Wayne Co. Landowner Welcomes Decision in Dismissed DRBC Lawsuit

As MDN reported, last week U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani ruled against a Wayne County landowner in a lawsuit that challenged the right of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to stop fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see Judge Tosses Wayne County, PA Landowner Lawsuit Against DRBC). At first blush this may see like a setback for landowners in Wayne and Pike Counties who have been denied the right to lease and allow drilling under their land for the past 10 years. But looks can be deceiving. As we pointed out in our article, if you read the judge’s decision, he harpoons all of the DRBC’s legal arguments, but in the end rules against the landowner. Why? Because that judge wanted to send this case to a higher court for an ultimate decision–the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. In fact, Judge Mariani set up the appeal of the case perfectly, we’d say intentionally, and that has the DRBC and their cohorts at THE Delaware Riverkeeper really nervous. It also has the Wayne Land and Minerals Group, the plaintiff in the case, really happy. MDN friend Tom Shepstone (Natural Gas Now) does a superb job of analyzing Mariani’s decision, and in predicting where things will (rapidly) go from here…
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Judge Tosses Wayne County, PA Landowner Lawsuit Against DRBC

In May 2016 a landowner in Wayne County, PA–in the Delaware River Basin–filed a lawsuit against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) asking a judge to declare the DRBC does not have jurisdiction to prevent construction of a natural gas well (see Wayne County, PA Landowner Sues DRBC Over Fracking Ban). MDN has chronicled, for years, the lawless actions of the DRBC in seizing power it does not have to block shale drilling in essentially two PA counties where measurable quantities of shale gas could be extracted: Wayne County and Pike County. DRBC’s former director, Carol Collier, is a hardened anti-driller who colluded with Josh Fox in making his infamous propaganda film Gasland. Collier is gone and it was thought her replacement, Steve Tambini would bring some order and sense to the organization (see DRBC Selects Steve Tambini as New Leader, Enviro Groups Unsure). Unfortunately that hasn’t happened–so far. The DRBC has blocked drilling since it considered rules for drilling in 2010, when it put a “temporary” ban in place. A Wayne County landowner argued in the lawsuit that oil and gas wells, under the DRBC’s charter, do not constitute a “project” that is regulated by the DRBC and therefore are exempt from oversight from the DRBC. Last week U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani disagreed and ruled against the landowner (copy of his ruling below). However, this may not be “bad news” for landowners and “good news” for the DRBC, as it may first appear, on the surface…
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DRBC has No Power to Stop Shale Drilling in Delaware River Basin

You’ve heard the phrase, “The Emperor has no clothes.” A lawsuit against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) by a Wayne County, PA landowner over the DRBC’s ongoing moratorium of shale gas drilling, is exposing the DRBC as having “no clothes” when it comes to their authority over shale drilling (see Wayne County, PA Landowner Sues DRBC Over Fracking Ban). In fact, the DRBC has no authority to stop shale drilling, as they are now being forced to admit in response to the lawsuit. That fact has the DRBC, and radical environmentalists like THE Delaware Riverkeeper, petrified. MDN friend Tom Shepstone, author of the always-excellent Natural Gas Now website, writes about the DRBC’s lack of authority and the need for Pennsylvania to immediately defund the DRBC–until the agency stops their sham pretense of blocking shale drilling…
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Antis Nervous that DRBC is Making Moves to Lift PA Drilling Ban

We now have a bit more of the back story and reason why anti-frackers turned out in large numbers to attend last Thursday’s meeting of the Delaware Basin River Commission (see Anti-Fracking Protesters Turn Out in Force at DRBC Meeting). As we noted, antis carpooled protesters in from New York City and other locations. On the agenda were two items that had them irked: (1) a short, 8-mile pipeline that will cross through a small sliver of DRBC-controlled territory, and (2) adoption of a two-year water resource plan “that instructs staff to carry out the commission’s natural gas regulations.” The antis are concerned the water plan will restart the discussion on regulations to allow fracking. Overactive imaginations? Maybe not. An AP story brings new details to light we had not previously read. THE Delaware Riverkeeper and others have “learned” that “recently” the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection held a meeting with DRBC staffers to discuss “draft regulations for drilling in the Delaware watershed.” THAT’S what had the antis all hot-and-bothered and showing up in large numbers. We’re now going on six years that the DRBC has blocked drilling by shelving regulations they had drafted to allow drilling in the Delaware River Basin–at least in PA. Last year a landowner from Wayne County, PA sued the DRBC, asking the courts to rule the DRBC has no right to block drilling (see Wayne County, PA Landowner Sues DRBC Over Fracking Ban). Here’s the article that sheds new light on the nervous Nellies of the Delaware…
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Anti-Fracking Protesters Turn Out in Force at DRBC Meeting

As we warned you earlier this week, a large contingent of anti-fossil fuel wackos protesters planned to crash a meeting of the Delaware River Basin Commission yesterday (see Josh Fox & Antis Plan to Disrupt DRBC Meeting This Wednesday). Their concern is that the DRBC may be reconsidering its years-long ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin–a ban which illegally denies landowners in Pike and Wayne counties (PA) from profiting from the Marcellus Shale beneath their land. True to form, the protesters bused people to the meeting from places like New York City–so they could pack the room. On the docket were two items of concern for antis: (1) a short, 8-mile pipeline that will cross through a small sliver of DRBC-controlled territory, and (2) adoption of a two-year water resource plan “that instructs staff to carry out the commission’s natural gas regulations.” The antis are concerned the water plan will restart the discussion on regulations to allow fracking. Although DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini told the motley crew that the Commission was there to listen only, NOT to answer questions, Maya van Rossum (THE Delaware Riverkeeper) demanded Tambini answer HER questions anyway…
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Josh Fox & Antis Plan to Disrupt DRBC Meeting This Wednesday

There may, finally, be movement by the recalcitrant Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to finally, after eight years, begin to move in the direction of guidelines to allow shale drilling in two northeastern PA counties: Wayne and Pike. Why is there movement now? Because last year landowners launched a lawsuit against the DRBC, a lawsuit the DRBC now senses they may lose (see Wayne County, PA Landowner Sues DRBC Over Fracking Ban). So one of the chief antis, charlatan Josh Fox (of Gasland infamy) has put out the call to rally the radical troops to show up at this week’s DRBC meeting, with plans to disrupt the meeting. Bullying with fear and intimidation is the weapon of choice for this group…
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TGP Orion Project in NEPA Gets Final Approval by FERC

TGP Orion Project map – click for larger version

In October 2015, Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) filed their official, full application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking approval for their Orion Project (see Tennessee Gas Pipeline Files PA Orion Project with FERC). The project will cost $143 million and construct 13 miles of “looping” pipeline in Pike and Wayne counties, Pennsylvania. The project will boost capacity on the TGP by another 135 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d), allowing TGP to pump more Marcellus Shale gas to Mid-Atlantic and New England states. According to the original plan, the TGP Orion upgrade will be complete and in-service by June 2018. TGP told FERC if they didn’t get an approval by Jan. 31, all bets are off on the timing for building the project (see Kinder Morgan Asks FERC to Approve Orion Pipe Project by Jan 31). It was Feb. 3 and not Jan. 31, but we’re betting the project will now get done on time–because FERC granted the necessary certificate on Friday…
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Antis Worried Trump Will Stop Delaware River Basin Conservation Act

The (for now) taxpayer funded PBS StateImpact Pennsylvania is so “in the tank” and biased for radical environmentalism, they are a reliable mouthpiece for Big Green. Want to know what Big Green thinks? Just read StateImpact. Which is how we know Big Green is now very worried that the incoming Trump Administration will stop implementation of the ill-conceived Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. We wrote about the Act when it was still just a bill (see New Bill Aims to Keep Drilling/Pipelines Out of Dela. River Basin). The Act, which was passed by a spineless Republican Congress in December, vests the already out-of-control U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) with power and money to “identify and implement conservation activities” in the Delaware River Basin. The tip-off that it’s anti-drilling is that it was pushed and promoted by the odious William Penn Foundation as well as the Delaware River Basin Commission. USFWS is an Executive Branch (i.e. now Trump Administration) agency, so Trump can decide to drag his heels on implementing this disastrous legislation. Hey libs, how does it feel to be out of power? The thought that Trump will deny them their precious money to make mischief has them worried, as evidenced by the propagandists at StateImpact
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Kinder Morgan Asks FERC to Approve Orion Pipe Project by Jan 31

In October 2015, Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) filed their official, full application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking approval for their Orion Project (see Tennessee Gas Pipeline Files PA Orion Project with FERC). The project will cost $143 million and construct 13 miles of “looping” pipeline in Pike and Wayne counties, Pennsylvania. The project will boost capacity on the TGP by another 135 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d), allowing TGP to pump more Marcellus Shale gas to Mid-Atlantic and New England states. According to the original plan, the TGP Orion upgrade will be complete and in-service by June 2018. They still want to meet that timetable–but can’t unless FERC gets off their rear-ends and approves the project. So TGP filed an official request with FERC to get Orion approved by January 31st. Otherwise, all bets are off for a June 2018 in-service date…
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Kinder Morgan 4Q15: Cutting Dividend, PA Pipeline Progress

Yesterday Kinder Morgan, the largest midstream company in the U.S., released their fourth quarter 2015 update. The update starts with the news that KM is lowering the cash dividend in order to avoid chasing new loans. KM says by cutting the dividend they will be able to self-fund new projects, which ultimately benefits everyone, including shareholders. The update also chronicles progress made on three Pennsylvania pipelines: the Susquehanna West Project (Tioga and Bradford counties, the Orion Project (Pike County), and the Triad Expansion Project (Lackawanna County). Below is the full update from KM…
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Tennessee Gas Pipeline Files PA Orion Project with FERC

application formLast week Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) filed their official, full application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking approval for their Orion Project. The project will cost $143 million and construct 13 miles of “looping” pipeline in Pike and Wayne counties, Pennsylvania. The project will boost capacity on the TGP by another 135 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d), allowing TGP to pump more Marcellus Shale gas to Mid-Atlantic and New England states. If all goes according to plan, the TGP Orion upgrade will be complete and in-service by June 2018…
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William Penn/Delaware Riverkeeper $320K “Study” Slams Fracking

oldest professionIf you’re a Big Green group, like THE Delaware Riverkeeper, you have millions of dollars to a) launch lawsuits against the natural gas industry, and b) buy yourself research studies that support your twisted viewpoints. It is the latter that happened yesterday. CNA, a not-for-profit organization once called the Center for Naval Analyses, sells itself to the highest bidder (the oldest profession in the world). Most recently they sold themselves to THE Delaware Riverkeeper (we certainly hope they used protection). CNA and THE Delaware Riverkeeper held a press briefing yesterday to release a “study” by CNA titled “The Potential Environmental Impacts of Fracking in the Delaware River Basin” (full copy below). What did the “researchers” at CNA, which is based in Arlington, VA just outside the DC orbit, find? If the moratorium is lifted and shale drilling is allowed in the Delaware River Basin–essentially Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania–CNA says it will lead to “land cover disturbance” in “core forest areas”, extreme water withdrawals from poor little creeks and streams, nasty wastewater polluting everything, erosion everywhere, multiple compressor stations and untold ill health impacts for 75,000 people who live close to all of this mess. See what $320,444 (the actual cost of this study) can buy you? We hope it felt good for Riverkeeper…
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Kinder Morgan Hops on the Pipeline Payola Bandwagon in NEPA

Look–we’ve written about this before and we’re not going to belabor the point–about pipeline companies using payola to buy support for the pipelines they plan to build through communities. The Constitution Pipeline did it last March in New York (see Constitution Pipeline Payments to Groups – Donations or Payola?). PennEast recently did it this March in southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey (see PennEast Payola? Buying Support One Community at a Time). Now it’s Kinder Morgan’s turn. KM handed out checks this week in Wayne, Susquehanna, Pike and Luzerne counties in northeastern PA. It’s amazing how much good press, and good will, a $10,000 donation can buy you–especially when you give it to a school…
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Columbia Gas Slapped with $150K Fine for Pipeline Work in 2011-12

Building a pipeline can be expensive in more ways that one. Columbia Gas Transmission has just been fined $150,000 by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environment Protection for violations of the Clean Streams Law during construction of a pipeline in Pike County–construction that happened in 2011-2012. The DEP made inspections during the construction and observed over 100 violations–“failure to implement, maintain and provide temporary stabilization of disturbed areas, and potential pollution and sediment discharges into waterways.” Why it takes three years to levy and collect a fine we have no idea. Here’s the announcement from the DEP…
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PA Gov Tom Wolf Supports DRBC Moratorium on Marcellus Drilling

As we’ve stated a number of times, newly-elected PA Gov. Tom Wolf is a major disappointment–a man out of his depth in attempting to run an entire state. Now comes word that Wolf supports the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) anti-drilling policies that prevent drilling in his own state. We previously told you Wolf had employed the former anti-drilling head of the DRBC as a member of his transition team (see PA Gov-Elect Wolf Transition Team Includes DRBC’s Carol Collier). Two weeks ago, Wolf proposed increasing the DRBC’s budget by 73%, while states like New York and New Jersey continue to refuse paying their fair share (see PA Gov Wolf Increases DRBC Funding by 73% to 3/4 Million Bucks). Now he adds insult to injury by saying he supports the drilling ban in Wayne and Pike counties in his own state…
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How Does NY Frack Ban Affect Wayne & Pike Counties in PA?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s political decision to ban shale drilling in the Empire State continues to reverberate and affect the states around it–particularly Pennsylvania. Now that New York will disallow shale drilling for the foreseeable future, how does that affect Pike and Wayne counties in PA? Those two counties have the misfortune to sit in the jurisdiction of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). The DRBC, under former anti-drilling director Carol Collier, had a temporary ban in place for all of the territory under their purview. Collier “retired” last year and is now busy advising Gov.-elect Tom Wolf (shows you the kind of people he has around him). It was hoped that when a new director was appointed, Steve Tambini from the Pennsylvania America Water company, things would change. The director does not have the power to either authorize or ban fracking–that falls to the voting members from NY, PA, NJ, DE and the federal government. However, the director has a lot of influence. So with NY’s decision to ban fracking, is there any hope that fracking might still be allowed in the DRBC in Pike and Wayne counties? So far the DRBC is mum, and staying that way…
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