Wildlife along the Delaware River at Washington Avenue Green Park in Philadelphia.
Tonight, StateImpact Pennsylvania presents The Delaware River Watershed: Healthy or At Risk? It’s our interactive panel discussion about the economic, agricultural and environmental challenges facing this major river basin in the studios of WHYY in Philadelphia.
Our panelists include Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum, Patty Elkis of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Peter Wulfhorst from Penn State University’s Pike County Cooperative Extension and former Philadelphia Director of Commerce Stephen Mullin.
You can watch the event live right here on Ustream starting at 7 p.m. (EST):
Janet and Richard Geiger are Chesapeake leaseholders who claim the company has taken advantage of them by underpaying royalties.
It’s not easy to find Mary Jane Foelster’s home.
“We wanted the peace and quiet,” she says. “It’s just wonderful out here.”
Her home sits on 50 acres tucked away down a 1.7 mile dirt road in Bradford County. It’s as far north as you can go in Pennsylvania before crossing the border into New York.
The property is surrounded by forested hills. There’s a pond and a vegetable garden in the yard.
When she and her husband retired here from Philadelphia five years ago, they didn’t realize the property had a gas lease. They also didn’t know there was a gas well on the other side of their hill, nor did they notice when it was drilled and fracked.
But Foelster says she did begin to notice when the royalty checks started coming in from Chesapeake. There was something missing.
Money was being taken out for what Chesapeake called post-production costs –expenses it incurred getting the gas from her well to the market.
She was confused.
“There’s never a clear delineation of what those costs are. I couldn’t begin to tell you what they are.”
After numerous attempts, she finally got a Chesapeake representative on the phone and asked him to explain.
“He really couldn’t tell me why,” she says, “But I can tell you why. Chesapeake is doing whatever they think they can get away with.”
Chesapeake is the biggest natural gas producer in Pennsylvania and the second largest in the nation. But recently it’s faced financial troubles amid low natural gas prices.
DCNR estimates between 400 to 500 people turned out tonight to Lycoming College in Williamsport. The meeting ran an hour over its scheduled time slot, due to the number of people who wanted to comment.
Everyone who spoke expressed either concern or opposition to the proposal, which involves 26 well pads, and four compressor stations over a 25,000 acre swath of state forest, known as the Clarence Moore lands.
Although the Commonwealth controls the surface rights on about 18,000 acres, Anadarko Petroleum, along with Southwestern Energy Corporation, can exercise surface control on about 7,000 acres in the Loyalsock. Some of that land is considered the most sensitive. Some opponents want DCNR to use their control over the 18,000 acres as leverage to keep Anadarko off the most sensitive parts of the forest.
Despite the public opposition, DCNR Secretary Richard Allan says his hands are tied.
State Rep. Jesse White (D- Allegheny) apologized for using fake online personas to bully shale gas supporters.
KDKA-TV reports state Rep. Jesse White — a Pittsburgh area Democrat and vocal critic of the natural gas industry –has been using pseudonyms to bully online commenters who express support for shale gas development.
Although he declined to comment on camera to KDKA, White issued an apology today:
On occasion, I have exercised my First Amendment rights and responded in kind, which was an error in judgment that I regret. To be clear, I did not use government resources while posting comments on these sites.
I apologize to Janice Gibbs and Donald Roessler for any action I’ve taken that may have been offensive or hurtful, and I will be extending a private invitation to meet with them to discuss our viewpoints face-to-face in an effort to find common ground and foster a more professional and respectful level of communication.
PublicSource profiles the debate going on at Allegheny College, a private liberal-arts school in Western Pennsylvania, which is known nationally for its “green” initiatives. The college is now considering leasing land for natural gas drilling.
Even more surprising is that the most likely place is in the Bousson Environmental Research Reserve, 283 acres of university-owned land. It is part of the Bousson Forest, which sits atop the Utica Shale.
There is no offer on the table yet, but gas leasing companies expressed interest late last year, and the school is trying to head off controversy. It may become a model for handling the issue on campuses across the state.
"We have to be the voice of the birds," said Paul Zeph, of the Pennsylvania Audubon Society.
Deep in the Loyalsock State Forest, where no cell phone signal reaches, the sounds of rushing waterfalls and forest birds are suddenly interrupted by the sound of a helicopter.
Paul Zeph of the Pennsylvania Audubon Society says the noise could be related to gas drilling. Drillers will often drop seismic testing equipment into remote areas that are difficult to reach by roads. And that leads Zeph to cite one of the many worries that naturalists and outdoors lovers have with plans to expand drilling in the Loyalsock.
“Song birds identify one another through singing and they identify their territory through singing,” says Zeph. “With a very noisy environment, studies are starting to show that it’s impairing the ability to find mates.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) unveiled a new website today designed to give a better picture of state-by-state energy trends and data.
The site features interactive maps where users can zoom in and see different features related to energy production. For example, users can pull up a map layer that just shows Pennsylvania’s natural gas shale play.
“We had the data on our site in various sources, but it was frankly hard to get to,” says Mark Elbert EIA’s Director of Web Management, “This makes it much more accessible.”