Big Crowd Turns Out to Support/Oppose Drilling Under SWPA Park

The mystery is now solved. Last week we incorrectly (based on a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article) reported that FirstEnergy wants to drill a well under (not on) Linbrook Park, located in the Borough of Franklin Park in Allegheny County (see original story here). It’s not FirstEnergy but PennEnergy that wants to do the drilling.
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PA Leases Youghiogheny River Land in SWPA to Chevron $4K/Ac

Youghiogheny River (credit: Wikipedia)

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), every now and again, will lease state-owned land for gas drilling. The DCNR has just leased land under the Youghiogheny River in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. We have the full lease, and lease terms, below…
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PennEnergy Offers $3.5K/Ac to Drill Under SWPA Town Park

NOTE: This story and the headline have been updated to correct an earlier error from the source we used. It is not FirstEnergy but PennEnergy that is proposing to drill under the park.

We spotted a second story today about a new lease, in this case proposed lease terms, for land in southwestern Pennsylvania. This time the driller, PennEnergy, wants to drill under (not on) a town park that sits on the border of Allegheny and Beaver counties.
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SW PA Farmer Challenges Reg Preventing Shale Well on Her Land

Jefferson Hills, PA

Seven selfish Pennsylvania towns sued PA in 2012 over the zoning provisions in the then-new Act 13 law, eventually winning at the PA Supreme Court level (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). The Act 13 victory gave townships and municipalities across the Commonwealth the right to pass local zoning ordinances that restrict, but don’t outright ban, Marcellus/Utica drilling. Towns with a majority of antis in charge got pretty creative and effectively banned drilling in many towns–like Jefferson Hills in Allegheny County. Now, a brave farmer, Carol Ann Bucar, is pushing back against overly restrictive zoning ordinances that prevent shale drilling on her 197-acre farm. Her property rights have been stripped away, and she’s seeking to overturn the zoning regulations that do it.
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Pitt Researchers Discover Cheaper Way to Convert NGLs to Plastics

Pitt research appears on cover of journal

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh may have just discovered a way to turn “light alkanes” (i.e. propane, butane) into raw plastics that is cheaper than cracking ethane. At least, that’s what we think they’ve discovered. It’s hard to tell. In a research paper recently published titled, “Structure–Activity Relationships in Alkane Dehydrogenation on ?-Al2O3: Site-Dependent Reactions,” Pitt researchers say they’ve discovered a way to produce olefins using “the nonoxidative dehydrogenation of alkanes on metal oxides, taking advantage of the Lewis acid?base surface functionalities of the oxides.” Er, right. What we do know is that the Pitt researchers are excited about their discovery, and say, “We now have a better tool to develop active catalysts for alkane-olefin conversion, which could be a game-changer in the petrochemical and polymer industries.” Below is a write-up from Pitt about the new research, in lay language, along with an abstract from the paper.
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EQT Pays $394K for Acid Mine Leak in Mon River Following HDD Work

On January 29, 2017, EQT used underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to drill a hole under State Route 136 in Allegheny County, PA, to install a water pipeline. As they were drilling, using what we now know was an out-of-date map, EQT hit an abandoned coal mine full of water, and four million gallons of acid mine drainage (AMD) leaked into the Monongahela River. EQT worked hard and fast to stop the leak (stopping it two days later) and set up a system to prevent any further leaks. Now, nearly two years later, it’s time to pay the piper. EQT just agreed to a fine of $294,000 for violating the Clean Streams Law, and payment of an additional $100,000 to the Clean Streams Foundation to provide for maintenance, operation, and replacement of a system to keep AMD from leaking at the site in the future.
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New M-U Pressure Pumping Co. Starts Up in Pittsburgh

Yet another Range Resources alumnus is now working for someone else–himself. Matt Curry, a chemical engineer and Pittsburgh native who used to work for Range, along with Chris Combs, who’s worked for a number of drilling services companies in Texas, co-founded Praetorian Energy Solutions, a “pressure pumping and pumpdown services” headquartered in Canonsburg, PA. The company, launched earlier this year, is (so far) working in the Eagle Ford Shale play in Texas–because that’s where they bought their equipment. That equipment will be heading north soon to operate in the Marcellus/Utica. What is a pressure pumping/pumpdown company?
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Range Resources Helps Save Pretty Butterflies in SWPA

Can fracking save butterflies? According to California University of Pennsylvania’s Supervisor of the Fish & Wildlife, you betcha. You heard how important “pollinators” are, right? We immediately think bees when we hear the word pollinator. But monarch butterflies, a species whose population has dropped 90% since 1990, is also a important pollinator. In places across southwestern PA habitats for the monarch have disappeared, long before shale drilling showed up. Range Resources is helping replant vegetation that monarchs love. And it’s having a big impact. Range’s efforts are not just “throw a few seeds here and there” for publicity. Range is working hard and “willing to do it right.”
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Plum Injection Well Hearing Draws Solid Opposition

Earlier this year the federal EPA approved a new injection well for Plum Borough in Allegheny County, PA (see Federal EPA Approves Permit for Plum, PA Wastewater Injection Well). Although federal approval is necessary, so too is state approval. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) held a public hearing Monday night to elicit input. Around 60 people showed up. All 17 who spoke at the hearing were against the proposed injection well.
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Acting EPA Admin. Wheeler to Keynote Shale Insight in Pittsburgh

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler

Here’s some exciting news! The keynote speaker at this year’s Shale Insight 2018 event in Pittsburgh will be Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. MDN editor Jim Willis has attended every annual Shale Insight except for the very first one, going back years. Unfortunately he won’t be attending this year’s event to hear Wheeler in person. However, many MDN readers live in western PA and eastern OH, and if you do, and if you can make it, we encourage you to attend! This year’s event is pushed back a bit from the usual September into October–Oct. 23-25. Wheeler is speaking on the 24th in the morning. Here’s the details…
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Allegheny LibDem Wants to Throttle Fracking with Lease Database

Why can’t liberal Democrats, for once, just be honest about their intentions and motivations? A liberal Democrat who sits on the Allegheny County (PA) Council, Anita Prizio, is floating a plan that requires drillers to provide information on their oil and gas leases (shale AND conventional) in digital format to the county recorder of deeds. The supposed aim is to create an easy-to-access database/registry showing which land has been leased and which has not. We won’t lie (unlike lib Dems)–such a registry would be worth its weight in gold to many people, including landowners, other drillers/competitors, but most of all to antis who want to make trouble. Why do we say Ms. Prizio has ill-intent, even though she claims she has no ulterior, anti-drilling motive? Because she’s floating this plan for a lease registry at the prompting of radical leftist and anti-driller Doug Shields, from the odious group Food & Water Watch. Before joining FWW, Shields was himself a Pittsburgh Councilman for 20 years–lobbying for a total frack ban on more than one occasion (see Pittsburgh Councilman Doug Shields Lobbies to Get Drilling Ban Added to City’s Charter). Prizio’s connection to Shields is the tip-off that this is not some innocent proposal, but instead yet another case of collusion between lib Dems and Big Green. Follow the money…
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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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