Royalty Bill to be Discussed in PA House Committee Meeting Oct 9

In early 2017 at the beginning of a new session of the Pennsylvania Legislature, PA State Senator Gene Yaw introduced a pair of bills he dubbed the “Oil and Gas Lease Protection Package” (see  2 Royalty Bills Focus of PA Senate Hearing Today). Senate Bill (SB) 138 allows landowners the right to review drilling company records to verify proper royalty payment, and require drillers to pay royalties within 90 days of production.

10/9/18 Update: The House meeting to discuss SB 138 has been postponed to a later, unspecified date.
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PA Severance Tax Bill Continues to be Blocked by Republicans

Did you know there is major news this week about the proposed Pennsylvania severance tax bill, House Bill (HB) 1401? No, you won’t read anything about what has happened with the bill this week, since the return of the PA House, in mainstream media. Why? Because mainstream media refuses to actually report news any more. They only pedal advocacy. HB 1401 continues to be blocked by courageous House Republicans, even though a variety of amendments have been raised and there was more floor debate on the bill–this week. The bill’s failure to garner a vote and the increasing likelihood it won’t, doesn’t fit mainstream media’s “this tax is inevitable” narrative. Go ahead–do a news search. Nothing in the Harrisburg Patriot-News (the “record” of what happens in the state legislature). Nothing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a reliable anti-drilling screed. Nothing in the Philadelphia Inquirer (is Andrew Maykuth on vacation?). And yet, there IS major news! The only source we could find to inform us of what’s happening is the leftist, Big Green former Secretary of the state Dept. of Environmental Protection, writing on a blog site. Our hat is off to David Hess for his willingness to do the job no one else will do, bringing us the blow by blow of what’s happening with HB 1401…
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How Low Will They Go? RINOs/Dems Decrease PA Sev Tax Bill to 1.5%

We’re not sure when this happened, but the dreadful severance tax bill in the Pennsylvania House, House Bill (HB) 1401 went from being a 3.2% tax to now a 1.5% tax on Marcellus production. Even with the lower rate, as we pointed out in a post yesterday, liberal Democrats are already voicing disgust and laying blame in anticipation that the bill will not pass (see Ray of Hope in PA Severance Tax Debate: Lib Dems Attack M-U). We have yet more evidence along those lines. An editorial by John Baer, a lib Dem “columnist” for the Philadelphia Daily News says he smells something “fishy” about the current debate over HB 1401. Baer thinks the bill is going nowhere fast and is nothing more than a fundraiser, to get both sides of the debate charged up and flooding Harrisburg with big bucks to fund political campaigns…
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Update on PA Severance Tax Bill – More Progress, House Leaves Town

We have a brief respite, but are still in a dangerous position. The Pennsylvania House continued to debate and vote on amendments to House Bill (HB) 1401 yesterday–the Frankenstein bill introduced by RINOsaur Gene DiGirolamo (“Republican” from the Philadelphia area) that would tack a 3.2% severance tax on top of the existing ~5% impact tax (called a “fee”) already levied on Marcellus drillers, thereby effectively killing any new Marcellus drilling in the state (see PA Frankenstein House Bill Merges Severance Tax & Minimum Royalty). Debate on the bill began Monday, making quick progress (see Disastrous PA Severance Tax Bill Debated in House, Makes Progress). More progress was made yesterday. Some amendments to the bill passed, some failed–and then the House “abruptly adjourned” late last night without voting on the full bill itself. They got outta Dodge. The House returns to Harrisburg for more voting on Dec. 4th, so we have nearly two weeks of a reprieve before the battle begins again. It is vital this bill NOT PASS–for the future of Marcellus drilling in PA. Below is a list of the amendments that have, so far, passed and not passed, and how they tweak and change the overall Marcellus-killing HB 1401 bill…
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Disastrous PA Severance Tax Bill Debated in House, Makes Progress

Warning: Pennsylvania House Republicans are about to kill Marcellus drilling in PA by adopting a severance tax on top of the existing impact tax–creating the highest taxation of the oil and gas industry in the United States. Is PA ready to trade away an entire industry propping up its sorry finances–just to give money to Philly teacher’s unions? This is a TRAGEDY in the making. RINOsaur Gene DiGirolamo (“Republican” from the Philadelphia area) introduced a Frankenstein bill earlier this year called House Bill (HB) 1401 (see PA Frankenstein House Bill Merges Severance Tax & Minimum Royalty). The bill would tack a 3.2% severance tax on top of the existing ~5% impact tax (called a “fee”) already levied on Marcellus drillers. As soon as the bill made its way out of committee to the full House for consideration, over one hundred amendments were attached to it. Most of those amendments have been ruled “out of order” and removed from the bill, reviving the bill which is now under active consideration. A number of important amendments still remain and some of those were voted on yesterday. What you need to know front and center is that this bill is about a massive transference of wealth from those who produce wealth by working hard (drilling companies and landowners) to those who don’t (teacher’s unions). One of the amendments to HB 1401 passed yesterday reserves the first $150 million of the new severance tax solely for Big Education. The entire amount of revenue raised from a new severance tax, according to RINOsaur DiGirolamo, is expected to be $150 million. That is, ALL of the severance tax will go to Big Education, as payback. And you thought MDN was just spouting off, using hyperbole, ignorant or just plain mistaken all these years we’ve been screaming at the top of our lungs that the severance tax is nothing more than payback to Philly teachers for voting Tom Wolf into office. We (don’t) hate to say it: we were right. And now traitorous Republicans are making it possible for this to happen–for Wolf to get his way and corruptly funnel money back to the unions that elected him. Is any one else outraged at this? Are House Republicans asleep at the wheel???…
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PA House Passes Fiscal Code Bill with Bad Riders, but No Sev Tax

Yesterday MDN told you about two different environmental “riders” snuck into the Pennsylvania Fiscal Code bill that is part of the annual state budget (now four months late). The riders have nothing to do with the budget or raising revenue. It’s a sleazy political ploy to pass unpopular measures that wouldn’t get passed on a standalone vote. One of the riders changes the terms of existing leases by allowing drillers to reactivate old/expired leases, either by restarting production or by drilling a new well if the landowner doesn’t object within 90 days of notification (see PA Republican Senate Changes Lease Terms for Landowners). The other rider more or less enacts a permanent ban on drilling in southeast PA, in the South Newark Basin (see PA Republican Senate Extends SE PA Drilling Ban in Newark Basin). The bad news is that the House passed the Fiscal Code bill (109-75). The bill has now gone to PA Gov. Wolf for his signature. No word yet on whether the flaky Wolf will actually sign it. The good news is that a severance tax bill which recently had gained steam when it was reported out of committee (RINO Gene DiGirolamo’s House Bill (HB) 1401) did not make the cut. So far DiGirolamo’s bill has been loaded down with 350 amendments and there’s no end in sight for when it will receive voting attention, meaning (for now) it’s dead…
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PA Frankenstein House Bill Merges Severance Tax & Minimum Royalty

As predicted earlier this week, yesterday the Pennsylvania House Finance Committee voted to approve a 3.2% severance tax on top of the existing 5%+ impact tax (see RINOsaur DiGirolamo Says Vote on PA Severance Tax Coming Soon). Democrats and mainstream media are nearly orgasmic–this is as far as any severance tax bill has ever gotten in PA. The bill, House Bill (HB) 1401, now goes to the full House for a vote–maybe. It remains to be seen whether or not House Speaker Mike Turzai will allow a vote in the full House. There are procedural ways to tie up the bill. While it’s a crap shoot as to whether or not the full House would pass a Marcellus-killing severance tax, there is a section in HB 1401 that is sure to kill the bill–a guaranteed minimum royalty for landowners of 12.5%. Don’t get us wrong–we think the minimum royalty issue is very important and deserves a vote. PA Rep. Garth Everett has championed the issue, introducing a bill to accomplish that objective three times in the last six years (see PA Rep. Garth Everett Reintroduces Minimum Royalty Bill, 3rd Time). No doubt HB 1401’s chief sponsor Gene DiGirolamo (RINOsaur from the Philadelphia area) is hoping to gain support from landowners for the severance tax by grafting on the minimum royalty provision–in the style of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. Take a body part here (severance tax) and a body part there (guaranteed minimum royalty), sew it together (HB 1401) and shock it into life with a vote. Landowners should beware of this ruse. The minimum royalty issue needs to be addressed separately, on it’s own, and not part of a severance tax bill…
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PA Marcellus Health Study by Geisinger Turns into Data Warehouse

In August 2012 two major health system networks announced, to much fanfare, that they would partner to launch a multi-year study of the health impacts on residents living near Marcellus Shale drilling sites (see Health Care Systems Partner to Study Marcellus Impacts). To which we said, great! It’s about time some real science is done instead of pseudo-scientific fantasies spun by people like professors Howarth and Ingraffea at Cornell University. But we quickly learned that Geisinger Health Systems and the other participants in this new study were not willing to fund it themselves–they have their hands out and want someone else to foot the bill. So we’ve had some enjoyment over the past year and a half, poking fun at the non-study study (see PA Marcellus Health Study Still No Pulse – Needs Extra $24M).

Time for an update from the AP on the non-study study. The short version: The comprehensive “study” of health impacts has now morphed into a “data warehouse” for researchers as Geisinger and the other partners continue to putter. Oh, and they still have their hands out…
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1 Vote Saves the Day – PA Severance Tax Vote Delayed to Next Year

A single vote saved the day on Tuesday, preventing the horrible Pennsylvania House Bill (HB) 1401 from potentially coming up for a full vote. We’ve covered this insane bill repeatedly because it is an existential threat to the Marcellus Shale industry in the Keystone State (see our stories here). State Rep. (and RINO) Todd Stephens, from Montgomery County, made a motion on the floor Tuesday evening to keep debating HB 1401 as a “Special Order of Business” after all the business was done for the day. Tuesday was the last day of the current session until late January next year. Stephens’ motion received 100 votes. It needed 101 to pass. What does it mean? At the earliest the bill won’t be considered again until Jan. 22. Practically speaking, since the bill has not been able to muster enough support to get a vote by the full House, it means the bill is now on life support–near death. Which is a VERY good thing for PA…
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Et tu Brute? PA Rep. Garth Everett Falls for Severance Tax Trap

We have long admired Pennsylvania State Rep. Garth Everett, Republican from Muncy (Lycoming County), PA. Everett has been in the forefront of trying to get “minimum royalty” legislation passed that would guarantee PA landowners would get minimum royalty payments of 12.5%–regardless of any kind of post-production expenses. He’s been introducing a bill to do just that for the past three sessions (six years), the most recent attempt this year in February (see PA Rep. Garth Everett Reintroduces Minimum Royalty Bill, 3rd Time). Although Everett’s stance on the minimum royalty bill has him at odds with the drilling industry, he has always struck us as pro-gas and a friend to the industry. So we were particularly saddened to read Everett is now voicing support for a Marcellus-killing severance tax. Perhaps Everett has been influenced by fellow Lycoming County politico State Sen. Gene Yaw, who sold out the industry by supporting a severance tax during the recent budget votes (see Traitorous PA Senate Republicans Pass Severance Tax Bill). MDN note: Sen. Yaw reached out to MDN several times with caustic comments, taking issue with our view of his betrayal of the industry. Or maybe Everett’s newfound love of taxation has happened in response to the industry vigorously opposing his minimum royalty bill for the past six years, i.e. revenge. Whatever the reason, Everett is now saying he supports a severance tax–as long as the tax can’t be deducted from landowner royalties…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Oct 16, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: PA House committee cancels meeting on severance tax bill; the many benefits of fracking IN the Delaware River Basin; thoughts on Carrizo’s Marcellus asset sale; Ohio the “key anchor” to Appalchia’s bright plastics future; convering WV buses to run natgas; Cheniere starts up 4th LNG export facility; OPEC’s message to shale drillers; drilling mud separator expands into US shale; Clean Power Plan’s counterfeit benefits; and more!
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PA Severance Tax Not Dead Yet, Industry Unites to Oppose

Sadly, the severance tax issue in Pennsylvania is not yet dead, as we had hoped. Last week budget negotiations broke down and PA Gov. Wolf took matters into his own hands by borrowing $1.25 billion from the state’s Liquor Control Board to plug a gap in this year’s budget (see PA Gov Wolf “Acts” to Finalize the State Budget, No Severance Tax). However, it’s not enough money, and it’s temporary. So Wolf, the PA Democrat Party, and a variety of RINOs (Republicans in Name Only, i.e. swamp dwellers) continue to beat the drum for a severance tax this year. Yesterday Gov. Wolf went to Erie, PA to stump for “a reasonable severance tax.” He and others in his party still think it’s possible to get a tax passed this year. Next Monday the PA House Finance Committee (controlled by Republicans) will reconvene and hold a hearing on a plan to impose a 3.2% severance tax this year. The shale industry and their friends are holding a rally in Harrisburg on the same day, to make the point loud and clear that such a tax is a Marcellus-killer. Below is news about Wolf’s tax stump speech, the hearing next week, and details about the rally opposing the severance tax…
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Tiresome: Philly RINO Rep Gene DiGirolamo Intros Severance Tax Again

Rep. Gene DiGirolamo

Pennsylvania State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, a Republican-in-Name-Only (RINO) from the Philadelphia area, has been trying to punish the Marcellus industry in the state since 2011 when he first introduced legislation to impose a Marcellus-killing severance tax. And pretty much every year since then he has re-introduced a severance tax bill. Sometimes it’s for 3.2%. Other times 4.9% (see our DiGirolamo stories here). It appears he just plucks a number out the air and goes with it. DiGirolamo is back with yet another such plan. He has just introduced House Bill (HB) 1401, which would slap a 3.2% severance tax on all shale gas production. The socialist CLEAR Coalition–which advocates theft of other people’s money to fund their favorite “public” causes–held a rally to support the thefty HB 1401. RINO DiGirolamo showed up, the only “Republican” to do so. All of the other officials present were liberal Democrats. What does that tell you about this bill and its sponsor?…Continue reading

US Supreme Court Decision Makes Shale Drilling in NY More Likely

We spotted a post last week by friend Tom Shepstone on the Natural Gas Now website about a recent, very important, U.S. Supreme Court decision that makes it easier for landowners to bring a “takings” lawsuit against government entities (see Take Notice DRBC: “Sue Me” Approach to the Takings Clause Is Untenable.). The Supremes ruled that a landowner can file a takings claim directly in federal court without having to file in state court first. Federal courts are more likely to grant a takings claim. The implications of the case are causing alarm among antis who have abused our court systems to block Constitutional property rights.
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Ohio EPA to Hold Air Permit Hearing for PTT Cracker Nov. 27

PTT Global Chemical announced in April 2015 they want to build a $6 billion ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). Since that time, PTT has purchased land, paid $100 million to get the cracker facility designed, and repeatedly said a final investment decision (FID) is imminent. It’s been imminent for more than two years now. Belmont County officials recently said the decision is coming “by the end of this year” (see Belmont, OH Leaders Say PTT Cracker Decision Coming This Year). But we’ve read comments by others who say the decision won’t happen until sometime next year (see Rumblings that PTT Will Once Again Delay OH Cracker Decision). We finally have some signs of life that a decision is, indeed, coming soon.
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Fri, Apr 13, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: PUC awaiting report on Mariner East 1 pipeline; Range Resources’ Ray Walker retires, Dennis Degner moves up; so-called church pushing Range for more disclosure on methane emissions; Atlantic Sunrise restarts work in Luzerne County in May; abundant Marcellus gas leads to rate cut for Peoples Gas; CNG fueling station opens in Allentown; WV board denies request to move Mountaineer Gas pipeline hearing; NJ votes to spend $300M to “save” nuke plants; Texas LNG signs contracts with Chinese, Southeast Asian buyers; Cali’s pathetically weak case against fossil fuel companies; building bigger pipelines over old ones a smart idea; and more!
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