PA DEP Accuses ET’s Revolution Pipe of 680 Violations Since Jan 1

This is getting ridiculous. Does anyone really believe that a single pipeline project already built and now getting a redo could possibly have racked up 680 “violations” during construction work over the past five months? We certainly don’t believe it. Yet that’s what the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) alleges. Energy Transfer (ET), the builder and fixer of Revolution, has their own allegation: The DEP itself is “not in compliance with its own guidelines.” Who inspects the inspectors for compliance?
Continue reading

ET & DEP Still Squabbling over Revolution Pipe, New Violations

Energy Transfer’s Revolution Pipeline runs through Bulter, Beaver, Allegheny, and Washington counties in southwest PA. The 24-inch gathering pipeline shifted and exploded in September 2018, just as it was entering service (see Revolution Pipeline Near Pittsburgh Explodes – Home & Barn Destroyed). What happened that led to a landslide and explosion of the pipeline? ET says historic, unprecedented rain caused the problem. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) says ET took shortcuts and performed work without getting permission–work not up to code. The two sides squabbled until January of this year when the DEP levied a record-high $30.6 million fine (see ET Allowed to Fix/Restart Revolution Pipe…After Record $30M Fine).
Continue reading

Bankrupt EdgeMarc Sells Butler, PA Assets to KeyBank for $70M

click for larger version

EdgeMarc Energy, headquartered in Canonsburg, PA (once with 50,000 acres of Marcellus/Utica leases), filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last May, looking to sell all of the company’s assets (see EdgeMarc Energy Files for Bankruptcy, Blames Revolution Pipe). Diversified Gas & Oil picked up EdgeMarc’s Ohio Utica assets for $50 million in August (see Bankrupt EdgeMarc Sells Ohio Utica Assets to Diversified for $50M). And now, the balance of EdgeMarc’s assets–located in Butler County, PA– is slated to be sold too.
Continue reading

ET Allowed to Fix/Restart Revolution Pipe…After Record $30M Fine

click for larger version

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has just issued the largest single fine to any single company in its history–$30.6 million assessed on Energy Transfer for the explosion of the Revolution Pipeline–a gathering pipeline located in southwestern PA. The fine, along with new plans and assurances by ET, means the company can finally, some 17 months after the explosion, fix the damaged pipeline and return it to service.
Continue reading

SWPA County Political Leaders Voice Support for Petchem, Shale

In a speech delivered October 31 to the P4 Climate Action Summit in downtown Pittsburgh, Mayor Bill Peduto declared his hatred for the petrochemical industry. He doesn’t want any more Shell crackers junking up his regional backyard. The highly negative reaction to Peduto’s idiotic (and pandering) remarks was swift. What petchem company wants to build in a region where the mayor of its largest city is trash talking the industry? In a bid to counter Peduto’s economically damaging remarks, some 20 county officials from Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington and Westmoreland counties issued a joint statement on Wednesday to show their support for the petrochemical and shale industries in the region.
Continue reading

Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Court Case to Block Martian Drilling

It seems the door *does* swing both ways when it comes to Pennsylvania municipalities and the Act 13 lawsuit decision that allows municipalities to have a say in zoning in, or zoning out, shale drilling. In 2013 seven selfish PA towns won the right, from the PA Supreme Court, to impose their own zoning rules on oil and gas drilling (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). Since that time, Big Green groups have asked the court to rule the door only swings one way–that zoning can keep shale drilling out, but never allow *more* of it. That notion has now been put to rest. The door swings both ways.
Continue reading

Pipeline Outage Causing Headache for PennEnergy in W PA

We caught a helpful update on PennEnergy Resources from a report on last week’s Hart Energy DUG East Conference in Pittsburgh. PennEnergy CEO Richard Weber told the DUG audience that his company is currently producing an average half a billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, with plans to increase that by 10% this year. One thing holding the company back is the ongoing outage of Energy Transfer’s Revolution Pipeline gathering system.
Continue reading

EdgeMarc Energy Files for Bankruptcy, Blames Revolution Pipe

EdgeMarc Energy, headquartered in Canonsburg, PA (with 45,000 acres of Marcellus/Utica leases), is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, looking to sell all of the company’s assets. The reason? They can’t move their production to market because their main pipeline partner, Energy Transfer’s Revolution Pipeline, exploded last September and ET has not been able to get the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection to allow them to restart it.
Continue reading

PA DEP Claims Energy Transfer Illegally Damaged Streams, Wetlands

Speaking of the exploded Revolution Pipeline located in southwestern Pennsylvania that’s led to a driller declaring bankruptcy (see EdgeMarc Energy Files for Bankruptcy, Blames Revolution Pipe Outage), yesterday the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an order to Energy Transfer, builder of Revolution, to “identify and restore or mitigate all streams and wetlands that it illegally eliminated or altered during the construction” of the pipeline. DEP claims ET “illegally” eliminated at least 23 streams and changed the length of another 120 streams.
Continue reading

PA Chamber Files Brief in Martian School Court Case

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry (PA Chamber) recently filed a brief in Commonwealth Court opposing THE Delaware Riverkeeper in a case that still has us angry and baffled. The case brought by Riverkeeper is clear across the state, hundreds of miles from the Delaware River Basin where Riverkeeper supposedly operates, and attempts to force a local municipality to adopt zoning ordinances it doesn’t want to adopt. And it involves Martians.
Continue reading

PA Supremes Order Rehearing for Rex Permits Near Martian School

The Martians and their allies have attacked once again. Run for the hills! This is a long-running story that’s just taken another (unfortunate) twist. A handful of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (“Martians”) in Butler County, PA, backed by money and legal help from Philadelphia Big Green groups THE Delaware Riverkeeper and the Clean Air Council, have filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit (see Martians Use Riverkeeper to Continue Court Battle Against Rex). The effort is aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. The actions by these radicalized parents have cost the taxpayers of Middlesex Township over $100,000 in legal fees (we hope the taxpayers enjoying paying for this folly). Eventually most of the lawsuits were won by the good guys and at least two wells got drilled. However, in 2016 the Martians appealed a town ordinance that allows the wells to be drilled about 3/4 of a mile from the school. A panel of three western PA judges in Commonwealth Court heard arguments in the case, and in June 2017 the judges ruled against Riverkeeper and the Martians (see Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Martian Case to Stop Rex Energy Drilling). Riverkeeper, using funding from the William Penn Foundation and Heinz Endowments (among other Big Green funders) pressed on, all the way to the PA Supreme Court. Last Friday the Supremes proved they aren’t so supreme after all. In a ruling, the Supremes told Commonwealth Court to do it over again, this time considering PA’s so-called Environmental Rights Amendment as part of their thinking. In other words, do it over, and rule another way this time–that’s what the Supremes are telling the lower court to do…
Continue reading

Rex Energy Settled Butler County Water Lawsuits for $159K

Beginning in 2012, MDN reported on the story of a community in western Pennsylvania (in Butler County) whose residents said that nearby drilling by Rex Energy led to contamination of their water wells (see PA Residents Weary of Fight with Rex over Water Contamination and Rex Energy Water Contamination Case Shifts Focus to Water Pipeline). Several of the families sued Rex. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, after an extensive investigation, said that Rex’s drilling did not cause the situation. Apparently water quality in the area was never the greatest to begin with. Rex had built a water line in the area to supply water for fracking and had expected to turn over control/ownership of that line in 2013. That water line could be used to supply fresh water to the affected homes. The debate has been: Who will pay to hook up the homes and to maintain the pipes and infrastructure required? Since Rex, according to the DEP, is not to blame for the poor water quality in the area, the company understandably doesn’t want to pay big bucks to connect and maintain the line to residences in the area. As far as we can tell, the water line never got hooked up. However, there has been a resolution of the situation, of sorts. What had been sealed court documents (unsealed because of Rex’s bankruptcy proceedings) show that in April of this year Rex settled with the suing families, paying them between $16,250 and $27,125 each–a cumulative $159,000. Rex maintains the settlement is not an indication of guilt…
Continue reading

Dela. Riverkeeper Suffers Major Defeat in Martian Well Case

Nearly a year ago MDN reported that Big Green group THE Delaware Riverkeeper (aka Maya van Rossum) and the odious Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council (CAC) had suffered a crushing legal defeat in their attempt to interfere with shale drilling on the opposite side of the state from where the Delaware River and Philly is located (see Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Martian Case to Stop Rex Energy Drilling). A small group of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (whom we affectionately call “Martians”) in Butler County, PA, backed by money and legal help from Riverkeeper and CAC, filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. Even amid the back and forth lawsuits, at least two of the wells were permitted and drilled by Rex Energy, despite the bleatings of the Martians (see Martian Victory! 2 Wells Near Mars School Nearly Done Drilling). Following last year’s final word by PA Commonwealth Court, we thought that was the end of it. However, Riverkeeper and CAC tried one last, desperate attempt–by filing an appeal with the Environmental Hearing Board. The EHB is a special court set up to hear appeals of decisions made by the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Riverkeeper and CAC argued that the DEP abrogated their responsibilities under the PA Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA) to protect PA’s environment by issuing permits for Rex’s Martian wells. Last Friday the EHB ruled that DEP was well within its rights and did not, in fact, violate the ERA by allowing the Rex wells…
Continue reading

PA Class Action Royalty Lawsuit Against XTO Settles for $11M

A journey which began for Pennsylvania landowners in Butler County, PA in July 2015 is nearing an end. Two Butler County, PA landowners with a combined 245.7 acres of land leased to XTO Energy sued XTO in 2015 claiming that XTO is breaking the lease agreement by paying royalties below 1/8 of what XTO receives in revenue for the gas (see PA Landowners Sue XTO Energy for Shorting Them on Royalties). The case, known as Marburger et al V. XTO Energy Inc., asserted the lease signed with landowners did not include language that would allow XTO to deduct post-production charges (that they had been deducting). The two landowning families that launched the lawsuit, the Marburgers and the Thieles, sought to turn the lawsuit into a class action, involving potentially hundreds or thousands of others. It didn’t take long for XTO to oppose the lawsuit and its certification as a class action (see XTO Files Motion to Dismiss Royalty Lawsuit in Butler County, PA). Since that time we’ve not heard much of anything about the lawsuit. And then out the blue comes word that via arbitration, XTO has agreed to settle the lawsuit. The settlement includes turning it into a class action, and paying out a total of $11,010,000. As part of the settlement, XTO admits to nothing. That is, they do not concede the plantiffs have a valid case against them. It’s simply cheaper to settle it and move on rather than to keep fighting. Below we have the relevant court documents with the details of the settlement…
Continue reading