PA Marcellus News Digest
March 13, 2013
Citizens Speak Out and Shut Down Meeting as DRBC Attempts to Ignore Pipelines
West Trenton, NJ: Over 140 people from around the region showed up at the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) March 6th meeting to demand action on gas pipelines, including (1) urging a yes vote on the Petition submitted by 67 organizations and supported by over 2,000 citizens, and (2) exercising DRBC jurisdiction over the Tennessee Gas Pipeline/Kinder Morgan Northeast Upgrade Pipeline Project (NEUP).
DEP's staff is professional and thorough
Katy Gresh, Harrisburg Communications Director Department of Environmental Protection
The Post-Gazette's Feb. 23 editorial "No Show: A Public Hearing on DEP Missed Hearing from DEP" misses some key points. Gov. Tom Corbett's administration takes water quality investigations seriously. It was this administration that fined a driller more than $1 million, the largest single penalty in Pennsylvania's Oil and Gas program's history, in a case involving methane migration.
Who might replace Joan Orie Melvin?
Amaris Elliott-Engel and Zack Needles / The Legal Intelligencer
In the wake of Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin's political corruption conviction, attention is turning to her potential replacement.
Fracking is the Future!
Dan Doyle is a fracker. He sits in the corner booth at the back of Avanti’s, where it’s dark. He’s not wearing a pin-striped suit and lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills the way you might expect him to be. There’s no black hat on his head or sudden cascade of diminished chords that usually accompany the appearance of movie villains. Instead, he’s an ordinary looking Erie resident – not the image of the evil capitalist his profession sometimes conjures – whose roundish face and generous laugh makes you feel instantly at ease.
Gas drilling industry helps Pa. become one of top states in number of new or expanded corporate facilities
The booming gas drilling industry may have helped to seal Pennsylvania's position as one of the top states in the nation for the number of new or expanded corporate facilities.
Gas facility dangers worry area residents
MONROE TWP. — A few dozen residents packed the township supervisors meeting Monday and questioned what officials were doing to protect them from possible dangers they associate with a natural gas dehydrator station.
Shale tests worry Forward residents
Nearly 60 Forward Township residents concerned with Marcellus shale drilling filled the municipal building Monday for a public meeting with officials from EQT Corp., Geokinetics, and Cougar Land Services.
Beaver Falls Muncipal Authority could have avoided fracking dump contamination
It could have taken as little as two or three hours for the thousands of gallons of fracking wastewater dumped in Youngstown in January to completely bypass the Beaver Falls Municipal Authority and its 17,000 customers, officials said Monday.
Formal Ethics Complaint Filed Over Free Gifts Taken by Corbett
NPR State Impact
PA Groups React to Obama’s New Energy and Environment Appointments
NPR State Impact
Gas Drilling & Jobs: NY & PA Are Among Just 4 States Whose Unemployment Rate Did Not Decline In 2012
John Hanger's Facts of The Day
While America's annual average unemployment rate fell by 0.8 percentage points in 2012 compared to 2011, and while this key jobs statistic improved in 46 states during 2012, New York and Pennsylvania did not share in improving times. Instead, New York and Pennsylvania were among just 4 states, where the unemployment rate did not improve over the course of 2012. What explains their bad performance?
The Marcellus Contributes To Falling Unemployment In Ohio and West Virginia But Not In Pennsylvania
John Hanger's Facts of The Day
The Marcellus gas reserve is the second biggest in the world and has been producing gas and jobs since 2007. Unlike New York, where a moratorium is in place, Marcellus shale gas is flowing and jobs have been created in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Beaver County unaware of potential threat to drinking water
Several state and federal agencies failed to communicate about a threat to drinking water in Beaver County last month, raising questions about emergency communication across state lines, officials and experts said.
Philly looks to get into gas exports as old Alaska plant bows out
(full text below)
Philadelphia officials are eyeing liquefied natural gas exports as a means to cash in on the rich resource in the nearby Marcellus and Utica shales.
An export facility would take advantage of, and build on, the city's extensive refining and chemicals infrastructure as well as its rail connections and port, city and industry officials say.
"Philadelphia is in a unique position," testified Steve Forde, policy and communications chief for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, at a hearing last week convened by the Philadelphia City Council together with state Sen. Michael Brubaker, chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate International Commerce Caucus.
"While true that neither the Marcellus nor Utica shale formations underlie southeastern Pennsylvania, it is also true that Greater Philadelphia is at the doorstep of one of the most important natural gas plays in the world. And the economic opportunities that exist because of it are abundant," Forde told officials.
The hearing was third in a string of sessions addressing how the city of Philadelphia can better position itself to capture world business opportunities, according to Lois Kang, a legislative aide for City Councilman David Oh (R). She described last week's session, on natural gas, as "informational," adding that the discussion of LNG exports was at a "conceptual phase."
Mitchell Bormack, a vice president with international consulting, engineering and construction management firm TRC Companies Inc., testified that he has had confidential talks with parties interested in building an LNG export terminal in Philadelphia.
Bormack told officials that new LNG export terminals can take four years just to permit and billions of dollars to build, and noted that the first movers will have the best chance of capitalizing on global LNG markets. "Given some of the existing infrastructure in Philadelphia's gas and port facilities, it would probably require a little less time and money here than the quoted averages," he added.
Bormack said his company also has had conversations about the viability of building a gas-to-liquids plant in the region that would convert methane to liquid transportation fuels.
"There is keen interest in siting a facility in Philadelphia or nearby. This would bring permitting, design and construction jobs; long-term operating jobs; and significant tax revenue on the order of the construction of an LNG facility," Bormack said.
It is unclear whether there are serious proposals in play for an LNG terminal or GTL plant to be built in the Philadelphia area. Both require sophisticated financing to get off the ground and entail regulatory hurdles that few companies can take on, and can engender strong local opposition. But the city has a long history of industrial activity that could lay the groundwork for a successful project.
Alaskan terminal wrapping up shipments
Even as a wave of projects springs up to build the first modern U.S. LNG export terminals, one such shipping facility, in Alaska, is faced with a likely shutdown.
The Kenai LNG terminal has been shipping LNG to Japanese buyers for 40 years, as the only existing terminal licensed to send the fuel to countries with which the United States lacks a free-trade agreement. But its owner, ConocoPhillips Co., is planning to let its license lapse at the end of this month.
A company official said there is currently no plan to renew the plant's Energy Department export license when it expires March 31. "ConocoPhillips will consider pursuing a new export authorization only if local gas needs are met and there is sufficient gas for export. Right now, ConocoPhillips is unaware of sufficient gas supply," company spokeswoman Amy Burnett said.
The Kenai facility is isolated from natural gas produced on the North Slope, where it is typically reinjected underground for lack of a means to transport it to market. Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC and ConocoPhillips are in long-running negotiations with the state over financing for a pipeline project, estimated to cost $50 billion or more, that would bring that natural gas to the coast for export.
The Alaskan natural gas market is also physically separate from the one in the lower 48 states due to a lack of connecting pipelines.
Advocates for the state's natural gas industry have argued that because of that separation, Alaskan exports should not be included in the controversy surrounding the potential expansion of LNG exports from the mainland. That controversy has focused in part on predictions that exports would slightly increase domestic natural gas prices; natural gas infrastructure expansion in Alaska is generally associated with greater access for residents and lower prices.