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 lawsuit is the latest twist in a protracted battle over the updates to Pennsylvania's oil and gas regulations.
A trade group representing Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry has filed a lawsuit seeking to block portions of new drilling regulations. It’s the latest move in a fierce political battle over the rules, which took effect last week.
The lawsuit was filed in Commonwealth Court Thursday by the Marcellus Shale Coalition. This is the first time the trade group has sued the state, “and we don’t take that lightly,” says its president, David Spigelmyer.
The rules, known as Chapter 78a, represent the first time Pennsylvania’s oil and gas regulations have been updated since the Marcellus Shale boom began. In a conference call Friday morning with reporters, Spigelmyer says the industry does not want to invalidate the entire regulatory package.
“While we’ve worked hard to make sure our input was provided, there are aspects of Chapter 78a that are onerous, costly, and provide little environmental benefit.”
Children sat on the steps of the Capitol rotunda as their parents talked about the effects of methane on their communities.
A group of parents from around Pennsylvania is urging Governor Tom Wolf to regulate methane emissions.
They held a conference in the State Capitol Thursday, flanked by their children, whom they say are affected most harshly by pollution caused by the state’s oil and gas industry.
The governor promised in January that oil and gas regulations would be introduced this year. His methane-reduction plan would require companies to use the best technology available to prevent leaks of the powerful greenhouse gas at their work sites.
A bill in the Pennsylvania legislature would require construction companies to call before digging near natural gas gathering lines like this one in Loyalsock State Forest.
An effort to preserve and expand a Pennsylvania law designed to protect underground pipes and cables from accidental damage by construction work has almost run out of time in Harrisburg.
A state bill to amend the Underground Utility Line Protection Act was on Wednesday, still due for consideration by a Pennsylvania House committee, this just six days before the end of the current legislative session and less than three months before the current law expires on Dec. 31.
The bill, SB 1235, which passed the Senate in late September, would enhance the current law that requires construction companies, municipalities and others to call the PA One Call service, or 811, before they begin digging, to determine if their work would risk hitting underground pipes or wires. Continue Reading →
Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District candidates debate Monday night in Lancaster County. (From left to right): Christina Hartman (D), Shawn House (Libertarian) and state Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R).
The expansion of natural gas pipelines has been a hot topic in Pennsylvania over the past few years, and not surprisingly, it’s surfaced as an issue on the campaign trail.
At a debate in Lancaster County Monday night, the three candidates vying for the 16th Congressional District were asked about their views on the proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline– a large transmission line designed to connect gas production in northeastern Pennsylvania to markets in the southern U.S. and to an export terminal.
Shawn House, a businessman running as a Libertarian, says he’s against the project because it could lead to private property being seized through the use of eminent domain. The company behind the project, Williams, has said that is a last resort.
“I have real problems with companies colluding with government and then saying, ‘We’re going to taking your land whether you like it or not,” says House. “I think we have to look at a lot of other options.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton exchange views during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016.
Questions over the country’s energy future surfaced in the Presidential debate Sunday night. It was a surprising five minutes of policy discussion in a tense debate that focused on character attacks.
Undecided voter Ken Bone, who found unexpected popularity on social media and later said the debate felt like watching his parents fight, posed this question:
“What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs, while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly, and minimizing job loss for fossil [fuel] power plant workers?”
This really is the perfect question for anyone running for office right now – how do we combat climate change, maintain clean air, keep the lights burning, and not fire people who have no college education, and few prospects for good paying jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, coal miners make an average fifty-thousand dollars a year. Compare that to trying to get a comparable job in the wind or solar industry. Although the BLS doesn’t track earnings for those jobs, it does track manufacturing in general. And the average wage for someone making semi-conductors for solar installations is about thirty-two thousand dollars a year. Continue Reading →
The intense political battle has been unlike anything Kurt Klapkowski has seen in his nearly 23-year career at the state Department of Environmental Protection. Over the years there have been efforts to slow down the process, weaken, and eliminate sections of the rules.
“It’s a highly contentious issue,” says Klapkowski, who directs DEP’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management. “We tried to be analytical and professional, and divorce ourselves from those political processes as much as possible. It’s been a lot of effort by the department to get to this day. We’re very excited to see this go through.”
NOAA researcher Stefan Schwietzke and pilot Stephen Conley prepare to take off on a research flight to measure methane emissions in Colorado.
A new study from NOAA, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, puts a new twist on a tricky question about the impact of increased oil and gas production on greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists have detected increased rates of methane emissions globally since 2007. That uptick corresponds to the rapid boom in U.S. shale gas and shale oil production, and some hypothesized that the two could be connected. But it turns out that the correlation may not necessarily be a cause.
The research published Wednesday in the journal Nature found that although previous methane emissions from fossil fuel production, which includes coal, oil and gas, were significantly underestimated, the overall atmospheric increases in methane is not due to oil and gas production. NOAA, which has been measuring methane in the atmosphere since 1984, says the global increase in methane could be coming from microbial sources including wetlands, rice paddies and agricultural livestock like cows. Methane is considered more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide because although it breaks down more quickly than CO2, it traps heat 28 times more effectively over the course of 100 years.
Researchers compiled the largest database yet on global methane, which produced a truer picture of the total number of methane molecules in the atmosphere, as well as a clearer view of where that methane originated. As a result, the researchers say they’ve identified more methane from oil and gas production than previously thought, an increase of 20 to 60 percent. But that’s not enough to account for the global rise of methane in the atmosphere. Continue Reading →
The Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh will now be called the PPG Paints arena.
Consol has given up the naming rights to the Consol Energy Center– home to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the announcement came this morning during a Penguins press conference. Financial terms were not disclosed. PPG Paints has bought the naming rights and the venue will now be called the PPG Paints arena.
Consol’s name has been on the building since it first opened in 2010, and the deal was supposed to last for 21 years. The company has recently reported losses amid low prices for coal and natural gas.
“Though our priorities have evolved, we will maintain a presence in the arena and will continue to do our part in driving the region forward,” says Consol spokesman Brian Aiello, in a statement. ”As a company with deep roots in this region, we are pleased to be able to transfer the naming rights from one iconic Pittsburgh company to another.”
Consol will remain an arena sponsor, but it’s logo is expected to gone by the home opener October 13th.
Chesapeake Energy revealed in a recent regulatory filing that the Department of Justice is seeking more information into its accounting practices.
Chesapeake Energy, which is facing a royalty owners revolt here in Pennsylvania, will have to share more details of their accounting practices with the U.S. Department of Justice. The company revealed in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the Justice Department has subpoenaed records on the gas driller’s accounting methods for “the acquisition and classification of oil and gas properties and related matters.”
The Justice Department has been investigating the company for anti-trust violations. Chesapeake is also facing lawsuits from royalty owners claiming underpayment in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Pennsylvania royalty owners are pushing for legislation that would clarify language in a state law requiring at least 12.5 percent royalties.
Depending on the language of a lease contract, drillers and landowners may share post-production costs. These are expenses incurred when gas is processed and transported to market through pipelines. But people allege some companies charge exorbitant, and possibly fraudulent post-production costs, leaving them with little to no royalty money in some instances.
In the filing posted on Chesapeake’s website last Thursday, the company says it is working with the Justice Department, the U.S. Postal Service and state agencies, and plans to respond to the subpoenas. A company spokesman says he had no further comment.
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