PA Judge Hears Mariner East NGL Pipeline Eminent Domain Case

court gavelSunoco Logistics–and for that matter, MarkWest–have a lot riding on a single court case in Washington County, PA. It might be a bit melodramatic to say the future of the Mariner East NGL (natural gas liquids) pipeline hangs in the balance, but it certainly is not inaccurate to say the case could cause an extended delay–if it goes the “wrong” way (for Sunoco). What’s the case about?

Sunoco’s Mariner East “refined products” pipeline spans the entire state of Pennsylvania. In order to connect to that pipeline to ship propane and ethane to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia, Sunoco first has to build a 50-mile feeder pipeline from the MarkWest processing plant in Houston (Chartiers Township) to Delmont (see the Sunoco map below). The problem is, a group of landowners in Washington County won’t play ball and lease their land to Sunoco to bury the pipeline. Sunoco got tired of negotiating with the recalcitrant landowners, and changed tactics to declare it (Sunoco) has eminent domain power under PA state authority. They sue the 25 landowners for force them to allow the pipeline. The landowners sued back arguing the 50-mile pipeline should come under federal, not state, authority. One of the 25 cases is being used as a proxy for the others and that case was just argued yesterday before a PA judge. A decision, according to the judge, will be “prompt”…
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CSSD Makes Case for Quasi-Regulation of Marcellus Drilling

Yesterday MDN told you that the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (the CSSD) is back, in a big way (see Center for Sustainable Shale Comes Roaring Back (to Life)). About the time we posted that story, we received a number of announcements from the CSSD. One of those announcements was about a session for the press–to listen to and ask questions of CSSD interim director Andrew Place (from EQT) and former governor and EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman. MDN dialed in to listen, this is what we heard…
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Are CSSD’s Standards Really Needed? Comparison with PA/OH/WV/Feds

The Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) has a big hurdle to leap–convincing drillers to spend a lot of money and time (up to $50,000 and hundreds of hours) to become CSSD certified–and then ongoing monitoring to keep that certification. They’re using a carrot and stick. The carrot is that if you become certified, you’re elite, you’re “in”, you’re special–and landowners will be able to trust you. You’ll have the “Goodhouskeeping seal of approval” on your drilling because you’ve got the cert. The stick is that if you don’t get certified, you’re suspect, you’re in the “out” crowd, you’re not “one of us” and therefore landowners should be wary of signing a lease to have you drill on their property.

Beyond the perceptions, the real question is whether or not the standards themselves will achieve what they say they will achieve–safer and “sustainable” drilling that does a minimum amount of damage to the environment while retrieving low-cost, more efficient and better for the environment natural gas. But wait (you may ask), don’t the states and even the feds already have a bookshelf full of standards and regulations drillers must follow? Indeed they do. The CSSD says, in essence, those standards are fine, but our (CSSD) standards are far better. The crux of the CSSD argument is that you should voluntarily (with peer pressure and cajoling) follow our standards because we have PA, OH, WV and even the feds beat on how strict and yummy good for the environment our standards are over theirs. In fact, the CSSD has produced a chart (embedded below) to “prove” it…
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CONSOL Update: Spending $1.5B in 2014, Production Target 235 Bcfe

CONSOL Energy continues its rapid transformation from coal producer to natural gas producer. Yesterday the company issued an update reiterating their intention to hike natural gas production by 30% this year. To do it, they plan to spend up to $1.5 billion on drilling and capital investments. That’s a whole lotta dough. Most of that will be spent in the Marcellus and Utica Shale (CONSOL is headquartered in Pittsburgh).

Below is CONSOL’s announcement in which they tell us where, and how, they plan to dramatically increase natural gas production in 2014:
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New CNX Gas COO Tim Dugan – Marcellus & Utica Experience

Back in November, MDN told you that the top dog guy who runs the exploration and production (E&P) division of CONSOL Energy, Randy Albert, is retiring (see CNX Gas Chief Randy Albert Retiring, Search On for Successor). We were truly sorry to see him go. We’ve met Randy and liked him.

Today, we’re happy to report a new COO for the E&P division–someone who’s been around the Marcellus/Utica block a few times and knows the ropes well: Tim Dugan. Here’s the CONSOL announcement about Tim taking the reigns at CNX Gas…
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OH House Dem Makes Another Run at Nosebleed 7.5% Severance Tax

The reliably anti-drilling Ohio State Representative from Youngstown, Robert F. Hagan, would prefer to ban shale drilling outright. Since that’s not going to happen in OH (at least not any time soon), he wants to kill it another way. Last June Hagan introduced a bill in the OH House that would enact a 7.5% drilling tax on Utica Shale drilling, which would of course effectively kill all Utica drilling henceforth (see Youngstown Democrat State Rep Wants to Hike Severance Tax to 7.5%). You have to hand it to those OH Dems–they’re real johnny one-notes: tax more, spend more.

Hagan is trotting out his obscenely high tax bill once again, trying to whip up support. Good luck with that one Bobby…
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Minnesota Film Festival Bows to Pressure, Censors FrackNation

It looks like the peace-loving, open-minded, love and daisies anti-drilling liberals have bullied another venue into dropping a screening of the pro-drilling (and highly recommend) FrackNation. The Frozen River Film Festival in Winona, MN said they had been pressured by libs from Mountain Film in Telluride and the Sundance Film Festival. And so they caved and went running with their tail between their legs instead of standing up for free speech and an alternative view.

Ever notice how free speech only applies when mouthy anti-drillers want to shut down a public meeting or show their propaganda somewhere–but when the other side wants to talk or show a film, it’s “off with their heads!” Hypocrites–the lot of them. Here’s an update from MDN friend and FrackNation director and star Phelim McAleer about Frozen River Film Festival’s censorship of his film…
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