CNX Resources Fined $250K for PA Pipe Construction Violation

UPDATE 7/19/18: Aside from stiff fine for letting some muddy water get into a nearby creek, there is a second aspect to this story uncovered by ace reporter Jamison Cocklin at NGI’s Shale Daily: the local gathering pipeline CNX was building (and has now abandoned) in Indiana County was supposed to connect to a test Utica well they are/were drilling there. Abandoning that pipeline puts the future of CNX’s Utica drilling in the area in doubt. See NGI’s story: CNX Cancels Plans for Pipeline to Gather Natural Gas from Deep Utica Test Pad.

CNX Resources was installing a pipeline in Indiana County, PA and apparently didn’t, according to the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), properly construct erosion barriers for the project. It rained, hard, and sediment-laden water went over the erosion barriers and got into an unnamed stream, which empties into Mudlick Run, a “high quality water” creek. In other words, a tiny creek got muddy, and some of that muddy water *may have* entered a slightly bigger creek. And for that violation, CNX is going to pay a whopping $250,000 fine. The DEP says following an inspection in March, the DEP ordered CNX to fix the problem by April 3, but as of May 16 the problem had still not been fixed. CNX disputes that they violated their permits and has told the DEP they’ve quit building that particular pipeline. In order to make it all go away, CNX is paying the DEP a $250K negotiated shakedown, PLUS pay to fix the “problem”…
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Attorney for Anti Group CELDF Fined $52K for “Bad Faith”

Tom Linzey, the attorney who founded and runs the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), has just been sanctioned by Federal Judge Susan Paradise Baxter and ordered to pay $52,000 to Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) for his “bad faith” in continuing to press legal arguments on behalf of Grant Township (Indiana County, PA)–legal arguments that say the people of Grant have rights they actually don’t have. Linzey has continued to claim rights for the citizens of Grant that have no legal basis and have been discredited in court. Not only that, but Judge Baxter also referred the matter to the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court with a request that they review Linzey’s actions with an eye to imposing more punishments against him. We’ve previously reported on the story of two Pennsylvania towns that were either hoodwinked, or perhaps willing led astray, by the radical CELDF into passing (now overturned) bans on fracking and injection wells in their towns–Highland Twp (Elk County) and Grant Twp (Indiana County). The two townships thought they would do an end-run around the state’s authority to issue permits for two injection wells–one in each township, by re-incorporating under so-called home rule charters. The towns essentially declared themselves independent of the state for a variety of matters, including oil and gas permits, which PA state law clearly says is a function of ONLY the state Dept. of Environmental Protection. In March, the DEP issued final permits for the injection wells AND sued each town to get those portions of their home rule charters, dealing with oil and gas, overturned (see PA DEP Issues 2 Wastewater Injection Well Permits, Sues 2 Towns). Both towns eventually backed down (see 2 PA Townships Won’t Enforce “Home Rule” Against Injection Wells). However, in May, Grant’s attorneys (i.e. Linzey) filed a counter-claim against PA asking Commonwealth Court to recognize a sort-of extra-judicial set of rights the town can exercise over top of, or in addition to, state laws–instead of their previous position of trying to replace state laws (see CELDF Continues to Agitate Against Indiana, PA Injection Well). The company building the injection wells, PGE, has been economically harmed by the actions of the towns and attorney Linzey, and sued to recoup costs. This decision in part satisfies that lawsuit. The judge, in very strong language, is punishing Linzey for his continued, intentional abuse of the legal system. We note she is not punishing the towns but rather Linzey…
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CELDF Continues to Agitate Against Indiana, PA Injection Well

We previously reported on the story of two Pennsylvania towns that were either hoodwinked, or perhaps willing led astray, by the radical Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) into passing (now overturned) bans on fracking and injection wells in their towns–Highland Twp (Elk County) and Grant Twp (Indiana County). The two townships thought they would do an end-run around the state’s authority to issue permits for two injection wells, one in each township, by re-incorporating under so-called home rule charters. The towns essentially declared themselves independent of the state for a variety of matters, including oil and gas permits, which the PA state constitution clearly says is a function of ONLY the state Dept. of Environmental Protection. In March, the DEP issued final permits to each town, and at the same time sued each town to get those portions of their home rule charters, dealing with oil and gas, overturned (see PA DEP Issues 2 Wastewater Injection Well Permits, Sues 2 Towns). The towns agreed to “stand down” and, during their lawsuits, not oppose the DEP’s permits for the injection wells (see 2 PA Townships Won’t Enforce “Home Rule” Against Injection Wells). We thought that would be the end of it. But no, it seems in Grant Township the so-called leaders of the town continue to be brainwashed by the CELDF. In May, Grant’s attorneys filed a counter-claim against PA asking Commonwealth Court to recognize a sort-of extra-judicial set of rights the town can exercise over top of, or in addition to, state laws (instead of their previous position of trying to replace state laws). Unfortunately the judge is willing to give them some rope. Here’s an update on the CELDF anarchist-backed challenge happening in Grant–a threat to our very Constitutional form of self-government…
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Northeast Energy Management Goes Bankrupt; Auctioning Rigs, Assets

It’s always sad when we have to report that a Marcellus/Utica-focused company goes out of existence. Northeast Energy Management, which operated under the name Northeast Energy with headquarters in Indiana, PA, claimed to be “a leader in tophole drilling in the Marcellus/Utica shale” and “a preferred contractor for many of the largest oil and natural gas exploration and production companies.” Perhaps it was, but it is no more. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court – Western District of Pennsylvania back in January of this year. As of yesterday the court ordered the company’s assets to be liquidated at auction. A live and online auction will take place next week, on Sept. 27, featuring two Schramm drilling rigs, Detroit Diesel engines with pipe handlers, trailer mounted and skid mounted air compressors, boosters, generators, accumulators, trailers and a variety of tractors, pick-up trucks, construction equipment and other drill site related equipment. Here’s the the details about the auction and how you can participate…
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2 PA Townships Won’t Enforce “Home Rule” Against Injection Wells

We’ve previously reported on the story of two Pennsylvania towns that were either hoodwinked, or perhaps willing led astray, by the radical Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) into passing (now overturned) bans on fracking and injection wells in their towns–Highland Twp (Elk County) and Grant Twp (Indiana County). The two townships thought they would do an end-run around the state’s authority to issue permits for two injection wells–one in each township, by re-incorporating under so-called home rule charters. The towns essentially declared themselves independent of the state for a variety of matters, including oil and gas permits–which the PA state constitution clearly says is a function of ONLY the state Dept. of Environmental Protection. In March, the DEP issued final permits to each town, and at the same time sued each town to get those portions of their home rule charters, dealing with oil and gas, overturned (see PA DEP Issues 2 Wastewater Injection Well Permits, Sues 2 Towns). The new news is that the towns will “stand down” and, during their lawsuits, not oppose the DEP’s permits. The towns have “temporarily” acquiesced and will allow the companies building the wells to proceed…
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Grant Twp Antis Threaten to Break Law, Block Legal Injection Well

Two weeks ago MDN brought you the news that not only has the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued final permits for two new injection wells in the state, they also sued the two townships where those permits were granted because the towns had adopted home rule laws that are illegal, in contravention to state law that give power to permit and control injection wells to the DEP only–not to local municipalities (see PA DEP Issues 2 Wastewater Injection Well Permits, Sues 2 Towns). Grant Township (Indiana County) tried to block Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) from building a wastewater injection well in the township first by passing an illegal law, stirred up and proposed by the odious Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, or CELDF (see Fed Judge Overturns Grant Twp, PA Ban on Injection Wells). The town then tried to reorganize under a “home rule” charter in order to avoid the judge’s ruling (see Grant Twp, PA Reorganizes to Avoid a Court-Ordered Injection Well). The DEP is now suing Grant (and Highland Township, in Elk County) to nullify those provisions in the home rule charter that affect oil and gas regulation. In the meantime, PGE previously filed a lawsuit against Grant Township, demanding $1 million (see Anti Group CELDF Won’t Help Grant Twp Pay $1M Judgement). On March 31 and April 4, two decisions were handed down by the judge, essentially in PGE’s favor and against Grant. Below we have analysis of those decisions. All of this “bad news” for antis has created the perfect storm in Grant. Antis are now threatening to engage in so-called civil disobedience against the injection well. They plan to shut it down–or go to jail trying. Their leaders are criminals who have done this sort of thing elsewhere…
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PA DEP Issues 2 Wastewater Injection Well Permits, Sues 2 Towns

Good news for Pennsylvania drillers: the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally, after years of review, granted permission to two different companies to operate two new wastewater injection wells in the Keystone State. One well is located in Elk County, the other in Indiana County. With these two new injection wells coming online, the state will have a total of eight operating injection wells (vs. hundreds in Ohio). You may have seen news about the newly authorized injection wells from other news sources yesterday. But you read MDN for “the rest of the story.” And here it is, something you won’t find anywhere else (until other news sources read MDN): As soon as the DEP issued the permits for the injection wells, the DEP filed lawsuits against the two townships where the injection wells will be located, because both of those townships–Highland Township in Elk County, and Grant Township in Indiana County–had previously passed so-called Home Rule Charters in an attempt to prevent the injection wells from being located in their towns. The DEP has sued each of them (copy of the Highland lawsuit below) to correct laws that attempt to prevent the DEP from doing its job in authorizing the injection wells. We have the full news of the DEP’s decision to permit the injection wells, along with details about the lawsuits, below…
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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…
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MSC Says Marcellus in Indiana County, PA Will Rise Again

indiana-county-paDave Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, was the keynote speaker last week at the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon. Spigelmyer told the 400+ people who attended that although the natural gas industry in the county is dormant, there is hope. Spigelmyer said he believes the gas industry in the county will thrive again, for a number of reasons, including: (1) Donald Trump and coming policies favorable to the gas industry, (2) new pipelines getting built in the area, (3) the Shell ethane cracker and the manufacturing plants that will locate near it. Here’s what Dave had to say…
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Federal Court Denies CELDF’s Re-Hearing Request in Grant Twp Case

exclusiveWe believe this bit of news is exclusive to MDN–we’ve not seen it anywhere else, yet. In early August MDN reported that the novel legal argument offered by the radical leftist PA-based group Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) in Grant Township (Indiana County), PA claiming to represent a local ecosystem had failed (see CELDF Loses Case to Represent Ecosystem – Turtles Disappointed). The CELDF tried to claim the Little Mahoning Watershed, an ecosystem, is a “person” under the law–an asinine notion. The CELDF had hoodwinked local anti-drillers in Grant who are opposed to a legally-permitted injection well, attempting to block the well from getting built and operated by Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE). Claiming they speak for the ecosystem was the legal shenanigan the CELDF tried to pull–and it didn’t work. The federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their arguments, clearing the way for PGE to build the injection well and continue with a $1 million lawsuit against Grant for causing economic harm to the company. Here is the new and exclusive news: The CELDF, masquerading as the Little Mahoning Watershed (the “ecosystem”), along with CELDF’s sibling organization called East Run Hellbenders Society, immediately petitioned the full Third Circuit (all of the justices) asking for a rehearing–something called a Sur Petition for Rehearing. The CELDF wanted another bite at the apple–a chance to prove to other justices that the Little Mahoning Watershed is a “person” under the law and should be represented by the crazies at the CELDF. The justices of the Third Circuit unanimously and swiftly rejected the petition for rehearing. It’s the end of the road for the CELDF and Grant Township in this case, which means the PGE injection well will now get built, and Grant Township taxpayers will have to pony up $1 million (if PGE wins their lawsuit, as we expect they will)…
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CONSOL Fined $184K for Sloppy Pipeline Construction

finedThe Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined two CONSOL Energy subsidiaries, CNX Gas (the drilling division) and CONE Midstream (co-owned by CONSOL and Noble Energy) for coloring outside the lines when they built some gathering pipelines in four western Pennsylvania counties. CNX was fined $139,000 and CONE was fined $45,000 for veering off the path officially filed with the DEP. According to DEP spokesman John Poister, the numskulls didn’t pay attention and were sloppy (our words, his sentiment). Here’s the official announcement from the DEP, along with comments from Poister…
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CELDF Loses Case to Represent Ecosystem – Turtles Disappointed

Gavel-falling.jpgScore an important victory against the forces of darkness. The radical leftist PA-based group Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) does its best to trick townships into passing illegal bans on fracking and injection wells. In 2013 the CELDF fooled Highland Township in Elk County, PA into passing a ban on wastewater injection wells. They also tricked Grant Township in Indiana County, PA to do the same thing. Both towns are in court defending their illegal actions. One of the idiotic legal tactics used by the CELDF in both cases is to claim that an ecosystem is a “person” under the law–a person who can file to join the town’s lawsuit in an effort to protect itself (see It Speaks! An “Ecosystem” has Filed to Join a Lawsuit in PA). Of course the CELDF appoints itself as the representative of said ecosystem. It’s an asinine notion. Will the tree in my front yard sue me for cutting a branch off it? Will my gravel driveway sue me if I decide to pave it? Get real. Back to declaring victory. Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) filed a lawsuit against Grant Township for $1 million for blocking construction of PGE’s legally permitted injection well. That CELDF has already said it won’t help Grant taxpayers foot the bill if they lose the lawsuit–after adopting the CELDF’s very own ban language (see Anti Group CELDF Won’t Help Grant Twp Pay $1M Judgement). Last week the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in PA ruled that a so-called ecosystem (the Little Mahoning Watershed) does NOT have standing in the case, completely rejecting the CELDF and their arguments. Grant Township taxpayers should be prepared to open up their wallets, they’re about to get soaked (note that the CELDF has already snuck out of town)…
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What can a PA Oil & Gas Equipment Auction Tell Us?

auction-gavel.jpgMDN editor Jim Willis grew up going to auctions. Sometimes it was a farm auction–equipment like tractors and balers and manure spreaders. Sometimes a livestock auction–cows and horses and pigs and goats. But most often it was attending the local bric-a-brac auction on Saturday nights in South New Berlin (NY)–at Toby’s Auction Center. If we close our eyes and imagine it, we can still “see” the sights and sounds (and smells!) of the auction, where everything from cassette players to zucchini squash to antique Japanese pottery was sold. You can tell a lot about economic conditions from the local auction–including equipment auctions in the oil and gas industry. At a recent o&g equipment auction in Indiana County, PA, a couple of things were apparent: (1) the conventional drilling industry in PA, NY and elsewhere is struggling, and (2) it’s still a buyer’s market for drilling equipment–which indicates the turnaround hasn’t arrived quite yet…
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Anti Group CELDF Won’t Help Grant Twp Pay $1M Judgement

Question: How will Grant Township (Indiana County, PA), a town with 741 people in it, pay a lawsuit it may lose awarding Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) $1 million? Going by the law of averages, less than half of the 741 people actually pay taxes (the other half are welfare slugs). So the question is, how can something like 200 families come up with enough money to pay such a large lawsuit? Answer: they can’t. The town goes bankrupt. That is the very real situation facing the residents of Grant Township. You may recall we’ve written about this before. Grant tried to block PGE from building a wastewater injection well in the township by passing an illegal law stirred up and proposed by the odious Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, or CELDF (see Fed Judge Overturns Grant Twp, PA Ban on Injection Wells). The town has now tried to reorganize in order to avoid the judge’s ruling (see Grant Twp, PA Reorganizes to Avoid a Court-Ordered Injection Well). PGE has sued the town claiming (truthfully) they’ve suffered at least $1 million in damages. That case goes to trial in March. If the town loses, the town pays. The cowardly CELDF has admitted they won’t contribute a penny toward the $1 million fine if the case goes against the town. Nice friends the people of Grant have made in the CELDF, wouldn’t you say?…
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Grant Twp, PA Reorganizes to Avoid a Court-Ordered Injection Well

In October MDN told you about Grant Township in Indiana County, PA. The town had attempted to illegally block a permitted injection well from being drilled and used inside the town’s boundaries. The town folk have been whipped into an irrational frenzy by the radical leftist PA-based group Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). As usual, the CELDF-promoted so-called Community Bill of Rights failed in court, costing Grant Township taxpayers big bucks to defend (see Fed Judge Overturns Grant Twp, PA Ban on Injection Wells). People without jobs (like those infesting CELDF) have lots of time to be creative–so here’s the latest. They talked enough town folk into passing another/new plan on the November. The town voted to convert itself from being a PA Second Class Township form of organization to being PA Home Rule Charter form of organization–in an attempt to do an end-run around the judge’s ruling last month. Will it work? Probably not, but here we go again–another delay for Pennsylvania General Energy and their plan to drill an injection well. You know the old saying? Justice delayed is justice denied. When will the courts step in and stop this madness?…
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Fed Judge Overturns Grant Twp, PA Ban on Injection Wells

court gavelThe radical leftist PA-based group Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) does its best to trick townships into passing illegal bans. In 2013 the CELDF fooled Highland Township in Elk County, PA into passing a ban on wastewater injection wells. They also tricked Grant Township in Indiana County, PA to do the same thing. Both towns are in court defending their illegal actions. One of the idiotic legal tactics used by the CELDF in both cases is to claim that an ecosystem is a “person” under the law–a person who can file to join the town’s lawsuit in an effort to protect itself (see It Speaks! An “Ecosystem” has Filed to Join a Lawsuit in PA). It’s an asinine notion. Will the tree in my front yard sue me for cutting a branch off it? Will my gravel driveway sue me if I decide to pave it? Get real. A federal judge has just ruled in the Grant Twp case and found (a) the town’s ban on injection wells is illegal, and (b) the ecosystem’s “interests” have been well-represented by the town in the case with no need for the ecosystem to join the lawsuit. The judge, in sidestepping whether or not an ecosystem is actually a person, kind of laughed at the notion–if you read between the lines…
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