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Pa. Lawmaker Wants to Spend Impact Fee Money on Fracking Health Study
Suburban Philadelphia Republican State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf is working on a bill that would allocate $2 million from the state’s impact fee fund to study the public health impacts of Marcellus Shale drilling.
Greenleaf has circulated a memo about the bill, which would amend Act 13, the state’s new drilling law. Despite attempts by the state’s public health community, Act 13 passed without funds for a health registry.Allegheny County, Consol strike $500M airport gas drilling deal
For years, Pittsburgh International Airport has been viewed as an economic engine for the region. Little did anyone know that the big money -- half a billion dollars -- would be in the ground, not in the sky.
That appears to be the case, with Thursday's announcement that Consol Energy Inc. will pay an estimated $500 million over the next 20 years for the right to drill for shale gas on 9,263 acres surrounding the Findlay airport.
In discussing the agreement at a public hearing Thursday night in Moon, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said it would include an upfront bonus payment of $50 million and an estimated $450 million in royalties over the next two decades.
Mr. Fitzgerald said Cecil-based Consol also plans to invest another $500 million in drilling-related infrastructure and other costs.Rendell Downplays Role in Range Contamination Case
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell says gas driller Range Resources never authorized him to speak on their behalf to the EPA about a Texas contamination case. On Tuesday, EnergyWire published a piece quoting email exchanges between EPA officials that would suggest Rendell went to bat for Range over a high-profile methane migration case in Parker County, Texas.
Shale permits not on 'trigger list' for extra review in poor areas
The state Department of Environmental Protection has granted hundreds of permits for Marcellus Shale gas development in Pennsylvania's poor and minority communities.
None of those permits for gas wells, wastewater impoundments or compressor stations has triggered intervention by DEP's Office of Environmental Advocate to inform residents of those communities about potential health and environmental impacts from proposed industrial developments.
That's because the state's rapidly proliferating Marcellus Shale gas facilities are not included on the list of "trigger permits" the DEP uses to determine when to provide enhanced notification, information and public participation opportunities in those "environmental justice" communities.
And Holly Cairns, new director of DEP's Office of Environmental Advocate, said there are no plans to change that...Fracking for State Dollars
But states collect vastly different amounts of severance tax revenue on oil and gas. North Dakota, for example, imposes an 11.5 percent severance on oil, subject to certain exemptions, and collected nearly $1.9 billion in all severance taxes in 2011, up from just $83,000 in the pre-fracking days of the 1990s.
Pennsylvania has no severance tax at all. Instead it has an impact fee that helps localities fix roads and other drilling damage. The impact fee brought in $204 million in 2011, but that was only about half of what the state could have collected had it used a tax comparable to that of neighboring West Virginia, by one estimate.
“There should be a tax like other states have,” says Pennsylvania state Representative Gene DiGirolamo, a Republican who last session pushed a 4.9 percent tax on companies drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale field, the largest such gas deposit in North America, and one that also covers parts of Ohio, West Virginia and New York, among other states. “We’re not chasing the gas industry out of the commonwealth,” says Republican state Representative Tom Murt, who is cosponsoring the legislation. “We just want the industry to pay their fair share.”
Pennsylvania is the only state with substantial oil and gas reserves that does not have a severance tax. Even tax-averse Texas has one: It levies 7.5 percent on natural gas and 4.6 percent on oil, which helped to bring in $2.7 billion in combined severance taxes for the state in 2011.A Clash in Pennsylvania Over Fracking and Water Tests
A war of words has broken out between environmentalists and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection over the cancellation of a meeting on the state’s testing of water from water wells near natural-gas drilling sites.
A meeting of 25 environmentally themed groups, the department’s oil and gas division and the state Department of Health’s Bureau of Laboratories had been set for Jan. 24 after the disclosure last November that department scientists had omitted data on some toxic metals found in water taken from a site in southwestern Pennsylvania.
On Jan. 22, the department informed the groups that the meeting was being deferred until an unspecified date, according to Iris Marie Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters, a group based in Philadelphia that had planned to take part.
Study shows shale boom provides boost to trucking.
Benesch, an Ohio based firm with expertise in transportation law, recently collaborated with National Tank Truck Carriers in Washington, D.C. and the Ohio Trucking Association to develop and execute a survey examining the shale boom’s impact on trucking on both a national and state level.
Members of each trade association were asked to complete a digital survey designed to explore the current status of trucking as it related to the oil and gas industry and expectations for the future. Surveys were sent to all members of each association, who are spread out geographically across the U.S. and Ohio respectively.
“We decided to look at trucking because, as many economists will tell you, it is an important harbinger of economic vitality and change,” says Richard Plewacki, a partner with Benesch’s Transportation & Logistics practice. “Increases in trucking activity signal corresponding changes in manufacturing and industry. After all, you can’t make or sell a product without transportation playing a key role in the process.”
The survey found shale activity is having a positive impact on the trucking industry, that this increase in opportunities and presumably profits is expected to continue and significant job growth will be a byproduct of the trend. The study also sought to identify possible obstacles to future growth in the transportation sector.Washington Gas Energy Services Receives Green-e Energy Certification of New WGES PA WindPower Renewable Energy Product
Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) today announced that Washington Gas Energy Services' WGES PA WindPower renewable energy product is now Green-e Energy certified. Washington Gas Energy Services (WGES) is part of the growing network of renewable energy providers that offer products certified by Green-e Energy, North America's leading certification and verification program for renewable energy. "The new PA WindPower product is an excellent addition to WGES's renewable energy portfolio," said Alex Pennock, manager of Green-e Energy. "Now households and businesses in Pennsylvania have even more opportunity to source their electricity from 100 percent home-grown wind power."New Rail Traffic Data Reflects Big Shift Away From Coal
The recent shift away from coal and toward natural gas to generate electricity in the U.S. has had major impacts across the country, from rapid economic growth and pollution concerns in rural Pennsylvania and Ohio to lost jobs in the coal-mining belt of Appalachia. So, too, has the record expansion in U.S. oil production from newly accessible deposits, such as the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. crude oil production increased by a record 780,000 barrels of oil per day in 2012.
Now another ripple effect can be added to the list of energy market-related shifts, with data from freight railroad operators showing a major decline in the amount of coal transported by train in the U.S. in 2012, at the same time as oil shipments have dramatically increased. That is significant since most of the coal that is burned by U.S. power plants is shipped via rail, so the drop in coal transport clearly reflects the broader market trends. The trend may be concerning to freight rail operators, since according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), “no single commodity is more important to America’s railroads than coal.” Coal accounted for 43.3 percent of freight rail tonnage and 24.7 percent of rail gross revenue in 2011, AAR said on its website.Gassed in Pennsylvania: Green Jobs, Black Men, and the Dirty Hope of Fracking
After an intense six-week training program, the only thing that stands between Aaron Alton and a $90,000 fracking job is a commercial driver's license. It's August of 2012. The job, at a natural gas drilling company, is Aaron's ticket out of Harrisburg, PA.
Waiting at the PennDOT, the state's motor-vehicle office, Aaron thinks he's all set until they run his information. They tell him that his driving privileges are suspended. He remembers being pulled over a year ago for tinted windows on a Lincoln Navigator.
Driving with tinted windows is not illegal.
It is, however, the pretext used to pull over lots of drivers in Pennsylvania who happen to be black and Puerto Rican.Corbett talks cracker in budget address
Shell's multibillion-dollar proposed ethane cracker in Beaver County got not just one but two references in Gov. Tom Corbett's budget address Tuesday.
Shell still hasn't decided whether to make the investment in the facility, which would be built at the site of a soon-to-be-closed Horsehead Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: ZINC) factory. But Corbett told lawmakers it will mean thousands of jobs "when we succeed in attracting the new petrochemical plant and the hundreds of new businesses that will spring up around it."Twin Ridges Wind Farm Powers Up In Pennsylvania
Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES Americas) says it has completed the 139.4 MW Twin Ridges Wind Farm, located in Somerset County, Pa. RES Americas served as the balance-of-plant contractor for the project, which was developed and is owned by EverPower.Mehoopany Wind Farm Now in Full Commercial Operation
BP Wind Energy and Sempra U.S. Gas and Power announced in early January 2013 that their $250 million wind farm project in Pennsylvania has gone into full commercial operation. The Mehoopany Wind Farm, located about twenty miles northwest of Scranton, is the state’s largest wind project.
“This is a great project all the way around,” said Sempra US Gas & Power president and CEO, Jeffrey W. Martin. “The State of Pennsylvania has been a recognized leader in providing critical fuels to help grow our nation’s economy for over a century. This project continues in that proud tradition by harnessing clean, sustainable wind energy that will benefit mid-Atlantic customers for decades to come.”