An eleventh hour deal was snuck into the Pennsylvania budget signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett late Saturday night. On Friday, an amendment was introduced to the budget that would establish a moratorium on drilling in southeastern Pennsylvania in the South Newark Basin, a small area which stretches from New Jersey through Bucks, Montgomery and Berks counties in PA.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently completed an evaluation of the South Newark Basin, which contains both shale and coal bed methane deposits, along with four other East Coast basins and issued a report showing how much natural gas each basin contains (a copy is embedded below). The report says the South Newark Basin contains a minimum of 363 billion cubic feet of natural gas deposits, and their best guess is it contains around 876 billion cubic feet. It’s much smaller than the Marcellus, but certainly nothing to sneeze at.
With all of the gas drilling in the rest of the state, and with new drilling laws now in place, why place a temporary moratorium that expires in 2018 on the southeast region of the state? That’s where politics rears its ugly head—and this time it’s the Republicans who are to blame.
Apparently the merger underway between Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco is going well enough, and the promise of Marcellus and Utica Shale big enough, that Sunoco has inked a deal with The Carlyle Group to form a joint venture to keep the Philadelphia refinery operating. The new joint venture will save 850 jobs at the plant. Wording in the extensive press release below indicates that shale—Marcellus, Utica and Bakken—will all play an important role for the refinery moving forward.
This is good news for the workers at the refinery, and good news for consumers who will continue to have access to low-cost oil, natural gas and other petrochemical products that will be produced by the refinery. Here’s the press release announcing the deal:
Devon Energy has just received the first permit to drill a Utica Shale well in Wayne County, Ohio. No timeline is set for when the drilling will begin, but Devon hopes the well will yield not only methane but oil too.
At 11:45 pm Saturday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, for the second year in a row (and his second year in office), signed into law an on-time budget for the state—a budget that does not raise taxes. No small feat given the current sad state of the economy.
One of the biggest victories for Corbett in this year’s budget (supported by both Republicans and Democrats) was the passage of a tax credit for Shell and other companies who invest in an ethane cracker plant for the state:
The anti-drilling Delaware Riverkeeper has launched a new anti-gas ad airing on Lifetime, MSNBC, CNBC, and FOX News. Yes, Fox News too. No doubt using the deep pockets of Hollywood types (like Mark Ruffalo) and money from billionaires (like the lefty George Soros), the ad tries to turn up the fear factor on gas drilling and smear the miracle of hydraulic fracturing. Perhaps you’ve seen the new ad? MDN editor Jim Willis watched it online here (he kicked the time-wasting TV habit years ago).
MDN notices that some lazy (obedient?) news outlets have picked up the Riverkeeper press release and printed it word for word as actual news, not even bothering to identify it as a biased press release (like the Hunterdon County Democrat).
Here’s the press release as issued by Riverkeeper (and as found in the Hunterdon County Democrat):