2 Workers Injured Working on Mariner East 2 Pipe Near Pittsburgh

Pipeline Inspection Gauge

Two workers were injured, one seriously, when a “pig” they were operating at a section of the nearly completed Mariner East 2 pipeline (near Pittsburgh, in Westmoreland County) accelerated and hit them late Sunday. What’s a pig? It stands for Pipeline Inspection Gauge–a device used inside a pipeline for cleaning, inspection and maintenance, and fluid batching. A pig is pushed along the inside of the pipeline by the flow of liquid or gas or (in this case), air. A pig launching station is used to insert the pig into a pipeline using a series of valves and hatches. The pig is pushed through the pipeline by the fluid/gas/air to the pig receiving station. We don’t have all the details for how this accident happened. What we know is that two workers, a man and a woman, were operating the pig when it hit them. Both were taken to the hospital. The woman was later released, but the man sustained a broken arm and is still hospitalized.
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Allegheny Twp Antis Ask PA Supremes to Consider Frack Ban via ERA

In November 2015, MDN first reported on a zoning court case in Westmoreland County, PA that’s still playing out (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 ladies’ legal argument is that fracking is a violation of the state’s Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA). After losing in lower courts, they eventually lost their case in PA Commonwealth Court in October (see PA Antis Suffer Crushing Defeat in SWPA Zoning Case re ERA). Which should have been the end of it. But it seems the pockets of Big Green groups (which are funding the lawsuit) is bottomless. The ladies and their Big Green lawyers have just appealed the case to the PA Supreme Court. Will the Supremes accept it?
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Anti Group Loses Penn Twp Frack Ban Case in PA Commonwealth Court

The last time we checked in (June) on a brewing frack ban in Penn Township (Westmoreland County), PA, a challenge to a local ordinance which allows Apex Energy and Huntley & Huntley to drill and operate wells rested with a county judge. Things have since rapidly progressed. We’re guessing the local judge ruled in favor of allowing the wells to be drilled because the case was appealed to PA Commonwealth Court. Late last week the judges in Commonwealth Court issued a ruling in favor of Penn Township’s “special exception” permits awarded to Apex Energy, allowing them to drill shale wells.
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Range Resources Helps Save Pretty Butterflies in SWPA

Can fracking save butterflies? According to California University of Pennsylvania’s Supervisor of the Fish & Wildlife, you betcha. You heard how important “pollinators” are, right? We immediately think bees when we hear the word pollinator. But monarch butterflies, a species whose population has dropped 90% since 1990, is also a important pollinator. In places across southwestern PA habitats for the monarch have disappeared, long before shale drilling showed up. Range Resources is helping replant vegetation that monarchs love. And it’s having a big impact. Range’s efforts are not just “throw a few seeds here and there” for publicity. Range is working hard and “willing to do it right.”
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PA Antis Suffer Crushing Defeat in SWPA Zoning Case re ERA

An important court case was decided on Friday in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court that potentially impacts all shale drilling in the state. You will recall that seven selfish towns sued the state over the 2012 Act 13 law and it’s provision that would substitute a statewide, uniform and fair set of zoning ordinances for drilling in place of a patchwork, crazy quilt system of local ordinances for oil and gas drilling. Seven selfish towns (including Robinson Township) wanted their own ordinances and sued, ultimately winning at the Supreme Court (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). Since winning the “Robinson” case, antis have used local ordinances to try and block or greatly restrict drilling. But sometimes a town uses the Act 13 decision to allow drilling in more places. Antis don’t like it, but last Friday’s decision ratifies you can’t take one (restricting drilling) without the other (not restricting drilling), if that’s what a town wants to do.
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Westmoreland Gas-Fired Plant Begins Testing, Online in Dec.

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. We have super good news to report about the project. The plant is now fully built and is actively testing, with a target startup date of Dec. 1.
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Peoples Gas Installs First Residential NatGas Fuel Cell in U.S.

WATT Imperium Fuel Cell System Installed in a Residential Home (click for larger version)

In early September MDN told you about a cool new experiment coming from Peoples Natural Gas in the Pittsburgh area–installing a natural gas fuel cell in homes to help generate electricity (see Pittsburgh Utility Experiments with NatGas Fuel Cells in Homes). The fuel cells would not replace a connection to the electric grid, but would augment or supplement electric generation during heavy load times. And get this, it generates the electricity using natural gas with “little to zero emissions.” The new news: The first such installation happened in a home in Westmoreland County on Friday, September 28, 2018. The very first in the country.
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Huntley & Huntley Drilling Another 5 Wells in Upper Burrell, PA

Zeus

What a difference a year can make. In October 2017, Upper Burrell Township (Westmoreland County, PA) supervisors approved a plan by Huntley & Huntley to drill four shale wells in the town. The supervisors endured an extremely hostile crowd as they voted to approve the plan (see H&H Drilling in Upper Burrell Gets Final Approval, Raucous Crowd). Those wells, at lease some of them, have since been drilled. H&H came back with a plan to drill another five wells at the same location–the Zeus well pad. This time there was no crowd opposing the plan. Just a simple, quiet approval by town supervisors.
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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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