Thursday, October 11, 2012

PA Marcellus News Digest 10/11/12

PA Marcellus News Digest
October 11, 2012


Lt. Governor Cawley Says Natural Gas Creating Jobs in Centre County
Oct 11
Pleasant Gap – Lt. Governor Jim Cawley today toured a limestone processing plant owned by Graymont Inc. in Pleasant Gap, Centre County, to get a first-hand look at how Marcellus Shale is helping the company grow and create jobs.


State parks director ouster stirs controversy
Robert Swift
Oct 11
HARRISBURG - The abrupt resignation of a state parks director who brought national recognition to the 117-unit system is fueling debate over potential natural gas drilling on state park lands.

Sunoco pipeline from Houston-Delmont may use eminent domain
Pitt Trib
Rossilynne Skena
Oct 11
Sunoco officials told about 85 residents on Wednesday that the company can use eminent domain to install a proposed pipeline under their land but it hopes not to do so.

Marcellus shale driller settles with Beaver landowners
Pitt Trib
Brian Bowling
Oct 10
Chesapeake Energy Corp. and 18 Beaver County landowners settled two lawsuits over the company’s development of Marcellus shale gas wells on their properties, a federal judge said Wednesday.

DEP approves natural gas power plant
Don Hopey
Oct 10
The state Department of Environmental Protection has approved an air emissions permit for the state’s first new electric power plant to run on natural gas, and at least one other new gas-powered plant has been proposed.

Perilous Pathways: Hunting For Hidden Wells
NPR State Impact
Scott Detrow
Oct 11

North Beaver may get gas-fueled electricity plant
New Castle News
Debbie Wachter
Oct 10
[...]Representatives of LS Power of St. Louis, Mo., presented plans Tuesday to build a $750 million electricity-generating plant in North Beaver Township that could serve the area for 30 years or more.

Company aims to build power plant in North Beaver
Ellwood City Ledger
Eric Poole
Oct 10
ELLWOOD CITY — A proposed natural gas electric plant in North Beaver Township would bring 500 construction jobs to Lawrence County over a three-year span starting in 2014.

Governor opens state schools to gas leasing
E&E News, EnergyWire
Ellen M. Gilmer
Oct 11
(full text below)
Pennsylvania natural gas producers are praising a new law that will open more state land to mining and shale drilling.

Gov. Tom Corbett (R) signed the Indigenous Mineral Resources Incentives Development Act this week, placing more state-owned land, including universities and prisons, on the table for leasing. Supporters say the move could be a significant revenue generator for the state, with schools also getting a cut of the profit.

Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, which represents gas producers that could jump on newly available leases, called the law pragmatic, evidenced by its revenue distribution plan.

"By allocating natural-gas-related revenue from taxpayer-owned land to conservation and infrastructure programs, and perhaps most importantly, to our state university students in the form of expanded scholarship funding, this law clearly demonstrates the positive impact that natural gas production is having, and will continue to have, across the Commonwealth," she said in a statement.

The new law stipulates that half the royalties or payments received from companies operating on state-owned university land would go to the school. More than one-third would be spread among other state universities, and the rest would be set aside for scholarships in the statewide system. Four state schools are situated above the Marcellus Shale, and two others are on the edge (EnergyWire, Sept. 27).

Leasing of state land for resource extraction was previously reserved for just a few state agencies, including the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The new leasing power goes to the Department of General Services, which serves as the state's real estate agent. It will have the option -- not the requirement -- to lease mineral rights.

For the nonuniversity land the law opens to development, such as prisons, the revenue distribution plan sends 60 percent to the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, which supports conservation efforts; 25 percent to the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority; and 15 percent to the host agency.

The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Don White (R), swept through Harrisburg in recent months, garnering a two-thirds majority from lawmakers in the state House. It passed with only three holdouts in the Senate. White touted the bill as a boon to the state's economy.

"It simply provides a new opportunity to generate revenue, while helping students, supporting Pennsylvania's environmental protection efforts and boosting our state economy through the creation of new jobs," he said in a statement after the bill's passage.

But environmentalists still have reservations, mainly that drilling is too risky to be in close proximity to an educational institution. A recommendation from the citizens group PennFuture to require approval from university presidents before leasing did not make it into the law.

A similar push to drill on university land is under way in Ohio. The Buckeye State mandated a resource inventory from public universities to see where Utica Shale drilling would be feasible. Ohio Oil and Gas Association Executive Vice President Tom Stewart indicated at the time that the schools would likely have final control over lease terms (EnergyWire, April 5).

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