Tuesday, February 12, 2013

PA Marcellus News Digest 2/12/13

PA Marcellus News Digest 
February 12, 2013


DEP Releases Unconventional Drilling Emissions Inventory Data
Webinar slated for Feb. 21
DEP Newsroom
Feb 12
HARRISBURG -- The Department of Environmental Protection announced today it has released emissions data for the unconventional drilling industry and will discuss the results in an upcoming web-based presentation on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. The data represents 2011 emissions from natural gas production and processing facilities, such as wells and compressor stations.

Senate Environmental Committee Approves Two Bills
Feb 12
HARRISBURG – The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), today approved two bills.
Senate Bill 411 (Senator Kasunic) – Would limit the treatment liability of entities that choose to utilize acid mine water (AMD) for hydraulic fracturing of oil/gas wells, or other industrial uses.

Pickett Proposes Formal Documentation for Canceled, Terminated Gas Leases
Feb 11
HARRISBURG – A consumer-friendly proposal that will help landowners with oil and natural gas leases in Pennsylvania has been introduced in the state House, said Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna).

Commonwealth Financing Authority Updates Alternative Energy Guidelines
Alternative/Clean Energy and High Performance Building Programs Open for Applications
Feb 11
Harrisburg – The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) has begun accepting applications under the newly approved program guidelines for the Alternative and Clean Energy (ACE) and High Performance Building (HPB) Programs designed to foster the development of clean energy projects and the construction of high performance buildings in Pennsylvania.


Company looking to survey Aliquippa for natural gas drilling
Times Online
Abdul Al-Nakhli
Feb 7
ALIQUIPPA -- A Monaca company is interested in conducting a seismic survey of public property in Aliquippa for potential natural gas drilling.

Truth elusive about Marcellus shale
Evelyn Hovanec
Feb 8
The truth is elusive. Usually, one arrives at the truth (that which is in accordance with experience, facts, reality) after an extensive process pursued over a long period of time.

Environmental chief defends impact fee choices
Savannah Dempsey
Feb 8
Several local communities that do not contain drilling sites have seen a rise in truck traffic associated with natural gas drilling. Many people feel that damages caused by the traffic was inadequately compensated by funding associated with impact fee allotments.

The benefit of gas drilling in Pennsylvania
Patrick Henderson
Feb 8
The recent op-ed published in the Patriot News (Stateline.org – "Is fracking the key to a reversal of fortune in PA?") correctly highlights the significant economic potential being realized in states like Pennsylvania, Texas and North Dakota from the shale gas that we are safely developing more than a mile beneath our feet.

Ed Rendell Intervened For Fracking Giant Range Resources to Stop Texas EPA Water Contamination Case
Fire Dog Lake
Steve Horn
Feb 6
A breaking investigation by EnergyWire appears to connect the dots between shadowy lobbying efforts by shale gas fracking company Range Resources, and the Obama EPA’s decision to shut down its high-profile lawsuit against Range for allegedly contaminating groundwater in Weatherford, TX.

Allegheny County reaches $500 million deal for airport drilling
Mark Belko
Feb 7
Consol Energy Inc. will pay an estimated $500 million over the next 20 years for the right to drill for shale gas on land surrounding Pittsburgh International Airport.

Natural gas-fueled power plant in Lawrence County gets site approval
Pitt Trib
Kim Leonard
Feb 6
A $750 million plant in Lawrence County, powered by Marcellus shale gas, could begin generating electicity by 2016, officials said.

Rendell plays down his role in Range case
Mike Soraghan
E&E News
Feb 7
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) confirmed yesterday that he interceded on behalf of Range Resources Corp. with U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in 2011, a year before the agency dropped a Texas water pollution case against the oil and gas producer.

But Rendell, in a statement sent to EnergyWire, minimized his involvement in the high-profile case, saying he didn't go in with a settlement proposal.

"I visited EPA in 2011 to discuss a number of issues with Administrator Lisa Jackson and her staff," Rendell said. "I was made aware of the EPA's enforcement action against Range Resources prior to my meeting and suggested to EPA staff that a settlement could lead to increased cooperation between EPA regulators and the industry. I was not authorized by Range Resources to make a settlement proposal, nor did I offer one."

Emails obtained by EnergyWire through a Freedom of Information Act request showed EPA staffers involved with the Range case discussing Rendell's involvement (EnergyWire, Feb. 5).

An EPA attorney wrote that Rendell, acting as a "spokesman for Range," met with Jackson in 2011 and "proposed certain terms to the administrator."

Texas-based EPA officials brought the high-profile case against Range in December 2010. The emergency order charged that Range's shale gas wells were leaking methane gas into two homes in the Silverado subdivision in Parker County, just west of Fort Worth.

Range denies the accusations. Company officials say the withdrawal of the case in 2012 by Washington-based EPA and Justice Department officials proved that the accusations were baseless.

Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella said at the time the emails were disclosed that Rendell had "never functioned as a spokesperson of Range."

Rendell's meeting with Jackson was discussed by EPA attorneys and others working on the Range case in March 2011. But there has been some confusion. A Justice Department lawyer assigned to the Range case had originally said the politician involved was Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).

But Scott McDonald, chief of the Water Enforcement Branch in EPA's Office of Regional Counsel, wrote to then-Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz that Rendell proposed terms for settlement acting as a spokesman for the company.

Rendell's statement leaves a number of items vague on an issue that generates significant speculation. It doesn't say why Rendell, who'd left office in late January, was meeting with Jackson, or what the other issues were that he was there to discuss. It doesn't say how he was made aware of the case against Range, nor what he might have been authorized to say on behalf of Range.

The Rendell associate who forwarded the statement, Kirstin Snow, said no further clarification was available.

EPA has never made clear why it withdrew the case in March 2012. Rendell's suggestion that a settlement could lead to "increased cooperation" tracks with one theory: that EPA dropped the case to gain Range's cooperation in a national study of the safety of hydraulic fracturing. It also tracks with EPA officials' emails discussing an "improved relationship" between the agency and the company.

Rendell's lobbying

Rendell has not previously been associated with Range. But when he was in office, his deputy chief of staff, Scott Roy, left in October 2009 to work for Range. Several other Rendell aides left to work for Marcellus Shale drilling companies.

Rendell registered to lobby for the Reston, Va., telecommunications company LightSquared around the time of the Jackson meeting. The registration was filed by the Philadelphia law firm Ballard Spahr, which he rejoined as a partner days after leaving office.

Ballard Spahr is not registered to lobby for Range. Snow said the firm does not represent Range in any capacity. Later in 2011, Rendell registered to lobby for Kinetic Concepts Inc., a San Antonio health care company. The lobbying contract with LightSquared was terminated in February 2012.

Rendell has also served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee and has been mentioned as a potential Cabinet pick for President Obama.

Range was the first gas company to drill and complete a Marcellus Shale well in Pennsylvania, and it remains one of the dominant drillers in the state. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection records show Range has more than 4,000 conventional wells in the state and 854 shale gas wells.

Range is also playing a key role in a plan to revive a foundering refinery in Philadelphia, where Rendell was mayor before he became governor.

Range has signed a 15-year agreement to ship natural gas liquids to the once-defunct Marcus Hook refinery as part of a project called Mariner East. It has pledged to provide 40,000 barrels of Mariner East's 70,000-barrel-per-day capacity.

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