill (SB369) that would change the designation of horizontally drilled gas wells in the Marcellus Shale from “deep” wells to “shallow” wells. The reason? To clear up jurisdictional disputes about who regulates and monitors the wells. Deep wells are regulated by the West Virginia Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and shallow wells are regulated by the Shallow Gas Well Review Board.

But some, including the West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization, an anti-drilling organization, say the change is the equivalent of “legalized stealing.” According to Dave McMahon, founder of the group:

Unlike wells defined as “deep,” shallow wells cannot be made subject to well spacing and royalty sharing rules, McMahon said well spacing and royalty sharing laws allow mineral owners whose natural gas is drained by wells on their neighbors to receive their share of the royalties, McMahon said.

If Marcellus wells aren’t subject to those laws, McMahon said, gas well drillers could drill on the edge of neighboring mineral owners’ land and drain gas from the mineral owners’ tracts without paying for it.*

The Independent Oil & Gas Association of West Virginia has endorsed the bill, saying the changes allow drillers to finish wells with newer technology.

Who’s right? A tough one to call. It’s certainly not fair to have the gas beneath your feet drained away by a neighbor and not be compensated for it. But will that really happen? If you have insight, or an opinion, share it in the comments.

*The Charleston Gazette (Mar 1) – Rush on gas-well drilling bill unfair, owners group says

UPDATE – March 2

Senate Bill SB369 passed the West Virginia Senate today with only a single dissenting vote (Sen. Randy White, D-Webster). Read about it here: WV Public Broadcasting