Jim Barrett stands next to a wellpad on his farm in Bradford County. He says Chesapeake Energy, which drilled four natural gas wells on his land, is cheating him out of royalty money.
When natural gas companies approached Charlie Clark and Jim Barrett about the minerals under their farms, the northern Pennsylvania landowners in neighboring counties both decided to let them drill.
They hoped — like so many landowners — to bring in some extra cash.
For Clark, the decision has paid off. But Barrett says he feels cheated, and is now suing his gas company.
That disparity in how royalties are paid spans the Marcellus Shale, and it’s popping up in other oil- and gas-rich regions across the United States. It stems from a complex web of laws, court rulings and legal jargon that determines how money is distributed to property owners who allow energy companies to tap the minerals below their land.
Clark and Barrett might have started out with similar hopes, but their different experiences show how tough it can be for landowners to navigate the gas business — and how resolutions are hard to come by.
Protesters parked cars along Witmer Road in Manor Township to block access to a work site for the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline.
Anti-pipeline activists in Lancaster County formed a vehicle blockade Monday that temporarily obstructed access to a work site for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline.
Protesters parked 16 cars along Witmer Road in Manor Township to impede workers’ access to a horizontal directional drill site where the pipeline builder, Williams, intends to install the line under the Conestoga River.
About 20 people from the group Lancaster Against Pipelines participated in the protest, which began shortly before 7am.
“The objective is to slow down this process and make everyone watching aware that this is not something the county wants, ” says Lori Ann Neumann. “We have been failed by our legislators, the courts, regulatory commissions.”
The group dispersed around 10am at the request of law enforcement. No one was arrested. Brett Hambright, a spokesman for the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office called the protesters, “cooperative and respectful.” Continue Reading →
The idea behind the “Philadelphia energy hub” is to revive the region’s once-thriving manufacturing scene using Marcellus Shale natural gas. It’s proven to be easier said than done, and may be a plan that’s unlikely to materialize with the departure of its chief visionary.
But the Clinton and Trump campaigns did delve into these topics in a debate Tuesday evening between Clinton’s energy adviser Trevor Houser and Trump adviser Congressman Kevin Cramer (R- North Dakota) at the University of Richmond.
Cramer said Trump would roll back regulations and engage in a top-to-bottom review of the EPA, to get it back to its core mission of promoting clean air and clean water. He also does not subscribe to the mainstream scientific view of man-made climate change.
“We’d have to be a bit proud to think that somehow these last hot years are the fault of man and not some larger regular cycle of climate,” Cramer said.
Bradford County has released a video sharply criticizing gas driller Chesapeake Energy for allegedly cheating its residents out of royalty money.
Advocates are pushing for a bill to address what they’re calling the “PA royalty ripoff.” The county commissioners announced last month they would contract with a public relations firm to produce a video about the issue and send it out to Pennsylvania elected officials. They hired former Donald Trump adviser Michael Caputo to run the campaign.
“This is the shot across the bow,” says Caputo. “If this bill doesn’t pass next week, we have built and will deploy a statewide grassroots campaign to make sure it passes next time around.”
The new head of the Department of Environmental Protection says he hopes his staff can work quickly to resurrect regulations for the conventional oil and gas industry that got tossed out during the annual state budget negotiations in Harrisburg.
“Obviously, we have a good starting point with the existing reg,” says Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “But we’ll be engaged with industry and other stakeholders to put together the best version we can.”
Watch more from our conversation with McDonnell during his visit to the Pottsville District Mining Office Monday.
Bigger ships and more cargo flowing through the ports of Philadelphia and South Jersey should mean more jobs and greater economic activity when the Delaware River deepening project is completed next year, but the benefits may not be a slam-dunk for the region as expected.
Fierce competition from other East Coast ports for an expected trade bonanza resulting from the widening of the Panama Canal means that the $392 million project to dredge another five feet of mud and rock from the bottom of the river near Philadelphia does not automatically mean that more ships will call at the local ports, experts said.
What’s more, environmentalists warn that the dredging project will harm the health of the river and will likely bring saltwater closer to Philadelphia’s drinking water intakes.
Even to reap the expected benefits of the long-delayed project – now six years into the dredging project and 24 years since its first funding was appropriated by Congress – ports on both sides of the river will have to play to their strengths. Continue Reading →