CNX Rogue Utica Well in SWPA Affects 9 Vertical Wells, Maybe More

CNX was fracking their Shaw 1G Utica well in Washington Township on Saturday, Jan. 26, when they detected “a strong drop in pressure” and stopped fracking (see CNX Hits Major Problem Fracking Utica Well Near SWPA Reservoir). Turns out the well was “communicating” (i.e. losing gas to) several nearby conventional wells.
Continue reading

PA Leases Youghiogheny River Land in SWPA to Chevron $4K/Ac

Youghiogheny River (credit: Wikipedia)

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), every now and again, will lease state-owned land for gas drilling. The DCNR has just leased land under the Youghiogheny River in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. We have the full lease, and lease terms, below…
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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?
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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.”
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

Huntley & Huntley Drilling Another 5 Wells in Upper Burrell, PA


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.
Continue reading

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…
Continue reading