EPA’s Use of Social Media Propaganda to Support WOTUS was Illegal

EPA-logo.jpgThe politicization of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)–a government agency that should be, by law, devoid of politics–has caught up with the Obama Administration. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the EPA, in using social media to urge the public to back Obama’s aggressive new redefinition for Waters of the United States (or WOTUS), was in fact illegal. We previously wrote about this draconian new “rule” ginned up by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers (see EPA Power Grab: Redefines Waters of the U.S. to Include Everything). The EPA broke the law by engaging in overt politicking–pushing “propaganda” (the word used by the GAO) to support the WOTUS rule. The GAO has just released a sweeping opinion (full copy below) that details chapter and verse just how the EPA broke the law with their propagandizing on social media. The question we have is this: If somebody broke the law, will somebody go to jail? Fat chance. None other than the New York Times was forced to cover the EPA propaganda story–something distasteful and a bit beneath the erudite reporters at the Times
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EPA’s McCarthy Brags Coal “No Longer Marketable” – Gunning for O&G

Gina McCarthyEPA Administrator Gina McCarthy appears to be drunk on her own power. When quizzed about fossil fuel energy at the Paris Climate Conference, McCarthy, in answering questions about coal and its use in China and elsewhere, quipped, “Coal is no longer marketable.” She should know. She’s made it that way on purpose. You may think, “So what! It’s coal. It’s dirty. Natural gas is a better alternative.” Don’t think natural gas and oil aren’t next up on the hit list for McCarthy and the Obama gang: “McCarthy made it clear she is also working to limit methane emissions, particularly from oil and natural gas. Methane, the primary component in the product commonly known as natural gas, is 25 times more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2.” These idiots will not stop until they have eliminated, BY FORCE, the use of fossil fuels for energy. That is the plan. They must be opposed, vigorously…
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Magnum Hunter De-Listed from NYSE; Still Shopping Eureka Hunter

Magnum Hunter Resources (MHR) is a company in trouble. We won’t recount all of the signs (read our MHR articles here). One of the silver bullets that was supposed to help pull MHR’s bacon out of the fire was the sale of their midstream/pipeline subsidiary Eureka Hunter. On August 14 MHR CEO Gary Evans announced there were three potential buyers for Eureka Hunter and that a deal would net the company somewhere around $600-$700 million. Evans said a deal was imminent. That deal never materialized. In November the company refinanced some of its debt to keep going and stopped holding quarterly conference calls with investors (see Magnum Hunter Refinances Again, Dodges a Bullet…Just Barely). Also in November, MHR told the Securities and Exchange Commission that the company is likely headed for bankruptcy (see Dire Straits: Magnum Hunter Tells SEC Heading for Bankruptcy). However, one of MHR’s investors has stated he’ll sue to prevent them from filing for bankruptcy (see Magnum Hunter Investor: We’ll Sue to Stop Bankruptcy Filing). Yeah, it’s complicated. So when we saw a new press release from MHR, a press release about Eureka Hunter, we perked up. What does it say?…
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How Much is Magnum Hunter & Eureka Hunter Worth Today?

Valuing an oil and gas or midstream/pipeline company is probably as much art as it is science. In any real estate or land or business valuation, in fact in any kind of transaction where something is bought and sold, something is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. But we all need guidelines…rules of thumb…markers that help us determine how much value something has. The “thing” under consideration in this post is the value of both driller Magnum Hunter Resources, and its midstream subsidiary Eureka Hunter. A stock analyst writing on the Seeking Alpha website tackled that question and came up with some interesting numbers…
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Research: Shale Energy Turning Voters into Republicans

This one is downright fascinating for political junkies like MDN editor Jim Willis. For years now Jim has been saying that in very broad brush strokes Republicans (i.e. conservatives) typically support shale drilling and Democrats (i.e. liberals) typically oppose it. Yes, that’s very broad and there are certainly notable exceptions. But we’re talking on average, that’s how it sorts out, that has been our observation in closely watching this issue for years. And now we have objective, scientific research to back it up. A new research paper has just been published by three researchers, one from Bocconi University (in Italy), one from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and one from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. The paper, titled “Voter Preferences and Political Change: Evidence From the Political Economy of Shale Booms” (full copy below) documents where there is shale drilling, voters have shifted their votes away from Democrats and to Republicans, and that the voting behavior of elected officials in shale regions has become more conservative that it was previously. Cool! We always suspected as much–now we have proof…
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Looks Like a March 2016 Wedding for ETE & Williams

In September Williams finally relented and accepted a buyout/merger offer from Energy Transfer Equity (see Williams Accepts ETE’s “Indecent Proposal” – Price Went Down $10B). Deals like this one, with ETE paying $37.7 billion for Williams, take time to complete. There are lots of regulatory hoops to jump through. The two companies said in their original announcement they expect the deal will be done in “the first half of 2016.” Smart move on their part to not commit to a specific date too early. From an announcement issued yesterday, we now have a much better idea of the timing. The announcement says the two companies are complying with certain regulatory requests and that they won’t get hitched before March 18, 2016. Which means if all goes well in regulatory hell between now and then, we’ll have a March wedding…
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Warren Resources Announces Departures/New Appointments in Key Roles

In November, MDN told you that Warren Resources, a small, independent exploration and production company with an ongoing drilling programs in California, Wyoming, and in the northeast Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale, had finally chosen a new CEO nearly a year after the previous CEO abruptly resigned (see After Almost a Year, Warren Resources Gets New CEO). Yesterday Warren announced further “restructuring”–by which they mean “out with the old team, in with the new team.” In addition to a new CEO Warren has a new CFO and now a new VP for Accounting. The people who have been occupying those roles will be leaving the company by March. Here’s the details of the house-cleaning at Warren Resources…
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Piedmont Natural Gas CEO’s Pure Gold Parachute – $14.4M

In October Duke Energy, the largest electric power holding company in the United States and a utility with 7.3 million customers in the southeast and Midwest, announced they had cut a deal to buy Piedmont Natural Gas for $4.9 billion in cash and the assumption of $1.8 billion in existing debt–for a total deal price of $6.7 billion (see Duke Energy Buys Piedmont NatGas for $6.7B, Marcellus Connection). Piedmont is a midstream and natgas LDC, or local distribution company/utility, with operations primarily in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. At least one person is going to make a boatload of money from the deal. Piedmont’s CEO Tom Skains will get a $14.4 million severance check when the deal goes through. Looks like the color of Skains’ parachute is pure gold…
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Short Selling for CONSOL, Southwestern Energy Spikes Up

Once again we return to a recurring theme of reporting on “short selling” in Marcellus/Utica stocks. For a primer/explanation of what short selling is, read our previous story: “Short Selling” – An Important Signal for Marcellus-Related Companies. The boiled down version is this: Traders who sell stocks “short” are betting that the price of that company’s stock is heading lower. A lower stock price means the value of the company goes down, making it harder to borrow money, raising the rates on money borrowed, etc. Low stock prices mean it’s harder to do business in general. The average short selling of stocks for all companies in all industries is typically 5-6% of trading volume. Recently, oil and gas stocks, as an industry, have seen an average of 12% short selling of their stocks. When short selling picks up for Marcellus/Utica companies, we take note because it’s a signal about the potential value and future prospects for that company. If more than 12% of a company’s stock is being sold short, well, that’s just not a good “sitch” (as my Millennial kids say). We spotted notices that two important Marcellus drillers’ stocks are quite a bit above the 12% range–CONSOL Energy and Southwestern Energy…
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Natural Gas Prices Hits 14-Year Low – When Will it Rebound?

gas oil priceThe price of natural gas hit a 14-year low yesterday. Ouch. We don’t normally report on the ups and downs of natgas prices because, well, because it goes up and down–all the time. Broad trends in the price we report on, but not the day-to-day vagaries of natgas prices. But we are today. Why? Because there appears to be no end in sight for these low prices. MDN editor Jim Willis lives in the Binghamton, NY area. It’s usually cold and cloudy in Binghamton in the winter–from about the end of October to mid-April. No lie. Winter is typically that long around these parts. Yesterday? Mid-60s. Today? In the 50s and sunny. We do love it–but it’s beginning to freak us out! Point: As was predicted by natural gas weather guys we heard a few months ago at a Bloomberg meeting in NYC, the weather in the northeast during this monster El Niño winter will be drier than usual and warmer than usual. Translation: We’re going to use a whole lot less heating fuel and natural gas. More supply than demand means prices go down and they stay down. And that’s just what’s happening. Traders are giving up on a cold snap causing prices to rebound, and that capitulation is reflected in the price of natural gas…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Dec 15, 2015

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Pipeline agitators agitating in Buffalo; OH Supreme Court debates question of void leases; the fractivism of Heinz Endowments; WV revenue from severance tax in the tank; how fracking helps climate change; OPEC keeps the spigot open; UK says get fracking; and more!
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