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PA Marcellus News Roundup

July 29, 2011

Worth scrolling down for:  Current news highlights include Susan Phillips’ (WHYY Radio) report on growing opposition to pipelines which would disfigure the irreplaceable Endless Mountains region, where the Loyalsock River has charmed countless Pennsylvania hikers as well as fiercely loyal local residents whose livelihoods depend on eco-tourism.

Laura Legere continues her solid reporting on problems with disposal of drilling waste with a new story in the Times-Tribune about issues at Keystone Sanitary Landfill.  Look for critical coverage of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission from Timothy Puko from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review; and for a fascinating anti-environmental propaganda attack from the right-wing Commonwealth Foundation.  The River Reporter digs into, and refutes, legal arguments which have intimidated municipalities which want to limit or ban gas drilling; and for punchiness here’s a choice headline in the Times-Tribune: “Gas booms; state doesn’t.”

A West Virginia man died at a gas drilling well incident in Greene County, PA, and OSHA is investigating.

The Times-Tribune takes a look at a few of the issues Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission “left on the cutting room floor,” such as the problem of radioactive materials in gas drilling wastewater, which the Commission ignored.

So, in between my briefer news summary above, and the more complete news roundup below: If you are just a wee bit fed up with our legislators’ passivity and failure to protect the people of Pennsylvania from theft, pollution, current harms to health, and threats of future harm:

Action suggestions:  **  Plan to vote PA legislators who have facilitated theft from and poisoning of our people, out of office.   ** Please put your own attendance at our September 7th rally, 12 -2 in downtown Philadephia, on your personal calendar right now:  www.shalegasoutrage.org  ** Comment to the Department of Energy by 5 pm Friday July 29th!

Here’s the complete roundup, compiled by Jeff Schmidt of Sierra Club and distributed to the Campaign for Clean Water Gas Workgroup, in which Protecting Our Waters participates:

PA Marcellus News Digest
July 26 – 28, 2011
More reactions to MSA Commission report include contradictions on pipeline recomendations,  SRBC expands ban on water withdrawals,  right-wing Commonwealth Foundation attacks enviro anti-frackers,  Pittsburgh City Council advances fracking ban referendum, Greene County gas well fatality, side-by side gas/coal power plants in Washington County

Release
Dinniman Reacts to Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Report
Wallaby
July 26, 2011
WEST CHESTER  – State Senator Andy Dinniman on Tuesday made the following statement upon release of the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission’s report.
Link: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2011/2011072678.HTM
HDPC examines Marcellus Shale Advisory Comission’s Report
Wallaby
July 27, 2011
NEWTOWN,  – The House Democratic Policy Committee today held a public hearing at the Chancellor Center about Marcellus Shale issues, according to Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster.
Link: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2011/2011072780.HTM
 
PA GOP: Governor Corbett and Lt. Governor Cawley engaging all Pennsylvanians in discussion on natural gas drilling in our Commonwealth
Wallaby
July 27, 2011
Harrisburg, PA– Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason issued the following statement supporting the report released by Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission:
Link: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2011/2011072784.HTM
Pashinski introduces Marcellus drilling tax compromise
Wallaby
July 27, 2011
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania taxpayers would stop losing millions of dollars to Marcellus Shale natural gas drillers under a compromise bill that state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, is introducing.
Link: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2011/2011072783.HTM
 
Articles
Pipeline Protest: The New Battleground Over Gas Drilling?
State Impact
NPR
Susan Phillips
July 25, 2011
The Marcellus Shale natural gas boom has brought thousands of new wells, truck traffic, and water contamination to rural Pennsylvania in a short period of time. The industry also brings jobs and cash to an impoverished area of the state. Environmentalists want the drilling to stop, or at the very least, slow down. But they haven’t had much success.
Link: http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2011/07/25/pipeline-protest-the-new-battleground-over-gas-drilling/

Video: Inside Shale Country
State Impact
NPR
Susan Phillips
July 25, 2011
While reporting the story “Pipeline Protest: The New Battleground for Drilling Opponents,” WHYY videographer Kim Paynter travelled with me to catch shots of shale country, and talk to residents of northeast Pennsylvania. Kim shot and produced this video of residents discuss drilling impacts, the Marc 1 Hub pipeline, and the benefits of good jobs that have come to the area.
Link: http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2011/07/25/video-inside-shale-country/

AP: What Happens Next for “Lowballed” Land Owners?
State Impact
NPR
Scott Detrow
July 25, 2011
The Associated Press’ Michael Rubinkam wrote an interesting story this weekend, focusing on landowners who signed deals with drilling companies early in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale boom – leases that are worth pennies, compared to what people made a few years later.
Link: http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2011/07/25/ap-what-happens-next-for-lowballed-land-owners/

Fitzgerald lobbies council against drilling ban
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Tim McNulty
July 25, 2011
Democratic county executive candidate Rich Fitzgerald has been lobbying against a city home rule charter amendment banning drilling, according to the ban’s lead legislator (and fellow Squirrel Hill Democrat) Doug Shields. Writes the lame-duck city councilman:
Link: http://earlyreturns.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/early-returns-20/53-post-gazette-staff/3086-fitzgerald-lobbies-council-against-drilling-ban

Lawmakers differ on how to respond to shale report
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Laura Olson
July 26, 2011
HARRISBURG — For months, Gov. Tom Corbett has said his Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission should be allowed to voice its opinion before regulatory changes are made for gas drilling.
Link: 
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11207/1162953-503-0.stm

Drafts shed light on commission workings
The Times-Tribune
Robert Swift
July 26, 2011
HARRISBURG – Recommendations providing for county well inspectors and acknowledging disposal issues with naturally occurring radioactive material in hydrofracking water were left on the cutting-room floor as the governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission developed a final report to guide devel-opment of the extensive gas reserves in Pennsylvania.
Link: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/drafts-shed-light-on-commission-workings-1.1180057#axzz1TPkulmeR

Gas booms; state doesn’t
The Times-Tribune
Editorial
July 26, 2011
The natural gas industry inadvertently has debunked the position of the man shielding it from paying a fair tax.
Link: http://thetimes-tribune.com/opinion/gas-booms-state-doesn-t-1.1179970#axzz1TPkulmeR

Why ‘wrongful taking’ does not apply
The River Reporter
Editorial
July 21, 2011
One of the biggest bugbears that has haunted the efforts of local towns to craft ordinances restricting high-impact industrial uses within their borders is the threat of lawsuits. Specifically, opponents of such ordinances maintain that if a town zones some property owners’ land so that industrial operations like hydro-fracking are not permitted, it amounts to a “wrongful taking:” that is, a government action has deprived property owners of the value of their land, and they must be compensated accordingly.
Link: http://www.riverreporteronline.com/editorial/16/2011/07/20/why-%E2%80%98wrongful-taking%E2%80%99-does-not-apply

Boards fuel boom, but at what cost?
The Times Leader
Editorial
July 27, 2011
For another disheartening example of Pennsylvania’s blundering, behind-the-curve response to the ongoing natural gas boom, look to its public school districts.
Link: http://www.timesleader.com/opinion/Boards_fuel_boom__but_at_what_cost__07-25-2011.html

First, be sure to neuter those pesky municipalities
Public Opinion Online
Editorial
Matthew Major
Gov. Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale commission delivered 96 recommendations for the state’s natural gas industry to the governor last week.
Link: http://www.publicopiniononline.com/opinion/ci_18548878

Everybody into the pool? Not on Marcellus drilling
The Courier Express
Editorial
Denny Bonavita
July 26, 2011
Kudos to state Sen. Joe Scarnati of Brockway, who last week had this to say to reporter Scott Detrow of National Public Radio:
Link: http://www.thecourierexpress.com/courierexpresscourierexpressouropinion/927202-349/everybody-intothe-pool-not-onmarcellus-drilling.html

Range cites ‘outstanding’ Marcellus results as profit skyrockets
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
July 26, 2011
Increased production and higher fuel prices helped natural gas producer Range Resources Corp. drive profit up 466 percent to $51.29 million, or 32 cents a share, for the second quarter compared to $9 million, or 6 cents, a year ago.
Link: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_748412.html

Baker unveils legislation to update state’s oil and gas law to reflect growth of Marcellus Shale industry
The Daily Review
from state Rep. Matt Baker’s office
July 26, 2011
On the heels of last week’s report from the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, state Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford) is developing legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act to reflect some of the recommendations contained in the report.

Lt. Gov. Cawley comments on issues in visit
State official says state EMA will aid flood victims, defends gas advisory panel’s work
The Times Leader
Steve Mocarsky
July 27, 2011
WILKES-BARRE – Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley took a few minutes on Monday to talk about a few local and statewide issues during a visit to the Westmoreland Club

SRBC suspends water withdrawals due to dry weather
Williamsport Sun-Gazette
David Thompson
July 26, 2011
In spite of recent rains, dry weather in the region has prompted the temporary suspension of water withdrawals from more than 40 points in the Susquehanna River basin watershed.

Pennsylvania fracking report raises questions
Politico
Talia Buford
July 26, 2011
Don’t expect any quick resolution to fracking controversies in Pennsylvania, even though the state finally has a clearer idea of what it needs to do to better regulate the natural gas industry.

Commonwealth Foundation outlines environmental ‘Frack Attack’ on gas industry
The Patriot-News
Donald Gilliland
July 27, 2011
The conservative Commonwealth Foundation entered the fray in defense of gas drillers on Wednesday with a policy paper titled “The Great Frack Attack: The War On Natural Gas,” outlining the big bucks behind groups critical of drilling in the Marcellus shale.

The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas
Commonwealth Foundation
Paul Chesser and Mark Newgent
July 27, 2011
The development and growth of the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry is a major boom for Pennsylvania’s economy. The industry has directly and indirectly created tens of thousands of new jobs, with tens of thousands more to come if natural gas is allowed to continue in a safe and responsible manner; paid out billions in royalty and lease payment to landowners; and contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to state and local government tax coffers. Yet the development of this economic opportunity has become extremely controversial, with many politicians and advocates calling for new taxes and fees on gas drillers and even an outright ban on all drilling in the commonwealth.

SRBC Ecpands Its Water Withdrawal Ban
State Impact 
NPR
Scott Detrow
July 27, 2011
A quick update on the Susquehanna River Basin Commission’s week-old freeze on water withdrawals: it’s still in effect.

Focusing on benefits of gas industry
Williamsport Sun-Gazette
Alyssa Murphy
July 28, 2011
Most of the state’s population does not realize the impact Marcellus Shale has on the area.

Tepid gas proposal
Intelligencer Journal
Editorial
July 27, 2011
The iconic photo of a small home surrounded by a highrise is a testament to individual property rights in this country.

Air pollution from drilling to be studied
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Timothy Puko
July 28, 2011
Allegheny County may take a closer look at air pollution from shale gas wells, but the county Health Department isn’t likely to push for new rules on the drilling industry before more is known about its impacts, officials say.

WSJ blesses PA’s natural gas industry 
witf
Mary Wilson
July 26, 2011
Here they are, your morning links. What didn’t make the cut: take a look at some of the working drafts of the Marcellus Shale advisory panel’s report.  A draft recommendation for a public relations campaign about hydrofracking gives way to a final endorsement of a school curriculum on natural gas – and other such stories. (Times-Tribune)

Contradiction in the Marcellus Commission Report on Pipelines
State Impact
NPR
Susan Phillips
July 26, 2011
Drilling down into the Marcellus Shale Commission report, we found several contradictory pieces of advice for Governor Tom Corbett. Take pipelines as an example. In the infrastructure section on page 103, section 9.1.2 encourages the Governor to create a “One-Stop” permitting process for pipelines. Currently, the Department of Environmental Protection has oversight when it comes to such things as erosion and settlement controls, and if the pipeline crosses a stream. When it comes to safety, the federal government rules. It’s not clear here, which agency would be the one-stop-permitter. And if they have the staff and resources to do the job. Then move on to 9.1.13, which reads like an excerpt from an industry play book.

Criticis: Marcellus shale recommendations too lenient, narrow
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Timothy Puko
July 26, 2011
Gov. Tom Corbett’s advisers should have made tougher and more detailed recommendations about shale gas drilling, especially to protect air quality and to study the industry’s cumulative environmental impact, several environmental groups said on Monday.

CNG fueling station open; may spur car sales
Natural-gas stations in Strip District and Crafton are first step
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Erich Schwartzel
July 27, 2011
Soon, it’ll be much easier in Pennsylvania to buy a car that runs on compressed natural gas. And if local companies and officials in Harrisburg have anything to say about it, you might even be able to find a place to fuel it.
Link: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11208/1163096-185.stm

‘Deliberative Theater’ to tackle Marcellus Shale
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Maria Sciullo
July 27, 2011
Two words guaranteed to spark debate in Western Pennsylvania: Marcellus Shale.
Link: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11208/1163177-325.stm

Drilling waste raises concerns at landfill meeting
The Times-Tribune
Laura Legere
July 27, 2011
Local officials aired concerns about the disposal and use of Marcellus Shale drilling waste at Keystone Sanitary Landfill at a meeting Tuesday night with state environmental regulators and landfill representatives.
Link: http://thetimes-tribune.com/drilling-waste-raises-concerns-at-landfill-meeting-1.1180825#axzz1TPkulmeR

Range Resources Delivers Strong 2Q; Marcellus Ramp-Up Right on Target
Toronto Star
Mark Hanson
July 26, 2011
Range Resources RRC announced second-quarter results Monday. As reported in its operations update last week, production volumes averaged 508 million cubic feet of equivalent per day for the second quarter, up 8% year over year and ahead of management’s guidance of 500-505 mmcfe/d. Adjusting for the firm’s divested Barnett shale assets, production came in at 475 mmcfe/d, right in line with our adjusted forecast of 474 mmcfe/d. Liquids volumes were up 33% year over year, to 20 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day, helped by a 49% increase in natural gas liquids, with oil volumes up 4% and gas volumes up 2%. Production ramp-up in the Marcellus continues to track our expectations, with net production now just over 300 mmcfe/d. Range ended the quarter in good financial shape, in part due to the sale of its Barnett assets, with $289 million in cash and no borrowings on its revolving line of credit.
Link: http://torontostar.morningstar.ca/globalhome/industry/news.asp?articleid=388691

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp (COG) – Earnings Preview
iStockAnalyst
July 26, 2011
Cabot Oil and Gas (COG  77, 6.05) is scheduled to release second quarter earnings for fiscal year 2011 on July 27. The company’s stock has benefited recently from news about the BHP Billiton acquisition of Petrohawk for a 65 percent premium. Analysts remain bullish on the company, and Jefferies recently raised their target price, citing operations at Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale well that are expected to double output in 2011 compared with 2010.
Link: http://www.istockanalyst.com/finance/story/5316512/cabot-oil-gas-corp-cog-earnings-preview

Audubon Society plans Marcellus Shale curriculum
Pittsburgh Business Times
Anya Litvak
July 27, 2011
The Audubon Socieyt of Western Pennsylvania has received a state grant to develop a program called “Shale We or Shale We Not: Marcellus Shale and Land Use Ethics.”
Link: http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/blog/energy/2011/07/shale-we-shale-we-not-audubon-marcellus.html

LaBar: Tennessee Pipeliners having a positive impact
Wayne Independent
Tammy Compton
July 26, 2011
Honesdale, Pa. — The Tennessee pipeliners are having a positive impact on commerce and the community, says Donna LaBar, executive director of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.
Link: http://www.wayneindependent.com/news/x404067296/LaBar-Tennessee-Pipeliners-having-a-positive-impact

City water authority selling water for gas drilling
Altoona Mirror
William Kibler
July 28, 2011
For the second time, the Altoona Water Authority is advertising for proposals for a site in Pinecroft, where it can set up its second permanent water station to serve Marcellus Shale drilling customers.
Link: http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/552203/City-water-authority-selling-water-for-gas-drilling.html?nav=742

Coal-fired electricity hits 30-year low, replaced by natural gas
The Patriot-News
Donald Gilliland
July 27, 2011
The amount of electricity generated by coal hit a 30-year low during the first three months of this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Link: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/07/coal-fired_electricity_hits_30.html

Gas firms harmed by blowing hot air
The Times Leader
Editorial
July 27, 2011
Certain Back Mountain residents in Luzerne County oppose the construction of a natural gas metering station near the Dallas schools, fearing for the safety of students and others who frequent the campus.
Link: http://www.timesleader.com/opinion/our_opinion/Gas_firms_harmed_by_blowing_hot_air_07-27-2011.html?searchterm=Marcellus+Shale

Taking a hard look at gas drilling
The Intelligencer
Amanda Cregan
July 28, 2011
As natural gas drilling booms, economic and environmental policy decisions in the works now will have a resounding impact on future generations in Pennsylvania.
Link: http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/the_intelligencer_news/taking-a-hard-look-at-gas-drilling/article_e3d2fc4d-43b4-5ecb-af61-f89aac0e2ed4.html

City council advances natural gas drilling for referendum
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Joe Smydo
July 28, 2011
Pittsburgh City Council dropped a bond refinancing deal and gave preliminary approval to a referendum on natural gas production Wednesday during a marathon meeting in the run-up to its annual August recess.
Link: http://www.postgazette.com/pg/11209/1163478-53.stm

Schools are good for something, at least…
Public Opinion Online
Editorial
Matthew Major
Now that the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission’s final report is complete, let’s continue to look at some of the things the natural gas industry would like to see happen in Pennsylvania.
Link: http://www.publicopiniononline.com/opinion/ci_18564585?source=rss

White’s Marcellus Municipal Co-op to Hold Public Hearing on Local Impact Fees
Marcellus Shale Coalition, PSATS and Commonwealth Foundation among those to testify.
Canon-McMillan Patch
Amanda Gillooly
July 27, 2011
State Rep. Jesse White on Wednesday said the Marcellus Municipal Co-op will conduct a public hearing next month to solicit testimony on local impact.
Link: http://canon-mcmillan.patch.com/articles/whites-marcellus-municipal-co-op-to-hold-public-hearing-on-local-impact-fees

Updated: Corbett’s drilling panel to meet for final time
pressconnects.com
AP
Marc Levy
July 14, 2011
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Members of an advisory panel will vote Friday on their final recommendations to Gov. Tom Corbett on how the state should address issues related to the rapidly growing Marcellus Shale drilling industry, but those recommendations will not be made public until they are sent to the governor a week later, an administration official said.
Link: http://www.pressconnects.com/article/20110714/NEWS11/107140346/Updated-Corbett-s-drilling-panel-meet-final-time?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

OSHA investigating employee death at Greene County gas well
Herald Standard
Steve Ferris
July 28, 2011
The West Virginia man who was killed at a gas well drilling site in Greene County last week was an employee of the drilling contractor, authorities said.
Link: http://www.heraldstandard.com/news/local_news/osha-investigating-employee-death-at-greene-county-gas-well/article_3e295d1e-9b46-5971-aa4f-b3894c0e90ac.html

Opponents ask board to deny drilling permit
The Indiana Gazette
Sam Kusic
July 27, 2011
A group of neighbors and environmentally minded residents again urged the Indiana County Zoning Hearing Board to deny a permit for a company planning to drill a vertical shale-gas well near Yellow Creek State Park.
Link: http://www.indianagazette.com/a_news/article_079dbdd5-d2b2-573c-9c43-4b8561d5ee77.html

Richland supervisors adopt rules on drilling
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Deborah Deasy
July 28, 2011
Western Pennsylvania’s surge in drilling for natural gas has spurred Richland supervisors to approve a 13-page package of regulations on any future gas and oil wells in the municipality.
Link: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_748663.html

Natives find way home by shale drilling
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Brian O’Neill
July 28, 2011
They call them “gumbanders” — Pennsylvanians who went away for a decade or two but have been pulled back.
Link: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11209/1163446-155.stm

Side-by-side electric plants debated in Washington Co.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
David Templeton
July 27, 2011
Offering new details about its power plant project in Washington County, Robinson Power Co. officials said planned side-by-side gas-turbine and coal-waste plants, each producing 150-megawatts of electricity, would reduce emissions by 60 percent over its previous plan to build a 300-megawatt coal-waste plant.
Link: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11208/1163138-58.stm

4 accused of lobbying city council on gas drilling ban
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Joe Smydo
July 27, 2011
Despite what he called behind-the-scenes opposition from Allegheny County executive candidate Rich Fitzgerald, two civic leaders and a union official, Pittsburgh city Councilman Doug Shields predicted that he will have the votes today to advance legislation that would let voters decide whether to include a natural gas drilling ban in the city’s home-rule charter.
Link: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11208/1163179-503-0.stm

Nova Chemicals signs agreement
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Staff and Wire Reports
July 27, 2011
Nova Chemicals Corp. of Moon said it signed an agreement with Statoil Marketing and Trading Inc. for a long-term supply of ethane from the Marcellus shale natural gas reserves.
Link: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_748575.html

Officials work to contain gas drilling before it begins
The Intelligencer
Amanda Cregan
July 27, 2011
Officials want to hit the brakes before the first gas drilling rig rolls into Springfield.
Link: http://www.phillyburbs.com/my_town/new_hope/officials-work-to-contain-gas-drilling-before-it-begins/article_a2d8019a-c3df-5a23-a98d-221adbbdd679.html

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