D-Day: JLCNY Files Lawsuit Today Against Cuomo, Martens, Shah

Gavel fallingToday the 70,000 members of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) will finally launched their legal offensive against a recalcitrant governor, commissioner of the DEC, and the state health commissioner. D-Day will, of course, forever be associated with the first day of the World War II Allied Forces landing on the beaches of Normandy, France–June 6, 1944. We are in no way comparing the current action by the JLCNY with that momentous day which included incredible sacrifices by brave American (and other country’s) troops. However, D-Day is also a generic military term that means the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. It is in that sense we say that today is legal D-Day for the JLCNY and pro-drilling landowners. This IS a battle, it IS important with incredibly high stakes, and it does seem as though the odds are stacked against us. However, we have our own allied legal forces and we, as pro-drilling landowners in New York, are determined to win. And win we will!

The lawsuit will be filed in Supreme Court in Albany County, NY. (Oddly enough, Supreme Court is a lower court in New York–one step up from county court.) What a badge of shame for Cuomo, Martens and Shah to be sued by residents of their own state, pleading with the courts to force them to do the job they were elected (or appointed) to do. Below is the overview statement from JLCNY’s lead attorney Scott Kurkoski, a partner at Binghamton law firm Levene Gouldin & Thompson. It outlines the legal arguments the JLCNY will use in their Article 78 lawsuit to force compliance with established law and force the release of the SGEIS shale drilling regulations. Below the overview are copies of the lawsuit paperwork being filed today (three documents in all). We wish Scott and the JLCNY Godspeed and good luck–we’re cheering the whole way, and you should be too…
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WPX Gives MDN an Update on Their 2014 Marcellus Plans

Yesterday MDN brought you the news that WPX Energy seemed to be waving good-bye to the Marcellus, based on our observation that they will not do any new drilling in the Marcellus in 2014 (see WPX Energy Abandoning the Marcellus? Sure Looks That Way). Upon posting that story, WPX official Susan Oliver contacted MDN to provide some perspective and background. MDN concludes that we had most of our analysis right, but we may have left the wrong impression by using the word “Abandoning” in our headline. We want to clear this up right here and now, at the beginning of this update: WPX Energy is not leaving the Marcellus. That is, the 100 or so wells they’ve already drilled here in the Marcellus will continue to be WPX wells. We thank the company for making that clarification and apologize to landowners if we gave you a bit of shock.

However, WPX is, as we noted yesterday, not doing any new drilling in the Marcellus–at least in 2014 and likely beyond. That part of yesterday’s story was correct. As Susan told us, the change we see reflected in their 2014 budget and drilling plan is that the company is shifting from drilling to production in the Marcellus. As for their new drilling program in 2014, they owe it to their stockholders to drill new wells in more oily shale plays–places where they will make more money, quite frankly. And you can’t fault them for that…
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FERC: Constitution Pipeline Should Make Changes to Lessen Impacts

From the beginning when it was first proposed, MDN has chronicled the journey of the proposed 125-mile Constitution Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from the gas fields of Susquehanna County, PA to central New York where it will connect with two major interstate transmission Pipelines–the Tennessee Gas Pipeline and the Iroquois Gas Transmission pipeline. We have an important milestone to report on the Constitution. Wednesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal agency in charge of approving these kinds of pipeline projects, issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project (the Executive Summary is embedded below).

In brief, the draft EIS, which is now open for public comment until April, says that the project as proposed does pose some threats to the environment, but that those threats can be reduced to “less than significant levels” if Williams, the builder of the pipeline, makes certain changes and takes certain precautions. FERC also said there’s no better alternative to meeting the energy needs for hundreds of thousands of people–that the Constitution is the best option out there for delivering more natural gas to the northeast in a timely manner. To do nothing is not an option, according to FERC, and there are no other pipelines that can do what the Constitution will do. This EIS was FERC essentially blessing this project–with certain conditions attached…
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Benesch Shale Report: Chesapeake Sale Rumors Swirling

The Ohio law firm of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff are one of the northeast’s top energy law firms. Each quarter they publish a Shale Industry Report, largely focused on what’s been happening in the Ohio Utica Shale (most recent report covering fourth quarter 2013 is embedded below). It’s a great update–one that we like to read and enjoy being able to bring it to you. The top issue listed in the opening of the report is the rumor that, unsurprisingly, corporate raider Carl Icahn (Chesapeake Energy’s second largest shareholder) is shopping Chesapeake for sale to other companies. We’ve warned you about this from the beginning, when Icahn first started flexing his raider muscles and bullying the company into submission.

Everyone yells at MDN, “Chesapeake needed fiscal discipline…Aubrey McClendon was reckless and almost bankrupted the company…a strict hand was needed at the helm and Icahn came along at the right time…etc.” We say bunk. This has always been about adding more zeros to Icahn’s bank account–from firing more than 1,200 people to selling off assets right and left in the equivalent of fire sales. There’s nothing disciplined or wholesome or good about it. It’s about fat cats getting fatter (i.e. richer). Yes it’s a free country (maybe, we need to check how many more illegal executive orders have been issued in the past 24 hours by Obama)–and in a free country this kind of thing can happen. But we don’t need to like it, and we sure as heck don’t. Icahn and his toady Doug Lawler need to go. End rant. So who’s rumored to be interested in buying Chessy?…
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Trout Unlimited, Other Groups Outted as Radical Green Groups

For a long time MDN has harped on the fact that groups like Trout Unlimited is filled with extremist anti-drillers (see our article Anti-Drilling Close-up: Trout Unlimited from October 2012). Finally, a national organization credited with uncovering the illicit activities of groups like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) which was caught funding eco-terrorits and arsonists, has shown the spotlight on Trout Unlimited and several other so-called “conservation” groups. The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) says TU and several other groups, while starting out with good intentions, have been “co-opted by wealthy grant-making bodies notorious for their support of anti-gun, radical environmentalist agendas” all the while pretending to support hunters and fishermen. Finally, some truth wins out!

Here’s the damning announcement from CCF that says TU, The Izaak Walton League of America and several other groups are definitely not what they present themselves as…
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Natgas Jumps Thru Hoops for Bats While Solar Farm Torches Turtles

The shale drilling industry jumps through all sorts of hoops to ensure Mother Nature doesn’t take an undue hit. For example, we’re personally aware of a Williams gathering pipeline in the South Gibson (Susquehanna County), PA area that had to radically change its pipeline digging schedule–speeding up the process by more than six months–because of bats that nest in trees. The PA DEP has a concern that knocking down a few trees for a certain species of nesting bat might affect local the bat population. Williams didn’t want to wait an entire year to dig and lay the pipeline (they have agreements in place with drillers), so they had to arbitrarily move up the digging schedule to lay the pipeline, inconveniencing several landowners (one of them a youth camp). That’s just one example of how the industry goes above and beyond each day to accommodate what are sometimes questionable (we’d call them stupid) rules and regulations–but OK, that’s the price we pay, right?

However, if you’ve been able to get environmentalists to call your project “green,” it doesn’t matter what kind of local wildlife you squash and kill. Example: the world’s largest solar thermal power plant, built by NRG Energy, was dedicated this week. The “plant” is five square miles of mirrors, each the size of a garage door. It’s located in an old, dry lake bed in the Mohave Desert (along the Nevada/California border). Five square miles of desert and its wildlife were confiscated, displacing tortoises and coyotes, killing Mojave milkweed and other indigenous plants. But that’s OK–it’s green! The Western Watershed Project is suing the federal agencies involved in “green lighting” the “green” project, saying they didn’t consider alternative sites. The point of all this, is, of course, that NO source of energy is without trade-offs and problems and sacrifices. The twin point is that just because something is called “green” doesn’t mean it’s better than other clean sources of energy–like natural gas…
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Penn State Figures Out How to Convert Garbage into Proppants

Shale drilling uses a special kind of sand called silica. It uses a LOT of silica, which is mostly mined in the Midwest, in places like Wisconsin. Sand is called a “proppant” in the industry because it “props open” tiny little holes in fracked shale rock to allow the natural gas (or oil or NGLs) to slip out and up the borehole. There are alternatives to silica as a proppant material–but not many are economic to use. What if you could turn industrial and domestic waste materials into a viable alternative source of raw materials for proppants? That is, what if you could turn garbage into the equivalent of sand? That would be so cool, getting rid of industrial waste on the one hand, creating a cheap source of proppants on the other.

Turning garbage into proppants is exactly what the brains at Penn State have now figured out how to do. Below is the announcement from Penn State that a pair of their materials scientists have published a new paper in a scientific journal (copy of the paper embedded below). The announcement and paper trumpet the discovery that there is a better way to create cheap proppants for shale drilling, and it was discovered right here in Marcellus Shale country…
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