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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Earth to Mars (School District) – Time to Check into Funny Farm?

We wonder what they teach at the Mars Area School District (Butler County, PA). One thing they don’t teach is logic and scientific inquiry. Probably too busy showing American Idol re-runs to the kiddies to bother with heftier education pursuits. How else can you explain a school board, and parents, who turn down $1 million+ to lease 175 acres of school land for shale drilling that would happen more than a mile below solid rock with no adverse affects and with no surface disturbances? We’d call it mass insanity (time to check into the local psychiatric hospital)–but that would be unkind.

Tuesday night the Mars Area School District school board voted 9-0 to reject an offer from Rex Energy to lease the school’s property, which sits next to private property Rex has already leased and will still drill on anyway. The Rex offer was $4,000 per acre up front as a signing bonus, and another $330,000 in advance royalties, for a grand total of $1 million. Drilling will go on all around the school, but those sharp-as-a-tack board members have now denied the children $1 million they could of had. Hey, it’s always for “the children,” right? Heartless board. The anti-drillers present for the vote were positively orgasmic that the school board voted it down unanimously. Go figure…
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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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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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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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Columbiana, OH School OK with Land Annex to Help a Fracker

it-dont-matter-to-meIn May MDN brought you the story that Columbiana, OH was contemplating aiding and abetting a fracking company in its quest to expand (see Columbiana, OH Annexes Extra Land to Help a Fracker). Buckeye Transfer–a company that stores water, sand, chemicals and other materials used in (gasp) fracking of Utica Shale wells–would like to expand its operations on the outskirts of Columbiana. Buckeye has its own water and sewer but can’t expand them due to the age of the infrastructure–so they want to tie into municipal water and sewer. In order to do that, the ~94-acre site would need to be annexed and become part of the city. Columbiana said they were willing to do it. Now, the Columbiana City School District has signed on to the plan as well. Can you image that? With all of the bleating and blatting by radical parents in places like Mars, PA and Athens, OH, here’s a school district willing to help out a fracker?…
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Anti-Drilling Martians Running for School Board in November

My Favorite MartianWho knew that Martians are Democrats? Well, to be honest, we had guessed as much. A small group of Mars School parents who object to fossil fuels have formed a group to oppose Rex Energy’s plan to drill five wells on a pad about 3/4 of a mile from the Mars School in Middlesex Township (Butler County), PA. We’ve chronicled the fight over the past year or so (see our Martian stories here). Three of the parents from the anti-drilling group ran in a primary for the school board. All three, as it turns out, are Democrats. Surprised? No, neither are we. Fracking and drilling is, largely, a partisan issue. The good news is that all three were among the lowest vote-getters in the primary–and one of them flunked off and won’t be on the ballot in November. The other two will run as Dems in a district where Republicans handily outnumber them…
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Deer Lakes School Signs Lease for $3,100/Acre + 18% Royalties

money bagAttention Martian parents from the Mars School District in Middlesex Township (Butler County), PA: In Allegheny County (bordering Butler County on the south) the Deer Lakes School District has just signed a lease to allow shale drilling under school property. Why are you Martians so afraid of shale drilling? (see Martian Arrogance: Town MUST “Protect Us” from Drilling via Zoning) At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Deer Lakes board members voted to lease 110 acres of school property for drilling under (not on) with Huntley & Huntley, Inc. The lease terms are $3,100 per acre in a signing bonus and 18% royalties–yielding a nice check for $341,000 to the school just for signing. Those terms are not quite as rosy as last year’s deal struck by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald who negotiated what turns out to be close to $4,000 per acre (and an 18% royalty) for leasing 1,180 acres in Deer Lakes Park (see Allegheny Co Exec Bests Range on Deer Lakes Park Lease Deal). The county park is literally a stone’s throw from the school…
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Martian Sighting in Harrisburg – Keep Wells Away from Schools

My Favorite MartianWhere’s HG Wells when you need him? We’ve had another Martian sighting! At yesterday’s PA Dept. of Environmental Protection Oil & Gas Technical Advisory Board (TAB) meeting, Amy Nassif, representing some of the parents from the Mars School district in Butler County, PA, addressed TAB members imploring them to “keep oil and gas well pads away from schools.” Aaah, Ms. Nassif–what about well pads that already exist ON SCHOOL PROPERTY? Like the well pad at the Elk Lake School in Susquehanna County (see Rural NE PA School Nets $1.7M in Royalties from 2 Marcellus Wells). Should they rip out their two wells–wells that haven’t harmed a single student and have brought in millions of dollars for the school?…
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More Love for the Leach Xpress Pipeline — in Marshall County, WV

Gotta love the Leach. On Monday, MDN told you that Noble County, OH is in love with the Leach XPress Pipeline (see Noble County, OH in Love with the Leach Xpress Pipeline). The pipeline is being built by Columbia Pipeline Group and will begin in Marshall County, West Virginia, cross Ohio and end up in Leach, Kentucky. Leach Xpress will pay out $6.2 million in yearly property taxes in Noble County, hence the lovefest. Another place they love the Leach is in nearby Marshall County, WV. Marshall County will see $2.3 million per year in property taxes from the Leach and create (while it’s being built) 955 new jobs in the county providing a $67.5 million bump in economic stimulus to the county. What’s not to love about the Leach?!…
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