Exclusive: What’s Going on with Fairmont Brine?

Last week MDN was contacted by a vendor working in the oil and gas business who is owed money by Fairmont Brine. The vendor’s question to MDN: What have you heard about Fairmont? Are they heading for bankruptcy? We’ve had our eye on Fairmont Brine Processing, headquartered in Fairmont, WV, for a number of years. We originally started writing about the company in 2010 when it was AOP Clearwater (see AOP Clearwater Plant in WV a Big Success in Treating Marcellus Shale Wastewater). New owners expanded the operation in 2014 (see New Brine Processing Plant Coming to Panhandle of WV). In early 2016, Fairmont secured a $90 million line of credit to build a new wastewater processing plant in southwest PA (see Fairmont Brine Gets $90M to Build New Wastewater Recycling Plant). And in November, we spotted the company’s name in a major Bloomberg article about Oklahoma earthquakes and how the company can help solve the problem (see WV Wastewater Co Grabs Nat’l Headlines re OK Earthquakes). We told our inquiring vendor we had not heard anything lately about Fairmont. The vendor said he’s not been paid for many months, and sent us copies of letters from the company stating the company is in a cash flow pinch and could not “fulfill its obligations at this time.” So MDN contacted Fairmont’s law firm, the venerable Babst Calland, to find out what’s going on. Here’s what what we found…Continue reading

Fracking is Legal in New York? Yes! Using LPG

Every now and again a gift lands in our lap, unexpectedly. Such is the case today. A third year law student at the University of Buffalo School of Law, Kelsey Hanson, has researched and written a masterful paper on the potential for LPG (liquefied propane) fracking in, yes, New York State. The paper, titled “Hey New York, You Can Frack: An Examination of How Liquefied Petroleum Gas Sidesteps New York’s Fracking Ban to Provide a Legal and Practical Approach for Horizontal Drilling in New York’s Marcellus Shale” (full copy below) has just been published in the Buffalo Law Review (how did that happen?!). In the paper, Hanson first gives a background of traditional fracking, then zeros in and explores LPG fracking–its benefits and its pitfalls. She concludes that the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has left the door open, legally, for shale LPG fracking in the Empire State. She also gives us a much-needed update on the question MDN gets asked frequently: Whatever happened to LPG fracking in Tioga County, NY? The article is eminently readable, full of great information, and worth your time…
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Federal EPA Writes a PennEast Pipeline Love Letter to FERC

Once upon a time, during the Obama reign of terror, the out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as headed by the odious Gina McCarthy, blasted the PennEast Pipeline project (see Obama EPA, National Park Service Try to Rain on PennEast Parade). The Obama/McCarthy EPA made an outrageous claim: That building PennEast “may” end up causing arsenic in groundwater supplies. Totally bogus. And pathetic. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) didn’t fall for EPA’s arsenic and old lace. They approved the project in April (see FERC Issues Favorable Final EIS for PennEast Pipeline Project). Along with the change in the presidency has come some clear-headed thinking in Washington, DC–including at the EPA. Make no mistake–the EPA is still overly populated with Obamadroids that need to be canned. However, there’s enough of a change at the EPA that the agency has just sent what we would call a love letter to FERC, about PennEast. In it, the EPA says, “FERC’s efforts to consider and actively engage EPA to discuss comments, which resulted in improved or modified documentation provided in the [Final] EIS and improved safeguards for protection of human health and the environment.” And because of that, “many of our concerns and objections [to PennEast] have been or will be addressed.” In other words, everybody has now kissed and made up. EPA is feelin’ good about PennEast. And so are we…
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NY DEC Grants Water Permits for Atlantic Bridge Pipeline Project

Very good news for Spectra Energy’s Atlantic Bridge project in (of all places) New York State. In January the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave its final stamp of approval for Atlantic Bridge (see FERC Approves Atlantic Bridge Project for New England/Canada). Atlantic Bridge will beef up capacity on the Algonquin Gas Transmission and Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline systems–to move more Marcellus/Utica gas to New England and Canada. Even though FERC “approved” Atlantic Bridge, Spectra Energy must still ask for “Mother May I?” permission to begin construction on specific, individual portions of the project. FERC granted Spectra Energy permission to begin construction on all of their requests in Connecticut in March (see FERC Grants Atlantic Bridge Pipe OK to Begin CT Construction). However, the part of the project located in New York State was stalled, waiting for a water crossing permit from the Cuomo corrupted Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Miracle of miracles–the DEC has granted those permits…Continue reading

Allentown-Based Talen Energy (Elec Generator) Laying Off Workers

Talen Energy was birthed in June 2015–a combination of PPL Energy Supply and certain assets of Riverstone Holdings. The company, headquartered in Allentown, PA, is one of the largest competitive energy and power generation companies in North America. Talen owns or controls 16,000 megawatts of generating capacity in wholesale power markets, primarily in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southwest regions of the U.S. Talen has gotten into converting and building natural gas-fired electric plants, stories we’ve covered over the past few years (see our Talen Energy stories here). At one time Talen employed around 500 people in Allentown at its HQ. Last summer the company announced layoffs for 131 people. Unfortunately, the trend continues. Talen plans to layoff more people–although an exact number has not yet been released…Continue reading

Anti Group Trains to Fight New Drilling Permits in Westmoreland, PA

Penn Twp – Westmoreland County, PA

This is a heads-up to drillers and landowners in Westmoreland County, PA (essentially Pittsburgh suburb). A group of virulent anti-drillers, funded with money from Big Green groups like the Philadelphia-based and misnamed Clean Air Council, are running a “workshop” to train nutters how to spot any changes in permits for shale wells–so they can, do what? Oppose them, that’s for sure. How? Flood the state Dept. of Environmental Protection with letters and emails (to slow down the permitting process)? Protest? Something more sinister? The announcement about the training session doesn’t specifically state how the nutters will use the information. The training will take place in Penn Township in Westmoreland County, which has been the epicenter for a number of battles to allow drilling…
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Seneca County, OH – Where All Forms of Energy Come Together

Generally speaking, the western side of Ohio is seeing a lot of activity with new solar and wind installations. And the eastern side of the state is seeing a lot of activity with shale drilling and natural gas pipelines. But there is one county, Seneca County (slightly left of center, in the northern part of the state) where both renewable projects like solar and wind, and fossil fuel projects like pipelines, are both active. And that means landowners in Seneca County are being bombarded with offers from solar, wind, pipelines and electric lines. Some sage advice from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation for landowners: hire a lawyer before you sign anything…Continue reading

40 Ohio Groups Band Together to Oppose FirstEnergy’s Nuke Bailout

In April, MDN brought you news of an effort underway in Ohio to tax Ohio ratepayers $5.4 billion and give that money to FirstEnergy to prevent some of its nuclear power plants from closing (see OH Law Would Bailout Nuke Plants for $5.4B, Kill NatGas Plants). Given stiff regulations, nuke plants face stiff competition in the free marketplace. Natural gas-fired plants are cheaper to build and operate, and deliver cheaper electricity. Since nukes can’t compete in the free and open market, FirstEnergy wants to rig the game, all in the name of “energy diversity” and keeping their nuke plants open (and investors happy). Rate-paying Ohioans get screwed in the process. Some 40 groups have banded together for form the Coalition Against Nuclear Bailouts. Some are big groups, some are individuals. They are diverse. For example, the far-left AARP (disgusting organization) is in the coalition. So too is the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) and the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO). Plus some pastors of churches, and local politicians. Feels kind of weird to support an organization with groups like the AARP in it. But perhaps the enemy of my enemy is my friend. At least in this case. It is, truly, a nonpartisan (or should we say bipartisan) coalition that has risen up to fight the nuclear bailout…Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, May 9, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Update on Marcellus/Utia pipeline takeaway projects; rig count declines in PA, WV last week; NYS energy policy – nukes yes, pipelines no; RINO Sen. Portman on the fence re Obama methane rule; signs of drilling industry coming back in PA; EPA drains some of the swamp – dismisses half of scientific advisers on key board; Chesapeake ‘on the ramp’ to growth; Congress gears up for nuclear subsidy showdown; Russia-U.S. rivalry for natgas; and more!Continue reading