PA Judge to PUC: Cease & Desist Act 13 Zoning Reviews

cease and desistOn Friday, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Keith Quigley issued a “cease and desist” order to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) telling them they can no longer review PA towns’ zoning ordinances for compliance with the new Act 13 drilling law (a copy of his order is embedded below). MDN has chronicled the ongoing fight between seven PA towns and the state over the state’s new standardized “one size fits all” zoning ordinance for oil and gas drilling (see this MDN story for background).

The lawsuit brought by the seven towns is now before the state Supreme Court waiting for a decision. In advance of that, the PUC said there are some zoning provisions not challenged in the lawsuit and they are evaluating those kinds of cases. The PUC has ruled that some of the seven towns in the lawsuit are not in compliance and the PUC is withholding their impact fee checks pending a decision from the Supreme Court—it’s a lot of money. Judge Quigley has said “no more” and now the attorney for those towns is demanding the PUC cut the checks for the impact fees owed to the towns.

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Radon Debate: USGS Responds to Marvin Resnikoff Accusation

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is none too happy with Dr. Marvin Resnikoff and his accusations that the USGS has been “co-opted” by big fracking. MDN has written previously about “the sky is falling” – or in this case, “the radon is coming” Resnikoff. Dr. R says Marcellus Shale gas contains high levels of radon that will find its way into the kitchen stoves of New York City if we continue to allow hydraulic fracturing of shale for natural gas (see this MDN story).

In Dr. R’s zeal to crush any opposing viewpoint or research that disproves his theories, he’s recently taken to bashing the USGS as a “tool” of industry in covering up the so-called “fact” that high levels of radon exist in Marcellus Shale gas. The Akron Beacon Journal ran one of his screeds. A few days later the USGS fired back in response to set the record straight.

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Pavillion, WY in the News Again: This Time for Clean Air

The federal Environmental Protection Agency, along with anti-drillers nationwide, have done their best to turn Pavillion, Wyoming into an example of water contamination from fracking. They’re desperate to prove a causal link between fracking and water contamination somewhere, anywhere! They have none—not a single case. And so Pavillion was to be it. Except the EPA has botched their own tests (see this MDN story). And except fracking in Pavillion is different than shale fracking (see this MDN story).

A story that’s not received any national attention is air testing that’s been done near Pavillion. The Wyoming State Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has just completed more than a year’s worth of air tests around Pavillion, and what did they find? Nothing. Air’s fine. But you won’t read about that in the New York Times, will you? Here’s the story the mainstream media won’t cover:

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Clear Majority of New York Residents Now Favor Fracking

More New Yorkers now support fracking in the state than at any time in the past according to the latest Siena College Research Institute Poll. By a clear majority, 42% of New Yorkers support fracking vs. 36% who oppose it. In August, the numbers were 39% supporting vs. 38% opposing—so clearly there has been a shift over the past three months since Siena last polled on this question.

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Europe Commits “Energy Suicide” While America Fracks Future

Have you ever noticed how refreshingly honest the international media is when compared with U.S. mainstream media? Case in point: The London Telegraph has a story detailing how the miracle of hydraulic fracturing has turned the U.S. into an economic powerhouse once again—and how Europe is committing energy suicide by not leveraging fracking.

The article says, in part:

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PA PUC Says Impact Fee Payment Calculations Still “Off”

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) had a doubly bad day on Friday. First, a Commonwealth Court judge ordered them to “cease and desist” their review of town zoning ordinances for compliance with Act 13 (see this MDN story). Also, the PUC admitted on Friday that some of their calculations for how much money some towns will get from the new Marcellus Shale impact fee is a bit “off.” This is the second time the PUC has had to backpedal on some of their calculations of the complex impact fee disbursement formula.

Here’s what the PUC would, and would not, say on Friday:

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Cecil, PA Public Hearing to Revise Zoning for Act 13

Even though the Town of Cecil (Washington County, PA) is one of the seven towns suing the state of PA over the zoning provisions of Act 13, the town is going to consider changing their zoning law to be compliant with Act 13 all the same. The situation is now murky and “fluid”…

On Friday, Cecil’s town manager said this:

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Top 10 Energy Companies & Top 10 Drillers Worldwide

Each year Platts publishes a list  of the top 250 energy companies in the world. They evaluate companies using four metrics: asset value, revenue, profit, and return on invested capital. It probably won’t surprise you to find out that 7 of the top 10 energy companies in the world have a presence in the Marcellus or Utica Shale.

Here’s the Platts list of the top 10 energy companies in the world for 2012:

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What PA Doesn’t Need: A Shale Gas Severance Tax

Pennsylvania is facing a growing crisis over a too-generous and now essentially bankrupt pension system for state public employees. The Harrisburg Patriot-News’ editorial page writer has a “brilliant” solution: Enact a big fat severance tax on Marcellus Shale gas (killing it in the process) and transfer the money from one group of people to another group who didn’t earn it, didn’t work for it, and have nothing to do with it. Typical liberal solution to all problems.

All the usual arguments come out: “All the other states are doing it.” “Give everyone a property tax break (i.e. buy them all off to go along with it).” “At current prices we’re selling ourselves too cheaply.” And, “It’ll be just a teeny, tiny little tax—the big, bad energy companies won’t even notice it.” Don’t believe a word of it.

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