PA Enviro Quality Board Approves Massive Hike in Shale Permit Fee

In Ohio, it costs drillers $5,500 to file for and receive a permit to drill a new shale well. In West Virginia, the cost is $10,150. In Pennsylvania, it has (until now) cost drillers $5,000 for a new shale well permit. Following a vote yesterday by the state Environmental Quality Board (EQB), that number is zooming to the top of the M-U list: $12,500 (2 1/2 times the previous fee). With current low gas prices, it’s pretty easy to predict new drilling permits in PA are going to crash and burn in 2020. The received wisdom is true: You always get less of what you tax more.
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Anti-Pipeline Dems from Chester County Face Primary Challengers

The ticket to getting elected in uber-liberal southeastern Pennsylvania (in the Philadelphia suburbs) is to track left with your politics. Even the few elected Republicans in SEPA are nothing more than Democrat-lite in their philosophy and voting. Two Democrats who unseated PA House Republicans in Chester County in 2018 by running against the Mariner East pipeline project, are now being challenged because of their pipeline positions.
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PA Big Green Supports Lawsuit to Gut FERC re Pipe Approvals

The sleaziest of Pennsylvania’s Big Green groups–THE Delaware Riverkeeper and PennFuture–have filed a “friend of the court” (amicus) brief in a federal lawsuit hoping they can help gut the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by denying FERC the only way the agency has of combating these sleazy groups–something called a tolling order.
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PA DEP OKs Dominion Pipeline to Feed PA NatGas to OH Power Plant

click for larger version

Dominion Energy’s West Loop Project will flow natural gas from western PA into Ohio to feed a new natural gas-fired electric plant being built there. We first noticed this small (but important) project in June 2019 (see Dominion Pipeline to Feed Western PA NatGas to OH Power Plant). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued final approval for the project in December (see FERC OKs Dominion Pipeline to Feed PA NatGas to OH Power Plant). And now, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the project.
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Adelphia Gateway Pipe Files to Upgrade 13 Sites in Southeast PA

It’s full speed ahead for the Adelphia Gateway Pipeline project in southeastern Pennsylvania. In December the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final approval for the project (see FERC Issues Final OK for Southeast PA Adelphia Gateway Pipeline). Last week Talen Energy sold the actual pipeline to New Jersey Resources so the project can commence (see Talen Energy Sells PA Pipeline to Adelphia Gateway for $155M). NJ Resources/Adelphia has just filed a request with PA for permits to move dirt around at 13 locations. We have the list.
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Another Marcellus Driller Converts to Electric Fracking

Electric fracking (or e-fracking) continues to displace traditional fracking in the Marcellus/Utica. What’s the difference between the two? Traditional fracking uses diesel-fueled engines to produce electricity to power pressure pumps for hydraulic fracturing operations. Electric fracking uses natural gas from the well pad to power turbines to create electricity. Electric fracking fleets are roughly half the size of traditional diesel fleets–and a whole lot quieter.
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PA DEP Slaps Energy Transfer Again – $2M Fine re Mariner East 2

Two weeks ago the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the largest fine for a single company/project in its history. DEP slapped Energy Transfer (ET) with a $30.6 million fine for the construction and subsequent explosion of the company’s Revolution gathering pipeline in western PA (see ET Allowed to Fix/Restart Revolution Pipe…After Record $30M Fine). As part of the fine, DEP said ET could restart construction to fix Revolution. DEP also said ET could restart construction for another project: Mariner East 2 (ME2). Yesterday the other shoe dropped when DEP announced a new fine related to ME2 work–for $1.95 million.
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PA Rep. Metcalfe Calls Wolf “Rogue Governor” – Can’t Force RGGI

The gloves are off in Harrisburg. We previously told you about Gov. Wolf’s plan to have PA join with northeastern states in the so-called Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional alliance to slap a carbon tax on natural gas-fired electric plants (see Gov. Wolf Goes Bonkers: EO Destroying Gas-Fired Elec, Carbon Tax). PA Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (Republican from Butler County, PA), Majority Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, sent a letter yesterday to the RGGI Executive Committee saying PA has a “rogue Governor” (his exact words) who lacks the authority to force PA to participate in RGGI without legislative approval.
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PA PUC Approves Aqua America Purchase of Peoples Gas for $4.3B

Aqua America, the nation’s second-largest water/wastewater utility company headquartered near Philadelphia, announced in October 2018 it would buy Peoples Gas, the nation’s fifth-largest natural gas utility company headquartered in Pittsburgh, for $4.275 billion (see Aqua America Buys Peoples Gas for $4.3B – Old Pipes, Similar Nature). It took a while, but the last hurdle was cleared yesterday when the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission gave its blessing on the deal.
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PA Landowner Says Range Well Didn’t Cause Methane Problem in Water

Range Resources’ Harman Lewis Unit 1H well in Moreland Township, Lycoming County.

Two days ago MDN told you that the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection has once again climbed up on its high horse and is now ordering Range Resources to “fix” a well they claim is leaking methane into the ground, causing nearby water wells and the ground itself to be contaminated (see PA DEP Orders Range to Fix Leaking Gas Well in Lycoming County). Range says the well is not at fault. The landowner whose land where the well is located also says the Range well is not at fault.
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Mariner East Pipe Flips PA from Propane Shortage to Surplus

Credit: Energy Transfer

The 2014 Polar Vortex event, when most of the U.S. was plunged into record low temps for an extended period, created a propane shortage for many. One of the states most affected by lack of propane during that event was…Pennsylvania! Should such an event hit again, PA is now in the clear, thanks to the Mariner East pipelines.
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16 Democrat State AGs Oppose Trump Plan to Ship LNG via Rail

Last April President Trump issued an Executive Order directing the Secretary of Transportation to write a new rule allowing specially constructed tanker cars for railroads (DOT-113 tank cars) to ship LNG, i.e., liquefied natural gas (see Here Come the “Bomb Trains” – Trump to Allow LNG by Rail). The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), issued a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (draft regulations) to move the process forward in October (see US DOT Gets Serious About LNG by Rail – Publishes Proposed Rules). Monday was the final day for comments on the proposed rules. Unsurprisingly 16 uber-partisan Democrat state attorneys general filed a joint letter opposing the new regs.
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PA DEP Orders Range to Fix Leaking Gas Well in Lycoming County

A long-simmering dispute between the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Range Resources has once again erupted into the public over allegations that a Range well drilled in Lycoming County, PA back in 2011 is leaking methane into the surrounding ground and water supplies. The DEP has, for years, maintained faulty cement casing allows methane to leak, and Range maintains methane was already in the ground/water supply before it drilled the well. Who’s right?
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New IFO Report: PA Shale Drillers Paid $1.5B in Royalties in 2017

Just coming to light for us now is a report issued by the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) that estimates the amount of gas production royalties paid by drillers to landowners for calendar year 2017 (the most recent year available). It’s a fascinating report that breaks down royalty payments by the eight top gas-producing counties in the state. You may be surprised to learn the county producing the most natural gas in the state (Susquehanna County) does NOT, in fact, pay out the most in landowner royalties.
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