Westmoreland Gas-Fired Plant Stabilizes County Water Rates

In August 2016, energy giant Tenaska (headquartered in Omaha, NE) broke ground to build a 925-megawatt natural gas-fueled power plant in South Huntingdon (Westmoreland County), PA (see Groundbreaking for Tenaska Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant in SWPA). The Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station is costing ~$780 million to build and will be online by the end of this year (see Tenaska Gas-Fired SWPA Elec Plant Fully Staffed, Online in Dec). Some of the money spent, $25 million, was spent to upgrade the local Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County water treatment plant. Upgrades included 13 miles of new pipeline from the Tenaska site to a new pumping station in Bullskin, Fayette County. Upgrades also included a device that removes moisture from sludge left over after river water is treated. The Tenaska plant will use 8-10 million gallons of water per day. The upgrades to the municipal water authority benefit everyone who uses the system, not just Tenaska. How does it benefit everyone? The Municipal Authority said there are “no plans for a rate increase for a substantial period of time.” For years to come, Westmoreland water rates will not go up, thanks to this Marcellus gas-fired electric plant…
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Westmoreland Co. Pays Big Bucks for Reservoir Testing 8 Yrs Later

In 2011, the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, PA began a new water testing and monitoring program for the Beaver Run Reservoir which supplies water to about 150,000 residents (see Westmoreland County, PA Municipal Authority Initiates New Water Testing for Reservoir Located Near Marcellus Drilling). CONSOL Energy (now CNX Resources) had 100 shallow gas wells on municipal property near the Reservoir, and at the time had started to drill Marcellus Shale wells. The Authority also leased land near the reservoir to Dominion Resources, which ended up drilling more than a dozen shale wells on the property. The water testing program was precautionary, to ensure water is not being affected by nearby drilling activity. The Municipal Authority contracted with Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) to do the monitoring and testing. The early results showed no impact from testing (see Water Tests at PA Reservoir Show No Affects from Gas Drilling). Over the years, the Authority continued to award contracts year after year to IUP–starting at $55,000 and going as high as $100,000 (see Pricetag to Test Water at Reservoir Near CONSOL Drilling Goes Up). The Authority renewed their contract with IUP in 2016 for $85,000 (see Beaver Run Reservoir Tests Since 2011 Show No Harm from Drilling). And they’ve just done it again, paying IUP $99,000 to test water quality, and another for $24,700 to test the air at the reservoir. Our point: Since the first tests began more than eight years ago, there have been a number of shale wells drilled on the property next to the reservoir–and there has been NO negative impacts from shale drilling in all that time…
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Penn Twp Frack Ban Decision Now in Hands of Local Judge

Last November we updated you on a lawsuit filed by a group of anti-fossil fuelers in Penn Township (Westmoreland County), PA (see Penn Twp Ninny Nannies File Lawsuit to Block Apex, H&H Wells). A group calling themselves Protect PT, backed with money and legal help from Big Green group PennFuture, filed a lawsuit to try and stop Apex Energy and Huntley & Huntley (H&H) from drilling wells in the township. A Westmoreland County judge heard some testimony in the case in April (see Penn Twp Antis Try to Use PA ERA to Block Shale Drilling). The peril with Protect PT’s lawsuit is that it uses Pennsylvania’s so-called Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA), which liberal PA judges have, in recent years, breathed new life into. The argument is that fracking denies those who live near this temporary activity their “right” to enjoy Mom Nature, therefore it should be banished forever. Protect PT is attempting to pull off a total frack ban in the Penn Township. Although the judge heard testimony in April, more was given this week. All testimony is now done and the case rests with the judge. We expect whoever loses will appeal. Below is a recap of the case and the testimony given this week…
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Westmoreland Town Votes to Overturn Restrictive Shale Ordinance

Elections have consequences, including local elections. Here’s a story that caught our eye because it’s so unusual (“man bites dog” type of story). Donegal Township in Westmoreland County (southwestern PA) is a rural township: population 2,465 people living in 42 square miles. There was some Marcellus well drilling in the town several years ago, but after WPX plugged wells in the town (see WPX Plugging 9 Wells in Westmoreland County, PA), we find no actively producing wells nor any permits to drill new wells, according to the forthcoming Marcellus & Utica Shale Upstream Almanac 2018 (due out later this week!). Even so, most residents support more Marcellus development. We base that on this observation: A previous town board passed a restrictive zoning ordinance, aimed at blocking shale drilling. Donegal had no zoning ordinance of any kind before the board passed one (last year? year before?). Opponents to the ordinance got themselves elected to the board last November and last Tuesday night voted 4-1 to repeal the zoning ordinance put there by the previous board. According to one of the new board members, tossing out the zoning ordinance “will be helpful to the residents because they’ll have more freedom.” What a breath of fresh air!…
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School Near Pittsburgh Considers EQT Deal: $2,500/Ac, 15% Royalty

Last week MDN told you about the ongoing vendetta by a few anti parents in the Mars School District (half hour from Pittsburgh, in Butler County) and their Big Green accomplices. They suffered a major court defeat (see Dela. Riverkeeper Suffers Major Defeat in Martian Well Case). Rex Energy has drilled two wells about 3/4 of a mile from one of the Mars schools, and wants to drill another four. The Martians bleat and blat that faraway drilling activity will somehow hurt “the children.” Compare that attitude with the parents (and school district officials) in the Kiski Area School District in Westmoreland County (about 40 minutes from Pittsburgh). The Kiski Area School will vote tonight on a lease deal with EQT to allow shale drilling UNDER SCHOOL PROPERTY! The district will get $2,500 per acre in a signing bonus, and 15% royalties on any gas produced. If signed, the school’s bonus check could be as high as $310,300–for “the children.” The difference in attitude (and aptitude) between the parents in Mars and the parents in Kiski could not be more striking…
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Penn Twp About to Adopt Meaningless (?) Injection Well Ban

Last November we updated you on a lawsuit filed by a group of anti-fossil fuelers in Penn Township (Westmoreland County), PA (see Penn Twp Ninny Nannies File Lawsuit to Block Apex, H&H Wells). A group calling themselves Protect PT, backed with money and legal help from Big Green group PennFuture, filed a lawsuit to try and stop Apex Energy and Huntley & Huntley (H&H) from drilling wells in the township. The lawsuit finally made it to a county judge who heard testimony in April (see Penn Twp Antis Try to Use PA ERA to Block Shale Drilling). The peril with Protect PT’s lawsuit is that it uses Pennsylvania’s so-called Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA), which liberal PA judges have, in recent years, breathed new life into. The argument is that fracking denies those who live near this temporary activity their “right” to enjoy Mom Nature, therefore it should be banished forever. Protect PT is attempting to pull off a total frack ban in the Penn Township. Meanwhile, Protect PT is working on a parallel effort. They’ve convinced (pressured, bullied) the town board to adopt an injection well ordinance that essentially bans injection wells in the town. Here’s the thing: Nobody has even whispered the hint of wanting to locate a wastewater injection well in Penn Township–ever. It is a meaningless gesture–unless you consider that Protect PT calls the injection well ordinance a “victory” and (our inference) if they can get this injection well ordinance passed, then maybe they can get a more restrictive drilling ordinance passed too. That is, the injection well ordinance is the back door to getting a wider frack ban enacted by a now-susceptible and weakened town board…
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Tenaska Gas-Fired SWPA Elec Plant Fully Staffed, Online in Dec

Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station

In August 2016, energy giant Tenaska (headquartered in Omaha, NE) broke ground to build a 925-megawatt natural gas-fueled power plant in Westmoreland County, PA (see Groundbreaking for Tenaska Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant in SWPA). The Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station is costing $780 million to build. It has taken some 600 people to build the plant, which is on track to be completed and online by December of this year. When the plant fires up, it will provide power for 925,000 homes. An update on this important project: All of the permanent jobs to operate the completed plant are now hired. Some 75% of the new hires are local to the Westmoreland County area…
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Penn Twp Antis Try to Use PA ERA to Block Shale Drilling

Last November we updated you on a lawsuit filed by a group of radical anti-fossil fuelers in Penn Township (Westmoreland County), PA (see Penn Twp Ninny Nannies File Lawsuit to Block Apex, H&H Wells). A group calling themselves Protect PT, backed with money and legal help from Big Green group PennFuture, filed a lawsuit to try and stop Apex Energy and Huntley & Huntley (H&H) from drilling wells in the township. The lawsuit finally made it to a county judge who is hearing testimony this week. One of the “expert witnesses” called by Protect PT is retired and discredited Cornell professor Tony Ingraffea, who makes a living by traveling around the country bashing fracking (see our Ingraffea stories here). The peril with this particular lawsuit is that it uses Pennsylvania’s so-called Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA), which liberal PA judges have, in recent years, breathed new life into. The argument is that fracking denies those who live near this temporary activity their “right” to enjoy Mom Nature, therefore it should be banished forever. That’s what Protect PT is attempting to pull off–a total frack ban in the Penn Township…
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Rex Energy Sells Non-Operated Assets in 3 PA Counties

Rex Energy, a driller focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA), announced earlier this week that it is selling some of its non-operated oil and gas assets in three Pennsylvania counties: Westmoreland, Centre and Clearfield. Which assets are not described. The buyer is: XPR Resources. The sale amount is $17.2 million. Rex has, in the past couple of years, had stiff challenges, at least on the financial front. It has swapped out old IOUs for new IOUs, converted debt (IOUs) into equity (shares of stock), sold off assets in other basins–a whole lotta stuff to keep on drilling (see our Rex Energy stories here). More recently the company was threatened (for a second time) by NASDAQ with de-listing its stock (see Rex Energy Once Again Threatened with NASDAQ De-listing). And just last month we reported that Rex looks like they’re getting ready to file for bankruptcy (see Rex Energy Preparing to File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?). We doubt $17.2 million will help all that much, but it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye. By the way, who is XPR Resources?…
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H&H About to Drill Well in Upper Burrell as Antis Plead with Judge

In some places, drillers have to fight tooth and nail, every inch of the way, just to drill a simple Marcellus Shale well. Such is the case in Upper Burrell (Westmoreland County), PA. Huntley & Huntley has plans to drill four shale wells in Upper Burrell Township. Sure there’s been push-back, but we thought the corner had been turned when town supervisors voted last November to approve H&H’s plans (see H&H Drilling in Upper Burrell Gets Final Approval, Raucous Crowd). The supporters of drilling far outnumbered the antis at the meeting. However, a small group of antis remains committed to blocking H&H’s drilling plans. The latest twist is that antis are asking a judge to rule that the supervisors, who were discharging their duties in accordance with the law, erred in their decision to grant final approval for H&H’s drilling plans. Here we go again…
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Whoops! Stolen Seismic Testing Nodes in SWPA have Tracking Devices

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To the person or people who recently stole nine seismic testing nodes in Westmoreland County, PA, know this: You have until March 26 to return the devices (worth $1,500 each). After that, you will be tracked down and prosecuted for the multiple felonies you’ve committed. Yes, each stolen seismic device has a tracker embedded in it, and you WILL be found (loser!). The seismic testing devices were legally placed in various locations by Geokinetics, hired by Huntley & Huntley to map what’s below the surface in preparation for drilling shale wells. Are anti-drilling wackos responsible for stealing the devices as a way to prevent H&H from drilling shale wells? It’s certainly possible and fits the pattern of previous actions by some of the more insane among the movement. However, we’ll reserve judgment. The thefts could have been your garden variety dopers who steal to get money to buy drugs. Either way, the loser or losers who have stolen the equipment will be found out–unless they decide to do the right thing and return the equipment. The clock is ticking, loser(s)…
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SWPA Antis Twist State Laws in Bid to Declare Shale Drilling Illegal

In November 2015 MDN reported on a seemingly obscure zoning court case in Westmoreland County, PA (see 3 Western PA Antis Weigh Appeal of Court Ruling in Zoning Case). Three ladies brought a lawsuit against Allegheny Township because the town approved a permit for CNX Gas–to drill a well on a farm owned by John and Anne Slike. Since the farm is about 1,200 feet from where the ladies live, they objected. We thought the case was long over with. But it’s not. As we recently pointed out, the ladies and their radical fractivist lawyer appealed using a novel legal argument (see SWPA Antis Breathe New Life into Old Zoning Lawsuit). Based on recent PA Supreme Court cases that uphold so-called environmental rights for all PA citizens, the ladies and their lawyer claim that allowing Marcellus drilling violates their environmental rights and they will experience mythical harms. The problem with the case is that if they win, it’s not much of a stretch for antis everywhere to claim the same thing–promptly ending the miracle of Marcellus drilling in the Keystone State…
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SWPA Antis Breathe New Life into Old Zoning Lawsuit

In November 2015 MDN reported on a zoning court case in Westmoreland County, PA (see 3 Western PA Antis Weigh Appeal of Court Ruling in Zoning Case). Three ladies brought a lawsuit against Allegheny Township because the town approved a permit for CNX Gas–to drill a well on a farm owned by John and Anne Slike. Since the farm is about 1,200 feet from where the ladies live, they objected. The legal argument is interesting. They use the Robinson case decision (Act 13) which ruled that towns have the right to limit/restrict drilling based on zoning ordinances–as long as there’s at least one zone where drilling can take place. The problem (for antis) is that sometimes towns decide the other way–to allow drilling in any zone with a special use permit. The door swings just one way for antis–no drilling. At any rate, we thought the case was long over with. But it’s not. The ladies and their fractivist lawyer appealed. The case is now in Commonwealth Court and, according to an article, because of a recent PA Supreme Court decision, new life has been breathed into the case. The antis are celebrating…
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Volunteers Test Water for Marcellus Impact Past 8 Yrs, Find Nothing

Here’s something truly ALLARMing: Over the past eight years the group Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM) has conducted more than 70 workshops to train volunteer “citizen scientists” in how to test local creeks and rivers to detect the least little hint of pollution coming from the Marcellus Shale industry. Eight years! And what have they found in all that time? Nothing. Not one, single, thing. If they had, it would be front page news for days and weeks and months. Don’t get us wrong, if they want to be out there in Mother Nature testing, keeping an eye on things, we’re all for it. Knock yourselves out. Our point: Nothing has been found. Yet ALLARM continues to conduct their “free” workshops to this day. Somebody is making money somewhere on this environmentalist scheme, we’re not sure how. At any rate, the ALLARMists are hooking up with the anti-drillers of Protect Penn-Trafford to conduct another of their “free” training sessions, called Shale Gas Stream Monitoring Workshop, in Westmoreland County in February…
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Murrysville PA Approves Dominion Plan to Expand Compressor Stn

Dominion recently received an important approval from Murrysville, PA (Westmoreland County) Council to expand the existing JB Tonkin compressor station. The expansion is part of Dominion’s Supply Header Project, a $500 million project of approximately 38 miles of natural gas pipeline and modified existing compression facilities in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The project will provide natural gas supplies to various customers, including (most importantly) the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) Dominion plans to begin building this year. Some residents resisted the approval voicing concerns about noise. As part of the approval, Dominion agreed to conduct a post-construction noise survey, even though technically they don’t have to. Here’s an update on the Murrysville approval of this important piece of what ultimately will feed ACP…
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H&H Files Request to Drill Murrysville’s First Marcellus Wells

Huntley & Huntley (H&H), a shale driller headquartered in Monroeville (Allegheny County), PA plans to drill Marcellus Shale wells in neighboring Murrysville (Westmoreland County), PA. H&H has filed for state permits for the Titan Well Pad project. This is will be the first Marcellus wells to be drilled in Murrysville. On May 3, 2017, Murrysville Town Council passed a new drilling ordinance that requires a 750 foot setback from the edge of the well pad–not from the bore hole (see Murrysville, PA Drilling Ordinance – Anatomy of a Compromise). The ordinance is quite restrictive, but apparently acceptable to the industry. Even though H&H has filed for permits, don’t expect to see drilling any time soon. Murrysville’s chief administrator estimates it will take the state “six to nine months” before they issue permits, and then H&H will have to go before town council with a request…
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