Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Penn. Marcellus News Update 5/23/12

An environmental court has ruled that a western Pennsylvania man can appeal a state finding that his private water well was not contaminated by nearby Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Tuesday that Loren Kiskadden can pursue a claim that a Department of Environmental Protection investigation of his complaint was inaccurate and incomplete.

The DEP argued that Kiskadden had no right to appeal, but the Environmental Hearing Board disagreed.
A Bloomingdale, Ohio, landowner lost the right to stop surveyors for Enterprise Liquids Pipeline from entering her farm....
Enterprise is creating a pipeline that will transport ethane from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the Gulf Coast....
Hyde said the company told him they needed to reroute the line and it was necessary to go through the hayfield for the new route. Researching his options, he found out the farm had been in an agricultural district since 1989.
However, that was not enough.
Royalty checks that start to arrive when a gas company drills on your property can make for some very profitable envelopes in the mailbox. But the low natural gas prices that have disrupted industry balance sheets in recent months could start to cut into those checks.
Put it this way: "You could be having filet mignon when they're high, and Kraft macaroni & cheese when they're low," said Craig Tillotson, executive vice president of sales at the Downtown-based Hefren-Tillotson wealth management firm.
Mr. Tillotson is a wealth adviser whose expanding client base includes farmers and landowners signing lucrative leases for their mineral rights in the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation. So-called "shaleionaires" can take home millions of dollars by signing a lease, but they are now entering an unpredictable market that can cause royalty checks to fluctuate -- or stop altogether.
The lowest natural gas prices in a decade also have forced a new industry emphasis on lease terms that allow companies to deduct certain well costs from landowner royalty checks.
Clean Harbors Inc. senior vice president Scott Metzger pulled into the dirt lot of a once-abandoned factory yard here, past gleaming trucks painted with the Norwell, Mass., company's signature red, and opened the door to the environmental services firm's newest offices.

It is the third property Clean Harbors has opened or acquired in Pennsylvania in the past year, as the company rides the drilling boom that is unlocking natural gas and oil from shale deposits and increasing demand for its know-how in avoiding, reducing, and cleaning up environmental damage. Last year, work for the shale industry generated 25 percent of Clean Harbors' $2 billion in revenues, and that number is only expected to grow.
Not content to leave Pennsylvania communities with any control over gas drilling within their borders, state legislators have stripped municipalities of their zoning authority under Act 13, choosing energy corporations over the people who elected them. This isn’t exactly new ground for the legislature; indeed, taking away communities’ authority to govern themselves is a decades-old pastime in Harrisburg, one that has shifted into high gear over the past 20 years.
The legislature made logging a guaranteed right in all zoning districts back in 1992, giving in to timber interests and eliminating municipalities’ authority to provide for conservation zones.
Shortly thereafter, lawmakers stripped municipalities of their authority to regulate corporate water extraction, the use of genetically modified seeds, and the dumping of urban sewage sludge on farmland. They also required all communities to allow “reasonable” extraction of minerals.

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