A federal appeals court has cleared the way for the construction of the MARC 1 Marcellus Shale pipeline to be built in northeastern Pennsylvania. The court released a decision yesterday rejecting claims by “environmental” groups to stop the pipeline. Part of their argument revolved around “the broader impacts” caused by natural gas drilling—that is, pipelines make more drilling likely and that’s not a good thing (according to them). The court rejected that argument.
Pipelines are a necessary part of drilling for and transporting shale gas. But they can also be one of the most contentious parts—especially when the government confers the power of eminent domain to a pipeline company who then can force landowners to accept the pipeline, weakening their bargaining position. A recent example is the MARC 1 in northeast Pennsylvania, a key piece of infrastructure for the Marcellus Shale. The MARC 1 is a high-pressure 30 inch steel pipeline that will connect to major interstate pipelines and to a gas storage facility in southern New York state.
A number of landowners in Pennsylvania signed gas leases with energy companies more than five years ago for very low amounts—$2 per acre in some cases—as a signing bonus. Landowners, realizing that a contract is a contract, waited patiently for the expiration of the lease—typically five years. But then, at the last possible moment, sometimes just hours before the lease is due to expire, the energy company would clear a few trees or park a bulldozer on the land in order to comply with the terms of lease, thereby extending the lease indefinitely because they had “made an effort” to start drilling.
Case in point: Dave and Karen Beinlich. They signed a lease for $2 an acre, for a grand total of $234 signing bonus on their 117 acre farm.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is throwing its considerable weight against building a new shale gas pipeline that would cross three counties in northeastern Pennsylvania.
In a press release issued yesterday, Chesapeake Energy announced it is working on 14 different roadway repair projects in Bradford and Sullivan Counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania due to be completed this summer.
Richard Smith, vice president of land for Carrizo Oil & Gas, spoke to the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon yesterday outlining Carrizo’s plans for drilling in the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale. He said that Carrizo will have five well pads “fully developed” in Wyoming County by September 2012. He also said Carrizo would begin drilling in Sullivan County by the end of this year.
Smith offered these facts and figures about Carrizo’s Marcellus drilling operations:
Chesapeake Appalachia’s trucks have been banned from four Pennsylvania state routes in Bradford and Sullivan Counties until they fix the roads they’ve damaged.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted air quality testing from August to October of 2010 at a number of natural gas drilling sites that use hydraulic fracturing in Susquehanna and Sullivan counties, including a Cabot Oil drilling site in Dimock, PA. The DEP looked for compounds associated with petroleum-based products that may have become airborne. They also looked for other compounds, like elevated levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
The Pennsylvania College of Technology (part of the Penn State University system) continues to innovate by offering training for those interested in jobs and careers in the gas drilling industry. This time, they’re offering courses to high schoolers:
The National Science Foundation has awarded a $294,689 grant to the Pennsylvania College of Technology to educate and train high school and college students for careers in the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry, according to officials from the college and a press release issued this week by U.S. Rep. Chris Carney’s office.
The college will use much of the money to develop and implement college-level courses that will be offered at high schools in Bradford, Sullivan and other counties to provide training that will be useful in jobs in the natural gas extraction industry, said Jenette Carter, Pennsylvania College of Technology’s director of outreach for K-12.
The high school courses will benefit students from 23 school districts in central and northern Pennsylvania…The high school courses for which college credit will be granted are technical or vo-tech courses in areas such as welding, electronics, diesel technology, heavy equipment operation and repair, forestry, and information technology (networking).*
*Towanda Daily Review (May 6) – High school courses that will lead to careers in gas industry being implemented locally