Constitution Pipeline Payments to Groups – Donations or Payola?

money bagWhat do you call it when a company pays money to local organizations and agencies before the project has been fully approved by federal, state and local agencies? These payments, mind you, are not fees for permits or licenses, but voluntary chunks of money offered to groups that may be affected by the project if it’s built–in this case a pipeline. Is it called, Good corporate citizenship? Being a responsible member of the local community? Or perhaps, payola?

Regardless of what you call it, the Constitution Pipeline, a desperately needed natural gas pipeline that will run from the gas fields of Susquehanna County, PA to central New York where it will connect to two major interstate pipelines, has now paid out more than $1 million in “community grants” to help build support for the pipeline. Is that a good thing, or bad? We think it’s time to have that discussion…
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Will WV Lawmakers Have Guts to Tackle Cuttings in Landfills Bill?

Two weeks ago MDN told you about a House Bill (HB) 4411, actively under consideration by the West Virginia state legislature, that would codify into law the right for landfills in the state to accept Marcellus and Utica Shale drill cuttings (see WV Bill to Allow More Drill Cuttings in Landfills Faces Opposition). At the time a parade of speakers spoke against the bill with one speaker (from the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia) speaking in favor. The bill would codify into law the right for landfills to accept larger amounts of cuttings, which anti-drillers object to because it encourages more drilling.

What we didn’t know at the time is why the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection is supporting the bill: because it will codify into law the protections they drafted as a temporary measure (now in place). Yes, protections, like separating the cuttings into their own cell within a landfill, the use of special liners, and lechate monitoring. The DEP is keeping a close eye on this issue and believes the proper place to have the debate about it, along with a resolution to the debate, is in the state legislature–if they have the intestinal fortitude to address it…
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WV Ethane Cracker – Cautious Optimism in the Mountain State

The editors at the Charleston Gazette have penned an editorial about their “cautious hope” that the ethane cracker plant announced by Odebrecht for Parkersburg, WV will become a reality. As they note, coal is descending in the state, and natural gas is ascending. If the cracker plant is built–complete with environmental safeguards–it will be a huge economic bonanza for the state. Although the editors are a tad skeptical about the “drill drill drill” attitude from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and his administration (a Democrat, which is noteworthy), they’re willing to suspend the usual knee-jerk reaction against such projects and allow hope to bloom on the editorial page. A good sign!

From the Gazette:
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Southwestern Energy – Full Speed Ahead in Marcellus for 2014

Southwestern Energy is a large Marcellus Shale driller. According to NGI’s Shale Play Factbook, Southwestern leases 337,300 acres in the Marcellus. In 2013 Southwestern invested $872 million into their Marcellus drilling operations, drilling 108 wells. Their proved reserves in the Marcellus grew by 141% in 2013 to 1.9 trillion cubic feet. More interesting facts from Southwestern: their average completed Marcellus well cost was $7.0 million per well; the average horizontal lateral length was 4,982 feet and they used an average of 18 fracture stimulation stages per well in 2013.

Below is Southwestern’s fourth quarter and full year 2013 financial and operational update. Below the update is a portion of a recent analyst call with Southwestern’s top management. The call transcript, unsurprisingly, mentions the Marcellus Shale–a lot…
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Hundreds of Thousands of Marcellus Drilling Jobs in PA

Over the past six years hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created in Pennsylvania that are either directly or indirectly tied to the Marcellus Shale drilling industry. Of that there is no dispute. It is provable and has been proven, over and over, by government agencies that count such things. Yet, when a new jobs report is issued that shows another 15,000 direct jobs have been added over the past few years, those opposed to drilling jump on the number and say, “See! See! It doesn’t create all that many jobs. They’re a lyin’ to ya–all them pro-drillers.”

Meanwhile, anti-drillers ignore the total number of 240,000 people working directly in the Marcellus Shale industry, or for companies that serve the industry (“supply chain”), in Pennsylvania. And so the anti-drilling spin machine keeps whirling around and around and around…
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The Radicals Behind Efforts to Stop Cove Point, MD LNG Plant

The group 350.org, a rabidly anti-drilling group that has adopted the same tactics used by the Ku Klux Klan complete with face masks and burning torches (see Wackadoodle 350.org protesters disappear their KKK moment), is behind the movement to stop the XL Keystone oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. They are also behind an effort to stop the LNG (liquefied natural gas) export terminal in Cove Point, MD. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network has enlisted the help of 350.org in their effort to stop Cove Point. We wonder, are torches and bed sheets coming to Maryland now? Shame on the Climate Action Network for hooking up with these radicals–but then, perhaps they’re just as radical?

Here’s an update on the ongoing effort to stop what, frankly, can’t be stopped: the permitting of a new export facility in Cove Point that will liquefy and send some of our cheap, abundant Marcellus Shale gas to India and Japan where they need it badly…
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Guest Viewpoint – Solar Guy Knocks Chesapeake Energy

Last week MDN was contacted by Robert Magyar, Managing Director at Navitus Strategies, to offer a guest viewpoint to run on MDN. We occasionally post guest articles and agreed to post Bob’s article (below). His article takes a look at Chesapeake Energy and offers the view that although Chesapeake has laid off more than a thousand people and sold off (and continues to sell off) key assets, the company is still financially unhealthy. Bob offers his reasons why (mostly from hedging agreements). He also highlights the recent and ongoing problems Chessy has with royalty payments in Pennsylvania.

In our email correspondence Bob says, “we need natural gas” and that he is not anti-drilling by any stretch. However, we would note for the record that his company, Navitus, works on alternative energy projects–primarily solar–and so it seems in his own best interests to knock the shale industry (and one of it’s most prominent players) around just a bit. With that as a preface, here is Bob’s article on Chessy “continuing to grind down,” which first appeared on the freelance article website Examiner.com:
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Voting for the Lesser of the PA LibDem Loonies

There’s at least a few prominent Democrats running in the primary for Lieutenant Governor that have departed from the Democrat Party’s lunatic demand to stop all Marcellus drilling in the state–precious few, but at least a few that don’t share that view. So if you’re a registered LibDem and you must (hold your nose and) swing the lever for a Dem, you might want to consider who should get your vote based on their loony rating.

Hint: Don’t vote for Brenda Alton or Brad Koplinksi, both support an immediate ban on further shale drilling…
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