Shoe Now on Other Foot: Landowners Sue Martian Anti-Drillers

shoe on the other footIt’s about time. Twelve (12) leaseholders and a real estate developer in Middlesex and Adams Townships, in Butler County, PA (near the Mars School District) have filed a lawsuit against local anti-drillers as well as against THE Delaware Riverkeeper and the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council, suing them for damages because their ongoing frivolous lawsuits have keep the leaseholders from realizing profits from their leased land. And get this, the Martians and Big Green groups being sued are upset, saying their free speech rights are being infringed. Talk about nuts! It’s OK for anti-drillers to launch lawsuit after lawsuit, but as soon as someone pushes back and files a lawsuit against them, they start squealing like little piglets…
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Rig Counts Take Another Hit in May, Rapid Decline Continues

We had thought/hoped that the we were near the end of a decline in drilling rig counts. But such is not the case. Baker Hughes released their May rig count report on Friday and it shows a continued slide in the numbers. In April there were 943 active rigs drilling on land in the U.S., down from 1,067 rigs in March (see Rig Counts Continue Big Decline in April, NE May Have Bottomed). In May, the number slide again–to 857 land-based rigs (a loss of another 86 rigs going idle). Double ouch. What about the Marcellus/Utica region? Did those rigs decline in May?…
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NJ Antis Change Gear, Hire Quiet Guy to Head Anti-Pipeline Effort

Anti-drillers in New Jersey must be growing tired of the angry demeanor of their current “movement leaders”–people like Maya van Rossum from THE Delaware Riverkeeper. So they’re putting their chips on a quieter, gentler anti-driller they hope will be more effective in stopping projects like the PennEast Pipeline. NJ antis have hired Thomas Gilbert, 45, a “longtime activist known for his land preservation work” to become the campaign director at New Jersey Conservation Foundation, starting June 15. They’re hoping the NJ Conservation Foundation can be “the one ring to rule them all” by organizing together disparate anti groups to defeat projects like PennEast. Anti-drillers have tried the go-it-alone, not-nice route–so this time they want to try the let’s-all-cooperate-nicey-nice route. It’s the same old hardened anti-drilling philosophy dressed up in a nicer package. But make no mistake–they want to end the use of fossil fuels in New Jersey–and that’s why Gilbert has been hired…
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The Worm Begins to Turn re Gov. Tom Wolf’s Severance Tax

A mixed editorial by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s ill-dated severance tax plan. The Post-Gazette believes, like most liberal Democrats, that the gas in the ground belongs “to the state” and not to individual, private property landowners. In their minds, a piece of the action (i.e. tax) should be levied on the gas coming out of the ground to transfer that wealth away from the people who own it–landowners–and give it to teachers’ unions instead. It’s always “for the children,” of course. (Utter bunkum.) Anywho, the Post-Gazette, while loving things like severance taxes, has begrudgingly faced the music on Wolf’s plan. They now see the fatal flaws and (consequentially) admit them. Their aim with the editorial is to have Wolf “fix” his broken plan, which isn’t likely to happen. Wolf doesn’t think his plan is broken and his attitude, along with the smug attitude of his lieutenants like Dept. of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley, is that the Wolf severance tax plan is superior and needs no fixing. Reality is gradually starting to dawn on the Dems–that they’re not going to get a severance tax this high–and so the blame game has begun. The worm has started to turn…
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Kasich Predicts Severance Tax Deal Will Happen, Others Say No

Once upon a time Ohio Gov. John “foreigner hunter” Kasich (Republican) wanted to tax Utica Shale drillers 2.5%. But then he talked to some of his Democrat buddies and decided to hike it. After thinking it over, Kasich finally settled on 6.5%. When Kasich got resistance to his brilliant tax increase idea, he threatened the drilling industry by saying take my 6.5% or “someone else” may push for a ballot measure of 10% (see OH Gov Kasich the Bully: Accept My 6.5% Tax or Risk a 10%+ Tax). Kasich has been on the 6.5% bandwagon from some months now, and not giving in. One news account says he’s about to go down in defeat yet again, but another news account has him buoyant, like he’s about to get what he wants…
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EPA Releases Water Studies for NEPA & SWPA: Fracking is Safe in PA

Last Friday MDN reported the good news that the EPA is finally winding down a years-long study of the potential impacts of fracking on groundwater supplies. The upshot? Fracking doesn’t pollute water supplies (see EPA Draft Report Says Fracking Doesn’t Pollute Groundwater Supplies). This is the result of a process that began in 2009 when Congress asked the EPA to study fracking and water, with an eye toward regulating fracking using the federal Clean Water Act. The EPA eventually designed a study and began their research in 2011. The final report was due in 2014 but was later moved to 2016. This draft report is the prelude to the final report. Weighing in at 998 pages long, the report says there’s lots you can be scared about–but in fact none of the nightmare scenarios about fracking and water have come true. This was a hard report to file for the Obama EPA–we’re sure of that. Tucked in the bowels of the report are details that the EPA themselves conducted 17 research projects and published 20 scientific papers as a result. Two of those projects looked at shale drilling in the Pennsylvania Marcellus region–one study in the northeast (full study embedded below), and one in the southwest (full study embedded below). What did they find?…
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MA Bill Prevents Pipeline Costs from Passing to Electric Customers

Part of the opposition to pipelines in states like Massachusetts centers on the issue of whether or not the gas flowing through the pipeline will get exported. For sure the majority of the gas will be used in places like Massachusetts–and some of that will go to consumers–but a great deal of it will go to electric generating plants, to lower the incredibly high cost of electricity in New England. Because the customers for the gas are electric utilities, and because the utilities don’t have piles of cash laying around, the utilities (in some cases, not all cases) want to pass along some of the cost of the proposed pipelines to electric rate payers. That is, electric customers. You and me. The response from anti-drillers is, “Hey–since a lot of this gas will get exported anyway, not benefiting the state, why should electric rate payers bear the cost of building the pipeline?” And so some anti-drilling state legislators have introduced a bill that would prevent any pipeline cost from being passed on to Massachusetts rate payers if ANY of the gas in that pipeline eventually gets exported. Do anti-drillers, in this case, have a point?…
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