Breaking: NY Court Decisions in Binghamton & Sidney Cases

exclusiveAn important development in two New York court cases that potentially impacts shale drilling in the state–and no, neither is (directly) about the Dryden or Middlefield town ban cases currently before New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. The two cases we’re referring to are (1) the City of Binghamton and their ill-fated “moratorium” thrown out by a lower court judge in 2012 and subsequently appealed, and (2) a similar moratorium in the Town of Sidney, NY.

In the Binghamton case, the appeal of the tossed-out fracking moratorium authored by anti-drilling husband and wife team of David and Helen Slottje has been withdrawn–so that case is now officially ended and the moratorium remains tossed and unenforceable. This is big news with big implications. In the case of Sidney, the judge in that case (different judge from the Binghamton case) issued a decision yesterday, but as of the time we wrote and posted this story, we still do not have a copy of the decision. We’ll post it as soon as we get it. Let’s dive deeper into both cases…

(Important update at the end of this article)
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Rice Energy Launches IPO, Hopes to Raise $840M

MDN told you last month that Marcellus and Utica Shale driller Rice Energy would soon launch an initial public offering (IPO) and start to trade publicly listed stocks (see Impending Rice Energy IPO Creating a Buzz). Rice Energy launched their IPO yesterday. Previous chatter was that the company would receive a valuation of $2.5 billion. That’s not how much the stock offering would generate–but the overall value the market would give to the company (market capitalization, or “market cap”).

Rice, in a statement issued yesterday (see below), announced they have now floated 40 million shares of common stock and hope to get $19-$21 per share (30 million of that for the company, 10 million for an unnamed “selling stockholder”). If that happens, the company and the selling stockholder together will receive $840 million. For comparison, a larger Marcellus/Utica driller, Antero Resources, went public last October and sold over 35 million shares with their IPO and raked in $1.57 billion ($44 per share)! The Antero IPO valued the company at $11 billion. Antero’s IPO did much better than they hoped. Will Rice’s?…
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PVR Partners Marcellus Pipeline Flows Increase 60% in 1 Year

Midstream company PVR Partners issued an update yesterday to brag about their Marcellus operations–and well they should. Average throughput on the PVR “Eastern Midstream Systems” increased 60%, from 1.1 billion cubic feet per day average in December 2012 to 1.8 Bcf/d in December 2013. They also completed a total of 101 well connections in 2013 for the Eastern Midstream area.

PVR’s Eastern Midstream includes operations in Lycoming, Wyoming, Bradford and Greene counties in Pennsylvania, and Preston County in West Virginia. Here’s the full PVR update with more details:
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PA Democrat Gov Candidates Support Partial/Full Moratorium

Last night, eight Democrat candidates participated in a forum in Philadelphia, all of them seeking the Democrat nomination for governor to run this November. Pay close attention: Seven of the eight support a shale drilling moratorium–either statewide or in certain parts of the state. This is profoundly bad news if the good citizens of PA are unwise enough to elect one of them to the governorship.

If you want a good idea of the calamity that awaits PA in choosing a Democrat governor, House and Senate, PLEASE read (or re-read) MDN contributor Chris Acker’s article here: Guest Post: Pennsylvania Drilling Moratorium – Good or Bad?. Here’s how it played out last night in Philly with regard to Democrat support for a moratorium on shale drilling:
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Utica/Marcellus Construction Spending Rockets in Wheeling Area

According to McGraw Hill Construction, the Wheeling, WV Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Ohio and Marshall counties in WV and Belmont County in Ohio, saw construction explode from $60.3 million in 2012 to $1.57 billion in 2013–a 29-fold increase. The vast majority of that explosion in construction came from–you guessed it–the Marcellus and Utica Shale. Midstream companies Williams and Blue Racer spent the majority of that on new processing plants and pipelines in the area.

This is incredibly good news for that area of the Ohio Valley. The even better news? Ironworkers Local No. 549 predicts this kind of spending by the drilling industry will go on for at least another 5-10 years. Wow!…
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Fracking Finally on the Way in Virginia? Maybe Yes, Maybe No

An article out of Virginia caught our eye, about the potential for drilling and fracking in Virginia, which has so far been pretty devoid of horizontal drilling and high volume fracking. In reading the article it was like rewinding the tape and hearing the same concerns and arguments we heard 2-3 years ago in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Funny how the same things keep coming around again and again. Folks who watch HBO and Gasland get stirred up and are understandably concerned, afraid their water supplies will become contaminated with nasty chemicals from fracking–which of course has never happened…anywhere. But still, people have to read and understand and become comfortable with an unfamiliar-to-them process.

The article from Virginia was about potential drilling perhaps a year off–in an area that’s not the Marcellus Shale. The focus of the article–and the potential drilling that will take place–is the Taylorsville Basin along the eastern/central part of the state, around Caroline County, VA. Even though there’s no Marcellus or Utica anywhere in that area, the article still has implications for shale drilling that may one day happen along the western edges of Virginia where there is Marcellus acreage. The implications? Republican state lawmakers seem a bit too eager to introduce legislation that bans fracking in water aquifers–legislation that may have a spillover effect in other areas of the state, including the Marcellus…
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Natural Gas’ “Unfair Advantage” over Wind and Solar

Yet another novel argument is being trotted out by the militant green left–natural gas an an “unfair” advantage. You see, it’s just too darn easy to build a pipeline–compared with putting up an electrical transmission line. That’s the cockamamie argument now being made by renewable energy zealots like Jaafar Rizvi, writing in Grist Magazine.

As MDN has shouted for years now–the shale drilling debate is not really about water contamination, truck traffic and “fugitive” methane–it’s really about a few misguided people who want to pick your energy source for you–and for everyone else too. They irrationally hate fossil fuels because fossil fuels, including natural gas, threaten to slow the adoption of so-called renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar. How do wind and solar energy get to market? Via high voltage electricity transmission lines. According to Mr. Rizvi, it’s not a fair playing field between natgas pipelines and electric transmission lines…
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New Fracking Book from ABA Good for Lawyers & Laymen Alike

The American Bar Association has just published a new book on fracking titled “Beyond the Fracking Wars.” According to the press announcement, the book ($119) strikes a balance between the legal, regulatory, social and technical aspects of fracking. It further explains the numerous policy choices and decisions that influence fracking development and expansion, taking an approach that is neither pro- nor anti-fracking. A “just the facts, ma’am” kind of book.

The ABA announcement:
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MoveOn.org Launches FrackingFighter Campaign (Try not to Laugh)

The extreme left wing group MoveOn.org has spawned a new effort called Fracking Fighters which “seeks to slow down the fracking boom that is anticipated to occur across the United States in 2014 and beyond.” They’ve decided to put a massive $50,000 behind the effort. So far they’ve gotten 100 signups for their trouble. Big whup.

For those too young to remember, MoveOn.org was started in 1998 to encourage Congress to “move on” and forget about impeaching then President Bill Clinton who lied under oath (perjury) about getting a bj in the Oval Office from intern Monica Lewinski. Getting a bj in the White House is a resume enhancer for the moral-less left–they secretly envied Bill and wanted to be just like him. Long after bj Bill had left town, MoveOn stuck around to support other really important causes, like slowing down fracking. Wait, it’s OK for Bill to frack, but not anyone else? How does that work??…
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