PA Democrats Spout Lame Reasons to Support Severance Tax @ Hearing

It seems no matter how many times we calmly, rationally, factually respond to and refute the intellectual dishonesty around the issue of a severance tax in Pennsylvania, PA Democrats pop up to make the same already-refuted, debunked lies they spew, again and again. They must be of the opinion that if you repeat the same lies long enough, people will begin to believe them. And so a group of elected (and appointed) Democrat “leaders” gathered in Wilkes-Barre yesterday to rehash and repeat the same tired old lies about a severance tax. The organizer of the event was State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (Democrat from Wilkes-Barre) who stated at the event he doesn’t think the gas companies pay “their fair share.” That is such a bogus statement in so many ways. When did privately earned money suddenly belong to the state in the first place? Does Rep. Pashinski know that drillers already pay a severance tax–called an impact fee? And that by passing a severance tax on top of an impact fee, PA vaults to the top of the list–it would have the highest taxation of the industry in the United States at an effective rate of 9% (see PA Independent Fiscal Office: Wolf Severance Tax Highest in U.S.). There is NO doubt that drillers would shut down their programs in PA if such a tax were passed. But perhaps that’s what Rep. Pashinksi wants? Also at the meeting was a Democrat who is usually reasonable–Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Davin and his crew have done good work for the state, but unfortunately he answers to Gov. Tom Wolf (worst PA governor in living memory), and Wolf forces Davin to attend these types of meetings to wave the flag for Wolf’s idiotic severance tax proposal. It must be demeaning for Davin. If Davin really believes what he says about Wolf’s severance tax–we guess he’s not as smart as we thought he was. Here’s how the fawning establishment press reported yesterday’s “tax the $%#! out of drillers” meeting in Wilkes-Barre…
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New Waterless Frack Company Uses Rocket Fuel! Gets $3M Investment

Over the years MDN has covered waterless fracking technologies. Every now and again a waterless technology comes along as the next, great White Knight in Shining Armor that will sleigh all of the concerns by nutty anti-drillers. Never happens. The waterless fracking tech companies we’ve watched with interest, like GASFRAC, went belly up (see our stories about waterless fracking here). In speaking with experts at industry conferences, MDN editor Jim Willis was struck by the simple rejoinder to his questions about waterless fracking that even if a magical solution were to appear on the scene, there may be times and places when using water to frack just works better, given its physical properties. Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with using water for fracking. But hey, hope springs eternal. So when we saw yet another new waterless fracking technology company issue a press release to say they tried to raise $1 million and ended up raising $3.1 million, we were (of course) drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Canadian company RocketFrac Services Ltd. (gotta love the name, reminds us of Elton John’s iconic song Rocket Man) has an interesting twist on waterless fracking technology–they use solid rocket fuel. No danger of leaks. No worries about transporting it. No water involved. The company is making some pretty big boasts: “We are confident that our fracing process will rapidly become a valuable alternative, perhaps even the preferred choice, for oil and gas exploration and development companies around the globe.” Here we go again…
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Rex Energy Gets a New $300M Loan to Help Fund M-U Drilling

Yesterday Rex Energy, a driller focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA), signed paperwork for a new $300 million loan–due to be paid back by April 2021. Rex immediately withdrew $144 million from the loan, to pay back other loans it owed. When all is said and done with paying back this and that, Rex says they will have $110 million they can use for their Marcellus/Utica drilling program. Rex CEO Tom Stabley said that will be enough money to help fund the company’s two-year development program, including “the potential to access the M&A market.” Curious statement. We take that to mean that Rex is potentially in the hunt to add large acreage tracts (or perhaps buy and add a small driller) to its existing operations. Here’s the company statement from yesterday…
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Big Pittsburgh Foundation Funds Education for Shale Industry

Seems like every time we talk about Big Money foundations, those foundations (which are tax exempt) are far-left in philosophy and when they fund anything to do with the environment or education or business, it’s always with strings attached that said activity will have an anti-drilling bias. Need money for a new “study” to bash shale energy? Take your pick. In Philadelphia, there is the William Penn Foundation. In New York (and North Carolina) there’s the Park Foundation. And in Pittsburgh, the Heinz Foundation–run by Teresa Heinz Kerry (whom we call Mamma Teresa here on MDN). Hard left, all of them. So when we spotted an article about another Pittsburgh-based foundation–the Benedum Foundation–that is donating money to HELP the shale industry, well, we knew that’s a “man bites dog” story worthy of highlighting. The Benedum Foundation does a great deal of its grantmaking for science, technology, medical and engineering (STEM) education. Lately they’ve concentrated on training students who will, after school, land a job at someplace like CONSOL Energy, or the under-construction Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County. Although Benedum doesn’t spend nearly as much as the larger Heinz Foundation, we see Benedum as the antidote–a counterbalance–to some of the damage caused by Mamma Teresa and her married-into, huge piles of money that she spends to oppose shale energy…
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Environmentalist Argues Against Subsidies for Solar & Wind in Ohio

Michael Shellenberger

Michael Shellenberger is an American author, environmental policy expert, cofounder of the Breakthrough Institute and president of Environmental Progress. He was named a Time magazine Heroes of the Environment in 2008. He lives in San Francisco and is a big-time, lefty, lib, environmentalist wacko. But, he’s also an honest big-time, lefty, lib, environmentalist wacko. And for that, we respect him. Shellenberger sent a letter to the editor of the Akron Beacon Journal with the meme of stopping “discrimination against nuclear power.” Among his statements in the letter, Shellengberger says: “Like most environmentalists, I used to be opposed to nuclear power. I thought solar and wind would be enough. But the more I learned about solar and wind, I realized they could never power a high-energy industrial civilization.” Whoa, hold on. We’re dizzy and wobbling…having been knocked up side the head with straight truth from an environmentalist. Shellenberger goes on to make a very strong case that Ohio’s subsidies for solar and wind are, in part, killing nuclear energy in the state. He actually advocates an end to such subsidies. And for those who may not know, “subsidies” means Ohio Gov. John “foreigner hunter” Kasich wants to transfer money from the pockets of Ohio taxpayers into the pockets of businesses in the solar and wind industry. Shellenberger takes Kasich to task for such lunacy. Whoa, there we go again, wobbling…must hold on to something…
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Williams CEO Alan Armstrong Goes On the Record in PA

Alan Armstrong

Williams CEO Alan Armstrong, whom corporate raiders like Keith “Mini-Me” Meister tried to oust (unsuccessfully), recently made a visit to Pennsylvania. As part of that visit, he sat down for an interview in Harrisburg with the Central Penn Business Journal. During the interview, Armstrong talked about shale gas, PA regulation, and the $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project. Here’s a portion of the interview…
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Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Spreads $326,800 of Love in 11 PA Counties

Fire departments, schools, parks and townships are some of the 44 Pennsylvania organizations in 11 counties that will receive $326,800 in funding *this spring* from Williams–through its bi-annual community grant program. Grants up to $10,000 per organization are being awarded by Williams in communities where the proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project will be constructed and operated. This is the fifth round of grants for areas that will host or be affected by the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. All together (including this latest round of $326,800), Williams has now given away $1.79 million to communities on behalf of Atlantic Sunrise. Now that’s something worth celebrating! Is your organization eligible? Grant applications are available at Here’s a list of the organizations that will get grant money this spring…
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And Then There was One – Another FERC Commissioner Resigns

Colette Honorable

Just last week MDN highlighted the urgent need for more commissioners to be appointed by President Trump to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (see Dear President Trump: FERC Needs a Quorum. NOW.). FERC is the agency that, among other things, reviews and approves interstate oil and gas pipeline projects. A full commission has five members. The agency has been without a quorum since Feb. 3, when Norman “cry baby” Bay quit in a huff, leaving the commission with just two members (see FERC Commissioner Resigns Threatening Major M-U Pipeline Projects). Both sides of the isle–those who support drilling and pipelines, and those who don’t–have been pleading with President Trump to get new members appointed. Last Friday one of the final two members, Colette Honorable, said she will leave the commission when her term expires in June. The only commissioner left will be current Chairperson Cheryl LaFleur. What’s going on? Why hasn’t the White House nominated anyone yet?…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, May 2, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Vector Pipeline preps for Rover connection; Dominion set for Cove Point LNG pipeline maintenance; Mass. AG cuddles with McKibben; study says selling US LNG abroad will create 136K jobs here at home; pipeline companies push back on Trump directive to “buy American”; carbon intensity; new natgas engines for trucks; and more!
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