MDN Attends Screening of ‘Truthland’ Movie

TruthlandIt was MDN’s pleasure to attend a screening of the newly released Truthland movie last evening at the Susquehanna Valley High School in Conklin, NY. Truthland is a short film, about 34 minutes in length, that takes as its mission the debunking of Josh Fox’s well-known movie Gasland.

The star of Truthland is a Pennsylvania woman by the name of Shelly DePue. She and her husband Phil and their children live on a farm in northeastern PA—land that’s been in Phil’s family for the past 120 years. They leased their land for shale gas drilling several years ago, and then along came Gasland with wild claims that fracking is hugely dangerous. The movie raised red flags and questions for Shelly and sent her on a journey to find out the truth (or as it turns out, half- and un-truth) about Gasland. This movie (watch it below) chronicles her quest to get her questions answered.

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Swift Response to Cuomo’s NY Fracking Plan

As MDN predicted yesterday, the initial reaction of anti-drillers in New York that Gov. Cuomo is considering limited fracking in the state has been negative (see this MDN story). They needn’t worry, and once they figure it out, they’ll be happy with Andy’s latest plan because it gives them an excuse to protest and rabble-rouse at town board meetings for the next two years. The fight is going local in New York.

The Albany Times Union hints that Cuomo’s “announcement” of his plans for fracking—which was leaked to the New York Times yesterday—is a trial balloon to gage public reaction to the idea that he would allow drilling in five (MDN calls it the “Lucky Five”) Southern Tier counties of New York for a couple of years to see how it goes.

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Norse Energy: The Little Driller that Could

You have to admire Norse Energy Corp. (subsidiary of the larger Norwegian company of the same name). They rolled the dice by leasing most of their acreage for shale gas drilling in New York State, thinking there was no way it would take this long (now four years) for New York to begin high volume hydraulic fracturing. But it has taken this long, and Norse has tried to stay alive by selling off various assets, reducing staff, restructuring debt and in general doing whatever it takes to “hang in there.”

Just a few weeks ago Norse announced they were shuttering their Buffalo office and heading back to Houston (see this MDN story).

But the plucky Norse, not ready to throw in the towel quite yet, found encouragement in yesterday’s leaked trial balloon announcement that Gov. Andrew Cuomo may begin to allow very limited fracking soon (see this MDN story).

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DOL Targets Shale Gas Subcontractors over Pay Practices

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is targeting the shale gas drilling industry in northeastern Pennsylvania for enforcement actions. The specific issue they are targeting is subcontractors who DOL claims are intentionally misclassifying workers as independent contractors (“1099”) instead of as regular employees (“W2”). By doing so, DOL claims employers are skirting tax withholdings and payment of workers’ compensation and workers are denied benefits like paid holidays, family leave and overtime pay.

What evidence of this “widespread problem” has the DOL hot-and-bothered enough to launch a full-out attack on small businesses in PA? A study—with suspect data.

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The Latest Anti-Drilling Scare Tactic: Radon in Shale Gas

There’s no polite way to say this, so I won’t bother: The nutters are coming out of the woodwork. Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS), NYH2O and 50 “other signatories” have sent a letter to Speaker Quinn of the New York City Council asking the speaker to convene hearings on the issue of radon in natural gas. They are claiming (and this is the nutty part) that Marcellus Shale gas contains radon and that Marcellus gas gets to market so fast the radon doesn’t have time to break down and dissipate. That is, it’s a health risk for New York City residents who use natural gas.

The solution, according to DCS and the others? Don’t use natural gas—at least not the cheap, abundant natural gas that comes from the Marcellus Shale.

Here’s their press release, if you can understand it:

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Data Centers May Relocate to Use Marcellus Shale Gas

Large computer data centers (sometimes called server farms), with thousands of computers, use a lot of electricity. By some estimates data centers use up to 2.2% of all the electricity generated in the U.S.

Now there’s talk that data centers, which have often been constructed in southern states, may have their eye on building new centers in the Mid-Atlantic region. Why? Marcellus shale gas. They want to take advantage of low gas prices and by building next to gas fields in the Marcellus, they can do just that.

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Chesapeake CEO Losing Chairman Title, But Keeping Powers

Although Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon is about to lose his title as Chairman of the Board, it seems that’s about the only thing he’s losing—the title. The power of the position—the ability to call board meetings and the power to call special shareholder meetings—he’s going to keep. The existing board of directors made a change to its bylaws last Friday to grant McClendon the right to call meetings.

Those critical of Chesapeake’s management take it to mean that nothing is really changing with respect to board oversight of McClendon.

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Peregrine Pipeline Withdraws Public Utility Application

Peregrine Keystone Gas Pipeline had planned to construct a gathering pipeline in Greene, Fayette and Washington counties in western PA. They filed an application with the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) in 2010 to become a public utility which would grant them the right to use eminent domain to force landowners to allow them to build a pipeline across their property.

Last month an administrative law judge ruled against Peregrine’s application, and on June 8 Peregrine withdrew the application. Although they believe they have a strong case, with the low price of natural gas and the high likelihood of an extended court battle, Peregrine has given up on public utility status.

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