Patrick Henderson is Governor Corbett's Energy Executive.
Governor Corbett’s top adviser on energy issues calls climate change an “evolving science” saying, “reasonable, studious individuals may still be searching for a consensus.”
Patrick Henderson was appointed by Corbett to be Pennsylvania’s Energy Executive in 2011. The Philadelphia Inquirer has called him “one of the most powerful people in Harrisburg you don’t know about.”
In an October 2013 interview with StateImpact Pennsylvania, Henderson acknowledged man-made climate change exists but called it an “evolving science.”
“We’re getting more information. We’re getting more facts,” he said. “We need to be pragmatic and practical in what our solutions are.”
Henderson declined to comment for this story, but he frequently comments on the StateImpact Pennsylvania website.
He left a message under our story on Wednesday about Corbett’s nominee to head the Department of Environmental Protection, Chris Abruzzo, who said he was unaware climate change can cause harm and sees no need for Pennsylvania to adopt new policies to address it.
Here is Henderson’s comment:
U.S. carbon emissions at a 20-year low, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
A 29% increase in ice cover across the globe compared to a year ago.
An emerging consensus among climate change scientists that there has been a pause in global warming since 1997, with some predicting a global cooling trend.
2013 – the fewest number of hurricanes in…31 years. And 8 years since the last major hurricane made landfall in the United States…the longest stretch since before
the Civil War.
Don’t fear though…we have discredited climate changer Michael Mann on speed email to tell you that this is NOT a complex issue upon which reasonable, studious individuals may still be searching for a consensus.
Patrick Henderson, Energy Executive
We fact-checked his statements. Here is where the science stands:
The Associated Press reports Shell has scrapped plans to build a multibillion dollar gas-to-liquids plant in Lousiana, but is still actively exploring a multibillion dollar ethane cracker plant in Western Pa.
Royal Dutch Shell will not be going ahead with plans for a $12.5 billion gas-to-liquids plant in Louisiana, the company announced today.
The plant would have used natural gas feedstocks to make more valuable diesel and gasoline, and is one of three major projects the company was exploring in North America. Shell has also proposed building an ethane cracker in Beaver County, Pennsylvania and a liquified natural gas plant in Canada.
Outgoing Shell CEO Richard Voser said recently that the company would have to make “hard choices” about where to invest capital.
The decision comes just two months after Shell selected a site for the plant. It would have created 740 jobs, according to a late-September announcement that championed the plant’s location in Ascension Parish, near Baton Rouge.
Shell, based in the Hague, Netherlands, said Thursday that the cost of the plant and the expected profit it could generate made the plant “not a viable option.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration had offered an incentive package that included $112 million for road improvements, land purchasing and other infrastructure in Ascension Parish.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has said he expects to know the fate of the Beaver County ethane cracker project sometime next year. Meanwhile, Corbett is doing what he can to convince Shell to seal the deal by pushing for large tax breaks and touting the thousands of jobs it could bring to western Pennsylvania.
The Associated Press recently reported Shell has an option to buy the proposed site in Monaca which is now owned by Horsehead Corporation and has chosen two engineering firms to conduct feasibility studies and pre-project planning.
A worker monitors pressurized testing at a fracking site in Susquehanna County.
America’s recent oil and gas boom, including the massive Marcellus production here in Pennsylvania, has dramatically shifted the nation’s trade deficit. But this has not translated into a large number of energy industry jobs.
If you heat your home with natural gas, you might be getting some pretty low bills this month. The Associated Press reports natural gas prices for six of the 10 biggest utilities in Pennsylvania are at their lowest in a decade.
Utilities credit the huge volume of gas being produced from the Marcellus Shale formation underneath Pennsylvania for pushing down prices. In most cases, prices this December are less than half what they were in December 2008, when the drilling boom was just beginning.
Peco’s three-month winter price, which took effect Sunday, means a customer will see an average monthly bill of just under $160, or almost $3 less per month than last winter, spokesman Ben Armstrong said.
The utility is reaching out to people who live along gas mains to encourage them to switch. Incentives include helping foot the cost to extend a line to a home and appliance rebates, Armstrong said.
According to the state Public Utility Commission, about half of all Pennsylvania households use natural gas for heating, with more customers switching from electricity and oil.
But don’t expect the low prices to last all winter long. The federal Energy Information Administration is predicting that as the price of natural gas goes up, it’ll cost about $80 more per household this year, compared to last year.
Governor Corbett has nominated his former Deputy Chief of Staff, Chris Abruzzo, to head the DEP.
Governor Corbett’s pick to head the state Department of Environmental Protection says he is unaware climate change can be harmful.
Chris Abruzzo, who has been Acting DEP secretary since April, was speaking before the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee this morning about his nomination and was asked about his views on the topic.
“I’ve not read any scientific studies that would lead me to conclude there are adverse impacts to human beings, animals, or plant life at this small level of climate change,” Abruzzo said.
Abruzzo told the committee he does believe climate change is occurring and that it seems to be at least partially attributable to human factors, but he does not view it as harmful and sees no reason for Pennsylvania to adopt new policies to address it.
Courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Acid Mine Reclamation
Acid mine drainage often turns a stream orange and smothers all aquatic life. In this case, aluminum has turned the stream lifeless.
After shrinking away from the spotlight for almost eight months, a bill aimed at encouraging natural gas drillers to use polluted mine drainage water to frack by easing their liability is making its way back into the legislature.
Senate Bill 411 got a lot of attention earlier this year when environmentalists pushed back, claiming it would grant immunity to the industry all the way through the fracking process. The bill, introduced by Sen. Richard Kasunic (D) from Somerset and Fayette counties, was tabled in March, but was amended in mid-November and has now been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee to the surprise of environmental groups closely following the issue.
The state wants natural gas drillers to use this polluted water over fresh water sources. It takes about four million gallons of water to frack just one well. Some drilling companies like Seneca Resources are already doing this, but others worried the state’s Clean Streams Law would make them responsible for cleaning up these streams in perpetuity.
“This bill would make it clear that a natural gas producer who uses that water to develop an unconventional natural gas well is not going to incur liability for the treatment of the original source of that water,” said attorney Peter Fontaine.
Fontaine, who works for a Philadelphia firm that is a member of the industry trade group the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said natural gas producers would likely still be held responsible for any mishandling of the water.
But environmental groups argue the bill would still grant full immunity to drillers without fixing the multi-billion dollar abandoned mine drainage problem.
A natural gas drilling rig rises in the distance above a cow pasture in north central Pennsylvania.
Two years ago, we told you about a Tioga County farm where heifers gave birth to dead calves after coming in contact with wastewater from natural gas drilling that had leaked onto the cow pasture.
In May 2010, the herd was quarantined by the state Department of Agriculture. The following spring, eight of the 11 calves did not survive, an unusually high number for farmers Carol and Don Johnson.
We followed up with the Johnson’s to see how things are going two years later. Carol Johnson said the quarantine has been lifted and for the past two seasons, the herd has not experienced any unusual reproductive problems. Only one calf died during a breech birth last spring.
“This year they seem to be straightened out,” Johnson said.
At the time of the leak, the well pad on their property was operated by East Resources. Shell has since bought the company and taken over operations on the farm. The Johnsons wanted Shell to buy the 28 quarantined cattle so they could start over with a new herd. Carol Johnson said they are still negotiating with Shell.
“When [the quarantine] was off, we didn’t get anything for them,” she said.
Inside a coal mine in Greene County, Pennsylvania.
Methane emissions from coal mines in Pennsylvania and West Virginia could soon become a valuable commodity on California’s cap-and-trade carbon market.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports a company called Verdeo has struck such a deal with one of Pennsylvania’s biggest coal producers. Verdeo would pay Consol Energy to destroy the methane emitted from vents at a Washington County mine in order to generate carbon credits that Verdeo would sell to companies in California.
If federal regulators decide to cap emissions from coal mines, Consol will have coal mine methane projects in its pocket to mitigate the blow.
It’s also a new source of revenue for the coal company, said John Savage, managing director at Verdeo, whose deal with Consol involves Verdeo footing the bill for the equipment that destroys the methane and paying a royalty to Consol for the use of its ventilated air.
“It’s like an oil and gas deal,” Mr. Savage said. “Somebody owns the gas and somebody wants to develop it. [Coal companies] are glad if someone wants to come in and say, ‘Hey, we’ll spend the money to mitigate your emissions and we’ll pay you a royalty to do that.’ ”
Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R- Butler) is the prime sponsor of both bills. He did not respond to a request for comment.
In a co-sponsorship memo, Hutchinson writes the video surveillance legislation was prompted by “an alarming case” of the agency using an unmarked night vision camera to monitor activities at a DEP-permitted work site.