Obama EPA One Last Swipe at Fossil Fuels, Changes Fracking Report

We now know that it’s possible to bribe people who work for the federal Environmental Protection Agency. That is, big money donors DO have a say in how “science” is presented by the agency. The one great, huge, towering problem that anti-drillers have is that there is no scientific evidence that supports their wild claims that fracking contaminates water–which is their favorite lie to spread. When the Environmental Protection Agency arrived at the same conclusion–fracking doesn’t pollute water–after four years of studying it, that really took the wind out of the sails of rabid fossil fuel haters (see EPA Draft Report Says Fracking Doesn’t Pollute Groundwater Supplies). The EPA reviewed research from over 950 studies and even conducted nine of their own primary studies. Conclusion: fracking doesn’t pollute water supplies. What’s a good fossil fuel hater to do? Pressure the EPA to change the outcome of their study. And pressure they did. So much so that in the final version of the report just released (full copy below), the EPA slightly modified the language. In the original draft report, the language says, “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources.” The final report deletes that statement and provides language that says “under some circumstances” the fracking process can harm local water supplies, but because there are “gaps” in the data, the EPA can’t say how often or how much such impacts happen. In other words, all of the science is still the same. There is no evidence that fracking hurts water. The EPA simply gave their Big Green friends some headlines to play with for a few days. Perhaps it’s no coincidence the report is 666 pages long…
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BLM Auction Leases 17 Parcels, 719 Acres in OH Wayne Natl Forest

As we mentioned in a story yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management proceeded with an online auction for BLM-controlled land in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest (see 10-Yr Wait is Over, BLM Auctions Wayne Natl Forest Leases Today). The BLM plan was to auction 33 parcels totaling 1,600 acres. As it turns out, only 17 parcels totally 719 acres actually got auctioned. At the last minute the BLM withdrew 881 acres (16 parcels) because there are remaining issues with ownership title of the mineral rights. Those other parcels may later be offered via auction, if they get everything squared away. The 719 acres was all leased by noon and brought bids ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 per acre. Let the fracking begin!…
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Charges Dismissed Against Tree Sitting Anti in Huntingdon County

You may recall our story about the daughter of a Huntingdon County, PA landowner, radicalized by Big Green groups (as evidenced by her association with well known protesters previously arrested), who took to a tree on her mom’s property in order to illegally stop crews working on tree clearing for the Mariner East 2 pipeline (see PA Anti Literally Goes Up a Tree to Stop Mariner East 2 Pipeline). It ultimately didn’t matter, because Sunoco came back and cut down the few trees they need to cut anyway (see Sunoco Tricks Radicalized Protester – Returns and Cuts More Trees). Eventually law enforcement got around to arresting the daughter, and the mom (who also trespassed during tree clearing). Law enforcement also arrested a serial criminal trespasser/anti who aided and radicalized them. Unfortunately, in a miscarriage of justice, the charges against all three have been dropped…
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Reversed REX Pipeline Goes from 1.8 Bcf to 2.0 Bcf

The Rockies Express Pipeline (REX), originally built from Colorado and Wyoming to Monroe County, OH to bring natural gas from west to east, last year reversed the flow for a large and important section of the pipeline. On August 1, 2015 the section of REX from Monroe County, OH to Mexico, MO reversed the flow and began to carry 1.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of Utica and Marcellus Shale gas to the Midwest, including to the greater Chicago area. REX has been hard at work on plans to expand capacity even more by beefing up compressor stations along portions of the pipeline. REX filed a plan with FERC to add another 800 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of capacity along the same portion of the reversed pipeline. In late November, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave REX the go-ahead to start additional compressors added at three locations along the route (see REX Pipe Begins Flowing Extra 800 MMcf/d Marcellus/Utica Gas West). NGI is reporting that the first 200 MMcf of the additional 800 MMcf is now flowing along the pipeline…
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Coal-to-Gas Plant Conversion in Western NY Back from the Dead

NRG Dunkirk Coal Plant

A coal-fired electric generating plant near Buffalo (in Dunkirk) was slated to be converted to burn natural gas–a win/win for everyone (see Dunkirk, NY Electric Plant Saved – Converting from Coal to NatGas). Radical environmentalists like the Sierra Club opposed it, but that’s to be expected. Crazy people do crazy things. Everything seemed to be fine until a competitor hauled NRG, the plant’s owner, into court to dispute the change from coal to natgas. They objected to the ratepayers kicking in $150 million for the project. NRG said fighting the case in court will take years, so they just closed down the plant instead (see Dunkirk, NY Coal-Fired Electric Plant Closing in January 2016). It was an economic nuclear bomb for that community. The Town of Dunkirk gets 40% of its tax revenue from the plant. NY “generously” shucked out $5.5 million so Dunkirk wouldn’t collapse economically. But doing that year after year will get old quick. Other communities can rightly demand state help too. But what’s this? The competitor who objected to converting the old coal plant to natgas (with ratepayer assistance) has dropped their objection, and NRG says the project is back on. Great news! It’s great for the people of western NY, great for Dunkirk’s taxpayers, and great for the Marcellus/Utica industry that will provide the gas…
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Ohio Wants to “Clawback” $300K Grant to TX-based Exterran Energy

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Exterran Corporation (with 5,400 employees) specializes in natural gas compression production equipment and processing facilities. They design, build and operate compressor stations and natural gas processing plants. In 2012 MDN reported on a contract Exterran won to build three natural gas processing plants in West Virginia (see Exterran Wins Contract to Build 3 WV NatGas Processing Plants). The company is also active in other Marcellus/Utica states, including Ohio. In 2013 the company opened a plant to build compressor stations in an industrial park near Youngstown, OH. The state gave the company a $300,000 grant in return for promises to create 103 jobs over a seven year period. Exterran came close for the first couple of years, but then the crash in prices hit and along with it, work dried up. The plant closed in March. Now the state wants “all or part of” the $300,000 grant back (called a “clawback”), because Exterran didn’t fulfill their end of the bargain. Exterran says the plant closure is “temporary,” implying they will be back…
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Rex Energy Stock Threatened with De-Listing by Nasdaq

Rex Energy, a driller focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA), has had its share of financial challenges. It has swapped out IOUs for new IOUs, converted debt into equity (shares of stock), sold off assets in other basins–a whole lotta stuff to keep on drilling (see our Rex stories here). The company’s stock has taken a big hit over the past five years. The one thing we never read or heard about, however, was a threat to de-list the company’s stock. Rex’s stock (REXX) is traded on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. So it was somewhat surprising to read a statement by the company, issued yesterday, that quotes Nasdaq as saying the exchange has decided to allow Rex’s stock to continue trading–for now. Apparently there was some doubt about it. Who knew? However, Rex has a deadline of June 17, 2017 “to regain compliance with Nasdaq’s minimum bid price requirement.” So Rex has been put on notice: Get the per-share price up, or you’re banished to the penny stock pink sheets. The company’s stock as of this morning was trading at 50 cents per share…
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2 New Non-Corporate-Raider Board Members Join Williams

It’s been a while since the last episode of As the (Midstream) World Turns. In our last episode, we left beleagured Williams conducting a board of directors “refreshment” program (i.e. purge)–to clean out the old and bring in some new blood. A brief history to catch you up in case you missed our previous episodes: Following an aborted merger with Energy Transfer Equity, 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, Mini-Me 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). In August, Williams appointed three new members of the board, all of them highly qualified (see Williams Appoints 3 New Board Members, Confounds Corp Raider). In September Williams continued with what it calls its “Board refreshment plan” by appointing two more new board members (see More Board Shakeups Coming to Williams). At that time Williams also announced three current board members who were on the board prior to the big shake-up (three who didn’t quit in July) will be gone by the annual meeting held Nov. 23. Those three are now gone, and yesterday Williams announced two new board members to replace them–heavy hitters! One of the new board members is the former CEO of Williams competitor Enterprise Products Partners…
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Trumps Picks Fossil Fuel Advocates for Sec State & Dept of Energy

We’re sure you haven’t missed the news that President-Elect Donald Trump (we love saying those words!) has nominated current Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson (T-Rex for short) to become the next Secretary of State–and fourth in line to the presidency. Tillerson is a great pick, for many reasons. He’s been doing deals in some 50 countries across the planet, dealing with some nasty customers during that time. T-Rex knows how to get things done–and he knows how to be a diplomat. He deals from a position of strength, not of weakness as our current SecState (John Kerry) and previous SecState (Hillary Clinton) have done. T-Rex will command attention and respect across the planet. And he’s a oil guy to boot–how great is that! Equally great news is Trump’s pick to run the Dept. of Energy–former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. We’ve always liked Rick (we supported him over Romney in 2012). Perry was the longest-serving governor of Texas, the biggest oil producing state in the country. He knows oil and gas, and he knows how to lead. What a breath of fresh air! Here’s some background on Trumps two key picks who have deep o&g experience…
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Geriatric Duo Howarth & Ingraffea Want NY to Stop Using NatGas

It’s really kind of sad. Two washed-up, thoroughly discredited (indeed humiliated) Cornell professors who are on the payroll of Big Green organizations like the Park Foundation, Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea, are still appearing in public to proclaim their junk science “study” from 2011 that says natural gas is worse for Mom Earth than burning coal (see New Cornell University Study Says Shale Gas Extraction Worse for Global Warming Than Coal). The geriatric duo appeared in Albany, NY yesterday, on the second anniversary of Andrew Cuomo’s tragic decision to block shale drilling in New York, to proclaim we need to “wean” ourselves off natural gas. Their research has been panned by multiple sources, including by Cornell itself (see New Cornell Study Says Coal is Not Cleaner than Natural Gas). Like we said, sad. And embarrassing for Cornell to have its name associated with this pair who continue to make money by trading on their association with the once-great university…
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