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.”
Our countdown ends with the two most popular web stories of 2014*: A gas well fire in Greene County that claimed a young man’s life, and allegations from former state health workers that Pennsylvania ignored public complaints about gas drilling.
A Chevron natural gas well in Greene County exploded February 11th, killing one worker and injuring another. The fire burned for five days before it was extinguished, however it took more than a week to find the remains of 27-year-old Ian McKee, a contract worker with Texas-based Cameron International.
Our end-of-year countdown continues with the third and fourth most popular web stories.* This time, they’re both video features. In fourth place is our story about people blocked from public roads and public forests by security guards working for a gas company.
Our third most popular web story is a follow-up with landowners who say gas drilling giant Chesapeake Energy is stealing from them. The company has been accused of underpaying gas royalties from its leaseholders in Pennsylvania and other states.
StateImpact Pennsylvania documents people being harassed on public roads by security guards.
Update: The retiree profiled in this story, Bob Deering, is still thinking of moving because of the disturbances he deals with from nearby gas development. However, since this story was published, he has been able to travel more freely on the road to his home. The lawsuit mentioned (from the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation) is still pending in Commonwealth Court.
Most of the company’s Pennsylvania operations are in Bradford County. It’s a rural area stretching along the New York border; it has more Marcellus shale gas wells than any other part of the state. StateImpact Pennsylvania first talked with landowners there in June 2013. A year-and-a-half later, we went back.
Landowners complain Chesapeake is still cheating them and Harrisburg has done little to stop it.
Update: Chesapeake Energy’s royalty practices are currently the subject of inquires by the U.S. Department of Justice and Pennsylvania State Attorney General’s office. A controversial bill in Harrisburg aimed at limiting oil and gas companies from withholding royalty money for processing and transporting fees went virtually nowhere. It will be reintroduced in 2015.
*The countdown is based on web traffic statistics to the StateImpact Pennsylvania site.
Landowners who have been accusing natural gas driller Chesapeake Energy of stealing their money say Harrisburg is doing little to stop it.
Most of the company’s Pennsylvania operations are in Bradford County. It’s a rural area stretching along the New York border; it has more Marcellus shale gas wells than any other part of the state. StateImpact Pennsylvania first talked with landowners there in June 2013.
A year-and-a-half later, they say Chesapeake is still cheating them:
State Rep. Jesse White (D- Allegheny) apologized for using fake online personas to bully shale gas supporters.
A Pittsburgh area Democrat and vocal fracking critic lost his state House seat last night. Rep. Jesse White (D- Allegheny) was caught last year in an online bullying scandal by Pittsburgh’s local CBS affiliate.
In May 2013 the TV station reported White had been using pseudonyms to bully online commenters who express support for shale gas development. He later apologized.
“This wasn’t a campaign; it was a character assassination. They dragged my name through the mud and it worked, this time,” White said. “We did everything we could have done. I’m proud of my campaign.”
Ortitay did not dispute the nastiness of the campaign, but said he’s ready to work for his new constituents as he learns the nuances of state government.
“From here on out, it’s about bringing people together,” Ortitay said. “If you have disagreements, I’m here to be reasonable and be fair and to help bridge the gap to bring people together to build a better 46th District.”
Drivers traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike can see nearly every major form of energy from their car window.
As the federal government pushes states to cut emissions that are leading to climate change, StateImpact Pennsylvania took a road trip down the toll road. We profiled five major energy sources along the way: coal, wind, nuclear, solar, and oil.
On any given day Bob Deering doesn’t know how much trouble he’ll have getting to and from his home. He lives on a mountain in Lycoming County and he’s routinely stopped and questioned by security guards. It’s been happening for the past six years– ever since the natural gas boom began.
“I’ve been coming up here with my grandparents since 1953,” he says. “But if I would have known in 2001 what I know now, I’d never have built a house up here.”
Deering expected to enjoy a quiet retirement. In the early 2000′s, he and his wife built a log home from a kit. Their property is surrounded by state forest and game land.
But in recent years their neighborhood has gotten noisy as gas companies drill wells, build pipelines, and move heavy equipment.
Nearly a third of Pennsylvania’s roughly 2 million acres of public forest land is already available for oil and gas development. Governor Corbett wants to lease even more land, but an environmental group is suing to try to stop him.
Last week when thousands Marcellus Shale supporters descended on the state Capitol for a rally, the Pennsylvania State Police bus safety detail showed up to do spot inspections of their parked buses on Harrisburg’s City Island.
According to ABC27 News, the Governor’s Office intervened, and the head of the State Police told the inspectors to leave: