Sunday, March 17, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013 Pa. Marcellus Shale and Energy News Updates, Mar. 5- Mar. 17

We we had a new addition to the family recently and I had to put off last week's update. Preparation for the little guy's arrival has limited my posts to these updates but I hope to expand back into the type of analysis and commentary I did last year.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Please click on headlines to read the full stories

Pa. pushes drillers to frack with coal mine water
Each day, 300 million gallons of polluted mine water enters Pennsylvania streams and rivers, turning many of them into dead zones unable to support aquatic life. At the same time, drilling companies use up to 5 million gallons of fresh water for every natural-gas well they frack.
State environmental officials and coal region lawmakers are hoping that the state's newest extractive industry can help clean up a giant mess left by the last one. They are encouraging drillers to use tainted coal mine water to hydraulically fracture gas wells in the Marcellus Shale formation, with the twin goals of diverting pollution from streams and rivers that now run orange with mine drainage and reducing the drillers' reliance on fresh sources of water.
Lawsuit targets FirstEnergy in coal plant waste disposal

Environmental groups are speaking out against a recent trend of local coal plants storing waste at a coal mine dump in La Belle, Pa.
Attorneys from the Environmental Integrity Project and Public Justice filed a notice of intent to sue local contracting company Matt Canestrale Contracting Inc. for what they say was the improper disposal of hundreds of thousands of tons of coal-ash waste at the La Belle coal mine dump in Fayette County.

The suit was filed on behalf the Citizens Coal Council based Bridgeville, Pa., and alleges that the company violated Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law, Air Pollution Control Act, and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; and the Clean Air Act. Matt Canestrale Contracting disposes of coal ash generated by the GenOn Energy-owned Elrama plant and the FirstEnergy plant in Mitchell, Pa.
Western Pennsylvania workers make inroads in landing shale gas jobs
Western Pennsylvania building contractors and tradespeople say they're gradually making inroads into the shale gas business — meaning fewer Texas and Oklahoma contractors' license plates are spotted on area roads these days.
About 1,600 of the 30,000 laborers, pipefitters, electricians and operators in the Pittsburgh Regional Building and Construction Trades Council's territory work for Marcellus or Utica shale natural gas producers, midstream businesses that build and run pipelines or other industry players, said Rich Stanizzo, the council's business manager and chairman of the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania.
“We weren't getting any of this work when they first came into town” about four years ago, Stanizzo said on Tuesday as the guild and the Marcellus Shale Coalition hosted a forum in the South Side for about 100 contractors and workers on how to land opportunities in shale development....
...“We're getting 5 or 10 percent of the work? Why shouldn't we be doing 40 or 50?” said Ken Broadbent, business manager for Steamfitters Local 449, referring to mechanical contractors in the region.
Corbett and His Wife Took Over $15,000 in Gifts from Law Firm Representing Oil and Gas Industry
During his time as State Attorney General and Governor, Tom Corbett and his wife took thousands of dollars in gifts from an influential Philadelphia law firm whose clients include oil, gas, and chemical companies fighting state and federal environmental regulators.
According to a StateImpact analysis of the couple’s ethics filings, the law firm Blank Rome LLP has given them $15,447 in gifts since 2007.
The gifts include tickets to Phillies games, dinner at the swanky Pennsylvania Society gathering in Manhattan, and an annual gala benefiting the Philadelphia Orchestra —where their tickets cost $2,500 apiece.
Fracking's 'revolving door' draws a warning
Many of Pennsylvania's policymakers, regulators and enforcement workers have come from the oil and gas industry they oversee, or they leave state jobs for industry jobs, according to a recent report that questions the impacts of such a "revolving door" on public policy decisions.
A report titled "Fracking and the Revolving Door in Pennsylvania" identified 45 current or former state officials who have links to the energy industry and gas drilling and fracking regulation, including 28 who have left to take industry jobs.
The 30-page report, released two weeks ago by the Public Accountability Initiative (, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization focused on corporate and government accountability, said that attrition from government jobs to positions in the regulated industry calls into question the commitment of those employees to enforce regulations on companies they could soon work for.
N.J. Sierra Club against fracking and pipeline project
Sierra Club speaks against pipeline
Dear Editor:
A number of polluting gas pipelines, compressor stations, and other transportation infrastructure have been proposed across the Delaware River Basin to service the development of drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale. These new projects and expansions are having devastating impacts on resources in the watershed, and the New Jersey Sierra Club is joining other environmental groups and hundreds of citizens in calling on the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to exercise its full authority over all pipeline projects proposed in the region. We need full DRBC review to determine the secondary and cumulative impacts these projects have on the watershed as more and more projects are being proposed. New Jersey has already had waterways destroyed and forests cleared as a result of these pipeline projects and we need the DRBC to act now to stop further damage.
Exelon seeks to boost nuclear output amid declining power prices
While many energy companies have sold off power plants to battle declining electricity prices, Commonweath Edison parent Exelon Corp. is still hedging its bets on nuclear energy to power its growth.
The Chicago company, which is one of the nation's largest operators of nuclear power plants, said last month it was deferring plans to spend $2.3 billion on expanding capacity at its nuclear power plants and other projects because of low natural gas prices and slowed electricity demand. But this week it got a step closer to its scaled back goal of adding more than 1,100 megawatts of carbon-free energy by 2021.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission earlier this week accepted the company's application to modify its Peach Bottom nuclear plant in Pennsylvania to increase the plant’s capacity by 12.4 percent, Reuters said. The two reactors at the plant currently have a capacity of 1,122 megawatts, enough to power more than 1 million homes. 
Casey questions what led to fracking wastewater communication breakdown
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Scranton, announced Thursday that he wrote a letter to the National Response Center, urging them to improve their notification system and efforts after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection didn’t receive notice of the illegal dumping of thousands of gallons of fracking wastewater into a storm sewer that led to the Mahoning River, which eventually leads to the Beaver River.
Federal Legislation Aims to Close “Fracking Loopholes”
Pennsylvania Representative Matthew Cartwright (D-17) has introduced legislation to remove oil and gas industry exemptions from the federal Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Cartwright is from Scranton, and his district stretches over six counties including Schuylkill, Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, and Northampton County. 
The “FRESHER” Act would remove federal regulatory exemptions related to storm water run-off at drill sites. And the “BREATHE” Act would require air emissions generated by the oil and gas industry be subject to federal aggregation regulations. 
“The lack of oversight and permitting of storm water in the oil and gas industry represents a danger to the nation’s waterways and other key assets. This is especially true in areas where hydraulic fracturing has increased in prevalence,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright in a press release. “Both of these pieces of legislation are common sense and I urge my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to get on board.”
Loyalsock State Forest is the heart of Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains Region, and provides thousands of visitors amazing hiking, canoeing and camping experiences. 
But, just days after Gov. Corbett's top forest protection official said their highest priority is protecting Loyalsock, a leaked memo showed they were negotiating a a deal to open up the Loyalsock to gas drilling—and was just trying to agree on a price with the Texas-based gas drilling company Anadarko. [1] 
If the governor allows Anadarko, a Houston-based gas company, to drill in Loyalsock, the park’s land would be torn up and vulnerable to pollution. In fact, Anadarko has already been cited for over 150 drilling violations in Pennsylvania and is already surveying lands for drilling around some of the best hiking paths. [2]
 Pa. Lawmaker Aims To Publicize Fracking Water Test Results (paywall)
Pennsylvania state Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny, introduced legislation Friday requiring the state Department of Environmental Protection to give homeowners the results of water tests that analyze contamination from natural gas drilling, continuing a challenge to the DEP's transparency over water supply damage.
The bill would require the DEP to post water testing results on its website and provide individuals who own private water supplies with testing and a lab report if they suspect their water supplies have been polluted or diminished because of natural gas drilling....
Venture proposes 'Bluegrass Pipeline' to the Gulf Coast

More natural gas liquids extracted from underneath Pennsylvania will start flowing to petrochemical facilities and export markets near the Gulf Coast through a new pipeline project announced Thursday. 
Williams, an energy infrastructure firm, and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP said their proposed joint venture will build new pipelines and upgrade existing ones to provide a pathway for liquids like ethane to move from the Marcellus region in Appalachia to facilities in Texas and Louisiana. 
The so-called "Bluegrass Pipeline" would transport up to 400,000 barrels per day of natural gas liquids from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the Gulf Coast, where the liquids can either be processed by that region's bevy of petrochemical facilities or shipped to other markets.

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