Tag Archives: Shale

UPDATED: PA Supreme Court Denies Request to Reconsider Act 13 Decision

Courtesy of Robert M. Donnan

Courtesy of Robert M. Donnan

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 6:03 p.m. Friday to add quotes from two lead attorneys who challenged Act 13.

By Amanda Gillooly

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday announced that it will not reconsider its decision that Act 13 – the state’s set of laws regulating the Marcellus Shale gas drilling activities – is unconstitutional.

The state Department of Environmental Protection and the Public Utility Commission last month requested the court reconsider the case following its Dec. 19 decision, which declared key provisions of Act 13 as unconstitutional, including portions that would have taken zoning control out of the hands of local government bodies.

The DEP and PUC hired an outside law firm, Conrad O’Brien, P.C., to handle the filing. One of the partners of the firm is Christopher Carusone, who joined the firm after leaving his position as Gov. Tom Corbett’s chief of staff in July.

John Smith, one of the lead attorneys representing the handful of municipalities such as Cecil and Peters township, a non-profit and medical doctor, said he was pleased with the decision.
Reached Friday, Smith said:
“We are extremely pleased the court acted as justly and swiftly in denying this unprecedented request to reconsider. We look forward to litigating the injustices that the Supreme Court remanded back to the Commonwealth Court.”
One of those issues, he said, relates to gag orders on medical doctors.

Jordan Yeager, one of the lead attorneys on the case stated, “The Corbett Administration wanted a ‘do-over.’ The Supreme Court said ‘no.’ Act 13 violated our fundamental constitutional rights. The court’s landmark ruling stands and we are all safer as a result.”

Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and one of the original petitioners in the case said, “The State has heard the final word on Act 13 from the highest authority. Once again the primary rights of clean air, water, and a healthy environment for the people of the Commonwealth have been reiterated. We hope the Governor and his administration can now finally accept that they were wrong in their attempt to undo the Court’s deliberations. The governor should listen to what the Court has said and realize that the Court’s thoughtful, extensive set of opinions instructs all levels of government to fully adhere to their ruling. This is a great day for Pennsylvania”.

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PA DEP Extends Public Comment Period for Proposed Oil and Gas Regulations, Adds Two Hearings

DEP Sec. Chris Abruzzo said 90 hearings in 90 days is unheard of - and said public input is important to the process.

DEP Sec. Chris Abruzzo said 9 hearings in 90 days is unheard of – and said public input is important to the process.

Editor’s Note: The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Wednesday released the following press release on its website. -amanda

The Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Quality Board announced Wednesday that the public comment period and series of public hearings on the proposed oil and gas surface activities regulation have been extended.

“One of the clear messages we’ve been getting through this hearing and comment process, from both industry and environmental groups, is that we should hold additional hearings and extend the comment period,” DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. “Public participation is a key component when crafting these regulations, and we are happy to accommodate this extended period.”

The public comment period, originally scheduled to end on Feb. 12 is extended for 30 days to March 14.

Two additional public hearings will also be held, both beginning at 6 p.m, at these locations:

• Feb. 10: Troy High School, 150 High St., Troy, PA 16947
• Feb. 12: Warren County Courthouse, 204 4th Ave., Warren, PA 16365

“Nine public hearings and a total of 90 days for public comment is unprecedented – we are committed to understanding the concerns of all Pennsylvanians on this important state regulation,” Abruzzo said.

The hearings are being held by the EQB for the purpose of accepting comments on a proposed regulation for environmental protection performance standards associated with oil and gas activities.

The EQB is a 20-member independent board that adopts all DEP regulations and considers petitions to change regulations.

For more information on how to submit comments or how to sign up to make comments at one of the upcoming hearings, click here.

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Congressional Campaign Donations From Fracking Industry Up More Than 100%

Courtesy CREW.

Courtesy CREW.

Meet U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas.

Barton previously served as the chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has authority over bills seeking to regulate fracking. He also sponsored the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
And a report published by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington indicates that he received $509,447 during the 2004 and 2012 election cycles, which was more than $100,000 more than any other candidate in the country.
“The fracking boom is yielding gushers of campaign contributions for congressional candidates from districts containing hydraulically fractured wells,” the report states.
Among the key findings in the report:
  • Contributions from companies operating hydraulically fractured wells and trade associations supporting the fracking industry to House and Senate candidates from districts and states home to fracking activity rose by 231 percent between the 2004 and 2012 election cycles, from about $2.1 million to $6.9 million.
  • The increase is almost twice as much as the increase in contributions from the fracking industry to congressional candidates from nonfracking districts, which rose by 131 percent, from approximately $2.2 million to $5.1 million, during the same period.
  • Contributions from the fracking industry to all congressional candidates increased by 180 percent, from approximately $4.3 million to nearly $12 million, between the 2004 and 2012 election cycles, according to CREW’s analysis. The increase outpaced
    contributions from the entire oil and gas industry to all congressional candidates, which increased by 104 percent, from approximately $17.5 million to $35.6 million, during the same period.

To read the entire report, click here.

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Pennsylvanians’ Personal Shale Stories Told in “Gas Rush Series” (And There is a Screening TONIGHT)

This photo, provided by Gas Rush Stories, is from the field.

This photo, provided by Gas Rush Stories, is from the field.

One man said the water source his cattle drank from was compromised during the Marcellus Shale drilling process, and showed pictures of a stillborn calf whose death he attributes to that tainted supply. A woman said that after drilling activities commenced near her home, her family began experiencing sore throats, nose bleeds and other ailments.

These are the stories of local folks told in a documentary format in a series called “Gas Rush Stories.”

“Shale gas drilling is the environmental question of our time and place. The purpose of ‘Gas Rush Stories’ is to create constructive dialogue about shale gas drilling and to approach the issue from various perspectives so that we as a society can make informed decisions,” according to information provided on the Facebook page associated with a screening happening TONIGHT.

The series is produced by an independent filmmaker and journalist named Kirsi Jansa, who is currently seeking funding for a 53-minute documentary based on those stories.

Titled “Gas Rush Stories Roundtable,” it has been described as “a story of a state that decided to take the fast lane in a global race to tap the world’s shale gas resources. It is also a story about democracy and the importance of openness and transparency in a society.”

It’s Pennsylvania’s story, folks.

Thanks to a grant from The Heinz Endowments and individual donors Kirsi has been able to produce 14 “Gas Rush Stories” episodes over the past few years — and they are available for FREE online at www.gasrushstories.com.

But for those who would like to attend a 60-minute screening of the shorts, tonight’s the night. Did I mention there will also be a Q&A with Kirsi, as well as a community conversation afterward?

Here’s what you need to know if you want to go:

  • TIME: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, Nov. 21
  • WHERE: The Big Idea Bookstore, located at 4812 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh
  • COST: Organizers suggest a donation of $5 to $10, but note that nobody will be turned away because of lack of funds.

Can’t make tonight’s screening? Other opportunities to learn about Gas Rush Stories can be found here.

Editor’s Note: I won’t be able to make it to the screening tonight. If anyone is going, and would like to write a column or review, please just email me at marcellusmonitor_editor@yahoo.com. Thanks! -amanda

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UPDATED: Shale Lecture at Washington & Jefferson Explores “Social License” to Drill

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 5:22 p.m. to include information provided by W&J College about the event. -amanda

I wanted to pass along some information on a lecture happening TONIGHT at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, PA regarding Marcellus Shale drilling.

The lecture, titled “Obtaining a Social License to Operate in the Unconventional Shale Domain,” will take place at 7 p.m. in the Yost Auditorium.

Here’s how the W&J website describes the event:

The new Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), formed by a coalition of natural gas producing companies, philanthropies, and environmental groups, is a center of excellence for shale gas development. Its goal is to support continuous improvement in industrial practices through performance standards and voluntary certification. Join Andrew G. Place, Corporate Director, Energy and Environmental Policy, EQT Corporation, and Acting Interim Director of the CSSD, and Davitt Woodwell, Senior Vice President, Western Region, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, as they discuss the goals and plans of the CSSD and the challenges it faces.

The Center for Sustainable Shale Development is a nonprofit organization based n Pittsburgh. Here is a little bit of info about its mission from its website, which can be accessed here:

Focused on shale development in the Appalachian Basin, the Center provides a forum for a diverse group of stakeholders to share expertise with the common objective of developing solutions and serving as a center of excellence for shale gas development.

Funded by philanthropic foundations and participating energy companies, CSSD is intended to promote collaborative efforts by industry and its stakeholders called for by the Shale Gas Production Subcommittee of the U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board.

A news release from the nonprofit indicates that it was formed this past March. Here’s what Robert Vagt, president of The Heinz Endowments, had to say in the release:

“CSSD is the result of an unprecedented effort that brought together a group of stakeholders with diverse perspectives, working to create responsible performance standards and a rigorous, third-party evaluation process for shale gas operations.This process has demonstrated for us that industry and environmental organizations, working together, can identify shared values and find common ground on standards that are environmentally protective.”

While companies such as Chevron, EQT, Shell are strategic partners in this newly formed nonprofit, it appears from the website that Range Resources and MarkWest, which conduct much drilling activity in Washington County, are not among those participating.

Need more info on the nonprofit? A fact sheet can be found here.

Thinking of attending? Here’s what you need to know about getting there.

The lecture, part of an ongoing energy program at the college, is free and open to the public.

Here’s what a W&J release indicated about tonight’s event:

This evening’s lecture looks at the important issue of how natural gas producers in the Appalachian Basin achieve a social license to operate. In other words, how do they develop trust –based relationships with all of their stakeholders and with the communities within which they operate so that the communities accept or approve the producers’ ongoing presence? Recently, a coalition of natural gas producers, environmental groups and philanthropies formed the CSSD as a center of excellence for shale gas development with the ultimate goal of achieving a social license for operators in the Appalachian Basin.  The CSSD’s mission is to support continuous improvement and innovative practices through collaboratively developed performance standards and a third party certification to those standards. Representatives of the CSSD will discuss the goals of the CSSD and the challenges it faces in achieving those goals,” said Diana Stares, director for the CEPM.

Registration is suggested. Please register at http://www.washjeff.edu/center-energy-policy-management

Upcoming lectures of the Energy Lecture Series:

·         Feb. 27, 2014, 6:30 p.m.: “Thirst for Power: The Nexus of Energy & Water”

·         March 26, 2014, 6:30 p.m.: “A Vision for Coal” 


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