Wackos Gather in Harrisburg to Push for 100% Solar/Wind in PA

This past Tuesday, hundreds of Pennsylvanians gathered in Harrisburg to “rally for a new vision for the Commonwealth powered by 100 percent renewable energy.” Among those attending including representatives from businesses, various religious leaders, local mayors, and nurses and doctors to advocate for “bipartisan” legislation to force PA to dump fossil fuels and adopt 100% renewable energy. There is no polite way to say this, but say it we must: This so-called “bipartisan” gathering to push House and Senate bills demanding the state dump the use of fossil fuels (like natural gas) and instead stick solar panels on every rooftop and windmills on every hilltop to power the Keystone state’s electricity (and other) power needs is stark….raving….mad. It’s lunatic. Forcing the state to adopt 100% renewables is not “nice” or a “gentle, blessed future that will arrive someday.” Adopting 100% renewables is a deluded fantasy. To pretend otherwise is unkind. We must call this nuttery out for what it is: irrational hatred of fossil fuels. We have nothing against any form of energy. They all have their pluses and minuses. You like a solar panel on your house–good for you! An ugly windmill with it’s whump whump whump sound nearby? Whatever floats your boat. But ending the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity any time within the next 75-100 years is the end of human life as we know it. What was presented at the rally as some benign gathering of average citizens was nothing of the sort. Big Green (radical) groups, including PennFuture, were behind this flummery…
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Wolf Caves on Severance Tax – Admits He Won’t Get It Passed

Yesterday Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf spoke at a Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon, where Wolf tried to fleece business owners and managers into thinking he’s on their side. (Nice try, but no cigar.) Wolf said he thinks the state will have an on-time budget this year, because he doesn’t plan to drag it out for months and months as he has in the past. Wolf did not mention the severance tax during his talk before the Chamber, but in discussions following his talk, Wolf “acknowledged…that he is unlikely to secure it [a severance tax] in his first term amid resistance by House Republican leaders.” This is huge! Wolf is admitting defeat, throwing in the towel–that he won’t get the tax, at least not this year. However, before we jump up and down to rejoice, know this: Wolf believes he’s going to win reelection, and then he intends to go after the severance tax again–with a vengeance. Which is why it’s so important that he not win a second term. But if he does win (perish the thought!), a Republican-controlled House remains our only firewall against a Marcellus-killing severance tax intended to raise billions for Philadelphia teachers’ unions…
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Nicetown Claims “Environmental Racism” re Gas-Fired Plant

Bet you didn’t know that the environment has become racist. That’s the outrageous claim being made about Nicetown, PA (near Philadelphia). Big Green supporters in Nicetown are opposed to SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) plans to build a Marcellus gas-powered electric plant that would provide electricity to SEPTA’s northern Regional Rail lines and a bus garage (see Antis Plan to Shut Down Philly Transit Meeting re NatGas Powergen). The stated reason for their opposition is because the plant will burn an evil, nasty, vile “fossil fuel.” Yep, fossil fuel hatred syndrome. When the antis weren’t looking, Philadelphia Air Management Services (AMS) went ahead and issued the permit that allows SEPTA to move forward with the proposed natgas power plant, which will get built in Nicetown (see Antis “Shocked” Philly Approved Marcellus Power Plant for SEPTA). Nice. The AMS vote “came as a surprise” to the antis. It was their “last hope” to stop the plant. But they haven’t given up hope. Not yet. Antis are not only litigating to stop the plant, now they’re making wild accusations of “environmental racism.” Because the majority of residents are black, the accusation is that SEPTA is sticking the plant there, where it doesn’t matter if black people get polluted. Which is all nonsense. The reason SEPTA wants the plant in Nicetown is because that’s where they own a large bus garage/facility–the same facility they want to power with electricity from the plant! But “environmental racism” has such a great ring, and looks so good in a headline, it’s just irresistible for sycophantic media…
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PA Superior Court Rejects Southwestern “Briggs” Trespass Appeal

An unwelcome and troubling development in the Southwestern Energy “Briggs” court case. MDN brought you important news in April that the Pennsylvania Superior Court had handed down a decision (known as the “Briggs” case) that has the power to greatly restrict, perhaps even stop, Marcellus drilling in PA (see PA Superior Court Overturns “Rule of Capture” for Marcellus Well and PA “Rule of Capture” Case has Power to Limit Marcellus Drilling). The issue, in brief, is that the Superior Court decision disallows using an age-old principle called the “rule of capture” when it comes to shale drilling and fracking. It opens the door to a myriad of frivolous lawsuits claiming that a fracture, a crack created during fracking, is draining gas from a neighbor’s property without justly compensating the neighbor for the gas. Southwestern successfully argued in a lower court that the odd crack here and there that may slip under a neighbor’s property is permissible. The landowner appealed to Superior Court and three judges heard the case. Two of the three overturned the lower court and sided with the landowner. Southwestern, following the decision, petitioned the Superior Court to have all of the sitting justices (called en banc) hear the case (see Southwestern Appeals “Trespass” Case to Entire PA Superior Court). Sadly, on Friday, the Superiors declined to rehear the case. The next step? Southwestern has appealed the case directly to the PA Supreme Court…
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Antis Rally Near Philly to Permanently Shut Down ME1/ME2 Pipes

PA State Sen. Andy Dinniman

In May, anti-fossil fuel pipeline opponents finally found a single, liberal administrative judge to shut down the Mariner East 1 (ME1) NGL pipeline–a pipeline that’s been operating without any problems for more than a year (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). Sunoco Logistics Partners, the owner of ME1, and the builder of the Mariner East 2 (ME2) Pipeline project, appealed the judge’s decision to the full Public Utility Commission (PUC). A decision about the shutdown (whether to lift is) is due any time. In an attempt to pressure the PUC and Gov. Tom Wolf to *permanently* shut down ME1 and ME2, a group of 150 or so rallied near Philadelphia on Saturday. Something you should know: A total shutdown of ME1 and ME2 is not going to happen. But that doesn’t stop self-deluding nutters from trying. Inevitably the protesters are disappointed. They talk themselves into the fictional fantasy that a pipeline that has been fully permissioned and 98% done (ME2) will simply stop and not be allowed to finish construction and begin operations. They tell themselves they can get a pipeline with a perfect safety record (running for more than a year) permanently shut down. Ain’t gonna happen. But they tell themselves these things, over and over, convincing themselves. People like PA State Sen. Andy “Tony Soprano” Dinniman, recklessly feeds his kook nutbase these fantasies. Totally irresponsible. So they gather, as they did this past weekend, to protest and “demand” that the PUC shut down these projects. What will happen when the full PUC overturns the liberal judge’s biased decision? How will the protesters handle the defeat?…
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PA Democrats Float Free College – Paid for by Marcellus Tax

PA State Sen. Vincent Hughes

Another mind-blowingly dumb Socialist/Communist plan is being floated by Democrats in PA (what’s new?). PA Dem state legislators yesterday announced new bills that would give families living in PA the right to send their kids to one of PA’s 14 state-run colleges for free–lock, stock and barrel. Free tuition. Free room and board. Free condoms. Free everything. IF the family makes less than $48,000 per year. Families making between $48,000-$110,000 per year get free tuition and fees only (they have to pay for Junior and Missy’s room and board). The “free” plan, according to Philadelphia area State Sen. Vincent Hughes, would cost around $800 million–and he thinks the Marcellus Shale industry should pay for it. That’s Hughes’ answer for everything–just tax the Marcellus industry. But Hughes has a little problem–he’s already promised Marcellus severance tax revenue to Philadelphia teachers’ unions–unions from which he has received $635,000 in campaign contributions (see PA Dem Senator from Philly Intros Bill to Steal Marcellus Money). In the unlikely event a severance tax is enacted in PA, it certainly won’t be enough to fund both K-12 education and pay for “free” college. How about this Sen. Hughes: We think the money for free college should come from taxes on government-paid workers instead. People like YOU. Why don’t we use YOUR money to pay for this “wonderful” plan?…
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PA DEP Releasing Onerous New GP-5 & 5A Methane Regs June 8

Last December the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued “draft final language” for the proposed General Permit 5A (GP-5A) and the revised General Permit 5 (GP-5)–regulations that supposedly will cut down on fugitive methane from escaping from drill pads and pipelines (see PA DEP Signals Onerous New GP-5 & 5A Methane Regs Coming 1Q18). The onerous regulations, which for now only apply to *new* sources (not existing) were originally prompted by bullying from the Obama Environmental Protection Agency. Even though EPA pressure disappeared under President Trump, PA Gov. Wolf is still pushing these onerous new regs. GP-5 applies to pipelines and compressor stations, while GP-5A applies to well pads and drilling. Following a flood of comments, the DEP tweaked the onerous regs yet again (for the third or fourth time), and in late March published yet another revised final final final final final version of the regs (see PA DEP Releases Draft Final GP-5 & 5A Methane Regulations). The DEP just announced they will issue the final final final final version of the revised regs on June 8, and two months later, on August 8, the new rules will officially go into effect–unless they delay it again…
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PIOGA Consultant Remarks (Mis)Used to Promote 250% Shale Fee Hike

We spotted a rather strange story (for us) on a major energy news service (Platts) that says, in so many words, that “the industry” says hiking the permit fee to drill a new Marcellus well in Pennsylvania by 250%–to $12,500–is no big deal. Which made our eyebrows go up. According to a long-time regulatory consultant for the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (PIOGA) quoted by Platts, “I don’t think it’s [the 250% fee hike] going to make or break people’s decisions” as to whether or not to drill. Hmmm. That’s not the feedback we’ve heard others, like the Marcellus Shale Coalition, say on the record. The same article quotes PIOGA President Dan Weaver saying, “We haven’t developed an official statement, but we definitely don’t agree with it [the fee hike]. We feel that we pay enough fees as it is.” So what’s going on here? Does the industry, as represented by PIOGA, think this fee hike is nuts (as we do)? Or does PIOGA think the fee hike is okey dokey? We contacted Dan to ask about the consultant’s comments and got an interesting response…
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PA House Passes Bill Exempting Conventional Drillers from Shale Regs

In March, two identical bills were introduced, one in the PA Senate, the other in the PA House, that would “roll back” (more like “lock in”) regulations that govern conventional PA drilling to the Oil and Gas Act of 1984 (see 2 PA Bills Would Roll Back Conventional Drilling Regs to 1984). The bills are in response to coming changes proposed by leftist Gov. Tom Wolf to over-regulate conventional drillers. Big Green didn’t waste any time opposing the bills, spinning them as a lessening of environmental protections in a letter to legislators (see Big Green Opposes Bill to Relax Regs for PA Conventional Drillers). The big news is that the House’s version of the bill, HB 2154, passed yesterday by a vote of 111-84. The issue now swings to the Senate (SB 1088), where its future is more uncertain. Let’s assume the Senate passes SB 1088 (a really big assumption). Lefty Gov. Tom Wolf is vehemently against it and will veto the bill when it hits his desk–so says one of his top lieutenants. It’s not clear if there would be enough votes in the Senate (or House) to override a Wolf veto. Hey, we’re still hopeful, but in all honesty, this legislation faces an uphill battle…
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PA House Speaker Turzai Nukes Wolf’s Severance Tax Proposal

Speaker of the PA House, Mike Turzai – credit: Wikipedia

A few weeks ago Secretary of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DCED), Dennis Davin, wrote an embarrassing editorial published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (see Once Again Wolf Pushes DCED Sec. to Support Severance Tax). Davin knows that a high severance tax will drive Marcellus drillers out of the state–but (we conclude) he wants to keep his job for another four years, so he goes out as the spear-catcher for his boss, lefty Gov. Tom Wolf. PA House Speaker Mike Turzai is an impressive guy. He’s always stood, steadfast, with the Marcellus industry, against Wolf’s insane plan to tax the industry out of existence. Turzai sent the Post-Gazette a column of his own, to counter the inanities of Davin’s column–and wonder of wonders, they published it! Turzai does a masterful job with his response to Davin. Our favorite part is where Turzai obliterate’s Davin’s claims about the “minimal” revenue raised by PA’s impact fee. In PA, instead of a severance tax, the legislature passed an impact fee (i.e., tax) in 2012, which has raised far more than the severance tax in neighboring states. For example, in 2017, Ohio raised $36.7 million via its severance tax. In 2017, West Virginia raised $69 million from its severance tax. In 2017, PA raised a whopping $173.3 million from its impact fee. Tell us again, Mr. Davin, about the “superiority” of a severance tax!…
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U.S. Supreme Court Lets Stand Eminent Domain for ME2 Pipeline

It’s been a long, tough fight to get the Mariner East 2 Pipeline (ME2) project built. In fact, it’s still not 100% built (it is about 98% done). Construction on a tiny section near Philadelphia is currently being stopped by a liberal judge (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). We expect that to be resolved soon. However, the project has been sued multiple times in different courts. One of the favored legal arguments was/is to say the project does not have the right to use the power of eminent domain to force recalcitrant landowners from accepting it. One such case, brought by a Lebanon County, PA landowner, was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Monday the Supremes declined to review the case, a challenge to ME2’s ability to use eminent domain, thereby cementing a ruling by the PA Commonwealth Court that ME2 can indeed use eminent domain. Period. End of sentence. The Supreme Court ruling is just the latest in a string of rulings favoring the ME2 project. Last summer, a three-judge Commonwealth Court panel ruled in favor of ME2, upholding its status as a public utility because it will provide increased public access to energy resources like propane. Huntingdon County Common Pleas Court Judge George Zanic ruled against efforts to delay construction of ME2 after Commonwealth Court validated the utility status by dismissing an appeal. None of this is new. The court have repeatedly ruled against challenges to the state Public Utility Commission’s designation of ME2 as a public utility with  public benefits. And now, the Supremes have rendered the final word: ME2 is a public utility
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PA Supreme Court Upholds Block on DEP Chapter 78a Drilling Regs

In October 2016, after five years in the making, Pennsylvania adopted new shale drilling regulations (see PA’s New Chapter 78a Drilling Regs Go into Effect Oct 8). Although the regs were ready at the end of the Gov. Tom Corbett Administration, Corbett fumbled the ball and the regs didn’t get adopted, which left them vulnerable to the incoming left-leaning Tom Wolf Administration. Wolf’s people mangled the regulations under the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) Dictator/Secretary John Quigley, who got fired over unethical collusion with Big Green groups. Some of the good stuff remained, but onerous new elements were introduced. The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), which represents PA’s biggest shale drillers, filed an appeal in Commonwealth Court to block the most onerous aspects of the new regulations (see Marc. Shale Coalition Files Lawsuit to Block PA Chapter 78a Regs). The judge agreed to “temporarily” block some of the items in the MSC list (see PA Judge Temporarily Blocks Some DEP Chapter 78a Drilling Regs). In December 2016, the DEP escalated the case by asking the PA Supreme Court to undo the block on those regulations imposed by the lower Commonwealth Court (see PA DEP Asks Supreme Court to Overturn Stay on New Regs). Last October the Supremes heard oral arguments in the case (see PA Supreme Court Hears Arguments on DEP Request to Unblock Regs), and on Friday the Supremes ruled to not undo the block on DEP’s onerous regs–but instead bumped the case back down to Commonwealth Court to let the matter play out there…
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PA Senator Intros Bill Declaring DRBC Frack Ban ‘Taking’ of Property

PA State Sen. Lisa Baker

Three cheers for PA Senator Lisa Baker (Republican from Luzerne County). Rather than wait around for the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to move forward with adopting a threatened ban on fracking within their jurisdiction–a patently illegal move–Baker isn’t waiting. She’s taking a different approach to defeating the DRBC ban. Her approach is to bankrupt the DRBC if they decide to move forward with it. How? By introducing a bill which, if it becomes law, would make a DRBC ban officially a government “taking” under eminent domain. If the government “takes” (or seizes) a citizen’s property, that citizen is, under law, owed money from the government entity seizing the property. There is no way on God’s green earth the DRBC would/could have enough money to pay all of the landowners it’s shafting with a frack ban. Affected landowners live primarily in Wayne and Pike counties in northeastern PA. This is a brilliant move on Baker’s part–IF she can get the bill passed and signed into law by the feckless Tom Wolf…
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PA Dems & RINOs Intro Bill Creating Commission to Stop New Pipes

On Friday, a small group of anti-drilling Democrats and RINOs introduced a “bi-partisan” resolution that would create yet another black hole to dump taxpayer money into–a so-called Commission to Study Pipeline Construction and Operations that would “recommend improvements for the safe transport of oil, natural gas and other hazardous liquids through pipelines.” The “bi-partisan” (meaning TOTALLY partisan and anti-pipeline) members include Republicans in Name Only from the Philadelphia area coupled with virulent antis from the Democrat party. They do their best, with the help of sycophantic supporters in the media, to make it sound like an unbiased, impartial look at how to make pipelines safer and better. It’s nothing of the sort. It’s a commission aimed at shutting down any more pipeline development in the Keystone State. The good news, if there can be said to be good news, is that resolutions and in this case the commission it would create have zero ability to impose laws or regulations. It is an exercise in bloviating, giving a bunch of windbags a forum from which to bash fossil fuels and the methods used to extract and transport them. We predict this resolution is going nowhere fast…
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PA Natural Gas Production Hits New All-Time High in 1Q18

Yesterday, the PA Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released their latest quarterly Natural Gas Production Report for Jan-Mar 2018 (full copy below). It shows natgas production rose 9.9% compared to the same period last year. It also shows the number of producing wells is up 9.1% from last year. Total natural gas production volume was 1,441.2 billion cubic feet (Bcf), and the number of producing wells in 1Q18 was 8,402 (of which 7,913 were shale wells). The biggest news is that once again 1Q18 saw the highest quarterly production of natural gas in the state–ever. The previous quarterly report had been the highest ever until this report (see PA Natural Gas Production Hits Another All-Time High in 4Q17). Two-thirds of the state’s natural gas production comes from four counties: Susquehanna, Washington, Bradford and Greene. The #1 county for natgas production in 1Q18 was, as it was in each quarter of 2017, Susquehanna County, in the northeastern corner of the state. The #1 producing driller in Susquehanna County is Cabot Oil & Gas. Here’s the full 1Q18 natural gas production report from the IFO…
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Antis Plan to Pack Philly Gas Plant Hearing on June 12

Last November a group of environmental Nazis pledged to “swarm” and shut down a SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) meeting where a vote would be taken to build a Marcellus gas-powered electric plant that would provide electricity to SEPTA’s northern Regional Rail lines–a win/win for all Pennsylvanians (see Antis Plan to Shut Down Philly Transit Meeting re NatGas Powergen). The reason they wanted to shut down the meeting was to stop the vote because the clean-burning plant being proposed would burn a “fossil fuel.” When the antis weren’t looking, Philadelphia Air Management Services (AMS) went ahead and issued the permit that allows SEPTA to move forward with the proposed natgas power plant, which will get built in a place called Nicetown (see Antis “Shocked” Philly Approved Marcellus Power Plant for SEPTA). Nice. The AMS vote “came as a surprise” to the antis. It was their “last hope” to stop the plant. So what happens now? Seems they haven’t lost hope. They’re litigating and demanding SEPTA’s approval be overturned by other regulatory bodies. On June 12, members of 350 Philadelphia, Neighbors Against the Gas Plants, and The Centre for Returning Citizens in Philly (TCRC) will attend the City of Philadelphia’s Licenses and Inspection Review Board hearing. They will demand the Board overturn SEPTA’s approval. The groups are hoping to kill the project permanently by packing the meeting, with children…
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