It is the end of an ignominious era. Carol Collier, whose own anti-drilling views have stopped any forward progress on potential Marcellus Shale drilling in the Delaware River Basin, will tomorrow leave the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) that she has headed for 15 years. Last September when she announced she would retire this March, we predicted her platitudes about finalizing draft shale drilling plans would go nowhere. We were right (see DRBC Director Carol Collier Announces Her Retirement). It’s now goodbye and good riddance.
In Collier’s place as the new executive director of the DRBC is Steven J. Tambini, currently vice president of operations at Pennsylvania American Water. Steve has been a water guy for over 30 years with lots of experience in water supply engineering and water resource planning. He will take over on August 1st. Until then, Steve is not saying much. The Marcellus Shale Coalition says they’re looking forward to working with Tambini to craft common sense regulations that will allow shale drilling in places like Wayne County, PA. The rabidly anti-drilling Delaware Riverkeeper organization says they don’t know Tambini. Translation: “He’s not one of us.” Which may indeed be a good sign…
A few years ago a now-shuttered injection well near Youngstown, OH was linked to a series of earthquakes in the area (see ODNR Finds Youngstown Injection Well Caused Earthquakes). The injection well was found to be located over an active fault–and when you inject a lot of liquid into a fault area, you get earthquakes.
When earthquakes happen in areas like Youngstown–an area that doesn’t usually see such activity–it’s cause for concern. Yesterday morning there were two more earthquakes big enough to be felt in the Mahoning Valley area. The first quake was a 3.0 on the Richter scale, and the second a 2.6. So, out of “an abundance of caution,” the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) has asked the single drilling operation in the area–Hilcorp Energy–to suspend their drilling activity for now. There are no active injection wells in the area–only Hilcorp’s Utica Shale drilling operation of 7 wells on 2 well pads…
Last week MDN told you about the potential sale of the country’s largest municipal-owned natural gas utility–the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW)–to Connecticut utility company UIL (see Phila. Gas Works Deal for $1.86B – Marcellus/Utica One of Keys). The law firm that structured and brokered the deal says that while the legal aspects were complicated, the legal aspects were the “easy” part. The hard part? The coming political buzz saw from selling the city-owned asset (an asset that’s been losing money for forever under city ownership). Labor unions are actively opposing the sale, afraid it will mean layoffs.
Why buy a money loser? According to the lawyer in charge of the deal, Gregory L. Seltzer, UIL wanted to buy PGW for three reasons…
If you (foolishly) believed the stories about Aubrey McClendon and his oversight of the company he co-founded, Chesapeake Energy, you would believe that after he was bounced out of the company no one would ever again give him a dime. Under McClendon, supposedly Chessy spiraled out of control with debt and mismanagement. McClendon was cast as a maverick–a wildcatter who threw money around on $300 champagne lunches and managed to grow the company beyond his ability to run it. The problem with that view is the truth of what’s happened to Chesapeake since McClendon’s departure. Corporate raider Carl Icahn is the one controlling Chessy these days–for his own personal benefit. Icahn and his lieutenant CEO Doug Lawler have sold off key assets right and left and fired thousands–actions that don’t have squat to do with improving the financial health of the company. It only improves Icahn’s per share value.
McClendon, less than a year from being unceremoniously dumped by Icahn, has a new company with $3 billion of OPM (other people’s money) in his hip pocket to spend on drilling “at least” 1,600 Utica Shale wells in Ohio. McClendon’s new venture, called American Energy Partners, has already amassed 260,000 acres of leases in less than a year, on which to drill those 1,600+ Utica wells. McClendon right now has drilling rigs on the job in Ohio. The man does not let any grass grow under his feet (or on his drill pads). Here’s an update on Aubrey McClendon, a Utica Shale man in motion…
In 2011, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (Democrat) issued an executive order instructing the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to work together on figuring out how shale drilling can be done in the state without undue environmental risks. It’s been three long years and the departments, working together, are nearing the end of the process. So what do Maryland’s Democrat politicians do? They jump right in and start offering bills that would hamstring and nullify the good work being done to figure out shale drilling and get it moving.
The secretaries of both Maryland departments–Robert Summers and Joseph Gill–have penned a joint commentary running in the *Baltimore Sun* that essentially provides a verbal slap across those meddling politicians’ faces and tells them to leave well enough alone until their departments complete their work later this year. Good for them…
Last week MDN asked the question, “Will WV Lawmakers Have Guts to Tackle Cuttings in Landfills Bill?” in the closing days of the WV legislative session. We now know that the answer is a resounding “no.” The proposed bill before lawmakers would have shored up, in law, the right of landfills to accept certain amounts of drilling cuttings from Marcellus and Utica Shale drilling (leftover rock and dirt). Landfills currently accept drill cuttings that exceed limits set elsewhere in law, based on a temporary directive by the Secretary of the WV DEP.
The problem with not passing a bill is that the Secretary’s authority to issue the directive (essentially a stand-in regulation until a law is passed) will, sooner or later, be challenged in court by anti-drillers with big bucks. And then a judge will decide what is properly a policy issue that should be decided legislatively. That is, lawmakers shirked their responsibility and it spells uncertainty ahead for both WV landfills and drillers…
Socialists and hardened anti-drillers are trying a new approach. Adopt non-partisan sounding names, like the “Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center,” “Policy Matters Ohio,” and “West Virginia Center on Budget and Public Policy,” and use those names to try and pass a high severance tax across all three states–effectively killing drilling. Those groups are some of the most partisan in existence. If Socialist politicians like OH State Rep. Robert Hagan (Democrat anti-driller) of Youngstown, OH can’t stop drilling, they want to profit from it by “spreading the wealth around” in classic socialist fashion. Tax drilling at high rates, then redistribute the money to people who will continuously vote said politicians back into office over and over. That’s how it works. Enslave people on public welfare handouts and buy their votes. It’s sick, anti-American, and corrupt.
Various politicians like Hagan, flying under the banner of the groups named above, are now preening about advocating a “common sense” and “uniform” severance tax of 5% (minimum) across PA, OH and WV. Such a stupid idea would immediately tank the economic miracle happening in PA. You WANT states competing against each other for shale drilling–lowering and even eliminating taxes. Everyone wins when states compete–it keeps natural gas prices low for consumers, benefits landowners in that state, generates thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in local and state tax revenues. A high severance tax is not needed. So when you read about this so-called “fair” proposal, you know what it really is: a naked political power grab meant to empower corrupt politicians to retain their hold on power…
Time to watch a little TV (something we rarely, if ever, do). We actually have some TV worth watching! Three Marcellus drilling advocates appeared on Scranton TV station WBRE this past weekend. MDN editor Jim Willis has met two of the three and counts one of them, John Augustine of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, as a friend. Appearing on the half hour talk show with John were Mark Volk, President of Lackawanna College (whom we have also met) and Brian Oram, a Geologist and principle with B and F Environmental Consultants (whom we have not met but have corresponded with on a number of occasions). All three are terrific representatives for the benefits of Marcellus Shale drilling and the prosperity it’s brought to Pennsylvania.
Hosted by WBRE Senior Producer Jayne Ann Bugda and PA Live Host Dave Kuharchik, the pair asked our three Marcellus reps a variety of questions about drilling and its safety, benefits and potential drawbacks. Give the program a watch (in two sections, click each in turn)…
Central Environmental Services, an oilfield services company servicing Marcellus and Utica Shale drillers with its headquarters in Washington, WV, announced yesterday they have a new owner–or perhaps a better way of putting it, a new majority investor. Harbert Private Equity Fund III, LP (“HPEF III”) announced yesterday they have purchased a majority interest in Central for an undisclosed sum. We don’t expect anything will change re management of the company. It just means Central has a new pile of money with which to expand their operations–along with someone watching over their shoulder.
The press release announcing the new majority investor/owner in Central Environmental Services:
The National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) is a 600,000-member strong organization for professional women to network and grow their careers and reputations. Each year they select a small number of their members to recognize as a VIP Woman of the Year. For 2013/2014, NAPW has recognized southwest Pennsylvania attorney Cara Davis as a VIP Woman of the Year. Cara is the principal in her own law firm, The Law Offices of Cara Davis, which employs 11 attorneys and a variety of other law professionals.
Oh, it just so happens that Cara is a pro-driller and her firm represents both landowners and oil and gas companies. She’s decided to specialize in the oil and gas field, and the Marcellus, being on her doorstep in Fayette County, is her focus. Cara’s firm is also a finalist in the Northeast Oil and Gas Awards. Congratulations to Cara on distinguishing herself and her firm and by excelling in the exciting Marcellus Shale industry! The official announcement…