Federal Judge Strikes Down Obama Fracking Regulations

Gavel-falling.jpgBig news to report with an effort to beat back President Obama’s wild and mad grab at executive power. Earlier this week a federal judge in Wyoming–appointed by Obama himself–ruled that the Dept. of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) fracking rules are an illegal power grab and has struck them down. MDN has written about this issue since the new rules were proposed in 2012 (see BLM Issues Proposed New Rule for Fracking Federal Lands). The proposal was a disaster and quickly pulled by the BLM for reconsideration. Another set was issued in 2013 (see BLM Releases Revised Rules for Fracking – Why it Matters). The BLM issued their “final” set of rules in March 2015 (see BLM Introduces “Final” Fracking Rules for Fed Lands – 3 Yrs Late). As we’ve warned from the beginning, the reason the BLM rules, which only apply to federal lands (we don’t have much in the way of federal land in the northeast) is still important, is because Obama had planned to expand the rules, once adopted, to also apply to private, non-government land (see Feds ‘Hope’ States will Use BLM Rules for ALL Fracking). The industry put up a vigorous defense, and in the end, the Obama judge (we still can’t get over that!) ruled Congress specifically withheld fracking oversight from the BLM and Dept. of Interior. The law is unambiguous–and yes, we still have a nation of laws–if we can survive until Obama is ejected from office in January 2017…
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ETE Makes Moves to Terminate Buyout/Merger with Williams

As the World TurnsAs we’ve said for some time now, we don’t believe the Energy Transfer Equity (ETE) buyout/merger with Williams will ever take place. It’s been pretty plain that the blizzard of press releases by both companies saying “vote yes” on the deal has been legal posturing–so that when the deal is finally, completely, 100% dead–the lawyers can litigate for years to come, with each side trying to extract money from the other. The latest evidence comes from several news stories this week that Wall Street is betting that a judge is about to rule that a law firm (hired by ETE) to review the tax implications rendered their opinion “in good faith” that there will be significant tax implications arising from the deal. The way the agreement is structured, such a finding releases ETE from the deal. If the judge rules the opinion was in good faith, it’s 99.99999999% that ETE will announce the deal is dead–and the lawyers from Williams will be suing to extract boatloads of money from ETE…
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Ploy to Rename PA Severance Tax as “Gross Receipts” Tax

tax revenueDemocrats just love to help themselves to OPM–other people’s money. They have a spending habit the equivalent of a crack junkie. Ever notice how junkies use very creative ways to try and feed the habit? One of their favorite tactics is to euphemize–call the same thing by a different name. In Pennsylvania, big-spending Dems in the legislature, along with their big-spending governor, Tom Wolf, are at it again. A severance tax is a tax on natural gas as it comes out of the ground–“at the wellhead.” You measure what comes out and you tax it. Another way to tax the same thing is called a “gross receipts tax”–which taxes the value the gas was sold for. In essence, a gross receipts tax is a sales tax. The price of the underlying good being sold goes up–so does the tax (it’s a percentage of the sales price). At the end of the day, a tax is a tax is a tax. You can call it a severance tax, or you can call it a gross receipts tax–it’s the same thing: a tax. Because Dems have short-term memory issues, we’ll remind the Dems reading this that Marcellus gas is ALREADY TAXED–by two different taxes: an impact fee and corporate income tax (on profits). PA is already paying the equivalent of a very healthy severance (or gross receipts) tax. But all the Dems can see are big dollar signs–that a gross receipts tax could raise $500 million per year or more–to feed their enormous big spending habit…
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Proposed Changes to MD Fracking Rules, Drilling to Start Oct 2017

frack-here-frack-now.pngMaryland is actively looking at revising draft regulations that would allow fracking with an eye to adopting the new rules later this year, and letting fracking begin in the state in October 2017. The antis are, of course, apoplectic that fracking might happen in the liberal paradise of Maryland. However, the oil and gas industry is not all that thrilled with the proposed changes coming from the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) either. We’ve been critical of new Gov. Larry Hogan and his lack of spine on the fracking issue (see Maryland’s Pusillanimous Gov Allows Frack Moratorium to Become Law). Perhaps this is a partial redemption–if he can actually get the state fracking. The MDE has released several “issue papers” with proposed revisions (full copy below). The MDE will also hold three public hearings (i.e. freak shows for antis). One was already held Wednesday evening, the other two scheduled for next week…
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DUG East – Roundup of Big News from Pittsburgh Event

DUG EastThis week the Developing Unconventional Gas (DUG) East event was held in Pittsburgh, PA. There was a fair bit of news and a host of interesting stories coming from the event. Below we’ve listed stories worth your time, with a very brief summary of why to read those stories. To tease you: the money people think land deals are about to pick up in the Marcellus/Utica; Dept. of Energy Deputy Director Carmine Difiglio signs the praises of the Marcellus/Utica; in the weeds talking about technology; CONSOL’s plans for the Ohio Utica; and much more!…
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Penn Township Considering More Restrictions on Drilling

Penn TwpIn May MDN told you that the Penn Township (in Westmoreland County, PA) zoning board voted to refuse to grant a permit to Apex Energy to build a DEP-permitted well pad in the town (see Penn Twp Commissioners Block Apex Shale Well Request in 3-2 Vote). Penn is now considering a far more restrictive ordinance than it currently has–to limit drilling. That isn’t sitting well with Huntley & Huntley–a driller that owns leases for some 23% of the land in the township. Will anti-drilling zealots keep Apex, H&H and others out, denying private property owners the right to use their property as they see fit? And how much will Penn’s taxpayers end up paying to defend a defacto ban?…
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Gov Cuomo Blocks Drilling & Pipelines, Then Hails NatGas as “Clean”

BullRingIf this doesn’t take the cake: The very corrupt New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sold out his own residents and their property rights to radical leftists by placing an ongoing moratorium on high volume (not low volume) hydraulic fracturing, and then by denying the Constitution Pipeline necessary permits to begin construction. He also signed on to nutjob Al Gore’s so-called climate initiative (an elaborate hoax to profit Big Green causes). Cuomo has done everything he can to stop natural gas production in the Empire State. And then he turns around, and as part of his official energy policy says (via his underlings at the Public Service Commission) says that natural gas is clean-burning and important part of the state’s energy future. Talk about chutzpah!…
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Big Green Payback: Quigley Hired in Do-Nothing Job at Univ of PA

John Quigley
John Quigley – from Sec DEP to blogger

The fired former PA Dept. of Environmental Protection Secretary, John Quigley, is getting his quid pro quo for promoting Big Green causes while in office. The University of Pennsylvania has hired Quigley as a “Senior Fellow” (meaning he doesn’t have to do any real work) in their School of Design. His job description is forthcoming–not really important since this is payback and they don’t expect him to do anything. Although, they have asked him to do some blogging…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Jun 24, 2016

best of the restThe “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Ohio has drilled 1,751 Utica wells so far; StateImpact shills for fractivist lobby groups; Wolf signs bill killing new conventional drilling regs; Degner gets promoted at Range Resources; U.S. House investigating state AGs over Exxon probe; associated gas production falling; completions outpace new drilling; API likes Trump energy plan; and more!
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