PA Supreme Court Rules Against Act 13 Drilling Law, Yet Again

Gavel-falling.jpgThe Democrat-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled yesterday in another (hopefully final) decision on the 2012 Act 13 Marcellus drilling law passed and signed by then-Gov. Tom Corbett. Four Democrat judges have just struck down more of Act 13, leaving not much left except the part that raises money and gives it away (called an impact fee, otherwise known as a severance tax). You will recall that seven selfish towns sued the state over the Act 13 law and it’s provision that would substitute a statewide, uniform and fair set of zoning ordinances for drilling in place of a patchwork, crazy quilt system of local ordinances for oil and gas drilling. These seven selfish towns wanted their own ordinances and sued, ultimately winning at the Supreme Court (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). The PA Supremes couldn’t, however, be bothered with deciding every tiny bit of nuance and sent some items back to the lower Commonwealth Court for final decisions. Following several cases in the lower courts, some of it came back to the Supreme Court for a final decision, and that just happened. The Supreme’s ruling (full copy of their decision is embedded below) affects the use of eminent domain, what information can be shared by doctors as it relates to privileged trade secrets for drillers, and most importantly, a decision that ends the right of the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) to keep an eye on the zoning regulations passed by towns, to ensure those regulations don’t supersede state oil and gas regulations. Most of Act 13 is now down the toilet, thanks to four left-wing Democrat judges…
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Rice Energy Ramps Up Leasing Activity in Greene County, PA

greene-county-paEarlier this week MDN brought you the dynamite news that Rice Energy is buying out Vantage Energy for $2.7 billion (see Rice Energy Buys Vantage Energy for $2.7B, 85K Marcellus Acres). The next day we answered they “why” question (see Why Did Rice Energy Pay $2.7B for Vantage Energy? It’s Simple…). The reason Rice bought Vantage was largely because of 85,000 acres of Marcellus leases in Greene County, PA. What we had overlooked was the fact that 27,000 of the 85,000 acres in Vantage’s Greene County portfolio was acreage they just bought from bankrupt Alpha Natural Resources (see Vantage Outbids Rice For Bankrupt Alpha Natural’s 27K Marcellus Acres). Rice had bid $200 million for that acreage, but Vantage came along and got it for $339.5 million. Now that Rice has locked up the Vantage acreage in addition to its own considerable holdings in Greene County, what’s left to do? Lease more unleased acreage in Greene. Rice says there is between 20,000-40,000 unleased acres in Greene and the company is full speed ahead trying to get that acreage signed up for themselves. Note to Greene landowners: expect a landman on your doorstep soon…
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Maryland Beats Deadline, Submits Onerous New Fracking Rules

deadlineLast week the Baltimore Sun ran an article (a portion of which we picked up) that said “sources” were telling the Sun that the Maryland Dept. of the Environment (MDE) would miss a deadline to submit revisions to revisions of revisions of fracking regulations that will allow the state to begin fracking on or about October 1, 2017 (see Maryland Will Miss Important Fracking Deadline on Oct 1). In order to meet the 2017 deadline when the current two-year moratorium expires, the new revisions must be issued by October 1, 2016, a year earlier. The Sun said that wouldn’t happen. But it did. In releasing the new revisions yesterday, Maryland Secretary of the Environment, Ben Grumbles, called the new regulations “the most stringent” regulations in the country. Strangely, a copy of the new revisions just released can’t be found on the MDE website. What we know from various news accounts is that there will be no drilling or fracking within 2,000 feet of a private water well. And that’s just one of the show-stopping requirements. Translation: there never will be any fracking in Maryland, mark our words. Or if there is, it will be isolated and rare as hen’s teeth…
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PA Landowners Rally in Harrisburg to Support Royalty Bill

Pennsylvania State CapitolLandowners from Bradford, Susquehanna, Wyoming and Lycoming counties (Pennsylvania) attended a rally in Harrisburg, at the Capitol, on Tuesday. They were there to lobby for and support passage of House Bill (HB) 1391, a bill that would guarantee landowners a minimum 12.5% royalty payment regardless of post-production costs. We have extensively covered this issue, which is causing a schism between landowners and drillers (see our most recent article: Guest Post: A Possible Solution for the PA Royalty Issue). Affected landowners are extremely mad, and want their legislators in Harrisburg to pass HB 1391. They were there to make the case. Although they had hoped the measure might come up for a vote on Wednesday, the bill’s sponsor, Garth Everett, said it won’t be considered until October when the House is back in session…
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SEPA Town Votes to Allow Mariner East 2 Across Town Land

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Yes No tickbox with green YES tick

MDN has previously highlighted the fight to build the Mariner East 2 pipeline. Town by town, opponents of the pipeline have tried to stop it with zoning regulations. And town by town, those efforts are failing. A prime example is Middletown, PA, in Delaware County (near Philadelphia). The Middletown Town Council voted earlier this month to put an ordinance on the docket for council members to vote on at the Sept. 26 meeting, an ordinance that if passed, will allow Sunoco LP to move forward with building the pipeline on public land in the town–in one case across a park, and in another close to an elementary school (see PA Town’s Angst Over Mariner East 2 Pipeline Near School, Park). Town council members faced heaving criticism and opposition, but in the end they did the right thing. Monday night the Town Council voted to grant permits to Mariner East 2, provided there are certain safeguards…
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Mt Pleasant Twp Approves Range Well Near School

approvedSomething noteworthy is happening in southwest Pennsylvania. Landowners and pro-gas supporters are turning out at local hearings to support more drilling. Case in point: Range Resources had applied for a permit to build a drill pad near a local elementary school in Mt. Pleasant (Westmoreland County), PA. Moms Clean Air Force and other anti-drillers turned out to oppose the plan. A local town board meeting was packed to capacity. However, a majority of those packing the meeting were pro-gas and wore t-shirts with “Land Owners United” printed on them. Cool! About time our side began to turn up for these meetings to support the industry…
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Corporate Raider Mini-Me Meister Drops Proxy Fight with Williams

Mini-MeIt’s always drama with Williams. Nearly half of the Williams board (6 of 14 board members) were part of a cabal that tried to force the company to sell itself to Energy Transfer Equity–a deal that went horribly wrong. Following the aborted merger, six of Williams’ board members tried to engineer a palace coup to depose current CEO Alan Armstrong. The coup failed and the board members quit in July (see Half of Williams Board, Including 2 Corporate Raiders, Quit). One of the board members who quit was corporate raider Keith Mesiter, founder and managing partner of Corvex Management. Meister is a protege of Carl Ichan, hence we call him Mini-Me. After quitting, he decided he wanted back on the board and began a proxy fight to take control of the company (see Corvex Raider Launches Hostile Takeover Attempt of Williams). Williams appointed several new board members, the most recent two earlier this week (see More Board Shakeups Coming to Williams). Now, all of a sudden, Mini-Me has given up. Meister says he likes the most recent appointments and is using that as an excuse to drop his proxy fight to take over the company. What a loser…
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Carl Icahn Toadie Resigns from Chesapeake Energy Board

I QuitLast week MDN told you that evil corporate raider Carl Icahn has thrown in the towel with respect to ever making money from Chesapeake Energy. He recently sold off half his Chessy stock (see Corp Raider Carl Icahn Sells Half of His Chesapeake Stock). When Carl had amassed enough stock, he used his position (as evil corporate raiders do) to fire the co-founder and CEO of Chesapeake, Aubrey McClendon (see Breaking: Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon Gets Pink Slip). He did so by installing his own toadies on the board. His direct representative on the board was John Lipinski. A week after Carl sold half his shares in Chesapeake, Lipinski resigned from the board. Good riddance…
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PennEast Pipeline Hands Out More Money to Non-Profits

money-bag.jpgEvery now and again pipeline companies hand out grants to local worthy organizations, like fire departments and schools. PennEast Pipeline is one such organization. Christmas has come early to another group of non-profits. PennEast has just handed out $5,000 each to more than a dozen organizations (see the list below). All told, PennEast had distributed more than $400,000 to local organizations through its “Community Connector Grant” program…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Sep 29, 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: NE pipelines take on debt; trade groups call for buildout of PA pipelines; PA in the hunt for more natgas end-users; OH counties benefit from sales tax boom created by shale; Duke Energy calls natgas a “game changer”; shale drilling revival as oil prices recover; OPEC agrees to cut production, first time in two years; Harold Hamm calls Hillary energy policy “silly”; and more!
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