Vicariously Attend FERC Scoping Hearing on Constitution Pipeline

microphone in auditoriumMDN editor Jim Willis attended the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) scoping hearing for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Constitution Pipeline last Wednesday night (April 2nd) in Afton, NY. Held at the local Afton High School auditorium, there were 250-300 people in the audience. Some 50 or so signed up to address the three FERC representatives who were there to listen to public testimony about the DEIS and proposed plan to build a 30-inch, 124-mile pipeline from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY to carry cheap, abundant Marcellus Shale gas to markets that include New York City and New England. The pipeline project is projected to cost $683 million (money pumped mostly into the upstate New York economy), and provide 1,300 temporary jobs while it’s built.

To say it was a lively audience would be an understatement. Jim stuck around for more than two hours to listen and observe. In one sense the hearing was not unlike others Jim has sat through. But in another sense, it was different–even instructive. More than one speaker on the anti-drilling side bemoaned the fact that Williams and the Constitution Pipeline has “split the community” and has “pitted neighbor against neighbor.” Really? What Jim witnessed was a vibrant, healthy, vigorous political discussion not unlike the discussions neighbors have been having with neighbors since the founding of our great country. We gather and engage in a spirited debate–sometimes shouting matches–to avoid killing each other. We are not (yet) a banana republic. We are still (for now) a nation of laws. Loud and boisterous debate is our proud heritage and it should be encouraged–not discouraged. What Jim saw heartened him, instead of the opposite.

And what did Jim see? You could say the speakers broke into two camps–for and against the pipeline. But that would be too simplistic. Come along with Jim as he introduces you to several speakers from that night, representing not a simple for/against mindset, but a continuum of outright support to outright opposition–with many shades in between. We’ll do it through the lens of four archetypes that we think best represent the passion, emotions and arguments presented at the meeting…
Continue reading

TX Worker Killed at Rice Energy Drill Site in Belmont County, OH

It’s always a sad day when we report the death of a shale worker in the Marcellus or Utica. David Zamora, a 43 year-old father of a 10 year-old son, was killed on Saturday when a piece of equipment crushed him at a Rice Energy drill site in Belmont County, OH.

The details are still a bit sketchy. Here is what MDN has been able to find so far…
Continue reading

Williams Pipeline Rupture/Fire in Marshall County, WV

A 12-inch natural gas pipeline owned by Williams Partners in Marshall County, WV ruptured and caught fire Saturday morning around 8 am. The early reporting says a landslide from a nearby hill caused the rupture, which happened to a section of pipeline between Waymans Ridge and Middle Grave Creek. Some residents living near the pipeline were evacuated as a safety precaution.

We don’t have a lot of details–here is what we know so far:
Continue reading

OH EPA Issues New Regs for Drillers, Looks for “Fugitive” Methane

On Friday the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) lowered the boom on shale drillers in the state. Although it’s been expected for some time, the OEPA suddenly issued new rules under their General Permit Program that require drillers to use infrared cameras to scan equipment being used at drill sites once per quarter. For what? Methane, of course. So called “fugitive methane” that, you know, contributes to mythical global warming (that doesn’t really exist). Oh the “fugitive” methane may exist–a little bit. But it’s tie to causing non-existent global warming has never been proven. Makes no difference. All the Kool Aid drinkers are so convinced of a tie between methane and warming that it’s an article of scientific faith now–it’s “scientific consensus” so that means it’s real (at least in their minds). Never mind that said drillers are in the business of capturing as much methane as they can because every atom of it they grab they can sell. But hey, such brutal common sense doesn’t play well with the warmists. Nasty drillers can’t be trusted to do a good job.

The Environmental Defense Fund, the least offensive of the environmentalist wacko groups, was positively gushing with praise for OH Gov. John “foreigner hunter” Kasich and his Republican administration for implementing the new standards–especially since Republicans are such evil, vile things, ya know. Somehow those Republicans swerved into the doing something good for a change, according to the EDF…
Continue reading

Blue Racer Natrium Wet Gas Processing Plant Addition Almost Ready

Last September an explosion and fire at Blue Racer Midstream’s Natrium, WV natural gas processing plant closed the plant (see Explosion/Fire at Blue Racer’s Natrium, WV Processing Plant). The plant remained closed for five long months, causing some of their customers, including Rex Energy and Atlas Resources, to find alternatives to process wet gas (see Blue Racer’s Natrium Plant to Remain Offline Until Jan 2014).

It certainly was a happy day in January when the facility came back online, with repaired and new equipment, and a new alarm system for the nearby community. Always in the cards was an expansion of the processing capacity at the Natrium facility–doubling the ability to process and separate wet gas from 200 million cubic feet per day to 400 Mmcf/d. Blue Racer, when announcing the re-opening of the original plant in January, also announced they already have four new customers lined up for the extra/new capacity (see Blue Racer: Natrium Plant Back Online, New Customers, Adds Barging). Good news for those new customers–the extra capacity is about to go online…
Continue reading

2013 PA Impact Fee Sets Record: $224.5M, Grand Total Now $630M

On Friday, PA Gov. Tom Corbett announced the Act 13 impact fee for 2013 will deliver the biggest haul yet–$224.5 million, which is up 11% from the monies collected under the impact fee for 2012. The official tallies are not yet released by the state Public Utility Commission (PUC), the agency charged with collecting the fees. However, the bills have gone out and drillers have until April 15 to pay the tax man.

There may be a few quibbles about how the numbers were calculated, but overall, the PUC knows about how much it will receive and so Gov. Corbett, feeling pressured by the tax-and-spend Democrat candidates running for his job (cough *Tom Wolf* cough), wanted to release the good news now…
Continue reading

Debunking the “Fracking Causes Earthquakes” Meme One More Time

Reuters OK Earthquake Lead on DrudgeIf you check out the Drudge Report from time to time (as we do), you would have noticed the big headline yesterday (Sunday) in 100-point type at the top blaring the news RECORD QUAKE ACTIVITY ROCKS OKLAHOMA. “Oh great” (we thought), “Another story about how fracking causes earthquakes.” We didn’t really expect that to be the story line, but lo and behold, when we clicked to read the story, it was a Reuters article that yes–blames fracking for a rash of earthquakes in Oklahoma, just because there’s active oil and gas drilling in the state.

We can almost set our calendars now by the media meme of “fracking causes earthquakes.” It comes around, regular as rain, about every three months. And so we feel it necessary to respond about every three months that no, fracking almost never causes earthquakes–three known times we can point to, out of more than 60,000 shale wells drilled (see Fracking has (so far) Triggered Earthquakes 3x – Out of 60K Wells). In other words, it’s statistically zero. However, injection wells that dispose of leftover frack wastewater by pumping it deep below the surface, sometimes do trigger earthquakes. It’s rare, but it happens when an injection well is pumping fluid near an underground fault. Is that what is happening in Oklahoma?…
Continue reading

Wirt County WV Coalition Still in Hunt for a Deal – Who With?

Last summer it seemed like a deal to lease 241,000 acres of land in the Wood, Ritchie, Calhoun, Roane, Jackson and Wirt County area was imminent (see Wirt County Landowner Group Close to Deal for Huge 241K Acres). But then in October Jim Lydon, chairman of the Wirt County Oil and Gas Group said the deal fell through and they were still shopping for a deal (see Wirt County Landowner Deal Falls Through, Still Searching).

According to Lydon the land in their massive coalition is in the “super wet area” of both the Marcellus and Utica Shale–and indeed he’s right. The group is still searching for a deal and no one is talking (that we can tell) on the record–although an article published yesterday in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel does mention, in passing, a few possible companies that may be talking with the group about a new deal…
Continue reading

0.0024 of Berks County Population Opposes New $1B GTL Plant

Over the past several years MDN has told you about a number of gas-to-liquids (GTL) projects trying to get underway in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. GTL converts cheap, abundant natural gas into motor oils and diesel fuel. Kind of like spinning gold from hay. One of those projects is a proposal by Canadian company EmberClear Corp. that wants to build such a plant in Berks County, PA–near Philadelphia. EmberClear proposes to spend upward of an eye-popping $1 billion to build a plant that will create 100 permanent jobs when it’s completed–to say nothing of the hundreds of temporary jobs needed to build it (see Another New Gas-to-Liquids Plant Coming in PA – Near Philly).

As soon as you announce such a project, wacko anti-drillers pop up (like a game of Whack-a-Mole) to oppose it. Such a group has formed in Berks County. Called the South Heidelberg Community Association, the group has gotten 1,000 people to sign a petition against this $1 billion economic miracle that would exist in their area. Let’s see, 1,000 people of the Berks County population of 411,442–or 2/10ths of one percent. Will this infinitesimally small number of people ruin it for everyone?…
Continue reading

Anti-Drillers Force 3rd Vote on Frack Ban in Youngstown

Even the Democrat Mayor of Youngstown, OH knows that passing a fracking ban for the city would be a “job killer.” Too bad the nutters on his side of the political isle don’t listen to reason. In January MDN told you that the nutters had gathered enough signatures to force a third time-and-money-wasting vote on whether or not the city should outright ban fracking within its borders (see Third Time the Charm? Youngstown Anti-Drillers Try Again for Ban). Not that passing a ban would make a difference–there’s little chance of any active drilling in and around Youngstown. It would be a poke in the eye–spit in the face–of the drilling industry. The drilling industry notices such things and elects to take their business elsewhere when it happens. Hence Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally’s comments last week encouraging residents to reject the ban when they vote on May 6th.

Along with Mayor McNally, local union reps from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Ohio Council 8 says three votes is enough and it’s time for this crap to stop…
Continue reading