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Friday, March 16, 2018

Rolling Stone Publishes Anti-Fracking Article; Industry Calls it "Hilariously Awful"

From Rolling Stone:
The most authoritative study of its kind reveals how fracking is contaminating the air and water – and imperiling the health of millions of Americans 
"Our examination…uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health," states a blistering 266-page report released today by Concerned Health Professionals of New York and the Nobel Peace Prize-winning group, Physicians for Social Responsibility. Drawing on news investigations, government assessments and more than 1,200 peer-reviewed research articles, the study finds that fracking – shooting chemical-laden fluid into deep rock layers to release oil and gas – is poisoning the air, contaminating the water and imperiling the health of Americans across the country. "Fracking is the worst thing I've ever seen," says Dr. Sandra Steingraber, one of the report's eight co-authors, a biologist who has worked as a public health advocate on issues like breast cancer and toxic incinerators. "Those of us in the public health sector started to realize years ago that there were potential risks, then the industry rolled out faster than we could do our science." In recent years, the practice has expanded from rural lands to backyards, farms, and within sight of schools and sources of drinking water. "Now we see those risks have turned into human harms and people are getting sick," says Steingraber. "And we in this field have a moral imperative to raise the alarm."
You can read that whole article by clicking here.

Meanwhile, industry-backed site Energy in Depth has picked apart the article and the report it is focused on:
Given Rolling Stone’s past coverage of the oil and gas industry, and the fact that the activists responsible for this “report” are Rolling Stone’s primary sources for the story, it’s no surprise that the piece’s click-bait claims don’t stand up to scrutiny. Here are some key facts to keep in mind while reading the story. 
FACT: Vast majority of story’s sources are anti-fracking activists 
Rolling Stone fails to mention that its primary source is CHPNY’s Sandra Steingraber, who is the co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking. Steingraber isn’t a big fan of disclosure, either. 
You may remember that Steingraber infamously signed a document declaring she had no conflict of interest prior to peer-reviewing a study that New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker used to support the state’s ban on fracking back in 2015. When Steingraber’s bias was brought to light, she insisted it didn’t affect her objectivity, telling Fox News:

“I think we are all proud of our ability to be conservative and analytical and absolutely objective about the data. I look at the data and call it as I see it.”

This claim is pretty hard to believe considering Steingraber is quoted in the Rolling Stone piece saying, “Fracking is the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Read that whole article by clicking here. 

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Board of Elections Chooses to Keep Youngstown Fracking Ban Off the Ballot Again

From the Youngstown Vindicator:
After the Mahoning County Board of Elections voted to keep an initiative to ban fracking in Youngstown off the May 8 ballot, supporters of the measure said they’d again take the matter to the Ohio Supreme Court. 
Board members said Tuesday nothing has changed since they decided in September 2017 to not allow a similar proposal to be put in front of city voters. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in October 2017 to uphold the board’s decision to not permit the measure on the November 2017 ballot. 
The board voted 4-0 to keep the proposal off the city’s primary ballot. Again, the board pointed to House Bill 463, which requires election boards to invalidate local initiative petitions if they determine part of the petition falls outside a local government’s authority to enact them. 
“This is not a consideration of the constitutionality, legality or merits of this proposal, but rather the power sought to be exercised is beyond the scope of the city’s authority,” said David Betras, the board’s vice chairman and county Democratic Party chairman.
Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

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Green Residents Turn in Petition in Continued Battle Against NEXUS Pipeline

From News 5:

The NEXUS pipeline saga continues in the city of Green, with a group of residents filing a petition for a referendum Thursday afternoon. 
The petition contains more than 1,500 signatures from concerned citizens who hope the referendum makes it onto the ballot. 
“Nobody wants a pipeline in their city, nobody wants it in their backyard,” said resident Erin Swartzwelder. “We don’t want to see our children play sports in a blast zone, we don’t want to see property values decrease. And that effects the entire city, not just individual homeowners, but everyone.” 
In February, after years of fighting against it, Green city council voted 4-3 on a settlement with NEXUS — receiving roughly 20 acres of land and $7.5 million and selling easements for 2.5 acres.
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Rover Pipeline Faces Another Order to Stop Construction, This Time in West Virginia

From the Charleston Gazette-Mail:
State regulators have slapped a cease-and-desist order on a natural gas pipeline, citing multiple water pollution violations, according to a letter made public by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

The 713-mile-long Rover Pipeline, which would transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from processing plants in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, received the order on March 5 from Scott Mandirola, director of the Division of Water and Waste Management, documents show.

According to the order, DEP officials conducted inspections on four days in February, during which they said they found 14 violations in Doddridge, Tyler and Wetzel counties. The alleged offenses include leaving trash and construction debris partially buried on site, improperly installing perimeter control and failing to inspect or clean public and private roads around the construction site.

The pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners, has been ordered to halt construction until state regulators inspect the site and determine that Rover Pipeline LLC is complying with the Water Pollution Control Permit issued Dec. 15, 2016. Rover also is tasked with submitting a plan of “corrective action,” due March 25, and installing devices to control erosion and sediment-water release.
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EQT Corp CEO Steve Schlotterbeck Unexpectedly Resigns

From the Pittsburgh Business Times:
EQT Corp. announced Thursday that President and CEO Steve Schlotterbeckhad resigned immediately and would be replaced in the interim by former Chairman and CEO David L. Porges
EQT (NYSE: EQT), the largest independent natural gas producer in the U.S., said Schlotterbeck left as president and CEO and the EQT board for personal reasons. EQT did not elaborate. He also resigned his posts at EQT subsidiaries EQT GP Holdings LP (NYSE: EGQP), EQT Midstream Partners LP (NYSE: EQM) and Rice Midstream Partners (NYSE: RMP). 
"We thank Steve for his dedicated service to EQT and its stakeholders over the last 18 years," the board of directors said in a statement. "Steve was a valued contributor as EQT transformed from a regional, retail gas company into the largest natural gas producer in the United States."

Schlotterbeck had a 18-year career with EQT and a 30-year career in the energy industry, and had spent the last year as CEO, replacing Porges. He had been named president of EQT in 2015 and led its production business unit with the company's transition to an E&P company with the rise of the Marcellus Shale.
Click here to read more.

While a sudden departure like this these days tends to make one suspect that there are either health problems or some sort of scandal involved, Marcellus Drilling News reports that a message on Schlotterbeck's LinkedIn page reveals that the decision to leave was spurred by a disagreement with the board over his value to the company.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

With New Partner in Mix, Proposed Cracker Plant in Belmont County Grows in Scope

From The Intelligencer:
Gov. John Kasich said a pair of international energy firms now control about 500 acres of property needed to build the planned Belmont County ethane cracker, a project he said could now cost up to $10 billion. 
During a Monday news conference at the Ohio Statehouse, Kasich formally announced the partnership between Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical and South Korea’s Daelim Industrial Co., a pairing initially reported by The Intelligencer on Jan. 31. 
“It’s great to see these two world-class companies coming together to develop an exciting 21st century industry that will dramatically transform Ohio,” Kasich said. “Building this massive ethane cracker plant here will be a game-changer, not only for Eastern Ohio, but for the entire state, as it will create so many new opportunities for economic development.” 
Two-and-a-half years ago, PTT officials joined Kasich at the Statehouse to announce plans to spend $100 million for engineering and design work. Monday, JobsOhio President and Chief Investment Officer John Minor said this investment has already topped $150 million. 
Initially, the estimated cost of the cracker plant to be build along the Ohio River was $5.7 billion. Kasich and Minor said Monday the cost could now go as high as $10 billion, as the partnership of PTT and Daelim allows the companies to make the plant even larger than originally planned.
Click here to read on.

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Appeals Court Hears Arguments in Battle Over Athens Home Rule Anti-Drilling Charter

From the Athens News:
The 4th District Court of Appeals heard brief arguments Thursday morning in a local group’s appeal of the Athens County Board of Elections decision last July rejecting an anti-fracking county charter ballot proposal submitted by the group.

While supporters of the group, the Athens County Bill of Rights Committee (ACBORC), rallied in protest in the rain outside the Athens County Courthouse, chanting “Let Us Vote,” the three-judge appellate panel heard brief arguments inside the courthouse from each side in the case. A decision in the appeal case is expected no sooner than 30 days and could take several months.

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn, whose office is representing the county Board of Elections in the appeal case, said attorneys for both sides Thursday morning mainly touched on points already included in their legal filings in the appeal.

The party appealing the case, described as “a committee of petitioners for the county charter proposal,” on July 28, 2017, appealed Athens County Common Pleas Judge George McCarthy’s decision to uphold the Board of Elections’ July 10 decision to not place on the November 2017 ballot the Athens County Bill of Rights Committee’s proposed county charter.

Last July, the local Board of Elections rejected the charter as invalid by stating, among other things, that a proposed executive council (comprised of county elected officials who aren’t county commissioners) does not meet Ohio Revised Code requirements for a county executive under an alternative form of government.
The whole article can be read by clicking here.

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Pin Oak Hopes to Find Success in Much-Maligned Northern Utica Shale

From Business Journal Daily:
Where others have experienced nothing short of a bust, an Akron oil and gas company envisions nothing but opportunity. 
Pin Oak Energy Partners LLC is jockeying for position in the northern tier of the Utica shale, especially in Trumbull County and parts of Mahoning County in Ohio, and Mercer County in Pennsylvania. In February, the company announced it has acquired more than 70,000 leasehold acres in the southern and northern Utica and a collection of active wells. 
“We’re not buying acreage,” says Mark Van Tyne, Pin Oak chief business development officer. “We are buying cash-flowing assets. We’ve acquired assets that others didn’t feel were producing.” 
Energy giants BP America and Halcon Resources Corp. moved into the region in 2012 during the early phase of Utica shale exploration. After almost two years, the payoff hoped for from the wells that both companies drilled, mostly in Trumbull and Mercer counties, simply was insufficient to justify continued oil and gas exploration in the northern Utica. So BP and Halcon canceled their drilling programs.
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