Martian Victory! 2 Wells Near Mars School Nearly Done Drilling

My Favorite MartianAs we have long chronicled, a few anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (Butler County, far western part of the state), backed by a couple of Big Green groups from the other side of the state (THE Delaware Riverkeeper and the Clean Air Council, both based in the Philadelphia area), sued Middlesex Township to stop shale drilling in rural portions of the county. Rex Energy had applied for, was legally permitted for, but wasn’t allowed to drill a series of wells some three-fourths of a mile from the Mars School (for background, see our long list of “Martian” stories here). After costing local taxpayers more than $35,000 in legal fees, last November a county judge finally told Rex Energy they could go ahead and drill (see PA County Judge Rules Rex Can Begin Drilling First Martian Well). The fantastic news is, Rex has drilled! The company has drilled two initial wells which will be done within the next couple of weeks. Time to celebrate! NOTE: Somehow, against all odds, no children were harmed in the drilling of these wells…
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2 Anti-Drilling Dems Soundly Defeated in Mars School District Vote

My Favorite MartianTwo anti-drilling parents who are agitating to strip away private property rights from their neighbors in Middlesex Township, PA–Amy Nassif and Patrice Tomcik–were soundly defeated in their run for the Mars School District board of education. MDN told you back in June that three Martians tried to get on the ballot, but only two made it (see Anti-Drilling Martians Running for School Board in November). The two Democrats who made it, Nassif and Tomcik, are part of an anti-drilling cabal attempting to stop the legally permitted Rex Energy from drilling several gas wells some 3/4 of a mile from the school on the false premise that by doing so they will endanger the kiddies. The other voters in the Mars School District have said “Enough!” with a very loud voice. It’s obvious there’s overwhelming support to move ahead with drilling. Unfortunately the matter is currently tied up in court (see Landowner Lawsuit Against Martians NOT Dismissed After All). Here’s the good news story that the Martian Democrats were soundly defeated in Tuesday’s election…
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Rex Energy to Restart Drilling Near Mars School Following Vote

My Favorite MartianLet the drilling begin! The three members of the Middlesex Zoning Hearing Board (Butler County, PA, where the Mars School District is located) voted unanimously on Wednesday to reject challenges by anti-drillers to changes in zoning laws that allow Rex Energy to drill a series of wells on a pad about 3/4 of a mile from the Mars School. Four Martian parents have worked themselves up into a frenzy, convincing themselves that faraway drilling will harm their precious, innocent lil’ chil’ren. The Martians have enlisted the help of anti-drilling groups from the opposite side of the state–the Philadelphia area–tapping into their deep pockets to fund endless lawsuits and appeals that are costing Middlesex taxpayers big bucks to defend (see Dela. RiverKeeper, Clean Air Council Cost Middlesex Residents $35K+). (By the way, when is the IRS going to investigate THE Delaware Riverkeeper for clear violations of their 501(c)(3) tax exempt status? Riverkeeper continues to operate, politically, far outside of the Delaware River Basin. Their tax exempt status should be revoked.) The zoning board vote was good news for Rex who says they won’t waste any time in returning to the drill site to begin work. By the time the Martians are done suing, the wells will already be drilled…
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Rex Drilling Operation Near Mars School Put on Hold

Nearly two months ago Rex Energy received permits to drill five wells on a single well pad in Middlesex Township (Butler County), PA. The site is something like 3/4 of a mile from a school and some of the dunderheaded anti-drilling parents at the school are opposing it (see Rex Gets Permits to Drill Near Martian School, Antis Apoplectic). Those parents should take a short trip south to Allegheny County where the East Allegheny School District has just leased school property for drilling (see today’s lead story). Anywho, even though the Delaware River Basin is clear across the state and hundreds of miles from Middlesex Township, THE Delaware Riverkeeper along with another virulent anti-drilling group, Clean Air Council (also from the Philly area), have launched a challenge against Rex Energy to prevent them from drilling on the opposite side of the state. Talk about sickos…
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Adams Twp, PA Votes to NOT Block Drilling “Near” Mars School

Back in March, MDN questioned the sanity of the Mars School District school board (Butler County, PA) in turning down $1 million to lease 175 acres of school land for drilling (see Earth to Mars (School District) – Time to Check into Funny Farm?). The school board and a number of parents were against drilling close to the school. Unfortunately they also wanted to trample on the property rights of people living about a mile from the school. A group of areas residents tried to get the board of supervisors to prohibit drilling on the Bob and Kim Geyer property. Fortunately their anti-drilling efforts failed…
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Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Court Case to Block Martian Drilling

It seems the door *does* swing both ways when it comes to Pennsylvania municipalities and the Act 13 lawsuit decision that allows municipalities to have a say in zoning in, or zoning out, shale drilling. In 2013 seven selfish PA towns won the right, from the PA Supreme Court, to impose their own zoning rules on oil and gas drilling (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). Since that time, Big Green groups have asked the court to rule the door only swings one way–that zoning can keep shale drilling out, but never allow *more* of it. That notion has now been put to rest. The door swings both ways.
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PA Chamber Files Brief in Martian School Court Case

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry (PA Chamber) recently filed a brief in Commonwealth Court opposing THE Delaware Riverkeeper in a case that still has us angry and baffled. The case brought by Riverkeeper is clear across the state, hundreds of miles from the Delaware River Basin where Riverkeeper supposedly operates, and attempts to force a local municipality to adopt zoning ordinances it doesn’t want to adopt. And it involves Martians.
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Energy Stories of Interest: Tue, Aug 21, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: New report finds fracking has “dramatically raised up” poor Ohio schools; big pieces of Shell cracker now installed; Trump should tread lightly in power markets; Panama to sign pact to expand regional access to LNG; China backpedals on LNG tariff threat; French Total pulls out of Iran natgas project; and more!
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PA Supremes Order Rehearing for Rex Permits Near Martian School

The Martians and their allies have attacked once again. Run for the hills! This is a long-running story that’s just taken another (unfortunate) twist. A handful of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (“Martians”) in Butler County, PA, backed by money and legal help from Philadelphia Big Green groups THE Delaware Riverkeeper and the Clean Air Council, have filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit (see Martians Use Riverkeeper to Continue Court Battle Against Rex). The effort is aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. The actions by these radicalized parents have cost the taxpayers of Middlesex Township over $100,000 in legal fees (we hope the taxpayers enjoying paying for this folly). Eventually most of the lawsuits were won by the good guys and at least two wells got drilled. However, in 2016 the Martians appealed a town ordinance that allows the wells to be drilled about 3/4 of a mile from the school. A panel of three western PA judges in Commonwealth Court heard arguments in the case, and in June 2017 the judges ruled against Riverkeeper and the Martians (see Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Martian Case to Stop Rex Energy Drilling). Riverkeeper, using funding from the William Penn Foundation and Heinz Endowments (among other Big Green funders) pressed on, all the way to the PA Supreme Court. Last Friday the Supremes proved they aren’t so supreme after all. In a ruling, the Supremes told Commonwealth Court to do it over again, this time considering PA’s so-called Environmental Rights Amendment as part of their thinking. In other words, do it over, and rule another way this time–that’s what the Supremes are telling the lower court to do…
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School Near Pittsburgh Considers EQT Deal: $2,500/Ac, 15% Royalty

Last week MDN told you about the ongoing vendetta by a few anti parents in the Mars School District (half hour from Pittsburgh, in Butler County) and their Big Green accomplices. They suffered a major court defeat (see Dela. Riverkeeper Suffers Major Defeat in Martian Well Case). Rex Energy has drilled two wells about 3/4 of a mile from one of the Mars schools, and wants to drill another four. The Martians bleat and blat that faraway drilling activity will somehow hurt “the children.” Compare that attitude with the parents (and school district officials) in the Kiski Area School District in Westmoreland County (about 40 minutes from Pittsburgh). The Kiski Area School will vote tonight on a lease deal with EQT to allow shale drilling UNDER SCHOOL PROPERTY! The district will get $2,500 per acre in a signing bonus, and 15% royalties on any gas produced. If signed, the school’s bonus check could be as high as $310,300–for “the children.” The difference in attitude (and aptitude) between the parents in Mars and the parents in Kiski could not be more striking…
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Dela. Riverkeeper Suffers Major Defeat in Martian Well Case

Nearly a year ago MDN reported that Big Green group THE Delaware Riverkeeper (aka Maya van Rossum) and the odious Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council (CAC) had suffered a crushing legal defeat in their attempt to interfere with shale drilling on the opposite side of the state from where the Delaware River and Philly is located (see Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Martian Case to Stop Rex Energy Drilling). A small group of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (whom we affectionately call “Martians”) in Butler County, PA, backed by money and legal help from Riverkeeper and CAC, filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. Even amid the back and forth lawsuits, at least two of the wells were permitted and drilled by Rex Energy, despite the bleatings of the Martians (see Martian Victory! 2 Wells Near Mars School Nearly Done Drilling). Following last year’s final word by PA Commonwealth Court, we thought that was the end of it. However, Riverkeeper and CAC tried one last, desperate attempt–by filing an appeal with the Environmental Hearing Board. The EHB is a special court set up to hear appeals of decisions made by the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Riverkeeper and CAC argued that the DEP abrogated their responsibilities under the PA Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA) to protect PA’s environment by issuing permits for Rex’s Martian wells. Last Friday the EHB ruled that DEP was well within its rights and did not, in fact, violate the ERA by allowing the Rex wells…
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Wheeling, WV High School Leased for Shale Drilling, $6K/Acre

Deals to lease land for Marcellus and Utica Shale drilling happen on a regular basis–even today. Perhaps not as much as several years ago when large deals cut by landowner groups were headline news. But lease deals still happen–you just don’t hear about them because they are private deals (deal terms are not recorded at the county clerk’s office). However, every now and again a public entity–a town or school–will lease land for shale drilling. And that IS a matter of public record. When we spot such deals, we like to bring you the details. Such a deal was cut on Monday, by the Ohio County Board of Education. The Board of Ed signed a deal with American Petroleum Partners (from Pittsburgh) to lease the 66 acre Wheeling Park High School campus for shale drilling–under (not on) the campus. Which is so cool for a number of reasons. First of all, the deal includes a $6,000 per acre signing bonus, and if/when the gas begins to flow, an 18% royalty. Second of all, it’s a school! How many times have we read about nutjob anti parents with their knickers in a twist over putting a shale well more than a half mile away from a school, like we heard about endlessly from those in the Mars School District (Butler County). It was a long, hard fight, but we eventually won (see Martian Victory! 2 Wells Near Mars School Nearly Done Drilling). The antis claimed drilling near schools would harm the crumb-crunchers. We see the result of that lie. We’ve pointed out, many times, that a school near MDN HQ, located in northeastern PA (Elk Lake), leased their property for drilling and has reaped enormous financial rewards (see Elk Lake School LOVES Their 2 Marcellus Shale Wells & Gas Heat). We’ve seen the Elk Lake school building and the nearby wellhead. No negative effects on the chil’ren. And now the very smart members of the Ohio County Board of Ed and the kids at Wheeling Park High will enjoy the same financial rewards…
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NEPA School w/2 Marcellus Wells in “America’s Best High Schools” List

In 2014 MDN told you about a rural school district in northeastern Pennsylvania–the Elk Lake School District in Susquehanna County–that had (gasp) drilled two Marcellus Shale wells right on the school campus (see Rural NE PA School Nets $1.7M in Royalties from 2 Marcellus Wells). Not only does that tiny school district still rake in the royalties, they also heat with natural gas (see Elk Lake School LOVES Their 2 Marcellus Shale Wells & Gas Heat). Now comes word that Elk Lake SD is in an elite group–recognized by U.S. News & World Report as among the top 6,041 “Best High Schools in America” for 2017. The U.S. News rankings look at data on more than 22,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Schools were awarded gold, silver or bronze medals based on their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college. Elk Lake made the cut–getting a bronze award–putting them in the top tier of schools in the country. We mention it for two reasons: (1) The revenue Elk Lake gets from their gas wells, and from saving money on heating with gas, is likely a big contributor to Elk Lake’s success; and (2) other school districts, like the Mars School District in Butler County, PA (adamantly opposed to shale drilling 3/4 of a mile away) can learn something from Elk Lake…
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Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Martian Case to Stop Rex Energy Drilling

THE Delaware Riverkeeper (i.e. Maya van Rossum) and a small group of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (“Martians”) in Butler County, PA, have just suffered a crushing defeat in their years-long battle to prevent Rex Energy from drilling wells “near” a local school. Backed by money and legal help from Philadelphia Big Green groups Delaware Riverkeeper and Clean Air Council, the Martians filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit. The effort is aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. The lawsuits have cost the taxpayers of Middlesex Township over $80,000 in legal fees. Even amid the back and forth lawsuits, at least two of the wells were permitted and drilled by Rex Energy, despite the bleatings of the Martians (see Martian Victory! 2 Wells Near Mars School Nearly Done Drilling). But that didn’t stop the frivolous lawsuits. Using legal assistance from THE Delaware Riverkeeper, the Martians appealed a town ordinance that allows the wells to be drilled about 3/4 of a mile from the local Mars School. A panel of three western PA judges in Commonwealth Court heard arguments in the case last November (see Martians Use Riverkeeper to Continue Court Battle Against Rex). This week the three-judge panel ruled–against Riverkeeper and the Martians…Continue reading

Martians Use Riverkeeper to Continue Court Battle Against Rex

Maya van Rossum - THE Delaware Riverkeeper
Maya van Rossum – THE Delaware Riverkeeper

MDN previously reported on the injustice happening in Bulter County, PA where a handful of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (“Martians”), backed by money and legal help from Philadelphia Big Green groups Delaware Riverkeeper and Clean Air Council, have filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit. The effort is aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. The actions by these radicalized parents have cost the taxpayers of Middlesex Township over $80,000 in legal fees. Landowners with leases got together and sued the radicals to stop this miscarriage of justice (see Shoe Now on Other Foot: Landowners Sue Martian Anti-Drillers). The lawsuit proceeded with the radicals claiming they should be able to sue, but not be sued (see Litigious Martians Cry Like Babies Over $500K Lawsuit Against Them). Unfortunately a county judge has agreed with the Big Money groups from Philly and has tossed the lawsuit against them (see $500K Lawsuit Against Litigious Martians Tossed by County Judge). Meanwhile, at least two of the wells were permitted and drilled by Rex Energy, despite the bleatings of the Martians (see Martian Victory! 2 Wells Near Mars School Nearly Done Drilling). But that hasn’t stopped the Martians, using legal assistance from THE Delaware Riverkeeper, from continuing to sue. The Martians have appealed a town ordinance that allows the wells to be drilled about 3/4 of a mile from the local Mars School. A panel of three western PA judges heard arguments in the case Monday afternoon…
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$500K Lawsuit Against Litigious Martians Tossed by County Judge

My Favorite MartianMDN previously reported on the injustice happening in Bulter County, PA where a handful of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (“Martians”), backed by money from Philadelphia Big Green groups Delaware Riverkeeper and Clean Air Council, have filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit. The effort is aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. The actions by these radicalized parents have cost the taxpayers of Middlesex Township over $80,000 in legal fees. Landowners with leases got together and sued the radicals to stop this miscarriage of justice (see Shoe Now on Other Foot: Landowners Sue Martian Anti-Drillers). The lawsuit proceeded with the radicals claiming they should be able to sue, but not be sued (see Litigious Martians Cry Like Babies Over $500K Lawsuit Against Them). Unfortunately a county judge has agreed with the Big Money groups from Philly and has tossed the lawsuit against them–with prejudice. Meaning it can’t be re-filed for another go. So much for “justice” when it comes to radical Martians…
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