Range/DEP Lycoming Well Settlement: From $8.9M Fine to $0

Yesterday MDN brought you the news that Range Resources and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) have officially “settled” something we thought was already settled–alleged methane migration from a well Range drilled in 2011 (see Range & PA DEP Settle re Alleged Methane Leak at Lycoming Well). In June 2015, then-Secretary of the DEP, John Quigley, slapped Range with an $8.9 million fine–the largest such fine ever levied by the DEP (see PA DEP Slaps Range with Record $8.9M Fine for Methane Migration). The DEP said a Range well, drilled in 2011 in Lycoming County, PA, leaked methane since at least 2013 via an improperly cemented well casing, and the methane “contaminated the groundwater-fed wells of private water supplies, and a nearby stream.” Range and the landowner where the well is drilled said methane was in groundwater supplies long before Range drilled the well. Range fought the action tooth and nail, appealing the determination and fine to the PA Environmental Hearing Board. In May 2016, the DEP quietly dropped the fine and the case against Range (see PA DEP Drops $8.9M Fine Against Range Res. re Methane Migration). We thought that was THE END. But it wasn’t. On Monday of this week, both Range and the DEP filed paperwork with the Environmental Hearing Board (a special court set up to hear appeals of DEP decisions) requesting the matter now officially be closed and “settled.” We now have a copy of the settlement itself–and it shows the DEP will not extra one penny from Range over what they previously said should cost $8.9 million. Interesting. Antis like THE Delaware Riverkeeper, Maya van Rossum, are “dumbfounded” at the settlement. Below is a copy of the settlement paperwork and select anti reaction to it…
Continue reading

Fayette County, WV Loses Appeal to Block Injection Well

An effort by Fayette County, WV to ban injection wells in the county has gone down to a final defeat. In January 2016, three liberal Democrat county commissioners from Fayette County, with the backing and help of the radical WV Mountain Party, voted to ban injection wells in the county (see WV County Officially Bans Injection Wells; Children Brainwashed). The ban was intentionally written so broadly it would also ban the operation of more than 500 vertical oil and gas wells in the county. The next day EQT sued to overturn the ban (see EQT Sues WV County that Banned Injection Wells, Seeks Injunction). One of the chief architects of the ban, from the Mountain Party, admits the ban was intended to stop all oil and gas activity in the county (see Anti Admits Fayette County, WV Ban Aims to Shut Down All O&G Wells). Fearing they would lose the EQT lawsuit, in March 2016 the Fayette commissioners backed away from the position of banning everything to do with drilling in the county. They revised the proposed ban regulation as a tactic to avoid losing their court case (see Fayette WV Commissioners Change Ban to Focus on Injection Wells). It didn’t work. In June 2016, a federal judge tossed out Fayette’s illegal ban (see Federal Judge Rules Fayette County Injection Well Ban Illegal). But that didn’t stop the lib Dems who, with the assistance of the radical Appalachian Mountain Advocates, appeal the federal judge’s decision (see Fayette County, WV Appeals Federal Court Ruling on Injection Well). That appealed case went to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has just ruled that Fayette County was out of line (copy of the decision below). Counties can’t make up their own oil and gas regulations–that right is reserved to the state…
Continue reading

Dela. Riverkeeper Loses 2nd Court Case Against NEPA Pipeline

Last week MDN brought you the news that THE Delaware Riverkeeper had lost a federal lawsuit against Kinder Morgan’s Orion Project to expand the Tennessee Gas Pipeline in northeast Pennsylvania (see Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Fed. Court Case Against NEPA Pipeline). Riverkeeper argued that both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the PA State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) should not have issued Clean Water Act stream crossing permits for the project. Last week a federal court ruled that the U.S. Army Corps was well within its right to do so. This week the other shoe dropped. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District ruled that the DEP was also within its right to issue a permit. In this case, two strikes and THE Delaware Riverkeeper is out. The project, which received full Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval in February of this year, remains on track to be built/online in June 2018…
Continue reading

PA Sen. Gene Yaw Defends Vote for Severance Tax

PA Sen. Gene Yaw

As MDN previously reported, in July the Pennsylvania Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, voted to enact a new severance tax on top of the existing impact fee (see Traitorous PA Senate Republicans Pass Severance Tax Bill). We named names in that article of those Republicans we consider to be traitors to the industry by voting for this insanity. One of those Senators is Gene Yaw, from Williamsport. Until now, we had not publicly read of how northeast PA Senators justify their vote for the severance tax. We now have. Sen. Yaw provided a statement to a local newspaper in Sayre with statements to explain his vote. Among his justifications: It was his “constitutional obligation” to vote for it, to “steady a sinking financial ship.” Yaw points out he voted for the original impact fee and that over time, revenue from that fee has trailed off, creating the need for a new revenue source (from the Marcellus industry) to replace it. The severance tax fits the bill for Yaw. Here is how Sen. Yaw justifies his vote…
Continue reading

Sisters of the Corn Say Fight to Stop Atlantic Sunrise Not Over

We don’t often highlight news from the Amazon-owned Washington Post, since much of its reporting is fake news (outright lies, many times), but this time we couldn’t resist. A Washington Post article published yesterday appears to contain at least some truth–about a group of Lancaster nuns. We’ve previously written about a group we call Sisters of the Corn. They stuck a few wooden park benches in the middle of a corn field that they own (leased to a local farmer), and called it a “chapel” so they can claim the planned Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline that will go through that field violates their so-called religious freedom. It’s a sham–backed by local radicals calling themselves Lancaster Against Pipelines. As we reported on Monday, a PA judge, in an eminent domain case, ruled against the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (see Lancaster Sisters of the Corn Lose Bid to Stop Atlantic Coast Pipe). However, the Sisters have also filed a frivolous federal lawsuit claiming religious freedom violation, which could still go in their favor, odds about 99 to 1 against (see Lancaster Nuns Sue FERC to Stop Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline). If all else fails, the radical antis that the Sisters have aligned themselves with are pledging to sit their rear-ends in the middle of the corn field and “pray” (who knows to whom?) in a bid to prevent construction of the pipeline through the field. That is, they will engage in an illegal activity requiring police involvement to remove them–which of course will create a media circus. The kicker: the Sisters operate a retirement community on the same property–heated by natural gas…
Continue reading

NFG Tells Court Constitution Decision DNA to Northern Access Case

Yet more drama and intrigue in National Fuel Gas Company’s (NFG) lawsuit against the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Three years ago NFG proposed and filed to build the Northern Access Pipeline project–a $455 million project includes building 97 miles of new pipeline along a power line corridor from northwestern Pennsylvania up to Erie County, NY. The project also calls for 3 miles of new pipeline further up, in Niagara County, along with a new compressor station in the Town of Pendleton. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted final approval for the project in February of this year (see NFG’s Northern Access Pipe in NY/PA Gets FERC Approval). However, in April of this year, the DEC ruled against granting the project stream crossing permits, effectively killing it, at least for now (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). NFG sued the DEC in the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn their denial (see NFG Sues NY DEC in Fed Court re Northern Access Pipe Rejection). A similar court case was filed by the Constitution Pipeline against the DEC with the 2nd Circuit. The court ruled against the Constitution and for the DEC on August 18 (see Court Rejects Constitution Pipe’s Case Against NY DEC; Now What?). Predictably, the office of NY’s corrupt Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, filed a letter with the 2nd Circuit (copy below) saying, in essence, the Constitution case is just like this one, so the court should rule the same way: against NFG and for the DEC. However, a few days after that, NFG’s attorneys filed their own letter (copy below) pointing out the fallacy in the previous letter. NFG says the Constitution is very narrow, and in fact ultimately supports the NFG case against the DEC…
Continue reading

FERC Fights NJ Town Effort to Decertify Garden State Expansion

Two New Jersey towns have sued in federal court, seeking to overturn a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve Williams’ Transco Garden State Expansion pipeline project. MDN brought you the happy news in April 2016 that three Obama-appointed FERC commissioners had approved the $116 million project (see FERC Approves NJ Pipeline – More Marcellus Gas on the Way!). The project was created to address supply disruptions following Superstorm Sandy in 2012. By upgrading compressor stations and adding a new meter station, the Garden State Expansion project will supply an extra 180 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas to “a new delivery point on Transco’s existing Trenton Woodbury Lateral pipeline” (see NGI’s Shale Daily). Two towns in Burlington County (Bordentown and Chesterfield) where some of the work would be done for Phase 2 of the project filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to overturn FERC’s previous decision to allow the project. FERC has just responded (copy below) arguing they carefully considered the project, crossing all “T”s and dotting all “I”s before they authorized the project. Phase 1 of the project will likely go online next week. Phase 2 is due to be online by next summer, provided the 3rd Circuit doesn’t screw it up…
Continue reading

Big Green Group Makes Big Deal Out of Tiny ME2 Mud Spill

Will anti-fossil fuel Big Green groups succeed in turning a molehill into a mountain? That’s what they are attempting to do with the latest tiny spill (50 gallons) of drilling mud by Sunoco Logistics Partners in underground drilling work for the Mariner East 2 pipeline project in Dauphin County, PA. Over the past several months, Sunoco has experienced some “inadvertent returns” (i.e. leaks) of drilling mud at various locations. One of those was in Chester County, where a serious leak temporarily fouled a water aquifer and clouded drinking water for 15 local households (see Sunoco Stops ME2 Drilling in Chester County Following Water Issue). Sunoco took extraordinary steps to make it right, going so far as to pay to run municipal water to affected homeowners. Earlier this month Sunoco struck a deal with several Big Green groups to provide stricter regulation for ME2’s underground drilling (see Sunoco Strikes Deal with Devil, “Settles” with Anti Groups re ME2). Part of the deal says if Sunoco experiences two leaks of drilling mud at the same location, they must shut down drilling in that location and wait for the state Dept. of Environmental Protection to further review drilling plans before they can restart. On August 24th there was a 50-gallon drilling mud spill into the Susquehanna River in Dauphin County related to ME2. (A quick reminder: drilling mud, or “bentonite,” is non-toxic–the same stuff found in toothpaste and kitty litter). Thing is, there was another spill of 495 gallons at the same location a week earlier. Antis say Sunoco must now shut down drilling in that spot until further notice. Sunoco is saying that particular location was not part of the signed agreement…
Continue reading

Trinidad LNG Exports Continue to Fall – New England Shortage?

From time to time we sound the alarm that New England’s primary supply of natural gas, which comes via LNG tankers from Tinidad & Tobago, is in danger of drying up. New England continues to pay prices 3-4 times higher than the rest of the country for their natgas–due to lack of supply. That hasn’t (and won’t) change, until more supplies make it to New England, either by pipeline or ship. Opponents of new pipelines to New England have included LNG importers in the region. Specifically, GDF Suez imports Trinidad gas at the Everett, MA LNG import terminal, near Boston (see New England Importer Received 59% of All LNG Ship Imports 1H15). LNG imports are one of the primary sources of natgas for New England. Antis holler and scream, “Forget the pipelines. If you must use gas, use LNG. There’s more than enough LNG to supply New England.” In a macro sense that may be true, the world is awash in LNG. But arranging shipments and sources for it takes months, even years. And it costs more to get natural gas via LNG shipments than it does via pipelines. Right now most of the LNG GDF Suez imports come from Trinidad. As we pointed out in an article last year, Trinidad’s natural gas sources are drying up (see Is New England Heading for Huge NatGas Price Spike this Winter?). The country is exporting less and less. We have yet more evidence of that. Trinidad’s natural gas production decreased another 9% during the first half of this year. Again we sound the alarm! New England is heading for a natgas shortage…
Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Aug 31, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: High price of energy political correctness in NY; PA natgas industry misrepresented by antis; FERC denies request to half KM’s Connecticut Expansion project thru Otis State Forest; Louisiana leading the way in LNG; Harvey’s impact on the energy market substantial; Harvey to disrupt energy markets around the world; shale fracking frenzy cools in Canada; Mexico publishes first natgas price index; and more!
Continue reading