This is not the kind of story we enjoy sharing with you. Hilcorp, a major driller in the Utica and Marcellus Shale, has decided to take what we consider “the low road” and is using a 1961 Pennsylvania law to sue a landowner to allow them to drill under their property. It’s called “forced pooling,” “compulsory integration,” and a variety of other terms. MDN does not support it. Our argument is simple: My neighbor should not have the right to tell me I can’t drill on and under my land, and I should not have the right to force it on my neighbor if they don’t want it. We believe it’s the only defensible position in the drilling debate.
Regardless, Hilcorp has moved forward with a legal action against a landowner in Lawrence County, PA who owns just 14.6 acres in a drilling unit leased by Hilcorp–and that 14.6 acres apparently prevents Hilcorp from drilling. So off to court they go…
Manufacturing and labor leaders held a confab yesterday in Pittsburgh to discuss jobs, the economy, and how the Marcellus is lifting both in southwestern Pennsylvania (see our companion story today). One of the speakers at yesterday’s meeting was Peter Molinaro, vice president and senior advisor on government affairs for The Dow Chemical Co. One of Dow Chemical’s chief rivals and competitors is Shell Chemical. Shell, as MDN readers are well aware, is currently conducting a multi-year evaluation of whether or not to build a regional ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, PA, outside Pittsburgh about 30 miles.
It probably won’t surprise you that Dow’s Molinaro said at yesterday’s meeting that PA probably doesn’t need a cracker plant after all. Are Molinaro’s comments about a PA cracker wise and measured counsel from an industry participant who has a feel for the economics of U.S. manufacturing and what it truly needs? Or are his comments trash-talking a competitor in hopes of scuttling a deal and eliminating competition so more ethane will be pipelined to the Gulf–where Dow’s cracker plants are located? You decide…
MDN editor Jim Willis had the great pleasure of meeting and speaking with former PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) Sec. Michael Krancer at Shale Insight 2013 a few weeks ago. Jim doesn’t mind telling you what he told Sec. Krancer to his face: “I’m a huge fan!” Krancer did some great work at the DEP during his too-short tenure. Since then, Krancer has moved on to private practice in Philadelphia, working on energy law for powerhouse law firm Blank Rome.
Sec. Krancer minces no words, which is what we love about him. He’s also extremely smart. And, he’s no fan of recently introduced legislation by PA Sen. Jim Ferlo who wants to ban fracking in Pennsylvania–Ferlo calls it a moratorium but it’s “open-ended,” meaning it’s really a ban (see PA Dems Go Over the Cliff – Introduce Statewide Frack Ban Bill). Krancer penned a devastating rebuttal to Ferlo’s bill and indeed to obtuse anti-fossil fuel advocates throughout Pennsylvania. Sec. Krancer sent along a copy of his sterling piece, first published on the Law360 website, with permission for MDN to distribute it far and wide. Forthwith, from the sharp pen of Sec. Krancer…
Coming soon to a neighborhood near you in eastern Ohio: frack wastewater ponds? Maybe. Ohio regulators with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) say they will soon approve, permit and regulate frack wastewater ponds or “impoundments”–something currently not allowed in Ohio. The impoundments hold millions of gallons of frack wastewater–a kind of temporary holding container so drillers can re-use the liquid for more fracking. The impoundments, typically close to drilling operations, cut down on truck traffic and when built and maintained properly, are completely safe (according to drillers).
However, some people are concerned about open-air impoundments and the possibility that nasty chemicals may escape–either through the air or into the ground. Valid concerns?…
Hollywood actress Debra Winger, who not only has an apartment in New York City but owns a “farm” in Sullivan County, NY (Upstate for the uninitiated), is on a mission. Her mission is to get her other Hollywood and Downstate pals that also own a place in Sullivan County to register to vote there. Register once? Register twice? We’re not sure she’s advocating voter fraud (although she may be).
Winger wants Downstaters to register to vote in Sullivan County so they can pack local town boards with anti-drillers–just in case Gov. Andrew “Spineless” Cuomo suddenly grows a spine and allows shale drilling…
Yesterday a group of manufacturing and labor leaders gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers headquarters on Pittsburgh’s South Side to talk about the creation of more manufacturing jobs in the greater Pittsburgh area–specifically about how Marcellus Shale is changing the landscape and is a tremendous jobs creator in the region. Several publications attended and each put their own angle on what was said at the meeting.
MDN picks through the stories to bring you the bits and pieces we found interesting–news about how the Marcellus is changing the picture in southwest PA and beyond. One of those interesting tidbits: the chairman of the PA Public Utility Commission said Marcellus Shale gas has been responsible for power prices dropping an average 52% across the state–for everyone. Incredible! And a comparison between the Marcellus and WD-40…
The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: