Radical Groups Band Together to Pressure Gov Wolf to Ban Fracking

A mishmash of national Big Green and local Little Green (funded by Big Green) groups from Pennsylvania have banded together in order to apply pressure on (i.e. bully) a weak-willed governor, PA Gov. Tom Wolf. A coalition of anti-fossil fuel groups, calling themselves Pennsylvania Fracking Health Impacts, has begun protesting Wolf outside of fundraisers and other venues. Their demand? That Wolf enact an immediate moratorium (i.e. ban) on all fracking in the state. One of the useful idiots providing support to the new coalition is actor and fractivist Mark Ruffalo (who plays The Incredible Hulk in Marvel’s Avengers movies). Ruffalo trash-talked Wolf and said that Wolf, “has done nothing to help the many families who have been harmed by fracking. Now I am joining with the Pennsylvanians who are launching this public health impacts campaign to help shine a light on this unjust tragedy and ask when will Governor Wolf act?” Just because Ruffalo is a good actor doesn’t mean he’s smart. Far from it! He’s about as stupid as they come. Talented actor–you can’t take that away from him. But when it comes to actually having a brain? Sadly, he was passed over. The aim of the new group in PA is to see if they might be able to shame and pressure Wolf into shutting down the Marcellus industry. We seriously doubt that will happen, but hey, one never knows when it comes to Lib Dems…
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Univ of Cincinnati Utica Groundwater Study Finally Published!

From January 2012 to February 2015, researchers from the University of Cincinnati collected 180 groundwater samples in Eastern Ohio, from water wells located close to Utica Shale drilling activity. In early 2016, the lead researcher shared some high level results from the study. The preliminary results showed that fracking in areas where there are water wells doesn’t affect those wells (see Antis Not Happy with Results of OH Fracking Study They Funded). Two anti-drilling groups were the primary funders of the study–Deer Creek Foundation in St. Louis and the Alice Weston foundation from Cincinnati. The two groups immediately cut their funding when they heard results they believe they didn’t pay for (see Anti Groups Abruptly Cut Funding for OH Fracking Study). Since that time, no more of the study’s results have been released, for over two years! That is, until now. The full peer-reviewed study, titled “Monitoring concentration and isotopic composition of methane in groundwater in the Utica Shale hydraulic fracturing region of Ohio,” was published last week in the scientific journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. Summing up the results of the full study in the words of the researchers themselves: “We found no relationship between CH4 [methane] concentration or source in groundwater and proximity to active gas well sites.” And, “…our data do not indicate any intrusion of high conductivity fracking fluids as the number of fracking wells increased in the region.” Finally! An honest study using Big Green money, that Big Green tried to cover up and silence, is now available for the whole world to see…
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Unease Over PA Rule of Capture Case Spreads Nationwide

This much is clear: The “Briggs” court decision in Pennsylvania cannot stand as it is without threatening to end the shale miracle, certainly in Pennsylvania, and perhaps across the country. Some believe we’re making too much of the Briggs decision recently handed down by two judges sitting on PA’s Superior Court (see PA Superior Court Overturns “Rule of Capture” for Marcellus Well and PA “Rule of Capture” Case has Power to Limit Marcellus Drilling). The issue, in brief, is that the Superior Court decision disallows using an age-old principle called the “rule of capture” when it comes to shale drilling and fracking. It opens the door to a myriad of frivolous lawsuits claiming that a fracture, a crack created during fracking, is draining gas from a neighbor’s property without justly compensating the neighbor for the gas. Southwestern successfully argued in a lower court that the odd crack here and there that may slip under a neighbor’s property is permissible. The landowner appealed to Superior Court and three judges heard the case. Two of them voted to overturn the lower court decision in favor of Southwestern and sent the case back to a lower court where the landowners (the Briggs) now have to prove Southwestern trespassed and work out how much gas they believe was “taken.” Southwestern has asked the full Superior Court–all 20 judges–to hear the case again. No word yet on whether that will happen. We have, from the beginning, considered the Briggs decision to be an existential threat to the Marcellus industry in PA. In a recent Bloomberg article, some experts believe the threat has the potential to spread beyond PA. Below we explain how might happen, and provide some historical perspective on the rule of capture…
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Study: The Closer People Live to Fracking, the More They Like It!

You might think people who are not leased and live close to shale drilling activity, that is, those with the most “impacts” from that activity, would be the ones most opposed to it. However, you would be wrong. That’s according to a new study just published by the ultra liberal Oregon State University. A study appearing in monthly peer reviewed academic journal Risk Analysis titled, “The Effect of Geographic Proximity to Unconventional Oil and Gas Development on Public Support for Hydraulic Fracturing,” finds that the closer you live to shale drilling, even those who are not leased, the more supportive of it they are. Why is that? Because they understand it–they’re more familiar with it. MDN has spoken to residents in Susquehanna County, PA who live close to drilling yet are not, themselves, drilled on/under. Their opinion? Sure they’d like it if they got money. After all, they incur the impacts (trucks, noise, lights, dust), but don’t directly benefit with money in their pockets. Yet, when asked if they had a choice and could wave a magic wand so there never would have been drilling, the answer is swift and universal: NO! They still prefer nearby drilling, because it benefits their neighbors and, to some degree, the community at large via tax revenue and charitable contributions. Here’s news of a study that proves the closer you are to drilling, the more you like it…
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Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) Wants Feds to Regulate Fracking

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Democrat from Ohio

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Democrat from the 13th District in Ohio, signed up last week to co-sponsor a new bill called the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals, or FRAC, Act. In fact, all 61 co-sponsors of the bill were Democrat–no Republicans–which is a big, fat, red flag. A totally partisan bill. Democrats have been trying this trick since 2009. It’s nothing new. Supposedly the FRAC Act will require “transparency,” forcing frackers to disclose which chemicals are used in hydraulic fracturing. The thing is, drillers already disclose that information! What the FRAC Act is REALLY all about is federal regulation of the oil and gas industry by doing something that has never been done before: subjecting oil and gas drilling to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. We’re tired of revisiting this topic, but feel compelled to set the record straight because of this renewed attack on the industry. Fact: There is no “exemption” from the Safe Drinking Water Act for drillers–they never were under the Act to begin with! The U.S. Constitution vests the power to regulate oil and gas activity with the individual states–NOT with the federal government. What Ryan and his fellow libs are trying to do in forcing oil and gas under federal regulation is a bastardization of the Constitution–an erosion of states’ rights. Which is why Ryan needs to be voted out of office. Shame on him. He’s from one of the biggest stars in the shale firmament–the Ohio Utica. And yet he’s pushing to kill it. There’s nothing “common sense” about the FRAC Act, as Ryan claims. It’s all “nonsense.” Here’s the latest attack by Dems at the federal level, a group that wants to kill the shale miracle in this country…
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New York Frack Ban a Result of Russian Collusion? Yes!

A blockbuster article appearing in the Heritage Foundation’s publication The Signal connects the dots to show how a Russian-funded and backed front group called the Sea Change Foundation funneled (money laundered) millions of dollars of Russian money to Big Green groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, and then how those groups used that funding to pressure Gov. Andrew Cuomo into banning fracking in the Empire State. It is a case of either knowing, or unknowing, collusion with Russia to shut down the shale industry in MDN’s beloved home state. And yet mainstream media actively blocks any reporting of this story. It is complicated and tough to show enough evidence to take to a prosecutor or judge, but when has that ever stopped mainstream/liberal media? The biased press has hounded Trump mercilessly for two years over collusion with Russia–something that never happened. And yet we now have a story about money laundering in Bermuda and a trail that shows Russian money influencing a frack ban in New York–and it’s silence. Crickets. The press is curiously uncurious about a connection between Russia and Cuomo and the frack ban. Why is that?…
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PA DEP Report – Virtually No Methane Migration from Shale Wells

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) released the results of it’s industry-leading program to monitor oil and gas wells for methane (and oil and brine) migration–that is, for anything would impact groundwater. The Mechanical Integrity Assessment Program, as it’s called, is “the most rigorous routine well integrity assessment program to protect groundwater in the United States,” requiring quarterly inspections by operators of their wells. The DEP is in the process of releasing the results of those reports for the past four years–from 2014-2017. They’ve just released results for 2014 (full copy below). What did the DEP find? “[L]ess than 1 percent of operator observations indicated the types of integrity problems, such as gas outside surface casing, that could allow gas to move beyond the well footprint.” In other words, there is virtually no methane migration happening from shale (and conventional) natural gas wells because of good well casings and regular checks. It is hard to overstate how important these findings are. The DEP’s own evidence disproves wild claims that methane is migrating from shale wells everywhere, claims made by anti-fossil fuel radicals and a colluding media (see examples from StateImpact Pennsylvania). Below is the good news that there is virtually no methane migration happening in PA from Marcellus Shale wells…
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DRBC: We’ll Make You Guess When We’re Going to Adopt Frack Ban

In September, MDN told you that the obsequious members of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) had slavishly obeyed their radical environmental masters by voting to move forward with a permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see DRBC Votes Tomorrow on Permanent Frack Ban Resolution). The final ban language/regulation was dropped like a bomb by DRBC staff on Nov. 30 (see DRBC Drops Permanent Frack Ban Bomb – Public Hearings in January). The DRBC announced they would allow public comment through Feb. 28, later extended to Mar. 30 (see DRBC Schedules More Freak Shows on Proposed Frack Ban Regulation). The DRBC received 8,687 comments online and 227 oral comments at the hearings. So what happens now? According to an update issued yesterday, the DRBC said, “There is no set schedule for a vote by the Commissioners to adopt final rules. As always, the Commission may adopt final rules only at a duly-noticed public meeting.” All of the DRBC’s public meetings are ” duly noticed”–meaning the DRBC provides public notice ahead of time. The next public meeting to be held is May 16. Could the DRBC simply vote at that meeting to adopt these illegal ban regulations? Sure. And then again, maybe they won’t. You just don’t know. Apparently the DRBC wants to keep everyone guessing…
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PA DEP Releases Draft Final GP-5 & 5A Methane Regulations

Last December the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued “draft final language” for the proposed General Permit 5A (GP-5A) and the revised General Permit 5 (GP-5)–regulations that supposedly will cut down on fugitive methane from escaping from drill pads and pipelines (see PA DEP Signals Onerous New GP-5 & 5A Methane Regs Coming 1Q18). The onerous regulations, which for now only apply to *new* sources (not existing) were originally prompted by bullying from the Obama Environmental Protection Agency. Even though EPA pressure has disappeared under President Trump, PA Gov. Wolf is still pushing these onerous new regs. GP-5 applies to pipelines and compressor stations, while GP-5A applies to well pads and drilling. Following a flood of new comments, the DEP tweaked the onerous regs once again (for maybe the third or fourth time) and last Friday afternoon, when nobody was working or looking or caring, the DEP published yet another revised final final final final final version of the regs (below). Are they any better than previous versions?…
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W Pike Run Antis Want 1000′ Setback to Zone Out EQT Drilling

A debate is playing out in West Pike Run Township in Washington County, PA (near Pittsburgh) that we find interesting. A quick PA history lesson: Back in 2012 PA passed the Act 13 law to update oil and gas regulations to account for shale drilling. One of the updates was a uniform set of zoning requirements to protect residents and the environment. Unfortunately, seven selfish townships sued and eventually won (at the PA Supreme Court) challenging those regulations. So PA towns won the right to impose restrictions on drilling activities. In West Pike Run, the debate is over “setbacks”–how far does a well have to be from nearby structures, like homes and barns and businesses. State law imposes a minimum of 500 feet from the wellhead to an “occupied” structure–and 300 feet from the well to a body of water. In West Pike Run, antis want to up that number to 1,000 feet, which would effectively prevent any more drilling by EQT, the primary driller in the township. The town recently held a hearing on the proposed 1,000 foot setback, a hearing which has been continued to a future meeting on April 16…
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Last In-Person DRBC Frack Ban Circus Held in Lehigh Valley

In September, MDN told you that the obsequious members of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) had slavishly obeyed their radical environmental masters by voting to move forward with a permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see DRBC Votes Tomorrow on Permanent Frack Ban Resolution). The final ban language/regulation was dropped like a bomb by DRBC staff on Nov. 30 (see DRBC Drops Permanent Frack Ban Bomb – Public Hearings in January). The DRBC announced they would allow public comment, via written communication, through Feb. 28. They also planned four public hearings (i.e. freak shows) to allow antis the opportunity to parade before the microphones and make jerks of themselves (we’ve seen it many times). Antis said three months wasn’t enough time to crank up the form letter machine nor is it enough freak show opportunities, so the DRBC caved (yet again) to the only constituency they listen to: anti-drillers. The DRBC subsequently announced they would extend the public comment period from Feb. 28 to Mar. 30 and add another two freak show public hearings to the roster (see DRBC Schedules More Freak Shows on Proposed Frack Ban Regulation). Yesterday the final in-person session was held in the Lehigh Valley, at Lehigh Carbon Community College. What’s that? The Lehigh Valley isn’t actually IN the Delaware River Basin? You think that actually matters? The purpose was to locate the session somewhere that’s solidly against fracking. Yesterday’s session didn’t disappoint. Grab the peanuts and popcorn…
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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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Marcellus Industry AWOL at Philadelphia DRBC Frack Ban Hearings

Last week the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) held two public hearings in Philadelphia about its proposed plan to ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see Low Turnout for Philly DRBC Frack Ban Hearing, Antis Dominate). As we pointed out in our post, you would think a city with 1.5 million residents would turn out more than 120 people on a topic that is sold as “threat to everyone’s drinking water.” But no. Just a relative handful. However, the handful was almost exclusively in favor of the ban. One of two speaker who spoke against the ban was Dan Markind, an attorney in Philly. We’ve highlighted Dan’s comments here on MDN a few times over the years. Smart guy. We don’t always agree with his take, but we do this time. Dan circulated his thoughts after the DRBC hearing. His words are humbling. Dan makes the point that although many who spoke in favor of the frack ban have made up their minds and won’t change, some in the audience were open to being persuaded otherwise. Problem is, nobody from “our side” was there! One rep from the API spoke and left. And that’s it, beside Dan. We fielded nobody to present our side of the argument. As hard as it is to attend these types of events, attend we must. Here’s Dan’s take–that we missed a big opportunity by being AWOL at the DRBC hearings in Philly…
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Low Turnout for Philly DRBC Frack Ban Hearing, Antis Dominate

Philadelphia is the sixth most populous city in the United States, with over 1.5 million residents. And yet *maybe* 120 people turned out yesterday for a Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) hearing on their proposed plan to permanently ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin. A pair of hearings were held earlier this week in rural northeast PA–in Waymart–where the turnout was upward of 150 people! Judging from the wild claims by green groups like THE Delaware Riverkeeper that thousands (millions!) of people don’t want fracking in the river basin, you’d think more than maybe 120 people would turn up for a hearing in a city like Philly. Could it be not all that many people in southeast PA give a hoot about fracking in two northeastern PA counties? That thought crossed our minds as we read the accounts of those who showed up at yesterday’s meetings in Philly. Yes, antis outnumbered those in favor of fracking, but that’s to be expected in Philly. Here’s a recap of yesterday’s meetings…
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