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Pennsylvania Senate Does Severance Tax Dance with Wolf?

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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The Pennsylvania Senate, out of the blue, has decided it ought to dance with Governor Wolf on a severance tax that would punish landowners and help drive one of the Commonwealth’s few success stories elsewhere.

The Pennsylvania Senate is apparently run by Republicans with strong suicidal tendencies. They imagine they can steer a middle course between Philly region tax and spend moochers and trendy environmentalists on the one hand and conservative rural and rust-belt Pennsylvanians who simply want economic revitalization on the other. The natural gas industry has been a savior for the latter and helped give the Republicans the majority they now have. But, they would squander it to be more liked by their enemies (a hopelessly naive aspiration) by dancing with Governor Tom Wolf on the issue of a severance tax. That’s what we learned yesterday as the Republican Pennsylvania Senate voted for such a tax.

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Pennsylvania Mystery: Where’s the Fracking Pollution?

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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A recent report from Pennsylvania DEP to the EPA creates a great mystery; where is the fracking pollution and where are the dead fish, ruined streams, etc.

A couple of days ago, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a report it regularly makes to the EPA. It has the boring title of “2016 Final Pennsylvania Integrated Water Quality  Monitoring and Assessment Report” and provides a nice summary of water quality in the Commonwealth. It is a government report and a little hard to wade through, but I did so and discovered it could really be thought of as a great mystery novel, although the ending is thoroughly anti-climatic. The mystery is this; where is the fracking pollution?

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Ugly Is As Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (TribLive) Does

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, in yet another journalism fail, apparently thinks publishing emotional appeals to violence is fine if fracking is the subject.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, just published a letter on its TribLive website that will take your breath away; so outrageous are the claims made and the none too subtle appeal to violence. The letter refers to a Latvian “study,” if you can it that, published in something called the Journal of Environmental Protection, which is pay-to-play media from the an outfit known as Scientific Research Publishing (SCIRP). The “study” has zero credibility; a fact well demonstrated in this superb takedown by Energy in Depth. Nevertheless, a fellow named Ron Slabe apparently took it to heart. He drafted a reckless “fracking kills” letter to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (TribLive), which, for some inexplicable reason, published it.

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Penn State Gets Into the Fracking Weeds and Sprays Hyperbole

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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Penn State University has done another study. This one is on the fracking weeds and while the conclusions are reasonable PSU is spraying a lot of hyperbole.

Two friends sent me a copy of an article from the Penn State News about a new study the University has completed. It literally gets into the fracking weeds; weeds spread by fracking, that is. It is all about the spread of invasive species of plants along new roads and gas well pads created to extract natural gas. One friend thought the article was rather reasonable and got at a legitimate issue. My other friend had this to say:

The skeptical me wonders how normal dirt and gravel road use and maintenance compares to this “study.”

The average schmoe reading this stuff has no clue to the number of those roads in Pennsylvania or the constant maintenance work that does much the same.

Any vehicle—and there are a lot more using these roads—may be doing the same as what is reported here. And may be a/the major contributing factor/source of the problem.

Although invasive species are surely a legitimate issue, the aspiring curmudgeon in me was immediately drawn to the latter view. After digging in this garden a bit, I concluded my skepticism was warranted; there are weeds than taters to this study.

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Citizens, Legislators and Workers Rally for Atlantic Sunrise

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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Several hundred citizens, legislators and natural gas industry workers turned out yesterday to support the critical Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project.

It was quite a turnout at the Shadowbrook Resort in Tunkhannock, yesterday. Was it the Ma Greenly’s Bar-B-Q? Was it the gigantic flag visible for almost a mile away? Was it the parade of big water trucks? Or, was it just the pleasantness of Shadowbrook and an opportunity to get under their pavilion and out of the heat for a few minutes? Whatever it was, it drew a big crowd and they were pumped.

Numerous legislators were there to speak on behalf of the project. Ordinary citizens were also there from as far as two hours away (including New York) to echo them. Most importantly, natural gas workers were, undoubtedly encouraged by their employers, but also eager to be there on their own and speak up for the industry and the need for the Atlantic Sunrise.

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Running Scared Has Its Price: DRBC Funding Slashed by PA

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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Pennsylvania has drastically reduced its contribution to the DRBC, an overdue action that properly rewards the agency for nearly a decade of fracking delay.

SEE UPDATE BELOW

I bring wonderful news. Governor Tom Wolf, on July 11, allowed HB 219, the Pennsylvania budget for 2017, to become law. It cuts DRBC funding from the Commonwealth, already well below previous levels, by half to $217,000. That’s $217,000 more than it ought to get but, nonetheless, a giant step in the right direction. This is the price of the DRBC running scared of fractivists for almost a decade; the cost of incompetence, intransigence and obsequiousness toward fractivist special interests and the wealthy families who fund them.

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DRBC Invested in Oil and Gas? Talk About Fracking Hypocrisy!

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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The stark hypocrisy of the DRBC, which supposes it has the authority to prevent fracking in the basin, while its cash is invested in oil and gas is amazing.

A review of the most recent audit of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) reveals the disingenuous nature of the agency’s seven-year moratorium on fracking. It pretends, on one hand, that it just can’t make up its mind on allowing the practice anywhere near the Delaware, while investing its cash in the New Jersey Cash Management Fund, where a review indicates oil and gas company stocks are among the favorite equities it purchases.

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Who Else Finances the Delaware Riverkeeper and Why?

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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A loss in court this week raises serious questions of who else, beside elitist foundations opposed to oil and gas, finance the Delaware Riverkeeper and why.

The Delaware Riverkeeper has lost another one in Federal Court but the real question is why it brought the case at all. That, in turn, raises a second, perhaps even more important question of who all is funding the group and why. Once again there is also yet another question of how this all comports with the supposed tax-exempt purposes of the organization.

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Merry Christmas America! Terry Engelder’s Shale Story!

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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Terry Engelder is one of the godfathers of the shale revolution, the guy who first realized its enormous potential. He tells his story in a “TED” talk from 2013.

The story of the Marcellus Shale and the revolution it produced is the stuff of legend. The man there at the beginning is a Geology Professor from Penn State University (my own alma mater). He just retired, technically speaking, but he’s still active and having a lot of fun digging into new aspects of shale production. It is, though, an appropriate time to look back a bit to put things into perspective as to just how significant the whole thing was and remains. A talk Terry Engelder gave in 2013—a TED talk—provides a just such a look back  and offers fascinating insights into the revolution.

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Washington County Rakes in Marcellus Impact Fees

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

… 

Washington County, Pennsylvania has raked in some $32 million in Marcellus Shale Impact Fees; whoever said Pennsylvania has no severance tax is just wrong.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) reported its annual impact fee distribution this month, and Washington County topped the list of recipients with more than $14.5 million going to the county and its municipalities. The announcement of $173 million in impact fees to counties and municipalities across the Commonwealth has tipped the total to over $1.2 billion generated by natural gas development in Pennsylvania since the impact fee’s inception in 2011.

Although overall numbers were down from previous years due to a reduction in activity across Pennsylvania, Washington County continued to lead the way in wells drilled and impact fee dollars received.  Washington County will directly see $5.38 million in impact fee dollars, tipping the county’s total over $32 million since the program began, and municipalities across the county are set to receive more than $9.2 million this year.

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