The Utica Landowner Group of eastern Ohio has just cut a deal with Antero Resources for what is believed to be the highest amount paid yet for a lease deal: $5,900 per acre for a signing bonus, and 21 percent royalties. The deal covers land in Belmont, Monroe and Noble counties in Ohio.
Washington County is the most active county in southwestern Pennsylvania for Marcellus drilling, including most numbers of wells drilled, pipelines to transport the gas and compressor stations to power the pipelines. Word has just leaked that last September the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began a “multi-media” probe into drilling in Washington County. A multi-media probe means they analyze air, water and land impacts of drilling. Apparently the EPA doesn’t believe the PA Department of Environmental Protection can do its own job and needs an assist.
Pennsylvania’s northeastern counties stand to bring in millions of new revenue this year under the impact fee that Gov. Corbett is soon due to sign. Once the legislation is signed, county governments will have 60 days to decide whether or not to adopt an ordinance adopting the new fee structure, along with the restrictions it imposes on a county’s ability to regulate drilling via zoning (see this MDN story). Each county is allowed to keep 60 percent of the total impact fee collected. The other 40 percent? That goes to the state. The 40 percent is the “spread the wealth around” compromise lawmakers needed to strike in order to pass the legislation.
Here’s a rundown on how much in new revenue northeastern PA counties stand to collect in direct fees, the 60 percent portion:
The new Marcellus drilling legislation passed by the Pennsylvania House and Senate (both controlled by Republicans), and due to be signed by Gov. Tom Corbett (also a Republican) is a great milestone. It places new restrictions on drilling and makes regulation of drilling across the state more even-handed. There are many things to like about the new legislation.
But it’s also a disappointment. The so-called impact fee is really just a tax trying to fly under the radar as a fee. Why a tax? Because the fee as originally proposed would stay in the areas where drilling happens, where drilling is having an “impact.” If a municipality has to repair roads, or spend more on emergency services and policing, or hire extra workers in government offices—that extra expense should be reimbursed. That’s what an impact fee is supposed to do.
Chesapeake Energy, the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer, has pioneered a new technology that allows them to recycle up to 100 percent of fracking wastewater to be reused on new wells being fracked. The technology, called Aqua Renew (video embedded below) means less wastewater going either to municipal treatment facilities or injection wells for disposal.
The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: