Potter Twp Inches Closer to Approving Permits for Shell Cracker

In December the Potter Township Board of Supervisors convened a public hearing on the proposed Shell ethane cracker plant–to be built in Potter Twp–that ended up going on for 10 hours (see Potter Twp Declines to Approve Permits for Shell Cracker, For Now). The intent was to approve Shell’s request for permits to begin construction on the multi-billion dollar ethane cracker plant. That didn’t happen. Instead, the supervisors decided to hold another hearing the following night. They did, and that hearing went for over an hour, in closed-door session. At the conclusion, the supervisors made a couple of requests from Shell, which Shell agreed to. However, the supervisors were still not ready to approve the permits and instead asked for more paperwork to be filed–by both Shell and the radical, anti-fossil fuel Big Green group Clean Air Council (from Philadelphia). The supervisors are certainly no rubber stamp for the cracker project. They are working hard to ensure area residents are protected when (not if) it gets built. But that’s not good enough for radical, anti-fossil fuel nutters who (irrationally) want nothing to do with natural gas. The supervisors held another meeting last night and a small group of antis attended with preprinted signs. One sign said “Deficient = DENY.” The other said, “Disaster Decision.” The first sign was flashed as supervisors tried to conduct their business. When the supervisors finally held a vote to ask the town attorney to draw up an official document to approve the cracker, the antis got mouthy (as they always do) and flashed the other sign. Amidst the shouting by antis, one supervisor asked for order in the room. One horse’s rear-end shouted, “Maybe the public wants disorder.” Here’s how it went last night…
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EQT Wins Court Case Against PA DEP re $4.5M Wastewater Leak Fine

In October 2014 the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) fined PA driller EQT $4.53 million for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County, PA (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). While EQT did not say there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine is unreasonable and arbitrary. In fact, EQT says the DEP levied the fine and took EQT to court because a few weeks prior EQT had sued the DEP over a different matter. EQT appealed the fine and the case to PA Supreme Court and a year later the high court handed EQT a “procedural victory” by saying EQT has a point about the manner in which the DEP is calculating the fine (see PA Supreme Court Gives EQT “Procedural Victory” in $4.5M Fine Case). The Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court, PA Commonwealth Court, for follow up work. The work is done and EQT has won. A three-judge panel ruled that the method the DEP currently uses to assess fines–by how many days pollution lingers, instead of by how many days the initial release of pollution lasted–is not legal nor common sense. The judges said such a method in fining, “would result in potentially limitless continuing violations.” Under the old way of calculating fines, the DEP was considering upping the fine on EQT to an insane $157 million. Calculating it under the new way will mean a fine of around $120,000. This is a major victory for EQT and a reigning in of egregiously overzealous state regulators…
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USFWS Pulls the Trigger and Lists Bumble Bee as Endangered

Rusty patched bumble bee

As the ignominious rule of Barack Hussein Obama draws to a close on Jan. 20, government agencies that are part of the Executive Branch, like the EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), continue to issue “midnight” rulings and edicts that will have tragic consequences–until Trump arrives and reverses it (hard to do, but not impossible). We’ve written before about the thuggish nature of USFWS. They are a (police) force unto themselves, kind of like the old East German Stasi. The USFWS is responsible for recommending and listing varies species, empowered to do so under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). They have WAY too much power under dictatorial rulers like Obama. On September 22, 2016 the USFWS published a proposed rule to list the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as “endangered” under the ESA. The rusty patched bumble bee is found in the Midwest and eastern parts of the U.S. If it gets listed, it will have SIGNIFICANT impacts on drillers and midstreamers (see “Endangered” Bumble Bee May Slow/Stop O&G Projects in Northeast). Well, with just a few days left in Obama’s reign of terror, they’ve pulled the trigger and done it. The USFWS has just listed the lowly bumble bee as endangered…
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Details on Newly Announced Trumbull Energy Center Electric Plant

Yesterday MDN ran an important story about 10 proposed (or already under construction) Utica Shale gas-powered electric plants planned for Ohio (see List of 10 Utica-Powered Electric Plant Projects Coming to Ohio). Tucked in the list of 10 projects is a brand new project, officially announced just yesterday, in Trumbull County. MDN readers already know about this project. Last June, Massachusetts-based Clean Energy Future broke ground on their $800 million, 940-megawatt Utica gas-fired electric plant in Lordstown (Trumbull County), OH (see Lordstown Energy Center Breaks Ground on $890M Electric Plant). Construction is under way and the plant will go online in 2018. In February of last year, MDN reported that the owner of the Lordstown Energy Center project, Clean Energy Future, was considering building a second plant at the same site (see Lordstown, OH May Get Second Utica Gas-Powered Electric Plant). The rumor was correct. In November, one of the companies partnering on the project, Fluor Corporation, spilled the beans and announced the second power plant, to be called the Trumbull Energy Center, would indeed get built. However, the project’s main sponsor, Clean Energy, has been mum on the project–until now. Yesterday afternoon the project was officially announced. We have the particulars on this new, second power plant that will be bigger than its older twin…
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Marathon Dances to Corp Raider’s Tune, Former CEO Dissents

We always find it distressing when companies begin to tap dance to please corporate raiders. That is apparently what is now happening at Marathon Petroleum, owner of MarkWest Energy. We don’t pretend to fully understand what’s happening (this is all high finance stuff), but our impression is that Marathon is “dropping down” certain assets (i.e. moved from one legal corporate entity to another) more quickly than it otherwise would have, due to pressure on the company from Elliott Management, a so-called activist investor in the company. “Activist investor” is what used to be called “corporate raider” 25 years ago, which are companies or people who invest just enough in a company to control it, forcing the company to shed assets and fire people in order to boost the stock price–just to turn around and sell and make a quick buck. Apparently Elliott wants Marathon to a) move assets around from one company to another PDQ, and b) consider spinning out Speedway into its own company, or selling it. Speedway, you may or may not know, is Marathon’s retail gas filling station business. Speedway bought out and merged in the old Hess filling stations (see Marathon Petroleum Buys the Hess Truck! What Will We Do for Xmas?). Former MarkWest Energy CEO John Fox is none too happy about these machinations. Fox owns a bunch of Marathon stock and he issued a press release yesterday to pressure Marathon’s current leaders into slowing down and not being so eager to tap dance to Elliott’s tune…
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Maryland Democrat Lawmakers Continue to Torpedo Fracking

Maryland is a lot like New York–populated with lefty liberals who love to tell other people how to live their lives. Maryland went through a years-long process, just like New York, and eventually released what would likely be the strictest drilling regulations in the nation, in late 2014 (see Fracking in Maryland (!) in 2015? Quite Possibly). On his way out of office, then-Gov. Martin O’Malley (a Democrat) published the regs and prepared the state to frack (see Maryland Gets Ready to Frack! Gov O’Malley Files New Regulations). But then the Maryland legislature passed a temporary moratorium which the newly elected Republican Governor, Larry Hogan, allowed to become law (see Maryland’s Pusillanimous Gov Allows Frack Moratorium to Become Law). Hogan and the Maryland Dept. of the Environment (MDE) returned with more tweaks which tightened the proposed regs even more–to the point no one would want to drill and frack anyway. But still the crazies objected (see Maryland Holds Hearings on Fracking, Crazies Turn Out to Complain). Maryland legislators, almost all of them liberal Democrats, want to ensure there is never any fracking in Maryland. So they’ve they’ve placed a “temporary” hold on new regulations that allow fracking. The new General Assembly kicked off its 2017 session yesterday, and while the House and Senate are quibbling over what to call it (a ban or a moratorium), one thing is clear: Maryland Democrat legislators are out to torpedo fracking in Maryland…
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ETE Goes on Fundraising Bender – Raises $2B+ from Units & IOUs

Energy Transfer Equity (ETE), owner of more than 62,500 miles of natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines, with many miles in the Marcellus/Utica, has just gone a cash-raising bender. ETE is, by the way, the owner of the planned Rover Pipeline–a $3.7 billion, 711-mile Marcellus/Utica natural gas pipeline that will run from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and eventually into Canada. On Monday the company announced they have raised $580 million in cash by selling new 32 million new units (think shares of stock). In addition, yesterday the company said it had floated new notes (IOUs) worth nearly $1.5 billion. Wow! Add it together and the total is over $2 billion–a serious pile of cash. What are they doing with all that cash? Paying off old debt…
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Obama’s DOE Secretary Politicizes Science on his Way Out the Door

As is so often the case, when leftists/liberals claim they are doing one thing, it is, in fact, the opposite they are doing. Case in point: Obama’s Dept. of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest “hair” Moniz has released an 11th hour “scientific integrity” policy for the DOE that supposedly inoculates and protects “real” scientists who work for the agency from politics–allowing them to freely vomit their political, whoops, scientific views whenever and wherever they want, without fear of retribution or losing their job. What it does is to set up a situation where the incoming Trump Administration (specifically Rick Perry, the new DOE Secretary) are handcuffed to a bunch of leftists in the department–people who insist on the fairy tale of man-made global warming. If Perry wants to clean house, there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, along with lawsuits that it violates agency policy. This is a typical sleazy move by the Obamadroids to dirty things up before they leave town–scorched earth policy. In case you think we’re engaging in hyperbole, the Union of (Liberal) Concerned Scientists are “thrilled” with the new policy. Need we say more?…
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Electricity Prices Fell in 2016 – Thanks to Shale Gas

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is fresh out with analysis of wholesale electricity prices in 2016 and finds electric prices were down for the year primarily because of the low price of natural gas–and the switching currently under way from coal to natgas. EIA says for the first 10 months of last year electric generating plants paid an average of $2.78/Mcf (thousand cubic feet) for natgas–down 17% from the same period in 2015. Because of the ongoing switching from coal to natgas, EIA says electricity generated from natgas power plants rose 6% in the first 10 months compared to the same period a year earlier. The truly astonishing factoid from EIA: “Natural gas was the primary source of U.S. electricity generation (when measured on an annual basis) in 2016 for the first time.” Here’s the full EIA analysis…
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Northeast Oil & Gas Awards Announces 2017 Finalists

The Fifth Annual Northeast Oil & Gas Awards will take place on Thursday, March 2 in Pittsburgh. The O&G Awards have just released the list of this year’s finalists. These companies, all of them already winners in our book, have been shortlisted by the judging panel for their commitment to the key areas of Health & Safety, Operational Excellence, Innovation, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Stewardship. MDN congratulates the following finalist companies in the Fifth Annual Northeast Oil & Gas Awards!…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Jan 12, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Cuomo’s war on NY energy; another round of leases in the Utica Shale in the works; Rex Energy closes on asset sale; Monroe County leads surge in OH drilling permits; PA pipeline on verge of approval; short-term outlook for natgas prices; the next big innovation in oil & gas; and more!
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