PA AG Abuses Her Authority, Files Criminal Charges Against XTO

abuse of powerIn November 2012, the day after the general election, MDN asked the question if Pennsylvania’s newly elected anti-drilling attorney general, Kathleen Kane, would target the Marcellus Shale drilling industry (see Will New PA AG Go After the Marcellus Drilling Industry?). We now know the answer. Yesterday Kane’s office announced it had filed criminal charges against XTO Energy related to the spill of fracking wastewater at a site in Lycoming County, PA that happened more than three years ago–before she took office.

XTO has already responded that the area where the spill occurred suffered no long-term adverse environmental effects and that Kane has far exceeded the bounds of her authority (in fact is abusing her authority) in seeking criminal charges. We agree with XTO…
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Delayed Pipeline to Single Gulfport Utica Well Impacts Market

Can delays in building a pipeline to a single Utica Shale well be enough to affect the stock price of the driller? You bet it can. Analysts from Sterne Agee issued revised estimates of how much production Gulfport Energy will see in the third quarter of this year based on Gulfport’s pre-announcement to the markets yesterday that they’ve had to lower their own estimates of production in 3Q13–because of a delay in hooking up the Irons 1-4H Utica Shale well in Belmont County, OH.

To be fair, Gulfport’s stock price only slipped a little bit on yesterday’s news (down less than 1/2 of one percent), and Sterne Agee remains bullish on the stock. Still, it’s incredible to us that the scheduling of a pipeline hookup for a single well can create such an impact on a multi-billion dollar energy company…
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Gulfport Pays $250K Fine for Leaky Pad Liners at 7 OH Utica Sites

The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) investigated Gulfport’s shale drilling sites in eastern Ohio after an inspector found ground contamination at a Harrison County well. ODNR found evidence of brine–naturally occurring underground water that comes to the surface after drilling is done–escaping from (leaking from) the well–which is not supposed to happen. Each well pad has a big rubber pad liner that’s supposed to catch anything that happens to leak. Gulfport’s pad liners did not do the job.

In addition to a $250,000 fine, Gulfport has to rebuild each of the seven drill pads where there are defective liners before they can continue drilling at those locations…
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Range Water Impoundment Public Hearing Postponed 2nd Time

In August MDN told you about the latest kerfuffle between Range Resources and Mt. Pleasant township in Washington County, PA. Range had built and maintains four water impoundments (think “pond”)–one for frack wastewater and three for fresh water storage. Range uses the impoundments to store and haul water to/from drill sites for use in fracking (see Range Resources Argues with Mt Pleasant over Water Impoundment). Residents object to the impoundments on the grounds that their original use–drilling wells in that immediate area–is long over. Range continues to use them to drill other wells, not only in Washington County but also in Ohio and West Virginia. Residents say Range has overstayed their welcome with the impoundments.

A public hearing was continued from August to September when the public didn’t get a chance to vent at the August meeting. Last night, the hearing was continued yet again–to October–because Range wants a witness to appear at the hearing that couldn’t make it last night…
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Niles, OH Considers Vote to Rescind Ill-Advised Frack Ban

When you rush to do a dumb thing, you later regret it. City council members in Niles, OH have learned that hard lesson after voting last month to implement a ban on shale drilling. In their haste to “protect residents” from drilling, they didn’t bother to read the fine print of the bill they passed (no doubt drafted by a helpful anti-driller). In addition to banning shale drilling in the city–something that wouldn’t happen anyway–the bill also bans businesses that operate in the city and the city itself from doing business with the drilling industry. Oops. The city does a lot of business with the drilling industry.

Now city council members are planning a vote to rescind the ban they just passed last month…
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Eastern OH Shale Drillers Donate to Local Schools

Several high schools in eastern Ohio have received a surprise gift: money from drillers. Antero Resources recently donated $2,500 to each of five high schools for use in their athletics programs. PDC Energy recently donated $5,000 to the Wolf Creek school. And CONSOL Energy is running a contest for select Ohio schools with a $10,000 first prize.

All of these efforts come under the umbrella of what we call “the industry gives back”…
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Ohio Utica Shale Blog Takes Top Honor in Statewide Contest

A huge congratulations are in order for Bob Downing (whom we have met and like a great deal) and Jim Mackinnon (whom we’ve not met but are sure we would like) for winning the contest as the No. 1 newsblog in Ohio for 2012 for their Ohio Utica Shale blog (published by the Akron Beacon Journal). MDN editor Jim Willis reads a lot–every day–and one of his favorite “must read” websites (that we often quote from) is the Ohio Utica Shale blog/Akron Beacon Journal.

The award is well-deserved and we can’t think of a better pair who deserve the recognition from their peers in the Society of Professional Journalists, the organization making the award. So, “Way to go, guys!”…
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