PA Republican Senate Extends SE PA Drilling Ban in Newark Basin

As MDN has explained in a companion story appearing today (see PA Republican Senate Changes Lease Terms for Landowners), the PA legislature has slipped a number of “environmental riders” into one of the final budget bills. The riders are bits of legislation that have nothing to do with the budget or spending, but tacked on as a way of getting them passed without the mess of voting on them individually. One of those riders affects the potential to drill for oil and gas in southeast PA. Back in 2012, an eleventh hour deal was snuck into the Pennsylvania budget signed into law by then-Gov. Tom Corbett (see Republicans Sneak SE PA Drilling Ban into Budget Deal). An amendment was introduced to the budget that established a moratorium on drilling in southeastern PA in the South Newark Basin, a small area which stretches from New Jersey through Bucks, Montgomery and Berks counties in PA. Caving to pressure from the libs that elect them, RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) placed an ongoing moratorium on any kind of drilling–test wells or otherwise–in their region. Disgusting. However, Section 1607, as it is called, had this provision: “This section shall expire January 1, 2018.” Senate Republicans have once again screwed the drilling industry by removing the expiration date, but leaving the moratorium in place. There are certain conditions that must be met according to 1607 (see them below), but practically speaking, we doubt those provisions will ever happen, meaning there will never be drilling in southeast PA…
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PA Town Votes to Oppose PennEast Pipe; Not Even Coming Close

Talk about a waste of taxpayer time and money. The so-called leaders of Newtown Township in Bucks County (Philadelphia orbit) took time out to compose, debate, and pass a resolution opposing the PennEast Pipeline. Even though the pipeline isn’t coming anywhere near Newtown Township. What the vote reveals is that Newtown is led by far-left anti-fossil fuelers with nothing better to do than get on their soapbox and prance around discussing issues that don’t affect the residents of the town. Typical leftist politicians that believe they know better than you what’s best for you–even if it doesn’t even affect you…
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Japanese Now Own 2/3 of Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant in SEPA

Two weeks ago MDN brought you the news that Japanese company Sojitz Corporation had purchased a one-third (1/3) interest in the 488-megawatt Marcellus gas-fired electric plant being built in Birdsboro, near Philadelphia (see Japanese Co Buys 1/3 of Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant in SEPA). EmberClear plans to begin construction on the Birdsboro Power project in 2018, with an in-service date of June 2019. Word has just come that a second Japanese company, Tokyo Gas (a regional utility company in Japan) has purchased a one-third (1/3) interest in the Birdsboro project–meaning the Japanese will own 2/3 of the plant. However, investment firm Ares EIF will retain the final one-third ownership and provide “day-to-day management” of the facility. While the exact amount of the transaction was not disclosed, it’s said to be “tens of millions of dollars.” What’s up with Japan buying into our powergen projects? In the case of Tokyo Gas it’s crystal clear–they will participate in every aspect of building this project, so they can take their newfound knowledge back home and apply it there. Or depending on your point of view, you might say they want to steal our technology and trade secrets…
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Japanese Co Buys 1/3 of Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant in SEPA

Birdsboro Power Plant concept drawing

Speaking of Pennsylvania Marcellus gas-fired projects, here’s an update on a power plant we first told you about last October, coming to the Philadelphia area (see New NatGas-Fired Electric Plant Coming Near Philadelphia). In 2015, EmberClear filed an application to build a new 488-megawatt natural gas-fired electric plant in Birdsboro (Berks County). The new plant is called Birdsboro Power and requires various approvals before it can be built. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is involved. PJM Interconnection is involved. And the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection is involved. All three have issued various permits and edicts in connection with the project. EmberClear plans to begin construction in 2018, with an in-service date of June 2019. As often happens with these projects, which cost big bucks to build, the Birdsboro plant has just taken on a major investor/joint owner, from Japan. Sojitz Corporation has just purchased one-third of the project for an undisclosed sum. Below is a bit more about Sojitz, and the latest details about the Birdsboro project…
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Latest Tax Marcellus Bill from Rep Tina Davis: Effective Rate of 11%

It’s another day, must be time for another liberal Pennsylvania Democrat to propose taxing the the Marcellus industry into oblivion, and right on cue PA Rep. Tina Davis (Bucks County, near Philadelphia) has introduced one. Her plan goes well beyond the plan offered earlier this week by PA Gov. Tom Wolf. Wolf’s plan is for a 7.5% tax, that taken with the existing state corporate income tax pushes an effective severance tax rate to well over 10%. That’s not enough for the tax ravenous Tina Davis: She not only wants a 5.2% severance tax with 4.6 cents per Mcf (effective rate of maybe 8% total), she wants to keep the current impact fee, which is another 3% (not the 1.9% claimed), creating an effective rate of somewhere around 11%. Let’s just save the Dems some time: Tax the Marcellus industry 99% and let those money-grubbing corporations keep 1%. That’s what PA Dems really want. What’s that? You say not all money earned by corporations (and citizens) belongs to the government? You silly goose. Of course it all belongs to the state…
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3rd New NEPA Marcellus Pipeline Proposed, Connects to Trenton, NJ

A third new pipeline has been proposed–seriously proposed and already in the planning stages–to carry Marcellus Shale gas from northeastern Pennsylvania all the way to New Jersey. Yesterday a consortium of four companies, including energy utility giant UGI, along with AGL Resources, NJR Pipeline Company (subsidiary of New Jersey Resources) and South Jersey Industries announced the PennEast Pipeline, a 105-mile long, 30” diameter interstate natural gas pipeline. The new pipeline will cost $1 billion to build (providing 2,000+ jobs for seven months) and when finished, carry 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Here’s the full details for the new project…
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2 Spineless PA RINOs Join Call for High Marcellus Severance Tax

Several mainstream media outlets are trumpeting that “Republicans join the call for tax on Marcellus drillers.” Of course you have to read the fine print of the story to learn the so-called Republicans, which are really Republicans-In-Name-Only (RINOs), are really just two Republicans from the Philadelphia area where there is no drilling. They both want to stick their fingers into the pockets of landowners and drillers so they have funny money to throw around and buy votes with. Yes, we’re talking to you Gene DiGirolamo (Bucks County) and Tom Murt (Montgomery/Philadelphia counties). Shame on both of you.

The real story is this: Two spineless RINO sellouts from the Philly area “join the call” for obscene taxes on the drilling industry. There is no mass movement among Republicans in Pennsylvania to kill off the drilling industry with high severance taxes being advocated by just about every Democrat legislator and Democrat candidate in the state. We sure hope the people of PA have wised up to the Dem drivel about taxing one industry (shale drilling) to give the Dems (and RINOs) boatloads of money to squander on pet projects–the chief pet project being to put money into the pockets of people who will vote for them…
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Michigan Driller Walks Away in Frustration from SE PA Leases

Michigan-based driller Arbor Resources leased a bunch of land in southeastern Pennsylvania six years ago–in Bucks County (in the orbit of Philadelphia). Specifically, they leased land for gas drilling in Nockamixon Township. There is no Marcellus Shale in that area, but there are other formations, including the South Newark Basin. Arbor wanted to drill a few test wells for natural gas in the area, but the town opposed it and went to court to block it. Then in 2012, some squishy liberal Republicans shamefully snuck an eleventh hour ban on drilling in the South Newark Basin until more “studies” could be done into the 2012 budget (see Republicans Sneak SE PA Drilling Ban into Budget Deal).

With continuing low prices for natural gas, six years of legal issues with Nockamixon Township, a ban by the Delaware Basin Commission in effect in that area, and a state-enforced ban from RINOs in place, Arbor is throwing in the towel and walking away from Nockamixon and southeast PA. Good riddance for Arbor, no doubt. Goodbye tax revenue, goodbye jobs and goodbye millions of dollars of investment for Nockamixon…
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Could Philly Burbs See Shale Drilling?! PA DCNR Launches Study

Last summer MDN told you about a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) “discovery” that there are more untapped shale plays in the northeast. One of those plays is the Newark Basin that underlies parts of New Jersey, Maryland, and yes, Pennsylvania (see the USGS report and map here: Maryland has Multiple Shale Basins?!). In particular, the South Newark Basin lies under parts of southeastern PA–Philadelphia and its suburbs. While no one believes there will ever be a drilling rig in Philadelphia, there is the possibility of drilling out in the burbs.

The PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has just “quietly” awarded a contract to Penn State University to study “what lies beneath” in Bucks and Montgomery counties. The contract began July 1 and won’t be completed until June 30, 2015–two full years. When done, we should have a good idea of whether or not there’s recoverable shale gas in the area. So, is this study a prelude to drilling one day?…
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PA Marcellus Supply Chain Company Cuts Ribbon on New Plant

The PA Marcellus Shale continues to be an economic rocket ship for businesses in the supply chain–businesses that sell their products and services to the drilling industry. Latest example: MATCOR, a company that provides products and services for “cathodic protection” (corrosion resistance for pipelines, tanks and other equipment) just cut the ribbon on a new 47,000 square foot manufacturing plant in Chalfont, PA. PA’s Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley was on hand for the celebration…
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Anti-Drilling Close-up: Trout Unlimited

One of the non-profit organizations that crops up in lists of those whom MDN would classify as anti-drilling is Trout Unlimited (TU). The 50 year-old organization is national in scope with 140,000 volunteers and 400 local chapters—really one of the country’s premier conservation organizations. The TU charter is “Conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds” according to their website.

MDN has noticed that over the past several years TU runs programs—mostly on the weekends and mostly in Pennsylvania—to train volunteers in how to test streams and rivers. The aim is to test before there is drilling (or pipelines or compressor plants) in an area, to test during drilling or construction and then to test after, to see if those streams and rivers are in any way affected by drilling and related activity. So what have they found?

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SE PA’s First Shale Gas Well Stopped by New Moratorium

The new moratorium on shale gas drilling in southeastern Pennsylvania, instituted as a last-minute political ploy by none other than Republicans in the latest state budget (see this MDN story), has claimed its first victim. An exploratory gas well in the South Newark Basin (Bucks County) due to be drilled by Turm Oil has been denied a permit by the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection.

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Republicans Sneak SE PA Drilling Ban into Budget Deal

11th hourAn eleventh hour deal was snuck into the Pennsylvania budget signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett late Saturday night. On Friday, an amendment was introduced to the budget that would establish a moratorium on drilling in southeastern Pennsylvania in the South Newark Basin, a small area which stretches from New Jersey through Bucks, Montgomery and Berks counties in PA.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently completed an evaluation of the South Newark Basin, which contains both shale and coal bed methane deposits, along with four other East Coast basins and issued a report showing how much natural gas each basin contains (a copy is embedded below). The report says the South Newark Basin contains a minimum of 363 billion cubic feet of natural gas deposits, and their best guess is it contains around 876 billion cubic feet. It’s much smaller than the Marcellus, but certainly nothing to sneeze at.

With all of the gas drilling in the rest of the state, and with new drilling laws now in place, why place a temporary moratorium that expires in 2018 on the southeast region of the state? That’s where politics rears its ugly head—and this time it’s the Republicans who are to blame.

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Anti-Drillers Behave Badly at Act 13 Meeting in Nockamixon

As is typical—and has been the experience of MDN many times—it is the anti-drillers at public meetings who are loud, unruly, offensive and just plain uncivil. The latest example on full display was last night at an educational forum at Palisades High School in northern Bucks County, Pennsylvania where a panel of twelve people had gathered to discuss and answer questions for residents on the new PA Marcellus drilling law called Act 13. Palisades High School is located in Nockamixon Township, one of seven PA townships that recently sued the state over Act 13 provisions that preempt local zoning laws for oil and gas drilling.

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