Energy. Environment. Economy.

Protest Planned at Pipeline Talk

The red lines show the proposed Atlantic Sunrise expansion. The light blue lines are the existing Transco system.

Courtesy: Williams

The red lines show the proposed Atlantic Sunrise expansion. The light blue lines are the existing Transco system.

Public meetings over the proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline have drawn the ire of opponents in Lancaster County. This time, an activist group is planning to protest a meeting between the pipeline company and the local chamber of commerce.

The group, Lancaster Against Pipelines, says it’s organizing the protest to call attention to the environmental and community impacts of having the pipeline sited in the county.

“It threatens the values most Lancaster Countians hold dear–our farmland and rich heritage and history–and it opens the door for a lot more industrial projects for our farmland in the future,” said protest organizer, Nick Martin of Pequea Township.

Martin said about 50 protesters are expected to be outside the meeting, hosted by the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The chamber had invited three representatives from Tulsa-based pipeline giant Williams to share information on the project.

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Mystery continues over radioactivity in Western Pa. stream

The DEP is investigating high radium readings along Ten Mile Creek in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Reid Frazier

The DEP is investigating high radium readings along Ten Mile Creek in southwestern Pennsylvania.

On the banks of Ten Mile Creek, a stream that snakes through Greene County, Ken Dufalla looked out at one of his favorite fishing spots.

“That’s probably one of the best walleye fishing there is in the evening you can find. I’ve caught muskies, walleyes, saugers,” Dufalla said.

Four years ago, Dufalla, who leads a local conservation group, stopped fishing here. That’s because the tests he did as president of his local chapter of the Izaac Walton League showed surprisingly high concentrations of bromides. The stream contains treated acid mine drainage from the nearby abandoned Clyde coal mine. Bromides are not typically found in mine discharges, treated or not. But bromides are typical of fracking waste water. Dufalla sought help from the Department of Environmental Protection. Ten Mile Creek feeds into the Monongahela River, the source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people in western Pennsylvania, including parts of Pittsburgh.

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Marcellus producers on state land pulled back again in 2014, data show

Marcellus producers are continuing to cut back on rigs like this one in Tioga County because of low market prices for gas, the DCNR says.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Marcellus producers are continuing to cut back on rigs like this one in Tioga County because of low market prices for gas, the DCNR says.

Shale gas development on Pennsylvania’s public lands slowed again in 2014, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said on Thursday, in the latest sign of an industry slowdown in response to low market prices.

The DCNR issued its latest shale gas monitoring update showing that the number of well pads, roads and approvals to drill in state forests all fell last year, adding to a decline that began in 2012 when prices began to fall.

The number of new well pads in state forests dropped to eight on a total of 32 acres last year from 19 on 73 acres in 2013, and a high of 86 in 2011.

The number of approvals declined to 47 last year from 79 in 2013, and new road construction essentially ceased, adding less than a mile, even lower than the four miles of new roads that were built for gas development in 2013. Since 2007, 1,020 wells have been approved and 608 have been drilled on state land, the DCNR said. Continue Reading

New task force seeks to manage ‘massive’ buildout of pipelines

Pennsylvania could get up to 30,000 miles of new natural gas pipelines over the next 20 years, Secretary Quigley says

Pennsylvania could get up to 30,000 miles of new natural gas pipelines over the next 20 years, Secretary Quigley says.

Pennsylvania will see as many as 30,000 miles of new pipeline built over the next 20 years to take the huge natural gas resources of the Marcellus and Utica Shales to market, the Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, John Quigley, said on Wednesday.

Quigley’s forecast came after the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force, a wide-ranging group of gas-industry stakeholders, met for the first time in an effort to establish best practices for what the secretary described as a “massive” infrastructure buildout.

Quigley told StateImpact after the 90-minute meeting in Harrisburg that he expects the industry to add 20-25,000 miles of gathering lines, smaller pipelines that connect gas wells to processing plants or main transmission lines. He said an additional 4,000 to 5,000 miles of interstate pipelines will be built over the next 20 years.  Continue Reading

PennEast Pipeline surveyors blocked from mapping land in New Jersey

via NJ Spotlight

The proposed alternate route of the PennEast pipeline. Click to enlarge the image.

Courtesy of PennEast Pipeline Company

The proposed alternate route of the PennEast pipeline. Click to enlarge the image.

Mercer County is joining the list of landowners trying to block PennEast Pipeline LLC from surveying property — part of a county park — in order to build a highly contentious natural gas pipeline.

The county, which has opposed the project since last year, told PennEast yesterday that the company would no longer have access to the park in Titusville for the purpose of surveying the property to facilitate the project. The county cited soil borings on Baldpate Mountain, which it has deemed as potentially environmentally harmful.

The notification follows an announcement by the state Department of Environmental Protection earlier this month, advising the company not to apply for permits needed for the project, since private landowners refused to give it access to survey their properties.

Thirty-two miles of the $1 billion proposed pipeline would run through four communities in Hunterdon County, before ending in Hopewell in Mercer County. The rest of the 110-mile pipeline crosses land in Pennsylvania.

In New Jersey, much of the proposed route — about 3,000 acres, critics say — would run through preserved open space, farmland, and wetlands, as well as cross numerous waterways. Continue Reading

Pipeline opponent guilty of disorderly conduct for speech at public meeting

A Lancaster County woman has been found guilty of disorderly conduct for speaking out of turn at a public meeting. She was arrested in April for failing to follow special meeting rules, which permitted people to ask questions but barred them from making statements.

54-year-old Kim Kann is a Conestoga Township resident who has been a vocal opponent of the proposed Atlantic Sunrise interstate gas pipeline. During the meeting she got up to correct what she viewed as misstatements about a ballot initiative to study home rule. Opponents had been pushing for the measure in an effort to block the pipeline.

“I’m angry and kind of dismayed,” Kann says of her arrest and guilty verdict. “I felt like it was a politically-motivated overreaction.”

The entire meeting was posted on YouTube by Conestoga Township. Kann approaches the microphone approximately 1 hour, 19 minutes into the video. She speaks for less than two minutes before the police intervene:

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Pa.’s new pipeline task force to meet this week

A natural gas pipeline in Lycoming County.

Marie Cusick/StateImpact Pennsylvania

A natural gas pipeline in Lycoming County.

Pennsylvania’s newly formed pipeline task force will hold its first meeting in Harrisburg Wednesday. Governor Tom Wolf formed the group in order to bring planning and best practices to the pipeline building boom that includes an estimated 4,600 new miles of interstate pipes over the next three years.

The meeting will be chaired by state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley.

States have little regulatory authority in this arena, because interstate pipelines are regulated almost exclusively by the federal government. However the task force does include three representatives from the federal government, including one from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)– the agency charged with siting and approving new pipelines.

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Gov. Wolf says he’s willing to compromise on severance tax


Reid Frazier

Gov. Tom Wolf speaking in Beaver County Monday.

Speaking in Western Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf said Monday he would be “willing to have conversations” about compromises on the 5 percent severance tax on natural gas he’s proposed to balance the state budget.

“I want a better Pennsylvania. If I’m convinced we can have a better Pennsylvania with something better than what I’ve proposed, then I’m all ears.”

Wolf and the GOP-controlled legislature have yet to agree on a budget, and are entering their fourth week past a June 30 deadline. A key element of the impasse is Wolf’s insistence on passing a severance tax on natural gas. Republicans have so far resisted the governor’s call. Wolf says he wants to pass the tax to pay for education and to lower local property taxes.

Speaking at Big Beaver Elementary School, Wolf said he would stand fast by his proposal to fund schools with the gas tax, rather than what he calls “smoke-and-mirrors” one-time solutions.

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Quigley discusses Pennsylvania’s new approach to federal carbon rules

DEP Secretary John Quigley appearing on E&E TV's On Point.

DEP Secretary John Quigley appeared on E&E TV's On Point to discuss the state's new approach to the federal Clean Power Plan.

The election of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has brought many changes to Pennsylvania– notably, the state has shifted in its approach to President Obama’s climate change plan, which seeks to dramatically limit carbon emissions.

Former Republican Governor Tom Corbett  questioned climate science and criticized the White House plan as an attack on the coal industry that threatens jobs. He said the federal Environmental Protection Agency was overstepping its authority.

The Wolf administration sees things differently. State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary John Quigley appeared on E&E TV’s On Point Monday to discuss Pennsylvania’s new approach to the federal government’s Clean Power Plan.

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EPA’s waste water treatment rule splits environmentalists, industry

Waste Treatment Corporation in Warren, Pa.  faces legal action from regulators and an environmental group over discharges to the Allegheny River.

Courtesy of Clean Water Action

Waste Treatment Corporation in Warren, Pa. faced legal action from regulators over discharges to the Allegheny River in 2012.

The U.S. EPA’s plan to prevent municipal water treatment plants from accepting fracking waste is being hailed by supporters as a necessary safeguard against the contamination of public water supplies, and attacked by the petroleum industry as a short-sighted measure that ignores its long-term needs and violates the Clean Water Act.

As the public-comment period on the agency’s proposed Effluent Limitations Rule comes to an end on July 17, environmentalists and a Pennsylvania Congressman said any treatment of fracking waste by sewage plants would risk toxic materials getting into waterways if it was allowed to take place.

But the Independent Petroleum Association of America argued that the EPA had overstepped its bounds by proposing an outright ban on the practice rather than requiring that municipal treatment plants use technology to remove contaminants from fracking waste water.

Although the natural gas industry does not currently send fracking waste to municipal plants, it has done so in the past, and some plants continue to receive such requests from gas companies, so the rule is designed to prevent any resumption of that practice, the EPA said when publishing the rule in March. Continue Reading

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