Maryland Gov. Hogan Pulls the Trigger, Commits Fracking Suicide

Metaphorically speaking–Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s finger was on the trigger of a loaded pistol, pointed at the head of the once-great State of Maryland. And now, Hogan pulled the trigger, assassinating any hope of new jobs, new wealth for some of the state’s poorest people (farmers and landowners in western Maryland), and new tax revenue for local communities. BANG. Done. Killed. Death. Thanks Larry, you da man. We previously reported that the Maryland House had loaded the chamber, and then the Senate had cocked the gun and put it in Hogan’s hand (see Gun Loaded & Cocked, Maryland About to Commit Fracking Suicide). On Tuesday, Hogan pulled the trigger. In the midst of the ebullient reporting on Maryland’s action by so-called mainstream media, we continue to ask the question, who got a payoff here (see Antis Deliriously Happy with Maryland Frack Ban, Who Paid Who?). Is anybody investigating Hogan to see if his bank account just got really fat? Or if Hogan was promised something in return for his sell-out of fracking (he ran for governor as a supporter of fracking). We sincerely wonder where the payoff is, because if you dig deep enough, it will be there…
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Carbon Natural Gas Targets Chattanooga Shale in TN

Carbon Natural Gas Company, an independent oil and gas exploration and production company, owns, operates and develops oil and gas properties in the Appalachian, Illinois and Ventura Basin areas of the U.S. Most of the wells they own and operate are conventional. However, the company is dipping its toe into unconventional shale as well. Yesterday Carbon issued a press release to announce they have formed a subsidiary called Carbon Appalachian Company, with backing from two unnamed institutional investors. The new venture has access to a whopping $100 million to get them going, with $20 million of that going to the purchase of “natural gas producing properties and related facilities” located in Tennessee. Currently the existing wells just purchased by Carbon in TN produce a measly 3.6 million cubic feet per day (Mcf/d) of mostly natural gas. You paid $20M for that?! Aaahh, there’s more to the story. The acreage that comes with the wells is located in the Chattanooga Shale–a shale layer much shallower than the Marcellus or Utica. Carbon plans to drill horizontal wells in the Chattanooga. Which got us to thinking: How active is the Chattanooga? Who else is drilling there? Is there shale drilling in TN? We found some answers…
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FERC Delays Final EIS for Mountain Valley Pipeline by 3 Months

The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. The project, which filed an official application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October 2015, is being built by EQT, NextEra Energy and several other partners. The project has faced stiff opposition from landowners in both West Virginia and Virginia. Although the project is not yet fully approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the project did get a favorable Draft Environmental Impact Statement from FERC last September (see FERC Gives WV to VA Mountain Valley Pipeline Provisional Thumbs Up). MVP had wanted a final Environmental Impact Statement by March 10th, but that didn’t happen. They’re still waiting, and now will wait until the end of June before they get their final EIS from FERC…
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PA House Passes “Sane” Budget Plan with NO Severance Tax

On Monday Pennsylvania House Republicans released their version of a state budget, and yesterday (Tuesday) they voted to pass it. Ba-boom! The budget is noteworthy for many reasons. Of prime interest to MDN is that the budget does NOT include PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s insane 6.5% severance tax (see PA Gov Wolf’s 6.5% Severance Tax Proposal a Hot, Stinking Mess). As a matter of fact, after passing the bill yesterday, Republicans are quoted as saying the bill’s overall aim is to inject “sanity, predictability and affordability” into state spending. Wait. Did House Republicans just call Wolf and the Democrats “insane,” with respect to spending and taxing? We believe they did. PA House Majority Leader Dave Reed said he understands the final version will get changed, quite a bit: “We understand it’s a negotiation, a beginning, not an end.” Let’s hope the Republicans hold the line once again against an insane severance tax proposal from Gov. Wolf…
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NEPA Anti Newspaper Supports Eminent Domain for Pipelines

Luuucy! You have some ‘splainin’ to do! Somebody at the Scranton Times-Tribune, a reliably anti-drilling rag in the heart of Marcellus country, will have some explaining to do about an editorial that just ran in the Times-Tribune’s sister publication the Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice. We can’t remember the last time we read a positive editorial about the drilling industry in either the Times-Tribune or the Citizens’ Voice, but yesterday it happened. A editorial in the Citizens’ Voice deals with eminent domain being used for pipeline projects, including Atlantic Sunrise. You may recall we recently highlighted the news that Williams has (regrettably) had to file eminent domain cases against 27 holdout landowners in northeast PA (see Atlantic Sunrise Uses Eminent Domain in Northeast & Central PA). Spring-boarding from that news, the Citizens’ Voice editorial concludes that as distasteful as it is, there is precedence and the U.S. Constitution, allowing for it, and that eminent domain for pipelines actually accomplishes the “public good”…
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Michigan Utility Goes Shopping for NatGas-Fired Power Plant

Pssst. Hey buddy. Got a spare power plant you want to sell? Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest utility, providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties. Consumers is canceling an existing contract with Entergy’s Palisades nuclear plant in 2018 and needs to replace the electricity they were buying from the plant. So Consumers is going shopping–for a natural gas-fired power plant that can provide up to 800 megawatts of electricity. Who wants to lay odds that whichever plant they end up buying will be supplied, at least partially, but Utica/Marcellus gas…
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Biggest Jump Yet in Patterson-UTI Rig Count, Up 10 Rigs in March

As we do every month, MDN tracks how many rigs oilfield services company Patterson-UTI Energy reports operating–as a proxy for when/if the drop in rig counts for the Marcellus/Utica will turn around. Patterson operates a number of rigs in the northeast, as well as other areas of the continental United States (and Canada). Patterson was our “canary down the mine shaft” for discerning when the deep, dark recession in drilling would turn around. It happened in June 2016–and every single month since that time, including the month of March. In fact, Patterson’s March rig count jumped by 10, to an average of 88 active rigs operating in the U.S. That’s the biggest single monthly increase since they began adding rigs again last June…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Apr 5, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: US natgas storage capacity increased in 2016; US coal companies ask Trump to stay in Paris climate deal (huh?); the rigs just keep on a comin’; is natgas in the midsts of a boom and bust cycle; petroleum exports from US grow; cyber attack risk for o&g industry; Fox eats EPA’s Scott Pruitt, alive; and more!
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