Major Federal Court Decision Opens Door to Stop DRBC Frack Ban

A lawsuit that began in 2016 is finally bearing fruit, and may lead to blocking efforts by the rogue Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to block fracking in Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania. In May 2016, a landowner in Wayne County filed a lawsuit against the DRBC asking a judge to declare that the DRBC does not have jurisdiction to prevent construction of a natural gas well (see Wayne County, PA Landowner Sues DRBC Over Fracking Ban). The Wayne landowner argued in U.S. District Court 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. The way the DRBC so broadly reinterprets the word “project” in the original charter, it allows them to regulate anything and everything. In March 2016, MDN reported that U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani ruled against the landowner (see Judge Tosses Wayne County, PA Landowner Lawsuit Against DRBC). At first blush it seemed like a setback for landowners in Wayne and Pike counties. But looks can be deceiving. As we pointed out, when 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 the judge wanted to send the case to a higher court for an ultimate decision–the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Which is precisely where the case ended up. Last November oral arguments were heard in the appealed case. The DRBC’s lawyer conveniently had a couple of fainting spells that delayed the proceedings when tough questioning didn’t go his way (see DRBC Lawyer Nearly Faints 2nd Time When Questioned by Fed Judges). On Tuesday, July 3rd, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, sending the case back down to U.S. District Court with orders to more fully consider what is, and what is not, meant by the word “project” in the original DRBC charter. Interpretation: This is a MAJOR victory for the landowner, and a MAJOR defeat of the DRBC. No, the case isn’t over yet, but now the full case will get heard. The legal arguments in the case clearly support the landowner. The rogue DRBC is very nervous, as evidenced by reaction from their proxy mouthpiece, THE Delaware Riverkeeper…
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Two More $1M NatGas Pipeline Grants Coming Courtesy PA Taxpayers

PA Gov. Tom Wolf

It’s Christmas in Pennsylvania. Last week PA Gov. Tom Wolf and his Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DCED) announced the award of nine grants “to promote energy efficiency and spur economic development.” Among those nine grants are two grants for new natural gas pipelines. Two $1 million grants were awarded from the PA Pipeline Investment Program (PIPE), one to flow gas to a wax manufacturer in McKean County that wants to switch from using coal to natgas, and the other to serve over 500 new residential and business gas customers in Wayne County. Other grants in the list of nine include $965,000 for a 2000 kW CHP (combined heat and power) system for the Villanova University campus, and $1.2 million for a 2,000 kW CHP system for the Bayer Healthcare facility in Myerstown. In general we’re not in favor of corporate welfare, which is what this is (let’s just be honest). However, this is a pretty mild case of it. We can think of worse ways to blow taxpayer’s money. Essentially these relatively small investments keep more PA gas in PA by running pipelines to residents and businesses that will use it, and by helping fund power plants that will use it. Think of the grants as seed money to encourage more PA gas staying in PA, generating jobs at the same time…
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2 Landowner Groups Merge to Fight DRBC’s Theft of Drilling Rights

Landowners who live in the Delaware River Basin feel betrayed and disenfranchised following the actions of the aggressive, malignant Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC)–a quasi-governmental agency set up to oversee and protect water usage within the Delaware River Basin. The DRBC colors WAY outside the lines of its charter by limiting not just water use, but land use within the basin. The Delaware River and its tributaries supply fresh drinking water for some 14 million people, including New York City. The DRBC, under the pretense of protecting water, issued draft regulations on Nov. 30 that will permanently (!) ban hydraulic fracturing in the basin (see DRBC Drops Permanent Frack Ban Bomb – Public Hearings in January). Residents in Wayne and Pike counties in PA are furious. They could have, long ago, leased their land for drilling had it not been for the DRBC. And a drilling ban isn’t the only way the DRBC is screwing the residents who live within the basin. The agency has become an arm of the Rockefeller/gentry clan who want to make the region their own personal, private playground. Enough is enough. Two different landowner groups in the basin–Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance (NWPOA) and the Upper Delaware River Basin Citizens (UDRBC)–are merging together to fight the DRBC beast. Their philosophy is “better together.” Their mission is righteous and the stakes are critical. We applaud these groups joining together to beat back the tyrannical DRBC…
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Enviros Tell DRBC Not Enough Freak Shows Scheduled on Frack Ban

In September, MDN told you that the obsequious members of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) had slavishly obeyed their radical environmental masters by voting to move forward with a permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see DRBC Votes Tomorrow on Permanent Frack Ban Resolution). The final ban language/regulation was dropped like a bomb by DRBC staff on Nov. 30 (see DRBC Drops Permanent Frack Ban Bomb – Public Hearings in January). In dropping their bomb, the DRBC said (with no proof) that fracking “poses significant, immediate and long-term risks” to the waters in the basin. Then they declared, by fiat, that “High volume hydraulic fracturing in hydrocarbon bearing rock formations is prohibited within the Delaware River Basin.” However, they also said (in the fine print) that water from the Delaware River Basin can be used by frackers in other locations–which sent antis like THE Delaware Riverkeeper into apoplectic shock. The DRBC is allowing public comment, via written communication, through Feb. 28. They will also hold four public hearings (i.e. freak shows) to allow antis to parade before the microphones and make jerks of themselves. We know what we’re speaking about–we’ve been to a number of similar hearings and can attest, first-hand, to how they behave during these hearings. Even though the public has a full 90 days to provide written comment, and four hearings in which to sound off–that’s still not enough for the nutters. They want the deadline for public comment extended and more freak shows to be added to the lineup…
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FERC Clears TGP Orion Expansion to Begin Service to New England

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 $109 million project consists of 13 miles of new “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 yummy Marcellus Shale gas to Mid-Atlantic and New England states. FERC gave final approval for the project in February of this year (see TGP Orion Project in NEPA Gets Final Approval by FERC). In March, Big Green group THE Delaware Riverkeeper filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District requesting the court overturn a Clean Water Act permit granted to the project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In August, the Third Circuit rejected Riverkeeper’s request in a humiliating defeat (see Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Fed. Court Case Against NEPA Pipeline). According to the original plan, the TGP Orion upgrade will be complete and in-service by June 2018. December 2017 is certainly “by June 2018” and that’s a good thing, because Orion is now done and FERC has just given TGP the green light to start it up…
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DRBC Drops Permanent Frack Ban Bomb – Public Hearings in January

We knew it was coming. We told you back in September that the obsequious members of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) will slavishly obey their radical environmental masters by voting to move forward with a permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see DRBC Votes Tomorrow on Permanent Frack Ban Resolution). The final ban language/regulation was dropped like a bomb yesterday by the DRBC. In dropping their bomb, the DRBC said (with no proof) that fracking “poses significant, immediate and long-term risks” to the waters in the basin. Then they declared, by fiat, that “High volume hydraulic fracturing in hydrocarbon bearing rock formations is prohibited within the Delaware River Basin.” Of course the Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit may have another take on that (see DRBC Lawyer Nearly Faints 2nd Time When Questioned by Fed Judges). What happens now? Aside from the lawsuit cooking in the background to challenge the DRBC’s jurisdiction over fracking, the bureaucrats will hold a series of four public hearings in two locations–i.e. circus freak shows–where THE Delaware Riverkeeper herself and others will make pompous jerks of themselves and try to drown out landowners who want to express opposition to this injustice. Below we have a copy of the proposed regulation the lawless DRBC intends to adopt by fiat early next year, the list of public hearings (pro-gas needs to show up in force!), and reaction from antis and the industry…
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DRBC Lawyer Nearly Faints 2nd Time When Questioned by Fed Judges

This is getting pretty old, fast. Two weeks ago MDN told you about a lawsuit that finally got it’s day in court–a case brought by a Wayne County, PA landowner against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) over its ongoing, 10+ year ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see DRBC Attorney Faints in Federal Court During Questioning). Under “heaving questioning” the attorney for the DRBC fainted in the court room, ending the session that day. Both sides were back in court yesterday to finish what began two weeks ago, and the judges once again turned up the heat on the DRBC attorney–and he almost fainted again, having to sit down (delaying proceedings for a time). Every time this lawyer gets tough questions that he doesn’t like, he pulls this fainting routine. Is it legitimate? Does he have a “condition?” Frankly, we don’t care. His “condition”–if that’s what it is–keeps blocking justice. If he’s not up to the job, remove him. Get someone who can handle the pressure. At least the session yesterday finished. Oral arguments are now done. MDN friend Tom Shepstone listened to a recording of the session and filed a fantastic report, recounting the back and forth–and how the DRBC’s defense collapsed (metaphorically) under the sharp eye of the judges doing the questioning. The DRBC and its shill leader Steve Tambini (a MAJOR disappointment since he was appointed in 2014) were exposed yesterday as the obstructionists they are…
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DRBC Attorney Faints in Federal Court During Questioning

Some true courtroom drama from yesterday to report regarding a lawsuit brought by Wayne Land and Mineral Group against the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) arbitrary and illegal frack ban. Yesterday we told you Wayne landowners would finally get their day in federal court (see Landowner Fight to Overturn DRBC Frack Ban Goes to Fed Court Today). And so they did. Or at least, began to. The attorney for the Wayne landowner (plaintiff) was questioned by the 3rd Circuit judges about their case. However, when the lead attorney for the DRBC (defendant) took his turn at the podium to be questioned, at one point during what was intense question, the attorney, Kenneth Warren, fainted! In the only account reporting on the incident we could find, Warren was attended to by medics and quickly revived–however both sides agreed to postpone the rest of the session in light of the episode. There was no word on why Warren fainted–his office did not respond to requests from a reporter for an explanation. Perhaps he’s been ill? Perhaps the pressure was too much? We simply don’t know. So here we are again in limbo–with PA landowners having been shafted by the DRBC for 10+ years, now shafted again until the lawyers and the judges can agree on a new date for the rest of oral arguments…
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Landowner Fight to Overturn DRBC Frack Ban Goes to Fed Court Today

The lawsuit filed by a Wayne County, PA landowner against the egregious overreach by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to stall/delay/block any shale drilling within the Basin takes a very important step forward today. It’s a step feared by the DRBC and radical groups like THE Delaware Riverkeeper–because this case has the real potential to neuter the DRBC’s claim it can block shale drilling in the watershed. In March, MDN reported that U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani ruled against the Wayne Land and Mineral Group in a lawsuit that challenged the right of the DRBC to stop fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see Judge Tosses Wayne County, PA Landowner Lawsuit Against DRBC). At first blush it may seem like a setback for landowners in Wayne and Pike Counties (in PA) 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 the judge wanted to send the case to a higher court for an ultimate decision–the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. In June, the Wayne Land and Mineral Group filed their brief with the 3rd Circuit (see Wayne County Landowner Files Brief in Case Against DRBC Frack Ban). Today, oral arguments will be heard in what we sincerely hope is the beginning of the end of the DRBC’s illegal frack ban…
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Wayne Landowners Will “Fight Like Never Before” to Stop DRBC Ban

Landowners in Wayne (and Pike) counties in northeastern Pennsylvania are not going to stand by and allow their property rights to be stripped away from them. Two weeks ago the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), which has had an ongoing, “temporary” ban on fracking within the Delaware River Basin since 2010, voted to begin the process of implementing a permanent ban (see Governors from PA-NY-DE Vote to Ban Fracking in Dela. River Basin). That has folks like Wayne County dairy farmer Brian Smith hopping mad. He said if the DRBC bans fracking, “people will fight for their property rights like they’ve never fought before.” DRBC spokesman Clarke Rupert is asking the public to “not prejudge the proposed rules,” which is a joke. What he means is, “Lay down and let us kill your property rights, and don’t say anything while we do it.” Landowners in NEPA are not about to let that happen. Good for them…
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PA Gov Wolf Offered Deal in ’15 to Open Dela. River Basin Drilling

Here’s a surprise: Big Green mouthpiece PBS StateImpact Pennsylvania is dishing some dirt on one of their own–PA Gov. Tom Wolf. We’ve been closely following the developing situation with the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) finally coming out of the closet as an extended arm of radical Big Green group Delaware Riverkeeper. The DRBC will vote (today) on beginning the process to permanently ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin (DRB), which will prevent landowners in Wayne and Pike counties (PA) from accessing the bountiful shale gas under their land (see our article yesterday, DRBC Votes Tomorrow on Permanent Frack Ban Resolution). The DRBC is composed of five voting members: the governors of NY, PA, DE, NJ and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A final new regulation that permanently bans fracking would need those five votes. According to an article published yesterday by StateImpact PA, in a 2015 meeting with Wayne County landowners who support fracking, Gov. Wolf offered to work on opening up the DRB for fracking–IF the landowner group in Wayne County would support his push for a severance tax in return. People at the meeting said, “it almost felt like a bribe.” Maybe because it *was* a bribe! A political bribe. Fortunately the landowners from Wayne didn’t take the bait, they did not support his loony tunes severance tax plan. So now it’s payback time, with Wolf signaling he will vote for a permanent ban on fracking…
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DRBC Votes Tomorrow on Permanent Frack Ban Resolution

Turns out the rumors were true. The Delaware River Basin Commission has now been totally corrupted by Big Green groups and plans to vote tomorrow, Sept. 13, on a resolution that begins the process of implementing a permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin. This is not the end, but the beginning of the end, of any hope for landowners in Wayne and Pike counties in PA. Their property rights will (like those of us who live in New York) be stripped away. Except in Wayne and Pike, it will be a permanent stripping away. At least in NY we have the hope of one day ejecting Lord Cuomo from office and reversing the ongoing moratorium. However, even though this should be a total win for radicals like THE Delaware Riverkeeper (aka Maya van Rossum), the radicals are STILL not happy! Can you believe it?! Part of the proposed resolution and rulemaking to follow will consider allowing frack wastewater disposal within the DRBC’s fiefdom. That just can’t stand according to Maya and her rad pals. Here’s the DRBC announcement, news coverage of it (with quotes from radical groups), along with a copy of the proposed resolution that will be voted on tomorrow…
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No DRBC Frack Ban…Yet; A Look at DRBC Corruption & Incompetence

Last week the rumor mill was hot with speculation that on Friday the Delaware River Basin Commission would release a draft document outlining their proposal to ban hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin permanently (see DRBC Secretly Working on Permanent Delaware Basin Frack Ban). Fortunately, that didn’t happen. But don’t start celebrating just yet. The rumors are still swirling. Apart from a single Associated Press article (run in dozens of newspapers), there has been no other coverage of this big news. Why is that? Why is mainstream media so uncurious about a potential DRBC frack ban? The person doing the real work on this story is MDN friend Tom Shepstone. Writing on his blog site Natural Gas Now on Saturday, Tom did a masterful job of chronicling the foibles of the DRBC–and he laid out how we got to where we are now, with a potential permanent ban. In a nutshell, landowners in Wayne County, PA sued to reverse a grievous error, challenging the DRBC’s authority to regulate fracking in the basin. That lawsuit, and the very real possibility that a decision will go against the DRBC, prompted radical environmental groups like THE Delaware Riverkeeper to push for a DRBC permanent ban. The effort for a permanent ban, which (for now) would only affect Wayne and Pike counties in PA, went into overdrive a few months ago. Here’s Tom’s excellent article, which will bring you up to speed and prepare you for when the news of a permanent ban eventually does break–possibly this week at the DRBC regularly scheduled meeting…
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DRBC Secretly Working on Permanent Delaware Basin Frack Ban

It was just yesterday that MDN highlighted a story written by friend Tom Shepstone on his Natural Gas Now website theorizing that the Delaware River Basin Commission, long influenced by big money coming from the Haas family via the William Penn Foundation and their surrogates, is planning to implement a full ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see Tom’s story: Is the William Penn Foundation Planning a DRBC Ban?). Looks like Tom is a soothsayer. Elements of the William Penn cabal are leaking, like a sieve, news that the DRBC is about to introduce a permanent frack ban, which includes a ban in Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania. The proposed ban may be introduced as early as today. We suppose the news shouldn’t surprise us, given that in July anti groups, including the William Penn lobbying arm Delaware Riverkeeper, hit the panic button (because of a lawsuit) and ramped up an effort to push a permanent ban (see Anti Groups Panic, Demand Govs Ban Fracking in Dela. River Basin). The big question is what will the prevaricating PA Gov. Tom Wolf do? He has mouthed support for a moratorium, but so far has not signed on for a permanent ban. Will he sell out all the way and now support a ban–screwing thousands of his own constituents? Who knows. Here’s the breaking news…
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Wayne County Landowner Files Brief in Case Against DRBC Frack Ban

Whatever happened to the lawsuit filed by a Wayne County, PA landowner against the egregious overreach by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) in its ongoing stall/delay/block of any shale drilling within the Basin? In March, MDN reported that U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani ruled against the Wayne landowner in a lawsuit that challenged the right of the DRBC to stop fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see Judge Tosses Wayne County, PA Landowner Lawsuit Against DRBC). At first blush, it may seem 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 the judge wanted to send the 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 (see Wayne Co. Landowner Welcomes Decision in Dismissed DRBC Lawsuit). We have an update. The Wayne landowners filed their court brief in an appeal of the case yesterday. The case turns on the concept of what constitutes a “project” for the DRBC. The DRBC claims that all gas well pads, drilling, etc.–anything that uses water within the Basin–is a “project” as defined under the original compact forming the DRBC, and therefore under their jurisdiction. The lawsuit (an excellent read, full copy below) states such a reading of the original compact, and based on 40 years of history since that time, says otherwise. Just because you push dirt around and use some water, does not mean that activity falls under the DRBC’s current overreach in defining a project. The lawsuit askes the 3rd Circuit to rule on what is, and what is not, a project for the DRBC…
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