New PA Bill an Overreaction to Court Ruling on Strippers

As previously reported, liberal Pennsylvania House of Representatives Democrat Pam Synder has now introduced a bill (HB 1283, copy below) to “clear up” what the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) is a loophole in the Act 13 law that may allow some drillers to avoid paying impact fees (i.e. drilling taxes) on some Marcellus Shale wells (see PA Lib Dem Introducing Bill to “Fix” Strippers Once and for All). In 2012 Pennsylvania passed the Act 13 law that includes a fee on wells targeting shale layers, including the Marcellus. Snyder Brothers, headquartered in Kittanning, PA, drills mostly conventional (vertical only) wells in southwestern PA. In 2011-2012 they drilled 45 vertical-only wells, targeting the Marcellus–all of the wells fracked. Initially those wells produced more than 90 Mcf/day, but by December of the year they were drilled, they produced less than 90 Mcf/day. The way the 2012 Act 13 law is written, if a well produces less than 90 Mcf/day during “any” month it is considered a stripper well and exempt from paying the impact fee. The state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) assessed the fee anyway because for 11 months the wells produced more than 90 Mcf/day. Snyder Bros. sued and after an appeal of the case, won their case in March, exempting those wells from paying impact fees (see PA Court Says Snyder Bros Wells are Strippers, No Impact Fees Due). That sent the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) into a tizzy. The PUC and the PA Democrat Party is using the court case to try and accomplish two things they haven’t been able to accomplish heretofore: (1) claim this is a prime example of why a nosebleed high severance tax is needed, in this year’s budget, and (2) fundamentally change the intent of the Act 13 law by passing a “clarification” as introduced by Snyder’s HB 1283 bill. Below we explore this issue in depth and tell you why the Snyder case win is NOT a way for drillers to avoid paying impact fees. In fact, the court’s decision makes it clear that drillers cannot simply reduce production for one month and then claim it’s a stripper well under the 90 Mcf/day definition. Snyder’s bill is an overreaction and does not clear up anything. Instead, it changes everything…
Continue reading

Seneca Resources Fined $375K by PA DEP for “Multiple Violations”

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection has just fined driller Seneca Resources $325,000 for a series of violations that occurred between 2013 and 2015. It seems in moving dirt around when building drill pads, Seneca caused erosion to occur. They also spilled ~100 barrels of crude oil in one location, and ~500 barrels of wastewater at another location. The violations happened in Forest, McKean, and Elk Counties. Here’s the notice issued by the PA DEP…
Continue reading

Anti-Govt Radicals Begin 24/7 Tree Sit in PA to Block ME2 Pipe

Click for larger version

A group of radical (we’d call them criminal) environmentalists–some of the same ones who broke the law in North Dakota while “protesting” the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)–are now trying to replicate the DAPL “protest” (i.e. illegal action) against Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East 2 pipeline in Pennsylvania. The radical group Earth First! recently issued a “call to action”–their version of ringing the dinner bell for hungry dogs to come running from all other the country (even from other countries). The “call to action” invites hippies and hippie wannabes (those who can put down their bongs for five minutes) to come to Huntingdon County, PA–to Camp White Pine–to stretch wires and ropes from tree to tree and sit, suspended, to prevent crews from clearing trees in the path of the pipeline. According to Mob Rule Now! (aka Democracy Now!), the nutters have now “launched ongoing 24-hour tree-sits” to stop Mariner East 2…
Continue reading

PR Campaign Gets Atlantic Sunrise Pipe to Change Course in PA

Nesbitt Memorial Hospital – click for larger version

If you’re a landowner and want to dissuade a pipeline, like, say, the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, from crossing your property–what can you do? It helps if your property belongs to one of the local dynasties (i.e. BIG money) and if you can hire high-priced lawyers and issue a blizzard of press releases via Business Wire at $500 a pop. Apparently that’s what it takes to convince a pipeline company to change its course. At least, that’s the lesson we take away from Geraldine Nesbitt, landowner of The Nesbitt Parcel in Dallas Township (Luzerne County, near Wilkes-Barre), PA. Nesbitt has been 100% against the Atlantic Sunrise project since learning its proposed route would cross her big-monied estate. Nesbitt’s heir, Abram Nesbitt, once built a hospital in Kingston, PA that reminds of Downton Abbey (see the picture). Atlantic Sunrise is a $3 billion, 198-mile pipeline project running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeastern PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. In February the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave its final seal of approval for the project (see Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Gets Final Approval by FERC). After FERC’s approval, Ms. Nesbitt’s lawyers began an aggressive publicity campaign to try and convince FERC to stop the project. Last week Williams (builder of Atlantic Sunrise) filed a request with FERC to adopt an alternative route around the Nesbitt estate–and all of a sudden Ms. Nesbitt “has never been opposed to natural gas pipelines.” What disgusting hypocrisy. If Joe Farmer wants the pipeline rerouted around his prized hay field–good luck with that. But if an old-line establishment family with BIG MONEY like the Nesbitts wants a reroute, they get it. We don’t like it…
Continue reading

New 3.5 Mile Pipeline Project to Drill Under the Potomac River

Click for larger version

Columbia Pipeline, now owned by TransCanada, recently (in March) filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a 3.5 mile, 8-inch pipeline that will carry natural gas from Pennsylvania to connect the Mountaineer Gas system in West Virginia with the Columbia Gas Pipeline in Pennsylvania. The purpose of the Eastern Panhandle Expansion project is to deliver natural gas via local distribution channels to a new industrial facility in Berkeley County, WV (scheduled to open in Fall 2017), and to provide gas to other local businesses and residents in the Tri-State area. Most of the pipeline crosses through a tiny sliver of Washington County, Maryland. The main issue with the project is that the pipeline will be drilled underneath the Potomac River, which serves as the border between WV and MD. That has antis in an uproar. The good news is that FERC has agreed to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) for the project. That is, this is now a real project with a high degree of likelihood it will get built…
Continue reading

NY Landowner Group Asks Pres. Trump for Help Battling Gov. Cuomo

The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY), a group representing over 70,000 landowners with a collective 1 million acres of land that could be leased for oil and gas drilling, only if, has just sent off a letter to President Trump asking for his help. The JLCNY, via the letter, alerts Trump to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s shenanigans in blocking natural gas pipelines. The letter also asks Trump to support legislation we’ve previously highlighted by Congressman Tom Reed to protect landowners in New York (and other states) from government actions that block oil and gas development (see JLCNY Rally in NY to Support Defense of Property Rights Bill). Here’s what the JLCNY sent along to The Donald…
Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Apr 26, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Golden Pass LNG gets DOE clearance to export; LNG is all the rage in the Trump administration; the era of LNG oversupply; report shows pipelines still safest mode of transport; US Supreme Court won’t hear Chesapeake Energy bond case; frac sand company – reaching crescendo later this year; American tech helps the oil industry; and more!
Continue reading