FREE Audio: MDN Top 5 Stories for Week of June 11, 2018

MDN is testing a new feature and would appreciate your feedback. Below is an audio recording (“podcast”) featuring the Top 5 stories most read over the past week on MDN–from Friday, June 8th to Thursday, June 14th. We don’t include Friday’s (today’s) stories in the mix as they’ve only been available for a few hours when this episode was recorded. Just click on the green button to listen.

Below the recording is a list of the Top 5 with links to click to read the full stories (available only for paying subscribers). Please let us know what you think of the recording. Good idea? Waste of time? Does Jim speak too slow/too fast. Etc. All feedback–positive and negative–gratefully accepted. Send an email to: [email protected]

This list is meant as a way for folks to quickly catch up on the most essential news of the week–“essential” as determined by MDN’s audience of readers. We hope you enjoy it!

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PA PUC Overrules Lib Judge – Mariner East 1 Returns to Service

As MDN predicted, yesterday the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) voted to overturn a previous action by liberal administrative law judge, Elizabeth Barnes, to shut down the Mariner East 1 (ME1) pipeline (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). ME1 is back up and running. All five PUC members supported returning ME1 back to service. However, three of the five PUC members agreed with Judge Barnes’ decision to temporarily shut down work on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project in West Whiteland Township (Chester County). Two of the five PUC members wanted all of Barnes’ ruling to be overturned. The reporting on this is somewhat confusing. PUC Chairwoman Gladys Brown put forward a motion to (a) turn ME1 back on, and (b) keep ME2 in West Whiteland stopped, for now, pending more information from Sunoco Logistics. The vote was 3-2 in favor of Brown’s motion. The 2 voting against it did so because it didn’t go far enough (they wanted ME2 construction to resume). So although the vote was 3-2, all 5 of the members wanted ME1 back on. That’s the real nub of the news–the subtlety that’s missed in most media reports. The 3-2 “split decision” that’s being reported is the decision to overrule Barnes on ME1, but keep her ruling intact (for now) on ME2. The PUC has ordered Sunoco to provide more information in the next 20 days: inspection and testing protocols, emergency response plans, and copies of safety training curriculum for employees and contractors. The PUC will then reconsider whether or not to allow ME2 work to resume in West Whiteland. But here’s the thing: Work on the rest of the 300+ mile pipeline continues everywhere else in the state–everywhere but West Whiteland. Overall, yesterday’s PUC action was a crushing defeat for PA State Sen. Andy “Tony Soprano” Dinniman (Democrat) and his Big Green cronies who want to assassinate the entire ME1 & ME2 projects by focusing on one small area…
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WV Commerce Secretary Who Brokered $83B China Deal…Fired

Former WV Commerce Secretary – Woody Thrasher

MDN had a call from a good friend yesterday sharing some earth-shattering news–at least earth-shattering for West Virginia (and possibly the entire region). WV Secretary of Commerce Woody Thrasher has been fired. Thrasher took over as Commerce Secretary in January 2017 as part of the new Gov. Jim Justice Administration. Thrasher is “the guy” most responsible for putting together the massive $83.7 billion deal for China to invest in WV shale and petrochemicals (see China Agrees to Invest Amazing $83.7 BILLION in WV Shale, Petchem). It was the relationships established by Thrasher that led to that deal. So what happened to Thrasher? Why was he fired? It has nothing to do with the China deal (more on why he was fired below). However, we have to ask the tough question that no one else is asking out loud: With Thrasher gone, is the China deal now in jeopardy? The Justice Administration currently appears to be in disarray…
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Federal Court Upholds Ohio Forced Pooling Law in Chesapeake Case

In 2015, landowners in Harrison County, OH who own 127 acres (the Kerns) filed a lawsuit alleging their property rights were about to be violated because Chesapeake Energy had filed a pooling request with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) to pool (combine) the Kerns property with surrounding properties for shale drilling. The Kerns had not signed and do not want drilling under their land. Their neighbors do. Ohio has a law on the books that allows for “forced pooling” in cases when a majority of the surrounding land is leased but landowners with small positions refuse to sign. The Kerns resisted and fought the case all the way to Ohio Supreme Court, which rejected their claims. Chesapeake drilled and fracked three wells (on a neighboring property), which included drilling under the Kerns’ property. So the Kerns filed a new lawsuit in 2016, in federal court, claiming a “taking” of their property had occurred. The federal court has just ruled–against the Kerns. This was the first time a court case dealt directly with the constitutionality of Ohio’s unitization (forced pooling) law. The upshot: Ohio’s forced pooling law remains intact and in force…
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Green, OH Won’t Allow Nov. 6 Vote to Nix NEXUS Pipeline Deal

In February the City of Green, OH (Summit County), finally faced the reality that NEXUS Pipeline–a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that will run from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada–will come through their paradise (see Antis of Green, OH Finally Face Reality – Will Allow NEXUS Pipe). Green hired a high-priced Cleveland law firm to try and scuttle the NEXUS project (see Green, OH Paying Lawyers $100K to Fund Stop NEXUS Crusade). In the end, everyone has their price. For Green, the price was $7.5 million and 20 acres of land that sit next to an existing city park. While Green antis in city government hate the idea of the pipeline getting built at all (especially Green’s anti-pipeline mayor), the writing was on the wall. They would lose and they knew it. To save face, the mayor negotiated a deal with NEXUS that city council voted to accept. However, the mayor and city council’s actions didn’t sit well with some of the more radical elements in Green. The rads launched a petition campaign to put a referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot on whether or not the city should settle with NEXUS. The city says the signed settlement is an administrative action, not subject to a popular vote. The rads say otherwise. In a bold move, even though the rads have enough signatures to put the referendum on the ballot, the city has refused to allow the it to appear on the ballot. Which will surely send the radicals into orbit. It’s shaping up to be a battle between left and lefter…
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Lycoming County Residents Oppose Loyalsock Creek Gathering Pipe

Pennsylvania General Energy drills in several PA counties, including Lycoming County in the north central of the state. According to the just-published Marcellus & Utica Shale Upstream Almanac 2018, PA General Energy is the fourth-largest producing driller in Lycoming County, with 103 producing wells and 42.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas production in 2017. PA General Energy wants to drill more wells. Those wells will need a gathering pipeline connected to them. Current plans for a pipeline have it running along a portion of the Loyalsock Creek, and that has some folks in the area up in arms. Yesterday at a county commissioners’ meeting, residents voiced their opposition to PA General Energy’s pipeline plans. A company rep at the meeting tried to assuage concerns. The Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper has offered to be an “unbiased party” to “facilitate discussions between the company and those who reside along the creek.” You know what we think of so-called Riverkeepers who claim to be THE voice of a river…
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Westmoreland Co. Pays Big Bucks for Reservoir Testing 8 Yrs Later

In 2011, the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, PA began a new water testing and monitoring program for the Beaver Run Reservoir which supplies water to about 150,000 residents (see Westmoreland County, PA Municipal Authority Initiates New Water Testing for Reservoir Located Near Marcellus Drilling). CONSOL Energy (now CNX Resources) had 100 shallow gas wells on municipal property near the Reservoir, and at the time had started to drill Marcellus Shale wells. The Authority also leased land near the reservoir to Dominion Resources, which ended up drilling more than a dozen shale wells on the property. The water testing program was precautionary, to ensure water is not being affected by nearby drilling activity. The Municipal Authority contracted with Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) to do the monitoring and testing. The early results showed no impact from testing (see Water Tests at PA Reservoir Show No Affects from Gas Drilling). Over the years, the Authority continued to award contracts year after year to IUP–starting at $55,000 and going as high as $100,000 (see Pricetag to Test Water at Reservoir Near CONSOL Drilling Goes Up). The Authority renewed their contract with IUP in 2016 for $85,000 (see Beaver Run Reservoir Tests Since 2011 Show No Harm from Drilling). And they’ve just done it again, paying IUP $99,000 to test water quality, and another for $24,700 to test the air at the reservoir. Our point: Since the first tests began more than eight years ago, there have been a number of shale wells drilled on the property next to the reservoir–and there has been NO negative impacts from shale drilling in all that time…
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Wackos Gather in Harrisburg to Push for 100% Solar/Wind in PA

This past Tuesday, hundreds of Pennsylvanians gathered in Harrisburg to “rally for a new vision for the Commonwealth powered by 100 percent renewable energy.” Among those attending including representatives from businesses, various religious leaders, local mayors, and nurses and doctors to advocate for “bipartisan” legislation to force PA to dump fossil fuels and adopt 100% renewable energy. There is no polite way to say this, but say it we must: This so-called “bipartisan” gathering to push House and Senate bills demanding the state dump the use of fossil fuels (like natural gas) and instead stick solar panels on every rooftop and windmills on every hilltop to power the Keystone state’s electricity (and other) power needs is stark….raving….mad. It’s lunatic. Forcing the state to adopt 100% renewables is not “nice” or a “gentle, blessed future that will arrive someday.” Adopting 100% renewables is a deluded fantasy. To pretend otherwise is unkind. We must call this nuttery out for what it is: irrational hatred of fossil fuels. We have nothing against any form of energy. They all have their pluses and minuses. You like a solar panel on your house–good for you! An ugly windmill with it’s whump whump whump sound nearby? Whatever floats your boat. But ending the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity any time within the next 75-100 years is the end of human life as we know it. What was presented at the rally as some benign gathering of average citizens was nothing of the sort. Big Green (radical) groups, including PennFuture, were behind this flummery…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Fri, Jun 15, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: NYC’s climate change lawsuit faces tough questions from judge during dismissal arguments; energy real estate market in Pittsburgh changing; oil drillers look beyond Permian to other Gulf Coast plays; the Permian faces a natgas crisis; judge’s ruling against Minnesota wind farm alarms greens; Panama receives first LNG shipment from U.S.; Brazil drilling 2 “transparent” test shale wells; Asian gas markets “roar into top gear” as prices go high; and more!
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