Monday, October 11, 2010

Gas Shale News for the Keystone State, 10/11 edition

Fell behind here and there has been a lot of news. However, much of it is election noise, so here are the distilled highlights for the past 10 days:

The pooling concept is not gaining much traction in the state capital yet. I'll post soon on the details and issues of pooling.

Election gas-
Corbett and Onorato continue to quarrel over who gets what from the gas industry. Psst, they both get something. Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone ripped Tom Corbett for his opposition to the tax, citing the contributions he's received from the industry.

Activism and opposition-
Jeff and Jodi Andrysick of Pulteney produced a documentary on the hazards from fracking and wound up on that terror watch list generated by the privatized security apparatus (neo-Pinkertons) the state was using.
In related news, the state's Homeland Security chief  has resigned over said watch list fiasco.
Also, there is now a pro-drilling doc produced as an answer to Gasland.
The Senate has passed a bill allowing local governments to charge citizens for reviewing public documents, which has activists up in arms.

Severance tax-
The severance tax is unconstitutional, at least according to Americans for Tax Reform, a group led by noted anti-tax guru Grover Norquist, who has spent much of his life in various Republican administrations and as a lobbyist.
In any case, the House left Harrisburg until after the election, so there will be no reconciling their tax bill with a senate version until then.
Meanwhile, Gov. Rendell has called for a summit to figure out the severance tax, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation stated in a letter to the Senate that not passing a tax will eventually cost taxpayers billions to cleanup contaminated water.
The Towanda Daily Review has an editorial criticizing the distribution of revenue from the proposed severance tax, saying it does not provide enough to local governments and needs.

Property rights and Royalties-
Judge John Jones of the U.S. Middle District Court  dismissed three cases this week in which the plaintiffs argued their leases violated the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act. Apparently "royalties could be calculated by subtracting from the sales price all but one-eighth of the expenses incurred while moving the natural gas from the wellhead to the marketplace." So in essence the property owners felt they got screwed, but the court say its all legal and in other words all that money you think your going to get from allowing drilling on your land may be just an illusion, since the companies can expense away all the royalties you think you're getting.

Pollution and violations-
The State Police are cracking down on trucks hauling fracking wastes, ordering out of service 140 hauling waste.  208 in total were taken off the road, out of 1,135 inspected.
There was more news on the state DEP going after Cabot Oil and Gas for alleged well contamination. In any case Cabot is doing well, even though prices are down due to the strong production from gas shale and conventional sources.
Seneca Resources Corporation has been fined $40,000 by DEP for filling parts of wetlands in Tioga State Park.
Martin Niverth of the Upper Monongahela River Association, "does not want West Virginia to make the same mistakes in regulating Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling that he believes his home state of Pennsylvania made." Pretty bad when you're used as an example of lax regulation in West Virgina!

Business operations-
Westmont Resources is expanding their Marcellus operations. Anschutz Exploration Corp. will be selling theirs.

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