Category Archives: Environment

Where Is Plan B? How About Manufacturing for Clean and Green Renewables if the ‘Cracker’ Fails? Or Even if It Doesn’t?

Site of proposed Shell ‘cracker’ plant across from Beaver and Vanport

Shell Acquires Pennsylvania Shale Gas Rights as Part of a $2.1B Deal

By Alex Nixon
Tribune Review

Aug. 14, 2014 – Royal Dutch Shell is shuffling its portfolio of natural gas holdings to increase attention on the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in northern Pennsylvania.

The energy giant announced on Thursday that it is selling drilling rights to mature gas producing areas in Wyoming and Louisiana in separate deals in exchange for $2.1 billion in cash and 155,000 acres in Potter and Tioga counties, where it operates gas wells.

The announcement followed a deal on Tuesday in which Shell said it was selling 208,000 acres in Western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio to Rex Energy for $120 million.

“They already know what they have” in Potter and Tioga counties, said Lyle Brinker, director of equity research at IHS Energy in Norwalk, Conn. “It’s an area where they already know what they’re getting into.”

Shell spokeswoman Destin Singleton said the seemingly contradictory moves in Pennsylvania are part of the company’s regular review of its mix of energy production assets to improve value for its shareholders. Shell is working to focus its onshore drilling program on a few of the more prolific formations in an effort to boost profitability. The company wrote down the value of its shale acreage in the United States by $2.1 billion last year amid lower natural gas prices.

“We continue to restructure and focus our North America shale oil and gas portfolio,” Marvin Odum, Shell’s Upstream Americas Director, said in a written statement. “We are adding highly attractive exploration acreage, where we have impressive well results in the Utica, and divesting our more mature, Pinedale and Haynesville dry gas positions.”

In one of the two deals announced on Thursday, Shell said it will sell its Pinedale acreage in Wyoming to Houston-based Ultra Petroleum for $925 million plus the land in Potter and Tioga counties. Shell and Ultra have been partners in a joint venture in northern Pennsylvania. Shell will acquire 100 percent of the joint venture.

In the second deal, Shell will sell its gas assets in northern Louisiana, known as Haynesville, to Dallas-based Vine Oil & Gas LP for $1.2 billion.

Shell and other major oil and gas explorers regularly sell rights to fields where production is flat or declining. They then use that cash to fund exploration programs designed to discover new or more prolific fields that oil giants need to fuel growth. The Pinedale and Haynesville formations produce dry gas, which is less profitable than oil or so-called natural gas liquids, at relatively moderate rates.

“It’s a good sign that they’re still committed to the Marcellus,” Brinker said.

Continue reading Where Is Plan B? How About Manufacturing for Clean and Green Renewables if the ‘Cracker’ Fails? Or Even if It Doesn’t?

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Why We Need Solar and Wind

Drilling in Pennsylvania has damaged the water supply 209 times in last seven years

frackwell_marcellusshale

By Heather Smith

Beaver County Blue via Grist

July 24, 2014 – Whether or not you think that’s alright depends on your perspective. According to Patrick Creighton, those numbers are pretty good – so many oil and natural gas wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania in the past seven years that 209 problem wells is a mere 1 percent of the total. But Creighton happens to be the spokesperson for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a trade group composed of natural gas drillers. So there’s that.

According to Steve Hvozdovich, 209 is a lot. “You are talking about somebody’s drinking water supply.” But then Hvozdovich works for the environmental group Clean Water Action. He would like clean drinking water.

However you feel about the 209 “instances,” that number wasn’t an easy one get. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is legally required to get to the bottom of drilling-related water complaints, report its findings to the owner of the affected property, and issue orders to clean up or fix the damage — all within 45 days of the first complaint.

Continue reading Why We Need Solar and Wind

Western PA: Fracking Study Finds New Gas Wells Leak More Than Old Ones

By SETH BORENSTEIN

Beaver County Blue via Associated Press

WASHINGTON DC, July 3, 2014 — In Pennsylvania’s gas drilling boom, newer and unconventional wells leak far more often than older and traditional ones, according to a study of state inspection reports for 41,000 wells.

The results suggest that leaks of methane could be a problem for drilling across the nation, said study lead author Cornell University engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea, who heads an environmental activist group that helped pay for the study.

The research was criticized by the energy industry. Marcellus Shale Coalition spokesman Travis Windle said it reflects Ingraffea’s "clear pattern of playing fast and loose with the facts."

The Marcellus shale formation of plentiful but previously hard-to-extract trapped natural gas stretches over Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York.

The study was published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A team of four scientists analyzed more than 75,000 state inspections of gas wells done in Pennsylvania since 2000.

Continue reading Western PA: Fracking Study Finds New Gas Wells Leak More Than Old Ones

Reasons to Dump Corbett, Strengthen Regulators and Tax Frackers—If You Needed Them

Central Pa. firm charged with improperly disposing drilling waste

Beaver County Blue via The Associated Press

June 6, 2014 – HARRISBURG — A north-central Pennsylvania waste cleanup firm and its owner improperly disposed of toxic natural gas drilling waste, the state attorney general’s office said in charges filed today.

Minuteman Environmental Services and Brian Bolus, who owns the Milton-based company, were charged in Union County with unlawful conduct, while Mr. Bolus was also facing conspiracy charges, prosecutors said.

Mr. Bolus, 43, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Witnesses told a grand jury that between 2010 and 2013, employees washed out trucks or equipment containing drilling wastewater, mud or cuttings onto the ground at company properties in Harrisburg and Milton. Prosecutors said they have evidence it drained into a small waterway by the Harrisburg property. They also said drilling waste was stored in leaking containers on company properties.

State environmental regulators said they had not issued permits for the activity.

“Brian Bolus and Minuteman blatantly exploited hard-working employees, dozens of businesses and the environment,” Attorney General Kathleen Kane said in a statement.

A 48-page grand jury presentment also recommended other charges against Mr. Bolus, two related firms and his mother, father, brother, sister and father’s fiancee stemming from other alleged conspiracies that do not involve environmental crimes.

In one alleged conspiracy, prosecutors accused Mr. Bolus and Minuteman of overbilling clients, including many of the major natural gas exploration companies that have flocked to Pennsylvania in the last five years to explore the Marcellus Shale, the nation’s largest-known natural gas formation. The alleged overbilling reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, prosecutors said.

Meanwhile, in a separate alleged conspiracy, Bolus family members were essentially ghost employees at firms owned by Brian Bolus or his father, allowing them to submit a half-million dollars in fraudulent health insurance claims and drive up insurance premiums for company employees, prosecutors said.

All told, three companies owned by Brian Bolus and three companies owned by his father were charged, prosecutors said.

The investigation became public in May 2013, when the FBI and state Department of Environmental Protection searched Minuteman’s office in Milton.

Gov. Tom Corbett visited Minuteman in 2012 as part of an effort to drum up support for his state budget proposal, calling the company “an American success story.” The Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce named Minuteman its business of the year in 2012.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/#ixzz343DPtiGl

More Reasons for Moving to Clean and Green Energy

Beaver County’s ‘Little Blue Run’ coal ash site to close sooner

Plant owner must contain pollution

By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

April 3, 2014 – The largest coal ash impoundment in the United States — Little Blue Run in Beaver County — will be closed and capped and mostly contained by its owner three years earlier than the company first proposed, under a new plan announced by the state Department of Environmental Protection Thursday.

The closure plan now requires Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Generation LLC to complete all of the state-required work at the 1,900-acre impoundment by the end of 2028. A December 2012 federal consent order required the company to stop disposing of coal ash by the end of 2016, in part because seepage of pollutants from the unlined impoundment has contaminated groundwater and surface water in the area.

"We want to see it done sooner rather than later," said John Poister, a DEP spokesman. "It’s a big undertaking, but we think that it can be done in a little less time than FirstEnergy wanted, so we pushed for that."

FirstEnergy submitted a closure plan in October 2013 that the DEP said contained more than 160 deficiencies, including a failure to acknowledge arsenic contamination of groundwater around the impoundment.

Continue reading More Reasons for Moving to Clean and Green Energy

Ohio Senate Republicans Launch Attack On State’s Renewable Energy Law

Will Pennsylvania Be Next in the ALEC Crosshairs?

Despite Fracking, PA has made some progress on renewable energy.

Wind farm in Paulding County, Ohio.

Wind farm in Paulding County, Ohio. CREDIT: Shutterstock

By Matt Kasper

Beaver county Blue via Climate Progress

March 31, 2014 – After multiple failed attempts to roll back Ohio’s clean energy and energy efficiency standards, Republicans in the state senate aren’t giving up, releasing another bill on Friday that takes aim at the law. The measure stems from a previous bill pushed by Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), member of the corporate-funded, anti-clean energy group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Seitz’s legislation, S.B. 58, would have completely repealed the standards but the bill never made it out of the Senate Public Utilities Committee.

Republican leadership took the debate out of Seitz’s hands and drafted new legislation. The proposed bill, S.B. 310, sponsored by Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville), would freeze the clean energy and energy efficiency standards at 2014 levels while a committee, established by the legislation, studies how much the existing standards cost customers and what the costs would be if the state resumed the standards.

The law establishing Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, S.B. 221, passed both the House and Senate by a wide margin and was signed into law by Gov. Ted Strickland in 2008. The measure requires investor-owned utilities to provide 25 percent of their electricity supply from alternative energy resources by 2025. The definition of alternative energy resources includes clean coal, advanced nuclear power, distributed combined heat and power, and certain solid waste conversion technologies.

Continue reading Ohio Senate Republicans Launch Attack On State’s Renewable Energy Law

Arrogance of Power: Frackers Gagging Susquehanna Citizen From Speaking Out

An Injunction Against the First Amendment

By Walter Brasch

Beaver County Blue via Moderate Voice

March 20, 2014 – Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa., will be in court, Monday morning.

This time, she will have lawyers and hundreds of thousands of supporters throughout the country. Representing Scroggins to vacate an injunction limiting her travel will be lawyers from the ACLU and Public Citizen, and a private attorney.

The last time Scroggins appeared in the Common Pleas Court in October, she didn’t have lawyers. That’s because Judge Kenneth W. Seamans refused to grant her a continuance.

When she was served papers to appear in court, it was a Friday. On Monday, she faced four lawyers representing Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., one of the nation’s largest drillers. Seamans told the 63-year-old grandmother and retired nurse’s aide that to grant a continuance would inconvenience three of Cabot’s lawyers who came from Pittsburgh, more than 250 miles away. He also told her she might have to pay travel and other costs for the lawyers if she was successful in getting a continuance.

And so, Cabot presented its case against Scroggins.

The lawyers claimed she blocked access roads to Cabot drilling operations. They claimed she continually trespassed on their property. They claimed she was a danger to the workers.

Scroggins agreed that she used public roads to get to Cabot properties. For five years, Scroggins has led tours of private citizens and government officials to show them what fracking is, and to explain what it is doing to the health and environment.

Continue reading Arrogance of Power: Frackers Gagging Susquehanna Citizen From Speaking Out