Marie Cusick is StateImpact Pennsylvania's Harrisburg reporter at WITF. Her work regularly takes her throughout the state covering Marcellus Shale natural gas production. Marie first began reporting on the gas boom in 2011 at WMHT (PBS/NPR) in Albany, New York. A native Pennsylvanian, she was born and raised in Lancaster and holds a degree in political science and French from Lebanon Valley College. In 2014 Marie was honored with a national Edward R. Murrow award for her coverage of Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry.
Donald Trump speaks to oil and gas industry executives at the annual Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh Wednesday.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gave the keynote address Thursday at the annual Shale Insight conference in downtown Pittsburgh, hosted by the gas trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
Trump told the crowd of about 1,200 industry representatives at the David L. Lawrence convention center that as president, he would encourage American energy production and roll back environmental regulations as a way to “make America wealthy” again.
“Regulations are becoming a major industry right now,” said Trump. “We’re going to make it a much smaller industry, maybe a minor industry.”
The GOP nominee highlighted his plans to undo President Obama’s major climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan, and said he would lift drilling restrictions offshore and on federal lands, as well as a recent Obama administration moratorium on new coal leases.
A natural gas rig in Pennsylvania's Tioga State Forest. Like private landowners, the state has disputed some of the royalty payments it's received from drillers.
Following internal audits over the past year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has recovered $1.3 million in gas royalty money from drilling in state forests.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has leased 386,000 acres of publicly-owned forest land for drilling, and like private landowners, it’s had problems getting paid properly. Recently the royalty disputes have led some local governments to try to halt production, alleging the gas is being stolen.
DCNR says it recovered the money between April 2015 and July 2016, after ramping up its auditing efforts and hiring a new accountant.
Landowners in Bradford County sign petitions urging the state legislature to pass a bill aimed at ensuring gas companies pay royalties.
About 700 people attended a meeting in Bradford County Wednesday night where state and local officials urged them to contact legislative leaders in Harrisburg about a bill aimed at ensuring gas companies pay fair royalties.
Marcia Stober holds up a sign in Lebanon County. Protesters staged events across the country Tuesday to show solidarity with Native Americans opposing the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
Protesters staged demonstrations across the country Tuesday in solidarity with Native Americans trying to stop an oil pipeline from being built on their land in North Dakota. The anti-pipeline demonstrations took place in Lebanon and Lancaster counties, as well as in Philadelphia, where President Obama made a visit to stump for his former rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The president spoke to about 6,000 people gathered in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum while about 100 protesters stood behind barricades across the street, and periodically chanted “water is life.”
Catherine Blunt from West Philadelphia said she wanted to show support for the Native Americans protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“The pipeline is an intrusion on the Native American people’s right to their ancestral homeland,” she said, “their holy land, you know, that should not be going on.”
The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has released an updated plan outlining its priorities for managing Pennsylvania’s 2.2 million acres of public forest land. It’s the the first time DCNR has updated the plan in nine years.
“It’s a good road map for us to use over the next several years,” says State Forester Dan Devlin. “It’s a guidance document for our own staff, but it also informs everybody else how we intend to manage the state forest system.”
A gas well pad in Bradford County. Following years of complaints over royalty payments, the county is planning a public relations campaign targeting Pennsylvania's main industry trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
When the Marcellus Shale gas boom was taking off, Bradford County welcomed it with open arms. With more than 1,000 active wells, this region in north-central Pennsylvania became one of the most heavily drilled places in the state.
But the enthusiasm turned to anger, and many people now allege they’re being cheated out of royalty money by drilling companies.
“We’ve had enough,” says Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko (R). “This has been going on for years.”
McLinko says he remains a big supporter of the shale gas. He’s feeling pretty awkward as the county prepares a public relations campaign against the state’s main gas trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, which he accuses of blocking legislative attempts to address the problem.
“We feel their lobbying efforts have cost our county probably $100 million.” says McLinko.
Wilmot Township, Bradford County hopes the resolution will spur legislative action to address royalty complaints.
Residents in one of the most drilled-on parts of Pennsylvania want to block companies from producing natural gas, citing anger over royalty payments.
The supervisors in Wilmot Township, Bradford County plan to pass a resolution Tuesday demanding, “production be discontinued from wells where landowners are having their royalty checks diminished to nothing or nearly nothing.” Wilmot supervisor Mark Dietz is particularly worried about some residents’ threats to engage in violence or possibly tamper with gas infrastructure to disrupt production.
FirstEnergy's Hatfield Ferry coal plant in Greene County closed in 2013 amid poor market conditions, helping Pennsylvania to meet its emissions targets under the federal Clean Power Plan.
Every year the King Coal parade winds through the center of Carmichaels. Hundreds of people line up to see the fire engines, classic cars, floats, and marching bands.
It’s fair to say the presidential race has people pretty fired up –and worried– in this small town in Greene County, about an hour’s drive south of Pittsburgh. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has promised to bring back coal, with few details on how he will accomplish it. Meanwhile, Democrat Hillary Clinton has said she’d put miners out of work, but is pushing a big plan to reinvest in coal communities.
Despite the black and yellow banners hanging around Carmichaels proclaiming, “King Coal”, times are changing for mining communities.
Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell says he wants the state's top environmental post, but Gov. Tom Wolf has not officially nominated him, despite a recent deadline to submit a name for the job.
More than three months have passed since the controversial resignation of Pennsylvania’s environmental secretary, John Quigley, and Governor Tom Wolf is still looking for a permanent replacement.
The law requires the governor to nominate someone to fill the vacancy within 90 days. In order to comply, the administration submitted a placeholder name, Thomas Yablonski Jr., to the state Senate last week. Yablonski is a staffer in the governor’s office, and his name was used for 24 different appointments. Although placeholder names are submitted sometimes, it’s unclear why there is a delay in this case.