When Will We Know if NY Will See Fracking? June 2014

questionsA question MDN is frequently asked… Q: When will the issue of fracking in New York State really and truly be decided–and by whom? A: June 2014, by the NY Court of Appeals. “Not by Gov. Cuomo?” you ask. Nope. He’ll come around, eventually. The real issue has always been whether or not entire towns can ban fracking based on the vote of 3 or 4 people who sit on a town board–a vote that denies every citizen in that town their Constitutional private property rights. Two cases now before the New York Court of Appeals will decide the issue once and for all.

Thanks to the lead attorney for one of those cases–Scott Kurkoski, attorney for the “Middlefield” case–we now have insight into how and when this will all progress from now through June of next year. It started yesterday when briefs were filed by Kurkoski (for Middlefield) and by Albany-area attorney Tom West (for the “Dryden” case) with the Court of Appeals…
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CONSOL Sells More Coal Mines, Investing $24B(!) in Shale Drilling

CONSOL Energy continues what seems to be its inevitable transformation from being a coal mining company to being a natural gas drilling company. The federal government (EPA) is killing the coal industry by killing electric power generating plants that run on coal with onerous new “pollution” standards. It is intentional–Obama’s EPA wants to kill coal. CONSOL is feeling the heat–losing more and more customers for their coal. And so CONSOL has announced they’re selling five more of their coal mines located in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and using the money to expand their natural gas drilling operation.

In fact, CONSOL says it plans to invest an eye-popping $24 billion in West Virginia and Pennsylvania natural gas drilling over the next 10 years. By comparison, MDN found in the most recent volume of the Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook that announced midstream infrastructure projects in the northeast add up to a $40 billion investment. CONSOL, a single driller, will spend more than half that amount on new drilling alone! These are truly staggering numbers and very good news for the states involved. Too bad New York (where MDN is located) is seeing NONE of this investment…
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OH Gov. Kasich Dedicates Hickory Bend Plant, No Foreigners Found

Ohio Gov. John Kasich was on hand yesterday for a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the Hickory Bend cryogenic processing plant in Mahoning County, OH. Pennant Midstream, a joint venture of NiSource and Hilcorp’s Harvest Pipeline subsidiary, dedicated the plant by inviting Kasich and a number of state and local officials. The Hickory Bend processing plant separates natural gas liquids (NGLs or “wet gas”) from methane (or “dry gas”). It has been up and running since summer, however, it won’t begin shipping separated NGLs to the M3 Momentum fractionation plant in Kensington until December. Hickory Bend is also a network of 55 miles of wet gas gathering pipelines in the region.

Gov. Kasich had plenty to say as he dedicated the plant. In typical fashion he was there sniffing out “foreigners” and was happy to pronounce he didn’t find any. (For an example of Kasich’s obsession with “foreigners”–i.e. out of state workers–see OH Gov. Kasich Goes Foreigner-Hunting in Strasburg.) Kasich also dissed Pennsylvania in his comments. A handful of protesters were on hand for the ceremony, bleating about methane migration, but they were far enough away that nobody heard them…
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CWA Sues/Accuses Waste Treatment Corp of Continued Shale Pollution

Is a municipal waste treatment facility in Warren County, PA (northwestern part of the state) still accepting and treating Marcellus Shale frack wastewater that is polluting the Allegheny River? That is the very serious charge made in a federal lawsuit filed yesterday by the radical anti-drilling organization Clean Water Action (CWA). Waste Treatment Corporation’s facility near Warren was supposed to have stopped receiving frack wastewater from Marcellus Shale drilling in May 2011, after a deal was made with then-Dept. of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer (see PA DEP, Marcellus Shale Coalition Admit Drilling Wastewater Likely Contaminating Drinking Water). According to CWA, Waste Treatment continues to accept Marcellus frack wastewater, process it and dump it into the Allegheny, thereby polluting it. The Allegheny is the source of drinking water for Pittsburgh and other municipalities.

The CWA also charges that the PA DEP knows about said dumping and is sitting on its hands, attempting to work out a new deal rather than shut the plant down or otherwise pull their permits to get them to stop…
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Cornell Prof Tony Ingraffea Learns a New Skill: Cut & Paste

Cornell professor Anthony (Tony) Ingraffea is very talented. Ingraffea is not only an erstwhile stand-up comic (see Cornell Hydraulic Fracturing Expert Headlines First Meeting of New York Residents Against Drilling (NYRAD) in Vestal, NY) and fictional report writer (see Howarth, Ingraffea Shale Gas Study on Global Warming Discredited by U.S. Department of Energy), he’s now added another new skill to his towering intellectual quiver. Tony has learned how to cut & paste in Microsoft Word! Yes, it’s a real resume enhancer.

Our entertaining Cornell prof thought he would get away with cutting and pasting his own previously published “exclusive” editorial for the New York Times by sending it off to flyover country where he didn’t think the hicks would notice. Tony sent essentially the same column to Wyoming previously published in the NYT. However, the hicks noticed…
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MarkWest Pipeline Construction in WV Destroys Nearby House

Sad and unusual: MarkWest Energy was drilling near a home in Valley Grove (Ohio County), WV to install a pipeline when drilling mud and water found its way into an abandoned water well and then up into the basement of the home of Becky and John Wieczorkowski. The drilling mud/water damaged the home, likely beyond repair, by moving it off its foundation.

Apparently MarkWest was not aware of the uncased, abandoned well that sat beneath the Wieczorkowski’s home. It does not appear to be a case of negligence on the part of MarkWest, but of ignorance. MarkWest is making it right for the homeowners and investigating to see what went wrong…
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EIA Admission: Rig Counts No Longer Predict Production

Last week the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released their very first Drilling Productivity Report, or DPR (for a copy, see New EIA Drilling Productivity Report: Marcellus Passes 12 Bcf/d!). Yesterday the EIA posted on their Today in Energy blog a bit more of their thinking/rationale for developing the DPR.

And what, you may ask, is the reason the EIA developed yet another report like the DPR for the energy information-addicted (like MDN) to consume? They developed it precisely for the same reason MDN has been trumpeting for nearly two years now: Rig counts are no longer a reliable predictor of production, as they once were. Here’s yesterday’s EIA post that talks about “rethinking” rig counts, and the new DPR…
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