PA Dem Candidates’ Siren Song: Severance Tax “for the Children”

not for the childrenOnce upon a time there was a man who worked really really hard. He was the type to arrive at work early, stay late, and go the extra mile. He paid (as we all do) nearly half of the money he earned in taxes–federal income tax, social security tax, Medicare tax, disability tax, property tax, school tax, state income tax, sales tax on everything he purchased, and fees on just about everything his hands ever touched. It adds up to about 50% of the man’s income (as it does for every single person reading this), whisked away and given to other people. However, because the man made a pretty good salary, the man’s neighbor had a brilliant idea: Each day when the man arrived home the neighbor was waiting, with gun in hand. He would point the gun at the man’s head and demand the man give him “just 5%” of what the man earned that day. It was so easy, the neighbor did this every day–and he targeted other nearby suckers, er hard-working people too–collecting 5% from them.

Getting shaken down for 5% (on top of 50%) isn’t all that bad, is it? Sure it belongs to the people who worked so hard to earn it. Sure the people who earned it played by the rules, were super careful and considerate of those around them–upstanding members of the community. But the money is going to a good cause–the neighbor’s pocket! (Did we mention the neighbor with the gun doesn’t work nor earn a dime on his own?) Of course, in time, the neighbor with the gun got more greedy and 5% eventually turned into 10%, but hey, the people earning the money still got to keep 40%. I mean, good golly, 40% out of 100% ain’t all that bad, is it?…
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Did ODNR Overreact & Set Earthquake Detect Bar Too Low?

An article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer provides some perspective on Ohio’s new rules regarding fracking and earthquakes. As MDN reported yesterday, the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) is sortof, kindof convinced that a fracking operation over a previously unknown fault line triggered a series of earthquakes (see ODNR Says Youngstown Earthquakes “Probably” Caused by Fracking). The earthquakes were essentially undetectable at the surface, but it makes for great headlines.

What else can trigger an earthquake? How about 67,000 football fans stamping their feet? Yep–that happened earlier this year in Seattle, WA at CenturyLink Field during the NFL playoffs. Marshawn Lynch made a touchdown and the fans went wild, stamping their feet, which created a detectable earthquake–at the same level now measured for in Ohio. All of which means Ohio has set the bar pretty low and just about anything can set off the earthquake alarm…
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Is MWCD Lease for Piedmont Lake, OH with Antero a Good Thing?

MDN previously reported that as early as this Friday the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) will vote to approve a proposed lease that would allow Antero Resources to drill around, and even under, Piedmont Lake (see MWCD Close to Signing Utica Lease for Piedmont Lake, OH Property). We told you yesterday that a lawsuit to prevent drilling at another MWCD property–Seneca Lake–is proceeding, which begs the question, will something similar happen with the Piedmont Lake deal (see Anti-Drillers Win Minor Victory Against Muskingum Watershed Dist)?

MDN was contacted by a reader who lives in the Piedmont Lake area–Eric Fenster. Eric seems like a reasonable guy–not adamantly opposed to all shale drilling. But he is concerned about what may happen if Antero leases and begins to drill in the Piedmont Lake area. Eric tells MDN he lives a few miles from an active drill site (not under MWCD oversight) and has personally experienced 24/7 truck traffic, noise and flaring from that site. He’s not excited about more of it near where he lives. Eric’s chief concern is that the lease as proposed is essentially unenforceable when it comes to industrialization concerns like truck traffic, noise and lights. He believes the MWCD has the right to enter into the lease legally, but he views such an agreement as an abuse of MWCD’s stewardship and authority. We bring you Eric’s viewpoint (below) not because we agree or endorse it, but because he’s one of the few who respectfully wants to argue the opposing viewpoint and make a case for his views based on logic and reason. We appreciate that. You decide if his arguments have merit…
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Aubrey McClendon Wants Ohioans to Help Him Frack the Utica

Good news for Ohio Gov. John “foreigner hunter” Kasich: The man who once famously said he’s the biggest fracker in the world, former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon, wants Ohians to help him frack the Utica Shale in Ohio. Aubrey’s new company, American Energy Partners, has a huge “help wanted” billboard along Route 315 near Ohio State University (Columbus, OH). Since Aubrey was booted from Chesapeake Energy last year by corporate raider Carl Icahn, he’s started a new company and has hauled in over $3 billion of seed capital to keep on frackin’.

Want a good job? Contact American Energy Partners in Ohio…
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Frack Sand Train Derails Near Allentown, 6 Cars Spill Near Homes

MDN is always a sucker for a good railroad story. We love how the fracking industry has breathed new life into the short line railroad business–especially in Pennsylvania. However, this particular railroad story is not such a happy one (although it could be worse).

Last Saturday a 45-car train for the Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad was pulling a load of frack sand through Northampton County (Allentown area) when six of the cars derailed, spilling sand. Even though the accident happened in a populated area near homes and businesses, because the train was going a very slow 5 miles per hour, no one was hurt and no homes or businesses were damaged. Cleanup of the mess is set to begin today…
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Another Day, Another Sham Study on Marcellus Methane Leaks

This one is rich. Apparently Cornell anti-drilling professor (and erstwhile stand-up comic) Tony Ingraffea’s name is so toxic when it comes to discredited research, that when he’s part of yet another sham “study” on methane (as in a new one released yesterday), his name doesn’t even come up in the official press release. Neither does his partner in crime Robert Howarth. Both have authored previous “studies” that were completely refuted as junk science. Their names are tucked away in the list of esteemed authors for a new study titled, “Toward a better understanding and quantification of methane emissions from shale gas development” (abstract below). This latest fiasco was published yesterday on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website. In a nutshell, the “researchers” flew a plane over gas drilling operations in Pennsylvania to collect and analyze samples, looking for that evil fugitive from justice (and causer of global warming)–methane. The so-called study’s findings? There’s a whole lotta methane leakin’ out down they’a. But it gets better.

You might think an evaluation of methane coming from rocks would include at least one geologist–you know, the scientists that study rocks? For this study, the two lead authors are a chemistry professor (from Purdue University) and an evolutionary biologist (from Cornell). Not one geologist in the entire list. We wonder–did these smarter-than-the-rest-of-us researchers take into account that herd of cattle grazing near the drill site? You do know that cows burping and farting produce more methane per year than oil and gas operations, according to our own federal EPA, right? (See: Biggest Producer of “Fugitive” Methane is… Cows?!). Did our eager beaver researchers take into account all those belching/flatulating bovines as they were flying around the PA countryside with loads of farms?…
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Antero Resources Sops Up 100% of TGP Pipeline Expansion in WV

Kinder Morgan announced they have a single customer that will use up 100% of the capacity for their Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s (TGP) Broad Run pipeline expansion in the West Virginia Marcellus. Antero Resources, a major Marcellus and Utica driller, has signed on with Kinder Morgan for 100% of the capacity in the Broad Run expansion–which amounts to 790,000 dekatherms per day. The contract will go for 15 years. Antero obviously plans to produce a great quantity of natural gas in the West Virginia Marcellus.

More of the details on the just-concluded open season for the Broad Run expansion project for the TGP:
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CT May Pass Frack Wastewater Ban; Should PA Pass CT NatGas Ban?

Even though there is no frackable shale under the ground in Connecticut, state legislators on Monday advanced a bill that will ban frack wastewater and (presumably) drill cuttings from states with fracking operations–like Pennsylvania. We’re reasonably certain no frack wastewater or drill cuttings have ever been hauled to Connecticut for disposal, so this bill seems to be yet another empty gesture. However, the bill does seem to be headed for passage by a May 7 deadline.

So MDN would like to propose a new bill for PA legislators: How about a law that prohibits the sale of natural gas extracted by fracking to states like Connecticut that don’t want to help out with waste disposal? Seems fair to us. It’s not like Connecticut residents would have to go without natural gas–they can buy it from Russia’s Gazprom for oh, $100-$150 per thousand cubic feet (instead of purchasing PA’s Marcellus gas for $3-4 per Mcf). How about it PA? Let’s play a little hardball and see how those conceited New Englanders like a little taste of their own legislative medicine…
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