Center for Responsible Shale Development has NOT Folded Its Tent

Correction: MDN received the following statement on 9/11/18 from CRSD board member Chevron Appalachia to let us know that the organization is still alive and exploring a path forward for the future: “CRSD remains focused on its core mission of collaborating with a diverse group of stakeholders to drive continuous environmental performance improvement in shale gas operations throughout the Appalachian Basin. As was announced in a statement earlier this year, CRSD retained the services of the Meridian Institute to help it develop a long-range strategic plan that would enable the organization to build on the successes achieved in its first five years. The Board of CRSD is continuing its work with Meridian to finalize its long-term plan and will have more to announce once that effort is complete.” – Trip Oliver, Chevron Appalachia

It appears that the Center for Responsible Shale Development (CRSD) is, for all intents and purposes, no more. CRSD began life as the CSSD, the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, back in March 2013 (see Important: Drillers & Enviros Form New Group, Launch Cert Program). The original CSSD was a closely guarded secret until it was unveiled. The organization was the creation of a few hand-picked people from both industry and the environmental movement working together to see if there is any common ground on which both sides can agree that shale development would be safe, sustainable AND affordable. The members worked hard for over a year and finally hammered out a set of 15 standards that if a driller (or midstream company or contractor) would meet, they would get a stamp of approval from both the industry and environmental groups as being a good goobie–a safe and “responsible” driller. We were somewhat skeptical from the start, but later relaxed our skepticism. One of the participants helping to birth the group was Bobby Vagt, at that time president of the Heniz Endowments. Because of his involvement, Mamma Teresa Heinz Kerry fired him (see Bobby Vagt Out as Pres of Heinz Endowments – Fracking Connection?). There’s zero tolerance for reaching across the isle for Big Green radicals like Mamma Teresa. Other enviros who dared to participate were blackballed by the radical environmental movement. The CSSD soldiered on, despite several enviros leaving the fold, and awarded its first-ever certification in September 2014 to Chevron (see CSSD Bestows First Certification for Sustainable Drilling: Chevron). In the end, another three companies sought and received certification: Shell, CONSOL Energy (now CNX Resources) and EQT. It looks like you can’t fund a certification program with just four applicants. In April of this year, the renamed CRSD lost its executive director, Susan LeGros. The CRSD website has since removed the staff page and according to an industry source, the organization has folded its tent and is no longer in operation. Which we think is a shame…
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Pittsburgh Utility Experiments with NatGas Fuel Cells in Homes

An intriguing concept: What if you could generate your own electricity for your own home–without big, ugly solar panels plastered on your roof, or without an unsightly (and loud) wind mill stuck in your yard? What if all you need is a natural gas pipeline connected to your home. What’s that? You don’t want to contribute to man-made global warming by *burning* natural gas? No problem. This nifty little invention, called a fuel cell, uses natural gas in a *chemical* reaction to create electricity. These types of fuel cells have been around for a while, but what’s new is that they are now getting good enough to be commercially viable. Peoples Natural Gas, the largest natural gas distribution company in PA, providing natural gas service to approximately 700,000 customers in western PA, West Virginia, and Kentucky, has cut a deal with a Westmoreland County fuel-cell manufacturer to put 100 test systems in customer’s homes to create electricity at home. It’s an experiment. If all goes well, more will be deployed. Remember when cable companies first began offering internet access, then telephone access? Yeah, electric utilities and electric generators might want to look over their shoulder. They may get some serious competition! If natgas fuel cells ever take off for the residential market, demand for natural gas would be ginormous. Hence our interest. Is this technology anywhere near mainstream yet? No. But let’s keep a close eye on this potential new market for Marcellus/Utica gas. It may happen sooner than you think…
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Frack Sand Operation in SWPA is Leaking Sand into Nearby Community

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We spotted a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that concerns us. There is a transloading terminal in Stowe Township (Allegheny County, Pittsburgh area) that handles, among other things, frack sand. The facility has been there since 1969, so the neighbors can’t complain about stuff coming in by barge (or rail) and going back out by never-ending truck trips. You move to that area, you know what you’re getting. However, one thing the neighbors didn’t bargain for is sand–along roads, bridges, even inside on the furniture. Frack sand is super fine–very small–and acts like asbestos when it gets in your lungs. Not a good thing. OSHA has all sorts of rules for how to handle frack sand. And yet the sand in Stowe is leaking out of rail cars and trucks and ending up scattered throughout the nearby community of Stowe and McKees Rocks. The following story is written by Post-Gazette “reporter” Don Hopey–who is an anti-drilling propagandist. He spins whatever minor foible he can find in the shale industry into a major offense, a crime against the environment and humanity. However, in this case, the concerns Hopey writes about are warranted and should be addressed immediately…
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Marcellus/Utica Pipe Maker BENEFITS from Trump Tariffs

Contrary to the doom and gloom predictions that the hothead and dangerous Donald Trump, by imposing tariffs on Europe and China, is creating a “trade war” that is going to sink the U.S. and world economies–the facts show otherwise. Even the mighty American Petroleum Institute has been lobbying and complaining loudly that Trump’s tariffs will hurt the oil and gas industry. Except, it isn’t happening. At least not in the Marcellus/Utica. In fact, the opposite is happening! Dura-Bond, a company that manufactures steel welded pipes in McKeesport, PA, is *benefiting* from the tariffs. M-U pipeline companies are now buying Dura-Bond’s pipes instead of foreign imports. Dura-Bond is investing, like crazy, in the McKeesport facility in order to use the plant to manufacture smaller, midstream pipe. That ain’t supposed to happen! These words are sure to grate on a lot of people’s nerves (and we LOVE saying them): THANK YOU President Trump!…
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PennFuture Tries to Bully Pittsburgh Airport re Gas Royalties

As is so often the case, radical Big Green groups, like PennFuture, attempt to intimidate (i.e. bully) by using threats of legal action, those who dare to use and (gasp) enjoy the monetary benefits of shale drilling. In early 2013 the Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County, PA signed a deal with CONSOL Energy (now CNX Resources) to lease 9,000 acres surrounding the airport for natural gas drilling (see $50M Check in the Mail: Pittsburgh Airport Lease a Done Deal). The airport received a $50 million signing bonus and the promise of 18% royalties on anything produced and sold. The first wells began to flow natural gas for the first time exactly two years ago, in July 2016 (see CONSOL’s First Pittsburgh Airport Wells Begin to Flow NatGas). So far, for 2016 and 2017, the airport has received a grand total of just over $16 million in royalty payments and another $857,000 from other fees. Yikes! The airport uses the revenue “to reduce airline rates and charges and for capital expenditures…at the Airport.” So along comes the Big Green bullies from PennFuture, threatening to sue the airport if it doesn’t use the money for what PennFuture wants it used for. Yeah, the money does not belong to PennFuture, but that doesn’t stop this rogue “nonprofit” from throwing its weight around and making demands. PennFuture is telling the airport the money MUST be used to “further the interests of citizens under the environmental rights amendment.” Whatever that means. PennFuture told the airport, in a nasty letter, that the airport is in violation of Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Our advice to the airport: Tell PennFuture to take a hike in the vast PA outdoors…
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PA DEP Notifies Shell of “Technical Deficiencies” with Ethane Pipe

Shell delivered some good news at last week’s Northeast U.S. Petrochemical conference in Pittsburgh: The Falcon ethane pipeline will get built next year (see Shell Says Falcon Ethane Pipeline to Get Built in 2019). The pipeline won’t actually flow ethane to the Shell cracker in Monaca until 2020 at the earliest, because the cracker plant itself won’t go online until 2020 at the earliest. The 97-mile consists of “two legs,” with about half of the pipeline located in PA, the other half in OH. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted three public hearings on the project earlier this year, in preparation for issuing permits. Antis came out in force and behaved badly, as they typically do (see More of the Same at Final DEP Hearing for Shell Ethane Pipeline). No matter. The pipeline will get built. But not without jumping some hurdles first. On June 1, the DEP issued three letters identifying what it calls “serious technical deficiencies” in Shell’s pipeline plan, for townships in three different counties along the pipeline’s PA route. Shell maintains this type of notification is “common” in the permitting process, and is committed to working with the DEP to address any issues of concern…
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Presbyterians Vote to Divest from Fossil Fuels – Yet Keep Using Them

Liberal Presbyterians in Pittsburgh, along with their comrades from New York, have succeeded in pressuring a once-great denomination, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), into adopting a proposal that forces the denomination to divest from all investments in fossil fuel companies, and instead invest in so-called renewable energy companies. The measure says divestment is “the beginning of a faithful response to the devastating and urgent reality of climate change.” The leaders of the divestment movement within the denomination say investing in fossil fuels is the moral equivalent of investing in tobacco, alcohol and gambling. And yet the very same people and the very same denomination refuse to lead by example. They don’t force their churches to quit using “devastating fossil fuels” to heat and cool their buildings. They don’t demand parishioners quit driving fossil-fuel powered automobiles to church. And they certainly don’t refuse tithes and offerings from those who work at evil fossil fuel companies (nor do they prohibit contributions from fossil fuel companies). Just a tad hypocritical?…
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Anatomy of an M-U Shale Startup: Tier 1 Rental and Distribution

One of the bits of news we love to cover is when a new business starts up for the express purpose of servicing the Marcellus/Utica industry. Having started our own company–Marcellus Drilling News–we know a little bit about the challenges one faces in launching a new business. But nothing on the scale of launching a business that ends up employing dozens, even hundreds, of people. When we see that happening, we have deep respect and admiration. In 2014, Frank Catroppa, a serial entrepreneur, rolled the dice and launched Tier 1 Rental and Distribution LLC, based in Robinson (Allegheny County), PA. Tier 1 provides trucking and related gas drilling services to the shale industry. Not long after the business began, the shale recession hit with many drillers pulling back from new activity. How did Mr. Catroppa weather the downturn, having just started a new company? And how is the company doing now? The story (below) certainly doesn’t chronicle everything that goes into starting and maintaining a company aimed at selling goods and services to the Marcellus/Utica industry, but it does provide some great insights into timing, confidence, and the sheer guts it takes to believe in your ideas. Tier 1 is an inspiration for others considering whether or not to launch a product/service aimed at our industry…
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Anti Group Stirs Up Pittsburghers Against Fracking, (Ab)Uses Kids

We always find it deeply disturbing when a group of anti-fossil fueulers, like the innocent-sounding (but very radical) Moms Clean Air Force, pushes little kids in front of the cameras, getting them to hold protest signs in a sleazy attempt to play on people’s sympathy. That’s what happened yesterday in the Pittsburgh suburb of Indiana Township (Allegheny County). Hey, knock yourself out if you want to show up and protest and make some noise. But don’t bring the kids along. Don’t put your guilt trip on the kids, making them protest something they frankly don’t even understand. Don’t implant them with your irrational fears. We find it disgusting…
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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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More of the Same at Final DEP Hearing for Shell Ethane Pipeline

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For three nights in a row this week the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted hearings for Shell’s proposed Falcon ethane pipeline–a 97-mile pipeline system with two “legs” that will feed Shell’s mighty ethane cracker plant now under construction in Monaca, PA. We brought you a report from the first session, an eyewitness account from MDN friend Charlie Schliebs (see Shell Ethane Pipeline Hearing Draws Few Supporters, Many Antis). That session was predominantly populated with antis attempting to paint nightmare scenarios if the pipeline (and cracker) gets built. Last night was the third and final session–in Sewickley. Once again we have an eyewitness account, this time from MDN friend Katie Klaber, former president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition and currently managing partner at The Klaber Group and a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (Pittsburgh branch). Katie is a consummate environmental professional–someone with a lifelong career in environment compliance and someone who served on the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee of the DEP for more than a decade. She knows a thing or two about projects like the Falcon because she’s seen a thing or two (to borrow from the Farmers Insurance commercials). When the audience realized that Katie was supporting the project (the only one of the first 18 speakers to do so), the hissing started. She and the next few speakers who supported the project were hissed by bad-behaving antis in the crowd, with some Mother F…ers thrown in by an especially outspoken attendee. Nice people, those antis…
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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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Pittsburgh Airport Plans NatGas Microgrid to Attract New Business

Seems like we increasingly see the word “microgrid” popping up. What, exactly, is a microgrid? Microgrids are small electric generating plants, most often powered by natural gas. They usually produce a few megawatts of electricity and are often used for “peaking”–which means they are used during times of high electricity demand. During times of high demand these small microgrids kick on and produce electricity to help meet the demand (see One of Nation’s Largest NatGas Microgrids Coming to Philly Navy Yard). Sometimes microgrids outright replace reliance on the local electric utility. Such is what is being proposed for the Pittsburgh International Airport. You may recall that CONSOL Energy (now CNX Resources) drilled a bunch of wells on Airport property and produces a boatload of natgas every day. The plan is to use some of that gas to power a microgrid to lower the cost of electricity at the airport complex–a complex where officials are attempting to attract businesses to locate. Having super cheap electricity generated by your own natgas helps…
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PA DEP Schedules 3 Hearings for Shell Ethane Pipeline

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In February, MDN told you the Pennsylvania State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had caved to pressure from anti-fossil fuelers with regard to Shell’s proposed Falcon Ethane Pipeline project (see PA DEP Caves to Pressure, Extends Comment Period for Shell Pipeline). Shell is working on an ethane “pipeline system” with two “legs” to feed the mighty cracker plant being built in Monaca, Beaver County (see Shell Working on 94-Mile Ethane Pipeline to Feed PA Cracker). The DEP advertised an official comment period for the project on Jan. 20, giving interested parties until Feb. 20 to file their comments–an entire month. However, one month isn’t enough time for anti-drillers to marshal the faithful to try and sink the project. FracTracker Alliance, an anti-fossil fuel organization, colluded with other groups to put the word out to flood the DEP with demands to keep the comment period open. The DEP caved and extended the comment period to April 17th along with three public hearings (circus freak shows), to give the FracTracker faithful time to mount publicity and legal offensives to try and stop the project. The DEP has just announced the dates and locations for the three public hearings…
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Federal EPA Approves Permit for Plum, PA Wastewater Injection Well

Plum, PA

As MDN reported last July, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency in charge of approving oil and gas wastewater injection wells, was actively reviewing an application and plan from Penneco Environmental Solutions (division of Penneco Oil Co.) to convert a plugged gas well into a brine (wastewater) injection well in Plum, PA–in Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh (see New Frack Wastewater Well on the Way in Allegheny County, PA). The good news is that the EPA has given its final approval for the project. However, Penneco has miles to go (a lawsuit & state permits) before they begin retrofitting the well…
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