PA Legislature Passes $1.3B in Tax Hikes, No Severance Tax

new-taxes-ahead.jpgLast year Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf completely botched his first-ever budget, by holding out for nine months seeking a Marcellus-killing severance tax as payback to teachers’ unions that helped elect him (see PA Gov. Wolf Caves on Budget Deal After 9 Mo. of Temper Tantrums). It appears the very dense Gov. Wolf learned a lesson or two. This year he “settled” for a “modest” increase in a budget that’s $31.5 billion–a budget that does not include a severance tax on Marcellus drilling (see PA Budget Battle Continues, Marcellus Severance Tax Off the Table). On Monday, Wolf allowed the proposed $31.5 billion bloated spending plan to pass into law without his signature. However, the plan still needs an additional $1.3 billion in revenue (i.e. new taxes) in order to balance. Yes, it’s obscene that Republicans caved to such a spending plan–but it is an election year and most Republicans (and Democrats) have no ethics when it comes to handling taxpayers’ hard-earned money. A deal has just been hashed out raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, along with a new tax on digital downloads of music, books, apps and other items. Even though the spending plan includes the theft of $200 million from the state’s medical malpractice insurance fund (euphemistically called a “loan”), Wolf said he will sign the plan because it includes “sustainable, recurring revenue.” Go figure…
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PTT Clearing Ohio Cracker Site, Nearby Residents Must Move?

OH-WV mapIn April 2015 PTT Global announced they had chose a site in Belmont County, OH as the site of for their $5.7 billion ethane cracker complex (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). In short order PTT began spending money on the project, doling out $100 million for two engineering firms to design the plant (see PTT CEO Arrives in OH to Announce First $100M for Cracker Plant). As for real estate, part of the chosen site is the 130-acre R.E. Burger Plant, a coal-fired electric generating plant owned by Ohio utility company FirstEnergy. The Burger Plant site is currently being cleared and remediated by FirstEnergy. However, the entire project will need something like 400-500 acres. So where will the extra real estate come from? MDN previously reported that PTT had signed an option to buy 300 acres adjacent to the Burger Plant site owned by Ohio-West Virginia Excavating (see 300 Acres Next to FirstEnergy Site Part of Belmont Cracker Plan). But it seems that still may not be enough. We spotted a story that says residents who live west of the Burger Plant site have been contacted to let them know they may need to move too…
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Shuttered D&L Injection Well Near Youngstown, OH May Reopen Soon

Coitsville Township OHGood news for Marcellus/Utica drillers. There are signs that a Youngstown, OH-area injection well that has been shuttered since 2013 will re-open. You may recall the sad story of D&L Energy, a Youngstown, OH operator of several wastewater injection wells. D&L’s owner was Ben Lupo, who also owned sister company Hardrock Excavating, operating both companies under the D&L Energy Group umbrella. In September 2012, Lupo instructed a Hardrock employee to dump untreated frack wastewater down a sewer drain that emptied into the Mahoning River. Lupo and the driver were found out in early 2013 (see Youngstown Business Dumped >200K Gal of Untreated Wastewater). The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) promptly shut down both D&L Energy and Hardrock in February 2013 (see OH Wastewater Dumper D&L Energy Gets Business Death Sentence). Since that time the injection well operated by D&L in Coitsville Township has been offline. Both Lupo and the driver received prison sentences and fines for their role in this ignominious affair. D&L filed for bankruptcy and sold its assets in late 2013. The buyer of those assets, Denver-based Resource Land Holdings LLC, has “expressed interest in operating the well in the future” and has begun work at the site to reopen the well. That was enough to set off anti-drilling loonies in the region, who promptly protested at the well site…
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Seventy Seven Energy Cleared to Exit Bankruptcy, Borrowing $100M!

Can you spare a dimeIn June MDN told you that Seventy Seven Energy (SSE), the old Chesapeake Oilfield Operating unit that was spun into its own company a few years ago, filed a “pre-packaged” bankruptcy plan that screws shareholders by devaluing their shares to worthless status and converting the company’s considerable outstanding debts into new shares of ownership (see Seventy Seven Energy Officially Files for Prepackaged Bankruptcy). In a little over a month, the judge assigned to case has approved that plan, along with a plan for SSE to borrow an additional $100 million. Wait, what?? The company just converted a boatload of debt into equity (bonds and IOUs into shares of stock), and they turn around and borrow ANOTHER $100 million! Yep. That’s what’s happening…
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NY AG, Others Served Congressional Subpoena re Exxon Witch Hunt

subpeonaThe Attorney General from Massachusetts, Maura Healey, the AG from New York, Eric Schneiderman and several other far-left radicals drunk on their own power have made fantastical claims that Exxon “knew” that burning their evil, filthy, nasty oil and natural gas is causing Mom Earth to warm up, so they serving subpoenas to Exxon to turn over every piece of communication the company has ever had, so they can build a case against Exxon’s free speech (see NY AG Targets/Accuses ExxonMobil of Lying about ‘Climate Change’). As we wrote, these far-out libs represent the rise of the new Enviro Nazis (see Rise of the New (Environmental) Nazis – Free Speech Under Attack). Exxon isn’t taking it lying down–they’re fighting back (see Exxon Beats Back Free Speech Attack by Liberal AGs in Climate Fight). Interestingly, Schneiderman and other anti-drilling AGs are suspected, now with proof, that they’ve been colluding with each other and with radical Big Green groups in their witch hunt of Exxon (see Smoking Gun: AGs Signed Pact to Keep Exxon Documents Secret). Those who champion free speech and common sense (i.e. they don’t believe in the fairy tale of man-made global warming) have now turned the tables on these vicious, criminal AGs and their Big Green posse. Another group of AGs have not-so-subtly told the anti-drilling AGs they themselves may face prosecution for knowingly overstating the case of man-made global warming (see Is it Time to Prosecute Global Warming Alarmists?). It’s the other side of the argument. If you can prosecute someone for “knowingly” underplaying the case for man-made global warming, as Scneiderman, Healey and other AGs are trying to do to Exxon, why can’t you also prosecute someone for knowingly overplaying the case? Schneiderman, Healey and others now have something else to worry about. Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee sent subpoenas to Schneiderman, Healey and eight radical enviro organizations requiring them to cough up the documents they’ve been hiding that show their collusion to try and bring down Exxon…
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Interior Dept Chides FERC re Atlantic Sunrise Pipe, Bogus Concerns

DOIThe Obamadroids are once again ganging up on the semi-independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Last week the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed comments with FERC critical of the Williams/Transco Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project (see Federal EPA Continues to Fuss over Atlantic Sunrise Route in PA). This week it’s the Obama Dept. of Interior (DOI). The DOI has filed comments with FERC saying Atlantic Sunrise maybe/may/might cause a 2.5 second eyesore for people paddling down the Susquehanna River–they might see a nice grassy knoll where the pipeline runs instead of overgrown, spindly, dying trees instead. Because it’s an official “historic” stretch of river that Captain John Smith may have once traveled, that apparently means not a single tree branch can ever be pruned along the river bank. What a load…
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South Fayette, PA Obstinately Passes Defacto Drilling Ban, Again

Comin Around Again - EditedSouth Fayette (Washington County), PA is one of seven selfish PA towns that sued the state after the Act 13 law was enacted in 2012 (see Lawsuit Filed: PA Towns Sue State over Marcellus Act 13 Law). Ultimately South Fayette and the other towns won their case at the PA Supreme Court level, winning the right for all PA towns and municipalities to enact their own ordinances with respect to oil and gas drilling. So last year South Fayette enacted a new defacto ban, calling it a zoning ordinance. A judge tossed it out in May because South Fayette didn’t follow proper protocol and procedure (see South Fayette, PA Restrictive Drilling Ordinance Tossed by Judge). But the obstinate anti-drillers who sit on the Board of Commissioners brought it back, held a public hearing, and last night voted to adopt the same, exact defacto frack ban…
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PA’s Biggest NatGas Power Plant to Buy Gas Based on Electric Price

invenergyEarlier this month MDN brought you the exciting news that Cabot Oil & Gas, which only drills in the Marcellus in Susquehanna County, PA, will provide the low-cost natural gas that will power Pennsylvania’s largest natgas-fired electric generating plant, to be built in neighboring Lackawanna County by Invenergy (see Cabot Cuts Deal to Supply PA’s Largest NatGas-Fired Electric Plant). No specifics were mentioned in the announcement for how much money the natgas plant will pay Cabot for the gas. Perhaps we now know why. What Invenergy will pay will be (mostly) based on the price it receives for the electricity it produces…
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Colorado Study Proves Fracking Doesn’t Contaminate Groundwater

real-science.jpgA study funded entirely by the National Science Foundation (no Big Green money involved, no oil and gas money involved) has found that fracking operations in Colorado have not led to an increase in methane migration into groundwater supplies. The study, titled “Groundwater methane in relation to oil and gas development and shallow coal seams in the Denver-Julesburg Basin of Colorado” (full copy below) was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and is significant. The research examined methane levels going back 25 years, long before any horizontal fracking took place in the state. It focuses on an area of Colorado where there has been a great deal of drilling and fracking over the past 16 years. In looking at levels of dissolved methane in groundwater both before and after fracking began, the researchers found, “The rate [of groundwater methane] did not change after the introduction of horizontal drilling combined with high-volume hydraulic fracturing in 2010.” We predict you’ll hear crickets in mainstream media–with no coverage of this very important finding…
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Irony: DOJ Scuttled Halliburton/BH Merger, then Collects $11M Fine

ValueActThe news is now months old that Halliburton and Baker Hughes ended their attempt to merge. The reason they called it off was because of opposition from the Obama Department of Justice (see Obama DOJ Kills Halliburton/Baker Hughes Merger, Deal “Terminated”). The companies didn’t have the stomach to go up against the bullies at DOJ. So it was the DOJ that actually killed the deal. During the process of DOJ’s review, an “activist investor” (i.e. corporate raider) by the name of ValueAct Capital snapped up $2.6 billion worth of Halliburton and Baker Hughes stock with, according to the DOJ, the intent to influence the companies’ business decisions as the merger unfolded.” The DOJ charged ValueAct “with violating the reporting and waiting period requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act” (see DOJ Sues ValueAct Capital for Meddling in Halliburton/BH Merger). ValueAct has settled by paying $11 million in shakedown money to the DOJ to make it all go away. Which we find ironic. The DOJ killed the deal, and yet the DOJ is extracting money for the deal they killed…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Jul 14, 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: Cleveland Fed says Utica, Marcellus shale producing wells at historic highs; Binghamton radio station protects fractivist; rig count steady in OH; Jim Cramer says pipeline companies making a comeback; major energy group endorses Trump; Kinder Morgan CEO says wind, solar potential overstated; Brexit boosting UK’s shale gas; and more!
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