Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Martian Case to Stop Rex Energy Drilling

THE Delaware Riverkeeper (i.e. Maya van Rossum) and a small group of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (“Martians”) in Butler County, PA, have just suffered a crushing defeat in their years-long battle to prevent Rex Energy from drilling wells “near” a local school. Backed by money and legal help from Philadelphia Big Green groups Delaware Riverkeeper and Clean Air Council, the Martians filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit. The effort is aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. The lawsuits have cost the taxpayers of Middlesex Township over $80,000 in legal fees. 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). But that didn’t stop the frivolous lawsuits. Using legal assistance from THE Delaware Riverkeeper, the Martians appealed a town ordinance that allows the wells to be drilled about 3/4 of a mile from the local Mars School. A panel of three western PA judges in Commonwealth Court heard arguments in the case last November (see Martians Use Riverkeeper to Continue Court Battle Against Rex). This week the three-judge panel ruled–against Riverkeeper and the Martians…Continue reading

Rex Energy 1Q17 Full Update – Swings to Black, Drilling Picks Up

In April, Rex Energy, a driller focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA), issued an operational update (see Rex Energy 1Q17: Production Drops 8.5%). Earlier this week the company issued a full 1Q17 update. What does it show? Rex swung from losing $62 million in 1Q16 to making $2.1 million in 1Q17–quite a turnaround! This update also includes a fuller look at the drilling that did happen in 1Q17, and what the company plans for the balance of 2017. In Rex’s Legacy Butler Operated Area (Butler County, PA), the company has begun drilling 4 wells on a single pad and plans to have them completed and online in 3Q17. In Rex’s Moraine East Area (also Butler County) the company drilled 7 gross (3.3 net) wells and completed 4 gross (1.4 net) wells in 1Q17. In addition, Rex had 12 gross (5.5 net) wells awaiting completion at the end of 1Q17. In Rex’s Warrior North Area (Carroll County, OH), the company plans to drill 12 gross (10.2 net) wells by the end of 2017, with most of them not going online until 2018. Below is the full update, along with select portions of the earnings call where Rex’s CEO shares some interesting insights…Continue reading

PA DEP Fines Butler County Gathering Pipeline $185K for Erosion

MDN spotted an announcement issue by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) stating they’ve assessed a $185,000 fine on the Constellation Pipeline and its builder EM Energy (i.e. EdgeMarc) for a series of violations when building the pipeline in 2014-2015. That sent us digging. We don’t recall a Constellation Pipeline (and we’ve been writing MDN since 2009). What is the pipeline? Where, in PA, is it located? What is its purpose? We think we found most of the answers…
Continue reading

Top 20 Marcellus Drillers in Southwest Pennsylvania

The sharp folks over at the Pittsburgh Business Times have been looking through data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and have compiled a list of 20 drillers who have at least a dozen shale wells in the southwest PA region. And they ranked them from lowest to highest. We’ve grabbed the list below. The interesting thing for MDN is that there is one name in the list not familiar to us, and we’ve been watching this space since 2009. Always fun to learn something new. Here’s the list of southwest PA’s “Top 20” Marcellus drillers…
Continue reading

Handful of Butler Co. Residents Still Suing Rex Energy 5 Years Later

For years MDN has reported on a lingering/ongoing story of a community in western Pennsylvania (in Butler County) who say that nearby drilling by Rex Energy led to contamination of their well water supplies (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 is not at fault in the situation. However, for most of the families, the issue progressed beyond blame–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 can potentially 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 line is not hooked up. The families with bad water still have bad water and depend on donated water to this day for drinking and cooking…
Continue reading

PA Gives $5M to Union to Train More Welders for Cracker Plant

5-millionOn Monday Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced PA taxpayers are forking over $5 million to Steamfitters Local 449 union for use in their Butler Training Facility project. The union training facility trains welders. The Shell ethane cracker plant, when it gets built, will need a LOT of welders. Right now the facility graduates 170 new welders a year. With the grant money, they will expand it to train and graduate 270 welders a year…
Continue reading

Martians Use Riverkeeper to Continue Court Battle Against Rex

Maya van Rossum - THE Delaware Riverkeeper
Maya van Rossum – THE Delaware Riverkeeper

MDN previously reported on the injustice happening in Bulter County, PA where a handful of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (“Martians”), backed by money and legal help from Philadelphia Big Green groups Delaware Riverkeeper and Clean Air Council, have filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit. 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 $80,000 in legal fees. Landowners with leases got together and sued the radicals to stop this miscarriage of justice (see Shoe Now on Other Foot: Landowners Sue Martian Anti-Drillers). The lawsuit proceeded with the radicals claiming they should be able to sue, but not be sued (see Litigious Martians Cry Like Babies Over $500K Lawsuit Against Them). Unfortunately a county judge has agreed with the Big Money groups from Philly and has tossed the lawsuit against them (see $500K Lawsuit Against Litigious Martians Tossed by County Judge). Meanwhile, 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). But that hasn’t stopped the Martians, using legal assistance from THE Delaware Riverkeeper, from continuing to sue. The Martians have appealed a town ordinance that allows the wells to be drilled about 3/4 of a mile from the local Mars School. A panel of three western PA judges heard arguments in the case Monday afternoon…
Continue reading

PA Gov Wolf Basks in Predecessor’s Accomplishment at Cracker Site

basking-in-the-glow
Click for a larger version – credit: captainscratchy.com

For a guy who wants to tax the Marcellus industry out of existence, PA Gov. Tom Wolf sure likes to bask in the glow of the industry’s success. Perhaps the crowning achievement of former PA Gov. Tom Corbett was the wooing and winning of Shell to build a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker near Pittsburgh. It’s hard to overstate just how big a deal the cracker plant is for the state–not only for PA, but also for nearby OH and WV. Shell’s ethane cracker will attract manufacturers to relocate nearby to take advantage of the cheap plastics that will come from the plant. While Shell will invest somewhere on the order of $6-$8 billion, with the coming build-out of manufacturing facilities in the region, it promises to turn into a $20 billion economic boost for the entire northeast. An amazing story! Right now Shell is busy at work clearing the site, which used to be a Horsehead zinc smelting operation. Gov. Wolf toured the site on Monday and was impressed, basking in the glow of what’s happening. Thing is, Wolf didn’t have a single thing to do with the plant coming to PA–other than not screwing up the deal before it was formally announced…
Continue reading

Buffalo Twp in Butler County, PA Approves XTO Compressor Station

stamp-of-approval.jpgThis is so unusual, it qualifies as news: Supervisors in Buffalo Township (Butler County), PA have approved a new compressor station to be built by Mountain Gathering–a subsidiary of XTO Energy. The reason it’s news is for how the approval process was handled. Town residents who live near where the station will be built understandably had some concerns. Those concerns were aired. Town officials visited other compressor stations built by Mountain Gathering. They had XTO officials in to answer questions. There was no bleating and blatting, no parading in front of cameras and microphones, no “die-ins” and radical protests. Just deliberative, calm, adult discussions. And at the end of it, the supervisors voted to grant permission for the compressor station to get built. Unusual!…
Continue reading

PA DEP Fines Stonehenge $1.5M for Damaging 2 Butler County Swamps

StonehengeA year ago MDN told you about a new gathering pipeline project in Butler County, PA. Rex Energy contracted with Stonehenge Energy Resources to build a gathering system in Butler County (see Rex Energy Hires Stonehenge to Build Gathering Pipeline in PA). The new system got built last year and now provides Rex with an additional 400 million cubic feet per day of natural gas pipeline capacity. The Stonehenge gathering system delivers Rex’s gas to MarkWest Energy’s Bluestone processing plant. When Stonehenge built the pipeline, they had a few minor accidents. Some dirt slid down a hill into a creek. The creek empties into a couple of swamps. Ergo, some of the dirt got into the swamps. For that little mishap, Stonehenge has agreed to pay the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection a $1.5 million fine. DEP Acting Secretary Pat McDonnell called the minor mishaps “egregious and avoidable.” Whatever…
Continue reading

Rex Energy’s Partner Ponies Up Another $46M for More Marc. Wells

Rex EnergyRex Energy Corporation, one of our favorite smaller Marcellus/Utica drillers, issued an update on their Marcellus drilling program on Tuesday. You may recall that just last week Rex announced they were selling off the rest of their non-Marcellus acreage to become a pure play driller (see Rex Energy Selling Illinois Basin Assets, Focus 100% on Marcellus). In Tuesday’s update, Rex says funding partner Benefit Street Partners has decided to fund the next 12 wells in Rex’s Moraine East drilling area. Benefit’s investment is going from the current $51.6 million to $98.1 million. Here’s the update for not only the Moraine East area, but also Butler and Warrior North…
Continue reading

$500K Lawsuit Against Litigious Martians Tossed by County Judge

My Favorite MartianMDN previously reported on the injustice happening in Bulter County, PA where a handful of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (“Martians”), backed by money from Philadelphia Big Green groups Delaware Riverkeeper and Clean Air Council, have filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit. 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 $80,000 in legal fees. Landowners with leases got together and sued the radicals to stop this miscarriage of justice (see Shoe Now on Other Foot: Landowners Sue Martian Anti-Drillers). The lawsuit proceeded with the radicals claiming they should be able to sue, but not be sued (see Litigious Martians Cry Like Babies Over $500K Lawsuit Against Them). Unfortunately a county judge has agreed with the Big Money groups from Philly and has tossed the lawsuit against them–with prejudice. Meaning it can’t be re-filed for another go. So much for “justice” when it comes to radical Martians…
Continue reading

Litigious Martians Cry Like Babies Over $500K Lawsuit Against Them

My Favorite MartianMDN previously reported on the injustice happening in Bulter County where a handful of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District, backed by money from Philadelphia from Big Green groups Delaware Riverkeeper and Clean Air Council, filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit–denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. The actions by these radicalized parents have cost the taxpayers of Middlesex Township over $80,000 in legal fees. So the landowners got together and sued them, to stop this miscarriage of justice (see Shoe Now on Other Foot: Landowners Sue Martian Anti-Drillers). And guess what? The litigious antis started crying like little girls, claiming it’s an abuse and an attempt to stifle free speech (see ACLU Asks County Judge to Toss Lawsuit Against Litigious Martians). Talk about hypocrites! They can sue, but our side can’t. That’s fair in their twisted world. The lawsuit against these radicals continues, and the radicals, with the help of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, continue to complain that everything is OK when they do the suin’, but when they get sued…that’s not so hot. In fact, some of the less-committed radicals are leaving the fight. Turns out they don’t like to get sued…
Continue reading

Martian Victory! 2 Wells Near Mars School Nearly Done Drilling

My Favorite MartianAs we have long chronicled, a few anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (Butler County, far western part of the state), backed by a couple of Big Green groups from the other side of the state (THE Delaware Riverkeeper and the Clean Air Council, both based in the Philadelphia area), sued Middlesex Township to stop shale drilling in rural portions of the county. Rex Energy had applied for, was legally permitted for, but wasn’t allowed to drill a series of wells some three-fourths of a mile from the Mars School (for background, see our long list of “Martian” stories here). After costing local taxpayers more than $35,000 in legal fees, last November a county judge finally told Rex Energy they could go ahead and drill (see PA County Judge Rules Rex Can Begin Drilling First Martian Well). The fantastic news is, Rex has drilled! The company has drilled two initial wells which will be done within the next couple of weeks. Time to celebrate! NOTE: Somehow, against all odds, no children were harmed in the drilling of these wells…
Continue reading

Stayin’ Alive: Rex Energy $175M JV to Keep Drilling in PA & OH

Rex Energy, a relatively small driller that drills almost exclusively in the Marcellus/Utica and with headquarters in State College, PA, has a new investor/partner. Drillers across the country and doing everything they can to stay in business with the bottom dropping out of prices they receive for what they produce. Rex is getting $175 million from investment firm Benefit Street Partners to help drill up to 58 new wells in Rex’s Moraine East area (Butler County, PA) and Warrior North area (Carroll County, OH). In return for investing, Benefit Street Partners will receive ownership of anywhere from 15% to 65% in the wells they help fund. Below are the details for how Rex is stayin’ alive…
Continue reading

PA County Judge Rules Rex Can Begin Drilling First Martian Well

My Favorite MartianAs we have long chronicled, a few anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (Butler County, far western part of the state), backed by a couple of Big Green groups from the other side of the state (in the Philadelphia area), sued Middlesex Township to stop shale drilling in rural portions of the county. Rex Energy had applied for, was legally permitted for, but still hasn’t been allowed to drill a series of wells some three-fourths of a mile from the Mars School (for background, see our long list of “Martian” stories here). This is the outrage: These very same anti-drillers fought hard to overturn a portion of the 2012 Act 13 law that took zoning of oil and gas out of the hands of local towns and put it in state hands. The zoning portion of Act 13 was overturned by the PA Supreme Court. The antis got what they wanted–except, it seems, they got a little too much of what they wanted. They didn’t factor that in some towns there would be a majority who favor fracking and shale drilling–like in Middlesex. Middlesex ran an extensive series of nine hearings over seven months and eventually adopted zoning ordinances that allow Rex to drill. So the antis sued to stop what they previously sued to achieve. Eventually a group of landowners counter-sued the antis (rightfully so) for denying them access to allow drilling on their own land. That lawsuit is still playing out in the courts. Last Thursday a Butler County judge ruled, once again, that the zoning ordinances adopted by Middlesex are legal and therefore drilling can commence. The antis will appeal the decision and continue to try and block local landowners from legally using their own property as they see fit…
Continue reading