3rd Lawsuit Filed Against Energy Transfer re Mariner Corruption

MDN previously told you about unconfirmed rumors that the FBI is investigating the PA Gov. Tom Wolf administration over how permits came to be issued for the Mariner East 2 pipeline project (see FBI Investigates Wolf Admin for Corruption re ME Pipe Permits). The allegation/rumor is that Wolf and/or members of his staff pressured the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) to approve permits for the pipeline project in return for something (money or something else). Two different law firms seized on the rumor as reason enough to launch speculative class action lawsuits for shareholders, accusing Energy Transfer (the builder) of corruption (see 2nd Class Action Lawsuit Against ET/Sunoco re Mariner East Pipe). A third such lawsuit was filed last week–this one by a public employee retirement fund.
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Talen Energy Sells PA Pipeline to Adelphia Gateway for $155M

In December the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final approval for the Adelphia Gateway pipeline project (see FERC Issues Final OK for Southeast PA Adelphia Gateway Pipeline). Adelphia is a plan to convert an old/existing oil pipeline stretching from Northampton County, PA through Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties, terminating in Delaware County at Marcus Hook, into a natural gas pipeline. To flow Marcellus gas to southeast PA. The builder lacked one key ingredient–the pipeline!
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Bill Separating PA Conventional from Shale Regs Advances in Senate

For years Pennsylvania’s small, independent conventional oil and gas drillers have objected to the one-size-fits-all regulations concocted by the Gov. Tom Wolf Administration that applies the same regulations to them as to big shale drillers. The two types of drilling are apples and oranges. To make small drillers jump through the same hoops as big shale drillers will bankrupt many of the smaller drillers. So in 2016, PA’s conventional drillers filed a lawsuit to block Wolf’s new regs from going into effect (see PA Conventional Drillers File Lawsuit to Stop New DEP Regulations).
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PA Superior Court Rules Landowner Can’t Nix Lease for Shut-ins

A recently decided court case, while not precendential (doesn’t apply to anyone else other than the landowners/drillers in this case), is still instructive. This story begins when the Wilson family in Armstrong County, PA (western part of the state) leased three different tracts of land totaling 473 acres to Synder Brothers in 2003 for vertical drilling.
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Logistics Co. Opens Warehouse in Bradford, PA Targeting Marcellus

Phoenix Logistics, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, targets supply chain companies in a number of industries with warehousing, distribution, and transportation. One of the industries they target is the oil and gas sector. Phoenix has just opened a new 400,000 square foot warehousing facility in Athens (Bradford County), PA, targeting companies in the Marcellus.
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IFO Projects 2019 PA Impact Fee Revenue Fell by $53.6M (21%)

In 2019 Pennsylvania raised a record high of $247 million from its version of a severance tax, called an impact fee, based on drilling activity from 2018 (see PA IFO Report Says Record High Impact Tax for 2018 – $247M). The state’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) is out with projections for how much revenue will be raised this year (based on drilling in 2019). Given we hit a downturn last year, you won’t be surprised to learn the impact fee will drop by $53.6 million (21%), to a projected $198.2 million.
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Corning Gas Buys Out JV Partner in PA Leatherstocking Gas & Pipe

Corning Natural Gas (based in Corning, NY) has a 50% joint venture partnership in Leatherstocking Gas Company and Leatherstocking Pipeline Company with another Upstate NY-based company, Mirabito. Leatherstocking runs gas mains to residents and businesses in small, mainly rural communities–like Montrose, PA (see PA Rural Residents Burn Marcellus Gas, Save Big Bucks on Heating). Corning announced yesterday they are buying out Mirabito’s 50% interest on the PA side of the border.
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PA DEP to Finalize 250% Hike in Shale Permit Fee on Jan 21

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), the agency charged with overseeing oil and gas drilling in the state, “blindsided” the shale industry in February 2018 with a proposal to hike the fee required when submitting an application to drill a new shale well by 2 1/2 times, or 250% (see PA DEP Plans to Raise Marcellus Well Permit Fee by 250%). The industry reacted, negatively. It’s taken nearly two years, but on Jan. 21 the DEP’s Environmental Quality Board will meet to finalize and activate the new insanely high fee schedule.
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PA Landowner Awarded Piddly for Legal Fees in Fighting ME Pipe

Huntington County, PA landowners Stephen and Ellen Gerhart have opposed the Mariner East pipeline project across their land from day one. They (and their daughter) have a long history of activism against the project. The Gerharts sued the builder, Sunoco Logistics Partners, in a bid to first block the pipeline, and later “restore” their property after it was built. In the end the Gerharts won a single, tiny concession–forcing Sunoco to recreate a swamp (i.e. “wetland”) on their property–all of 0.066 acres (meaning less than 1/10th of an acre–about the size of a big mud puddle). The Gerharts legal bills over the past several years have added up to $266,000. The attorneys asked the PA Environmental Hearing Board, a special court that hears appeals of DEP decisions, to make Sunoco and the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) pay the bill. How much did they get?
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Big Green Groups Ask FERC to Deny PennEast Pipe More Time

The companies behind PennEast Pipeline, a $1.2 billion new greenfield pipeline project from Luzerne County, PA to Mercer County, NJ, have not given up on the long-delayed project. As we told you in November, PennEast plans to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court (on Feb. 3) to overcome a lower court ruling that prevents PennEast from using eminent domain in New Jersey for some of the route (see PennEast Pipe to Appeal Bungled Fed Court Decision to US Supremes). Since the original Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certificate authorizing construction of the project expires on Jan. 19, 2020, PennEast asked FERC to extend it another two years (see PennEast Pipe Still Hopeful, Asks FERC for 2-Year Extension). Three Big Green groups have filed an objection, asking FERC to kill the project now.
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PA Highlighted in New National Ad Campaign “Energy for Progress”

Yesterday the American Petroleum Institute (API) launched “Energy for Progress,” a nationwide TV and digital ad campaign highlighting the natural gas and oil industry’s leadership in reducing emissions to record low levels and supporting economic and environmental progress in local communities. One of the seven local communities highlighted was Moon Township, in Allegheny County, PA. Local workers and business owners appear in broadcast videos and digital ads.
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PA DEP Proposes New Horizontal Pipeline Drilling Regulations

regulations

On Jan. 15 the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environment Protection’s (DEP) Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board will meet to hear a presentation on a draft Horizontal Drilling Pipeline Construction Guidance and stakeholder report. The so-called guidance is the first step in adopting new regulations (i.e. laws) to govern underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for pipeline projects.
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ET Allowed to Fix/Restart Revolution Pipe…After Record $30M Fine

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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.
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PA DEP Clears Way for ET to Complete Mariner East Pipelines

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) recent settlement with Energy Transfer (ET) concerning the Revolution Pipeline explosion in southwestern PA also has significant impact on southeastern PA. How? The signed consent order in which ET pays the state $30.6 million lifts a moratorium on granting new permits to ET for *any* of its pipeline projects in PA for the past one year–including permits to complete the Mariner East (ME) projects. With the consent order comes a lifting of that permit moratorium, meaning the final bits of ME can now be completed.
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Snyder Bros Pays $1.2M to Drill Under Allegheny River in W PA

Armstrong County, PA

Snyder Brothers, headquartered in PA, used to drill mostly conventional (vertical only) wells in PA. However, these days the company drills horizontal shale wells in the Marcellus in southwestern PA. Just coming to light now is a lease Synder Brothers signed with the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) in 2019 to pay DCNR $1.2 million to lease land under the Allegheny River in Armstrong County.
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130,000 PA Union Members Join Fight Against Wolf’s Carbon Tax

This is a slightly older story (from December), but an important story that deserves your attention. Last October Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf went completely off his rocker with a power-grab to force PA into a regional alliance to tax natural gas-fired electric plants out of existence (see Gov. Wolf Goes Bonkers: EO Destroying Gas-Fired Elec, Carbon Tax). Republicans controlling both the PA House and Senate have pledged to stop him (see PA House & Senate Republicans to Stop Wolf’s Insane Carbon Tax). Republicans now have an important new ally in their effort to stop Wolf–some 130,000 trade union members.
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