Radicals Still Fighting Philly Gas-Fired Plant 80% Finished

In 2016, Philadelphia’s SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) announced plans to build a Marcellus gas-powered electric plant to provide electricity to SEPTA’s northern Regional Rail lines and a bus garage (see Antis Plan to Shut Down Philly Transit Meeting re NatGas Powergen). Antis, making wild claims of “racism,” oppose the plant because it will burn an evil, nasty, vile “fossil fuel.” When antis weren’t looking, Philadelphia Air Management Services (AMS) went ahead and issued the necessary permit that allows SEPTA to move forward with the proposed project, a project that will get built in Nicetown (see Antis “Shocked” Philly Approved Marcellus Power Plant for SEPTA). Nice. The plant is now 80% complete and due to go online in January. And still wacky antis continue to cry and moan and bleat and blat, trying to agitate to the point they stop the project. Ain’t going to happen. One radical, from 350 Philadelphia, said his group would “take the issue to the EPA” to stop it. Earth to stupid 350 Philly anti: It’s now the Trump EPA. They won’t do anything to stop this project. Here’s what you don’t typically hear in all of the emotion and wild claims: There are 22 other such mini gas-fired plants around Philly! The Nicetown gas plant isn’t even the biggest–not by a long shot. So why isn’t 350 Philly protesting any of those other plants?…
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Lawsuits Begin re Columbia Gas Boston-area Pipe Explosions

Last Thursday a major accident occurred 25 miles northwest of Boston when natgas delivery pipelines owned by Columbia Gas (NiSource) in three communities exploded and caught fire at more than 80 locations (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured some 25 others. Local officials ordered some 8,600 residents and businesses in the three communities to evacuate–until Sunday. A major incident. The ramifications of this situation will go on for years. Columbia Gas immediately pledged to replace all of the pipelines feeding homes and businesses in the three communities in the coming weeks and months. We expect it will be months before gas service is back online. In what is a worthy response (as well as good PR), Columbia yesterday pledged to donate $10 million to the the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund to assist families affected by the blast. Our immediate thought was, “While this is a welcomed first step, don’t for a minute think Columbia is getting off cheap. The lawsuits haven’t even begun. In the end, this episode will cost Columbia, at a minimum, hundreds of millions. Maybe over $1 billion. $10M is chump change.” And by golly, a few minutes later we spotted a story that the first class action lawsuit has just been filed. It’s the first of what likely will be many…
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OH Supreme Court Rules Columbus Anti-Utica Ballot Measure Illegal

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that yet another ballot measure backed by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) in Columbus, OH, a measure meant to ban fracking to send a “you’re not welcome” message to Utica drillers, is in fact illegal and will not appear on the November ballot. In July we told you about a group of anti-fossil fuel nutters, backed by CELDF, making a run at implementing an illegal frack ban in Columbus, OH (see CELDF Finds New Group of Suckers in Columbus for Utica Frack Ban). Columbus, with a population of 2,078,725 people, found 12,134 suckers (1/2 of 1% of the population) to sign a petition to get a so-called Community Bill of Rights measure on the ballot in November. As we previously pointed out, this initiative is illegal. State law specifically reserves the right to regulate oil and gas activity at the state level–local towns, cities, etc. don’t have the staff or expertise to regulate such activities. The Franklin County Board of Elections wisely refused to put the measure on the November ballot, prompting a lawsuit that went all the way to the state Supreme Court. Last week the Ohio Supremes concurred with the Board of Elections, saying they were right to block the anti-Utica measure from the ballot…
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WV Shale Industry Pushes Back Against Severance Tax Increase

What is it about teachers’ unions that makes them so greedy for other people’s money? We’ve told you, for years, about the quest by Pennsylvania’s teachers’ unions (most of them in the Philadelphia area) who want to raid the coffers of Marcellus drillers via a confiscatory severance tax slapped on top of an existing impact tax slapped on top of corporate income taxes. You can never have too many taxes in education-land. That’s the only way they get paid. In West Virginia it’s the same routine. WV already has a severance tax, a nosebleed-high severance tax of 5% (one of the highest in the country). And yet teachers want to increase it–so they can grab that money for moi (see WV Teachers Get Greedy, Want to Boost Already-High Severance Tax). Ever-vigilant, the shale industry is pushing back against the money-grabbers. At a recent “interim meeting” of the WV legislature, Anne Blakenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA), told legislators that the oil and gas industry is not asking for a reduction in the severance tax, but they ARE asking that the rate not go up. Phil Reale from the West Virginia Independent Oil and Gas Association (WV IOGA) said, “We certainly don’t want to be taxed more.” Let’s hope lawmakers were listening and not looking at their smart phones…
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“Cracker Effect” – Shell Plant Will Create 7,400 Permanent Jobs

Ever hear of the “cracker effect”? No, we hadn’t either. Not until we read about a new study by a husband and wife team from Washington & Jefferson College. The pair studied the economic impact of cracker plants on surrounding communities–some 34 ethane crackers in 16 counties around the country. Most of the cracker plants are located along the Gulf Coast. The purpose of the study is to accurately forecast what will happen with Shell’s new $6 billion ethane cracker currently under construction in Beaver County, near Pittsburgh. What might the real, measurable economic effect be from Shell’s cracker? According to the authors, the Shell cracker will generate ~7,400 permanent, long-term jobs. Crackers not only create new jobs, they boost wages in cracker counties by nearly 13% over counties without crackers. But counties without a cracker plant benefit too. Counties bordering counties with a cracker plant see lower unemployment rates. No mystery there. While the authors alluded to some negatives from crackers, we were hard-pressed to find any! It sure looks like everything is coming up roses with the Shell cracker. The numbers prove it…
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WV Consumers Saved $4B Over 10 Years Thx to M-U Shale

Although the push is on to get Marcellus/Utica molecules to new markets where they can fetch higher prices, there is a group who has benefited in a major way from an abundance of cheap, clean-burning shale gas. That would be the residents and businesses located in West Virginia. Industry group Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) has just published a new report that reveals WV residents and businesses have saved a cumulative $4 billion from 2006-2016 as a result of the decreasing price of natural gas in the state. You may recall not long ago CEA published a similar study for Pennsylvania (see PA Consumers Save $30B Over 10 Years Thx to Marcellus Shale). Yes, PA’s numbers were much bigger than WV’s, but PA has more population (12.8 million in PA vs. 1.8 million in WV), therefore more chances for savings. And PA has more natgas in the ground than WV. But still, $4 billion in savings is nothing to sneeze at! That’s $4 billion in money in people’s pockets that didn’t come from other people’s pockets (via taxes) and got spent on goods and services with a beneficial ripple effect throughout the economy. Here’s the CEA report on the great news that West Virginian’s hit the $4 billion lottery in shale…
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Dartmouth: How Water & Shale Combine to Produce Radioactive Waste

A pair of newly published research papers from Dartmouth College may shed new light on radioactivity in shale waste water. We previously highlighted research from Dartmouth in 2015 and again in 2016 dealing with Marcellus Shale and water (see Dartmouth Study: Fracking Causes Toxic Metal Wastewater and Dartmouth Study Finds Barium Leaches Directly from Marcellus Shale). We said at the time, “…we don’t detect an agenda on the part of the researchers. This appears to us to be legitimate research that helps us better understand the chemical reactions happening a mile or more below the ground when we shoot water down there.” And so we continue to feel about these latest Dartmouth studies. Reportedly for the first time we now understand how “slick water” (water and chemicals used during fracking) can combine with shale rock, transferring some of the naturally occurring radiation from the rock to the water. That is, we better understand the science of it. Which means we can develop better ways to handle and treat water that may have low levels of radioactivity…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Wed, Sep 19, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: PA DEP to hold public hearing on proposed Allegheny County injection well; Plumbers and pipefitters union “welcomes” Josh Fox to Youngstown; Mineral owners hear ideas about future of natural gas; California’s goal of carbon-free power estimated to cost $100B-plus; Natural gas demand normalizes as utilities restore Hurricane Florence outages; US gas industry risks losing access to massive Chinese market as trade war escalates; Technology and efficiency gains create a ‘new normal’ for U.S. shale; EPA, 25 Attorneys General urge court to keep CPP cases on hold; Best production growth for a decade heralds positive future for oil and gas; Trump admin eyes Fla. PSC chairman for FERC; European natural gas, Asian LNG markets set for ‘tight’ winter: Shell’s Wetselaar; Netherlands to ban natural gas by 2050; Ontario to expand access to natural gas.
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