PA Senate GOP Leaders Stab Gas Industry with Severance Tax Plan

Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati have betrayed the Marcellus gas industry and should be tossed out on their rear-ends in the next election. Corman, Scarnati and other so-called Republicans in the PA Senate leadership have signed on to promote a severance tax plan to “close” the budget gap THEY CREATED by idiotically passing a bloated spending plan they couldn’t pay for. Now, caving to pressure from a tax-and-spend liberal media and tax-and-spend Democrat Party, PA Senate Republicans have opened a door that should never have been opened. PA’s Marcellus drillers already pay the equivalent of a 9.16% severance tax–highest in the country (called an impact fee). This new plan leaves the impact fee in place, AND places a severance tax on top of it, guaranteeing LESS drilling (and less tax money) for PA, not more. How utterly stupid is that? Last night 19 members of the PA Senate Appropriations Committee voted on a plan that, among other things, puts a 2 cents per thousand cubic feet severance tax on all natural gas produced, which, according to the wizards of smart in the Senate, will raise an extra $108 million. Today the package goes to the full Senate for a vote, where it is expected to pass. It then goes to the House. If a severance tax is passed (big if), Gov. Wolf can finally “check a box on a campaign promise” to give away other people’s money to teacher’s unions. Our only line of defense now is the steel backbone of PA House Speaker Mike Turzai and the House Republicans, to hold the line and reject the severance tax proposal coming from the Senate…
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Some Components for Shell’s PA Cracker Plant Coming from Mexico

One would hope a $6 billion ethane cracker project like the one being built by Shell in Beaver County, PA would consist of 100% American-made parts. But alas, such is not the case. The biggest story to hit Beaver County, likely ever, keeps reporters at the Beaver County Times busy (“busy beavers”–groan). The ace reporting staff at the local newspaper noticed a job posting from Bechtel Corp., one of the major contractors on the project, on LinkedIn. The job posting advertised for a project superintendent for the Shell cracker plant–a position located in Houston and in Tampico, Mexico. The ace reporters followed it up and got confirmation that some of the components for the cracker plant will be manufactured in Mexico and shipped to PA. No doubt in an effort to tamp down what could become a firestorm, Shell quickly confirmed the Mexico connection and pointed out that “more than 80%” of the individual components for the plant will be built in the U.S. Will this news about Mexico parts make a difference in the larger scheme of things?…
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Investment Firm Opposing Trumbull Energy Center Slinks Out of Mtg

Last week MDN told you about opposition from a neighbor in an industrial park in Lordstown (Trumbull County, OH) to a proposal by Clean Energy Future to build a second natural gas-fired electric plant next door to one already under construction now (see Investment Firm Threatens 2nd Lordstown Electric Plant, $30B @ Risk). The two Lordstown Energy Center plants will result in an estimated $60 BILLION of economic activity locally–a staggering number. Inexplicable opposition from Vienna Investments, the landlord/owner of a building that houses a car seat manufacturer in the industrial park where the plants will get built, is threatening to block the second plant, putting $30 billion in jeopardy. The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) held a public hearing at the local high school on Tuesday night, to accept public comments on the second power plant. Residents from around the community turned out in force–to support the project. More than 200 people crammed the auditorium (standing room only). Of the 25 who spoke, only a few expressed mild concerns about the project–about water runoff in a local creek. Yes, there were two representatives from Vienna Investments (attorneys)–both registered to speak. According to an eye witness MDN had on location, “they retreated from the room quietly and did not speak when their names were called.” Our source speculates they elected to not talk after hearing overwhelming support from the crowd. Cowards. Hopefully the overwhelming support shown by the local community will put the issue to rest, and Ohio will approve the second project without delay…
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Corrupt NY DEC Fires Back at Millennium, Claims Deadline is Aug 30

Yesterday MDN brought you the exciting news that Millennium Pipeline has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to overrule the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation–politicized and corrupted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo–and issue permission to commence construction of a very small 7.8 mile pipeline that will connect Millennium to a natural gas-fired power plant now under construction in Orange County, NY (see Showdown: Millennium Asks FERC for Permission to Ignore NY DEC). According to the law as written, if a state (like NY) does not act on a federal Section 401 Water Quality Certification stream crossing permit for 12 months, FERC has the right to step back in and issue the certificate. It would totally emasculate the corrupt DEC. But hold on. The DEC is once again using sleazy political tactics to try and forestall FERC from taking action. On Tuesday the DEC filed a letter with FERC requesting they hold off on granting Millennium permission to build–based on a technicality. Millennium first filed their application with the DEC 19 months ago. But the DEC says the initial application was “incomplete” and that the completed application, refiled by Millennium, didn’t happen until months later–and if you count the time from the refiled application, the DEC has until August 30th to issue the 401 water permit. And DEC says they will rule by or on August 30th. In a somewhat comical typographical error, the final paragraph of the DEC letter to FERC begins this way: “For the above reasons, I respectfully urge the Director of OEP to deny Millennium’s Request, or, alternatively, place the Request in abeyance until August 31, 3017…” Did you catch that? August of “3017.” Freudian slip? We’re sure the DEC would love FERC to delay a decision for another 1,000 years…
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Bent Mtn Money Talks – VA DEQ Adds ‘Informal’ Hearings on MVP

For some time we’ve covered opposition to the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. One of the hotbeds of opposition is in the Bent Mountain area of Roanoke County, VA (see our Bent Mountain stories here). Local gentry (i.e. wealthy) landowners have tried to involve local police to prevent surveyors from entering their property. It’s actually legal for surveyors to enter any landowner’s property–with advance notice. In one case the surveyors outsmarted the landowners by turning up at the crack of dawn (see MVP Surveyors Outsmart Va. Landowners, Survey at Crack of Dawn). That didn’t sit well with croissant crowd in Bent Mountain. After running our stories about Bent Mountain, we had a rather vicious email from one reader who claimed the people opposing MVP were just po’ folk, like the mythical Walton family, who have lived there for generations. Hogwash. If you check out Realtor.com you’ll see most of the houses listed for sale in Bent Mountain are going for more than half a million dollars. Three acres of land will run you $100,000–for just a building lot! Poor my foot. So it was no surprise for us to learn that Bent Mountain money talks. The Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has scheduled two public hearings for MVP–nowhere near Bent Mountain–on August 8th & 9th. A couple of local House of Delegates representatives objected and scheduled two of their own meetings–in the region. The House members somehow pressured the DEQ into agreeing to attend. In fact, a DEQ rep, “will offer opening remarks, answer questions and accept written comments” at the meetings. In other words, this will be an unofficial, official DEQ hearing for MVP, brought to you by the big money in Bent Mountain…
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Maryland County Near DC Attracts Cluster of Gas-Fired Power Plants

Two natural gas-fired electric generating plants (and one coal-fired plant) are already up and running in Prince George’s County, Maryland. In 2012 Maryland put out a call for energy companies to produce more power in the state, and three more projects popped up for Prince George’s County (which borders Washington, DC). The areas where the power plants are located is largely rural. According to a Prince George’s County councilman, those five plants “are going to be in the top five largest taxpayers of the county,” providing funds for schools and public safety. We expect much of the natural gas feeding the four natgas plants will come from the Marcellus/Utica region. Most residents like the plants, but there’s always a few who want to make trouble…
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NEXUS Pipeline Startup Slips to 2018 Due to Quorumless FERC

NEXUS Pipeline is a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate natural gas pipeline that will run from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. NEXUS was one of the large pipeline projects left out of a list of pipelines that received final Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval back in early February, just prior to FERC losing a quorum of voting members (see In FERC’s Game of Musical Chairs, NEXUS Pipeline Left Standing). As soon as FERC has a quorum, NEXUS is ready to build (see NEXUS Pipe Revved Like a Race Car, Waiting for FERC Green Flag). However, new FERC commissioners are being held up in a final Senate vote by vicious Democrat Chuck “the schmuck” Schumer. He refuses to allow the Senate to vote on members already approved and ready to start. Because of Schumer’s delay tactics with FERC commissioners, DTE Energy, the main sponsor of NEXUS, had to admit on a quarterly analyst phone call yesterday that the timeline for NEXUS to get built and be online has now, officially, slipped into 2018…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Jul 27, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Can Marcellus continue to fuel big profits for drillers in 2Q17; update on natgas pipelines into New York City; rig count rises to 26 in OH Utica; enough of the nunsense; compressor station saga in Rehoboth, MA; regulators approve $150M expansion of North Dakota natgas plant; Energy Transfer’s pipeline problems getting worse; EIA Drilling report misleading the market?; and more!
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