9 More Seismic Testing Devices Stolen in SWPA, 6 Were Returned

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Somebody in southwestern Pennsylvania has sticky fingers. In March MDN reported that someone(s) in SWPA had stolen nine seismic testing nodes in Westmoreland County (see Whoops! Stolen Seismic Testing Nodes in SWPA have Tracking Devices). The seismic testing devices were legally placed in various locations by Geokinetics, hired by Huntley & Huntley to map what’s below the surface in preparation for drilling shale wells. Geokinetics let it be known that if the devices were not returned by March 26, the perps would be hunted down and prosecuted. Oh! And did we tell you that each device has a GPS tracker in it, so Geokinetics can locate the devices whenever they want? We now have a second case of sticky fingers. Stupid is as stupid does. Geokinetics reports another nine units were lifted, this time in Monroeville (Allegheny County). Once again the word has gone out: Return them now, by April 16th, or you will be found and prosecuted. Six of nine have already been returned…
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Penn Twp Antis Try to Use PA ERA to Block Shale Drilling

Last November we updated you on a lawsuit filed by a group of radical anti-fossil fuelers in Penn Township (Westmoreland County), PA (see Penn Twp Ninny Nannies File Lawsuit to Block Apex, H&H Wells). A group calling themselves Protect PT, backed with money and legal help from Big Green group PennFuture, filed a lawsuit to try and stop Apex Energy and Huntley & Huntley (H&H) from drilling wells in the township. The lawsuit finally made it to a county judge who is hearing testimony this week. One of the “expert witnesses” called by Protect PT is retired and discredited Cornell professor Tony Ingraffea, who makes a living by traveling around the country bashing fracking (see our Ingraffea stories here). The peril with this particular lawsuit is that it uses Pennsylvania’s so-called Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA), which liberal PA judges have, in recent years, breathed new life into. The argument is that fracking denies those who live near this temporary activity their “right” to enjoy Mom Nature, therefore it should be banished forever. That’s what Protect PT is attempting to pull off–a total frack ban in the Penn Township…
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Monroeville Continues to Block Seismic Testing to Prevent Drilling

Monroeville, PA (Allegheny County, suburb of Pittsburgh) is hostile toward the shale industry. In September, Monroeville Council voted to enact a super-restrictive seismic testing ordinance (see Monroeville, PA Passes Restrictive Seismic Testing Ordinance). The ordinance is meant to hassle Huntley & Huntley (H&H), which wants to conduct seismic testing in two rural areas of the municipality (for potential drilling in a neighboring municipality). In October, the contractor hired to do the seismic work for H&H, Geokinetics, took Monroeville Council to court over their punitive seismic ordinance (see Monroeville Seismic Testing Ordinance Challenged in Court). Both sides compromised and in November settled the case, which Monroeville Council voted to accept in December (see Monroeville Council Approves Seismic Testing Court Settlement). That should be the end of the story, right? Wrong. Monroeville has continued their harassment by asking a court to immediately suspend the testing because (they claim) Geokinetics did not give proper notification to residents that the testing was happening. This is nothing more than a transparent attempt to prevent future drilling by slowing, or stopping, H&H’s ability to get an accurate picture of the best places are to drill a Marcellus well. Fortunately Geokinetics just finished the testing, so Monroeville’s pathetic attempt to stop it is now moot…
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Monroeville Back from Edge of Insanity, Allows Some Fracking

Common sense has broken out in Monroeville. Either that, or fear of litigation. Either way, Monroeville (Allegheny County, PA) has rolled back an overly-restrictive zoning ordinance meant to hassle Huntley & Huntley’s plans to drill wells in the township–the very same township where H&H has its headquarters. Last October, Monroeville Council passed a temporary ban on oil and gas well drilling everywhere except for those areas marked M-2 industrial zoning–a big change (see Monroeville, PA Hostile to Shale, Bans Drilling in Most Places). Previously, drilling permits were “conditional use” in Monroeville, meaning each permit was evaluated on its own merits, regardless of which zoning district it was located in. By limiting drilling to M-2, Council severely limited drilling in the municipality–but at least drilling was still allowed. Then in January, Monroeville Council advertised their new zoning ordinance to FURTHER RESTRICT any kind of oil and gas activity–not just drilling, but pipelines, compressor plants, etc.–to a 150-acre parcel located next to the city dump (see Monroeville Pushes Ban on NatGas Activity, Incl. Drilling & Plants). It would be, in essence, a total ban on shale drilling activity throughout the township. Two weeks ago Monroeville Council voted (unanimously) to withdraw the proposed new ordinance, which means the zoning ordinance from last October limiting drilling to M-2 remains the law. Still not good, but better than a total ban…
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H&H About to Drill Well in Upper Burrell as Antis Plead with Judge

In some places, drillers have to fight tooth and nail, every inch of the way, just to drill a simple Marcellus Shale well. Such is the case in Upper Burrell (Westmoreland County), PA. Huntley & Huntley has plans to drill four shale wells in Upper Burrell Township. Sure there’s been push-back, but we thought the corner had been turned when town supervisors voted last November to approve H&H’s plans (see H&H Drilling in Upper Burrell Gets Final Approval, Raucous Crowd). The supporters of drilling far outnumbered the antis at the meeting. However, a small group of antis remains committed to blocking H&H’s drilling plans. The latest twist is that antis are asking a judge to rule that the supervisors, who were discharging their duties in accordance with the law, erred in their decision to grant final approval for H&H’s drilling plans. Here we go again…
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Whoops! Stolen Seismic Testing Nodes in SWPA have Tracking Devices

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To the person or people who recently stole nine seismic testing nodes in Westmoreland County, PA, know this: You have until March 26 to return the devices (worth $1,500 each). After that, you will be tracked down and prosecuted for the multiple felonies you’ve committed. Yes, each stolen seismic device has a tracker embedded in it, and you WILL be found (loser!). The seismic testing devices were legally placed in various locations by Geokinetics, hired by Huntley & Huntley to map what’s below the surface in preparation for drilling shale wells. Are anti-drilling wackos responsible for stealing the devices as a way to prevent H&H from drilling shale wells? It’s certainly possible and fits the pattern of previous actions by some of the more insane among the movement. However, we’ll reserve judgment. The thefts could have been your garden variety dopers who steal to get money to buy drugs. Either way, the loser or losers who have stolen the equipment will be found out–unless they decide to do the right thing and return the equipment. The clock is ticking, loser(s)…
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Monroeville, PA Antis Want 100% Ban on Fracking, Pipelines

Limiting fracking to an impossibly small 150 acres (out of 12,620 acres) that make up Monroeville–a mere 1% of the acreage–is not enough of a ban for radical antis in the municipality of Monroeville (suburb of Pittsburgh). They want it all banned–every single centimeter. The only problem with that is the Act 13 law, passed in 2012, requires each municipality to allow drilling in at least one zoned area. But hey, disobeying the law isn’t a problem for antis–they do it all the time. They are anarchists by nature. Last October, Monroeville Council passed a temporary ban on oil and gas well drilling everywhere except for those areas marked M-2 industrial zoning–a big change (see Monroeville, PA Hostile to Shale, Bans Drilling in Most Places). Previously, drilling permits were “conditional use” in Monroeville, meaning each permit was evaluated on its own merits, regardless of which zoning district it was located in. By limiting drilling to M-2, Council effectively banned drilling in the municipality. They passed the temporary ban until they could pass a new zoning ordinance that would set the frack ban policy in concrete. In January, Monroeville Council advertised their new zoning ordinance to FURTHER RESTRICT any kind of oil and gas activity–not just drilling, but pipelines, compressor plants, etc.–to a 150-acre parcel located next to the city dump (see Monroeville Pushes Ban on NatGas Activity, Incl. Drilling & Plants). Fantastically, unbelievably, antis in Monroeville aren’t happy with that 150-acre parcel exception–an old dump! They want drilling at the dump banned too…
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Compromise Allows Drilling to Begin in Pittsburgh Suburb of Plum

In October 2017, local officials in Plum, PA (Allegheny County) approved a plan by Huntley & Huntley (H&H) to drill a series of Marcellus wells on a single well pad in their municipality (see Plum, PA Gives Huntley & Huntley Green Light for Shale Drilling). Plum’s leaders got blowback from some residents (antis) over the decision to conditionally approve H&H’s request. In Plum, fracking is (or rather was) allowed in any zone if a conditional use is granted. That’s what happened in October–the Plum Council issued a conditional use exception for H&H to drill on 92 acres near Coxcomb Hill Road in Plum. To avoid dealing with more such conditional cases, Plum Council drafted proposed changes to their zoning ordinances (ordinances which haven’t been updated since 1993) that will only allow fracking in rural residential and industrial zones (see Plum, PA Officials Hold Hearing on New Restrictions for Fracking). H&H originally said the changes would be too restrictive. However, they later adopted a “half a loaf is better than no loaf” philosophy, opting to support the new rules. A compromise. In December, Plum Council moved ahead and adopted the new rules, and antis predictably blew a gasket (see Plum, PA Passes Ordinance to Allow Fracking – Antis Livid). How and why did Plum adopt such an ordinance? Especially given so many surrounding towns in Allegheny Township are outright hostile to drilling? Let’s pull the curtain back and probe the thought process Plum used to arrive at a compromise that appears to work for both sides…
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Monroeville Pushes Ban on NatGas Activity, Incl. Drilling & Plants

The dunderhead leaders of Monroeville, PA (Allegheny County, suburb of Pittsburgh) are at it again, acting hostile toward the shale industry, attempting to stymie any kind of shale activity within its borders. In September, Monroeville Council voted to enact a super-restrictive seismic testing ordinance (see Monroeville, PA Passes Restrictive Seismic Testing Ordinance). The ordinance is meant to hassle Huntley & Huntley (H&H), which wants to conduct seismic testing in two rural areas of the municipality. In October, the contractor hired to do the seismic work for H&H, Geokinetics, took Monroeville Council to court over their punitive seismic ordinance. Both sides compromised and in November settled the case (see Monroeville Council Approves Seismic Testing Court Settlement). In October, Monroeville Council passed a temporary ban on oil and gas well drilling everywhere except for those areas marked M-2 industrial zoning–a big change (see Monroeville, PA Hostile to Shale, Bans Drilling in Most Places). Previously drilling permits were “conditional use,” meaning each permit was evaluated on its own merits, regardless of which zoning district it was located in. By limiting drilling to M-2, the Council effectively banned drilling in the municipality. They passed the temporary ban until they could pass a new zoning ordinance that would set the frack ban policy in concrete. That day is now here. Monroeville Council has just advertised a new zoning ordinance to FURTHER RESTRICT any kind of oil and gas activity–not just drilling, but pipelines, compressor plants, etc.–to a 150-acre parcel located next to the city dump. That’s 150 acres out of 12,620 acres that make up Monroeville (1%). In other words, this is a complete and total ban on the shale industry in Monroeville–the Pittsburgh suburb that’s officially “closed for business”…
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H&H Files Request to Drill Murrysville’s First Marcellus Wells

Huntley & Huntley (H&H), a shale driller headquartered in Monroeville (Allegheny County), PA plans to drill Marcellus Shale wells in neighboring Murrysville (Westmoreland County), PA. H&H has filed for state permits for the Titan Well Pad project. This is will be the first Marcellus wells to be drilled in Murrysville. On May 3, 2017, Murrysville Town Council passed a new drilling ordinance that requires a 750 foot setback from the edge of the well pad–not from the bore hole (see Murrysville, PA Drilling Ordinance – Anatomy of a Compromise). The ordinance is quite restrictive, but apparently acceptable to the industry. Even though H&H has filed for permits, don’t expect to see drilling any time soon. Murrysville’s chief administrator estimates it will take the state “six to nine months” before they issue permits, and then H&H will have to go before town council with a request…
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Monroeville Council Approves Seismic Testing Court Settlement

Monroeville, PA (Allegheny County, suburb of Pittsburgh) is hostile toward the shale industry. In September, Monroeville Council voted to enact a super-restrictive seismic testing ordinance (see Monroeville, PA Passes Restrictive Seismic Testing Ordinance). The ordinance is meant to hassle Huntley & Huntley (H&H), which wants to conduct seismic testing in two rural areas of the municipality. In October, the contractor hired to do the seismic work for H&H, Geokinetics, took Monroeville Council to court over their punitive seismic ordinance (see Monroeville Seismic Testing Ordinance Challenged in Court). Both sides compromised and in November settled the case (see Monroeville Seismic Testing Ordinance Court Case Settled). Although the court case was settled, there is a final step required before the thumper trucks can begin their work. Monroeville Council must officially vote to accept the court agreement with the revised regulations. That vote happened last week…
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Plum, PA Passes Ordinance to Allow Fracking – Antis Livid

In October, local officials in Plum, PA (Allegheny County) approved a plan by Huntley & Huntley (H&H) to drill a series of Marcellus wells on a single well pad in their municipality (see Plum, PA Gives Huntley & Huntley Green Light for Shale Drilling). Plum’s leaders got blowback from some residents (antis) over their decision to conditionally approve H&H’s request. In Plum, fracking is allowed in any zone if a conditional use is granted. That’s what happened in October–the Plum Council issued a conditional use exception for H&H to drill on 92 acres near Coxcomb Hill Road in Plum. To avoid dealing with more such conditional cases, Plum Council cooked up proposed changes to zoning ordinances (ordinances which haven’t been updated since 1993) that will only allow fracking in rural residential and industrial zones (see Plum, PA Officials Hold Hearing on New Restrictions for Fracking). At the time, H&H said the changes would be too restrictive. However, they appear to have adopted the “half a loaf is better than no loaf” philosophy, opting to support the new rules. Yesterday Plum Council moved ahead and adopted the new rules. Antis blew a gasket. They think the new rules are still too lenient because it allows drilling in rural residential areas. One mouthy anti planted herself in front of the microphone yesterday and refused to move, threatening to sue everyone and everything related to the vote “if my family, my property, myself is damaged in any way.” Whatever. Here’s what went down yesterday in Plum…
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Monroeville Seismic Testing Ordinance Court Case Settled

Monroeville, PA (Allegheny County, suburb of Pittsburgh) is hostile toward the shale industry. In September, Monroeville Council voted to enact a super-restrictive seismic testing ordinance (see Monroeville, PA Passes Restrictive Seismic Testing Ordinance). The ordinance is meant to hassle Huntley & Huntley (H&H), which wants to conduct seismic testing in two rural areas of the municipality. In October, the contractor hired to do the seismic work for H&H, Geokinetics, took Monroeville Council to court over their punitive seismic ordinance (see Monroeville Seismic Testing Ordinance Challenged in Court). In the complaint, Geokinetics said, “Monroeville’s intransigence is not motivated by any legitimate concerns for the health and safety of its citizens, but rather by its council’s concerns about November elections.” The elections have come and gone and the hostile-to-shale Monroeville Council has settled the court case with Geokinetics. And yes, seismic testing will now begin!…
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Penn Twp Ninny Nannies File Lawsuit to Block Apex, H&H Wells

A group of ninny nannies calling themselves Protect PT (Penn Township, Westmoreland County), backed with money and legal help from Big Green group PennFuture, filed a lawsuit to try and stop Apex Energy and Huntley & Huntley (H&H) from drilling wells in the township. We first alerted you to the lawsuit in October, when we were only aware of Apex being in the group’s sights (see Judge to Rule on Apex Energy Well Drilling in Westmoreland County). Since then, we’ve learned that the partial injunction blocking well drilling not only bars Apex drilling wells, but H&H as well. Gillian Graber, Executive Director of Protect PT, fibbed when she said, “We’re not saying don’t frack in Penn Township or ban fracking. We never took that position. We disagreed with where [the drilling companies] put it.” We think that’s BS–Barbara Streisand. They want all drilling stopped period. That’s the aim of the lawsuit. Below is a somewhat biased article, but useful nonetheless, with insight into the legal tactics (bastardizations) being used by Protect PT’s PennFuture lawyers, hoping to overturn settled Act 13 law. We also have a copy of a brief filed by H&H, pushing back against this latest assault on Marcellus drilling in southwestern PA…
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Plum, PA Officials Hold Hearing on New Restrictions for Fracking

Nearly a month ago, local officials in Plum, PA (Allegheny County) approved a plan by Huntley & Huntley (H&H) to drill a series of Marcellus wells in their municipality (see Plum, PA Gives Huntley & Huntley Green Light for Shale Drilling). At that time, we told you about H&H plans to begin constructing a well pad in Plum in November (see Huntley & Huntley Starts Shale Drilling in Plum, PA Next Month). Plum’s leaders faced stiff opposition from some residents over their decision to conditionally approve H&H’s request. In Plum, fracking is allowed in any zone if a conditional use is granted. That’s what happened last month–the Plum Council issued a conditional use exception for H&H to drill on 92 acres near Coxcomb Hill Road in Plum. Fearing more requests will come from H&H, Plum officials have floated a proposed change to zoning ordinances (ordinances which haven’t been updated since 1993). The new change would only allow fracking in rural residential and industrial zones. H&H says the change is too restrictive. Some antis think it doesn’t go far enough. Last night Plum held a hearing about the proposed changes, with some 100 people showing up. According to press accounts, the crowd was about evenly split, for and against the proposed zoning changes. Here’s how it went down…
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H&H Drilling in Upper Burrell Gets Final Approval, Raucous Crowd

Normally when you read about a raucous crowd at a public meeting dealing with shale gas, it’s raucous because of misbehaving antis. This time the shoe is on the other foot. Huntley & Huntley has plans to drill four shale wells in Upper Burrell Township (Westmoreland County), PA. As MDN reported in June, a landowner in Upper Burrell filed an appeal against Upper Burrell’s zoning ordinance that allows drilling in rural, agricultural districts (see Westmoreland Zoning Challenge Heads to Court, Delays H&H Drilling). H&H plans to drill a well near where the woman lives, and she’s arguing such drilling will violate the state’s environmental rights clause and “devalue her property.” The case was supposed to go to township’s Zoning Hearing Board, but all of the (many) lawyers involved agreed to instead move it to county court, making the process faster and less expensive. The same woman then sued the town claiming the town’s very right to issue conditional use permits in agricultural-residential districts is unconstitutional (see Frivolous Lawsuit Delays H&H Drilling in Westmoreland County, PA). Even though legal wrangling may prevent a final outcome any time soon, the town is moving forward anyway. The Upper Burrell Planning Commission voted two weeks ago to approve H&H’s drilling plans, passing it back to the board of supervisors for a final sign-off (see H&H Drilling Plan for Upper Burrell Still on Pause, Some Progress). Yesterday the supervisors voted–in favor of approving the wells. Supporters of H&H’s plan far outnumbered those against at the meeting–and they made themselves heard…
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