First Choice Energy

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

One Study Credits Shift from Coal to Natural Gas with Saving Lives as Another Warns of Higher Emissions

From a UC San Diego news release:
The decommissioning of coal-fired power plants in the continental United States has reduced nearby pollution and its negative impacts on human health and crop yields, according to a new University of California San Diego study. 
The findings published this week in Nature Sustainability use the U.S. transition in recent years from coal towards natural gas for electric power generation to study the local impacts of coal-fired unit shutdowns. While the shift from coal to natural gas has reduced carbon dioxide emissions overall, it has also changed local pollution levels at hundreds of areas around the country. In particular, the burning of coal creates particulate matter and ozone in the lower atmosphere—often experienced as “smog” —which can affect humans, plants and regional climate. These pollutants (aerosols, ozone and other compounds) from coal burning can wreak havoc on human health when inhaled, and also have damaging effects on plant life. They also alter local climate by blocking incoming sunlight. 
The author, Jennifer Burney, associate professor of environmental science at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, combined data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on electric power generation with satellite and surface measurements from the EPA as well as NASA to gauge changes in local pollution before and after coal-fired unit shut-downs. She also studied changes in county-level mortality rates and crop yields using data from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
Burney found that between 2005 and 2016, the shutdown of coal-fired units saved an estimated 26,610 lives and 570 million bushels of corn, soybeans and wheat in their immediate vicinities. The inverse calculation, estimating the damages caused by coal plants left in operation over that same time period, suggests they contributed to 329,417 premature deaths and the loss of 10.2 billion bushels of crops, roughly equivalent to half of year’s typical production in the U.S.
Click here to read the whole release.

Meanwhile, from The Columbus Dispatch:
The fracking boom across the country has resulted in greenhouse gas emissions steadily climbing each year since the United States has become the largest producer of oil and gas in the world. 
As a result of the boom, there are plans over the next five years to build or extend 157 petroleum and natural gas drilling sites and chemical manufacturing and refinery plants across the country, according to federal records. 
That expansion will result in greenhouse gas emissions across the U.S. totaling 990.5 million tons per year by 2025, according to a study by the Environmental Integrity Project
The nonpartisan and nonprofit group, established in 2002 by former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attorneys, said that’s the equivalent of 50 new coal-fired power plants. 
The emissions estimate includes the proposed Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical America ethane petrochemical plant in Belmont County. The so-called “cracker” plant, which would use natural gas and create ethylene, an ingredient used in plastics, would emit an estimated 1.785 million tons of greenhouse gases each year. 
“It’s company-supplied information. The big picture, especially for Appalachia — Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — is this facility would create demand for even more oil and gas extraction and kind of lock this region into that economy,” said Courtney Bernhardt, research director for the Environmental Integrity Project. “Right now, renewable sources of energy are available. And I know that this facility would be creating plastic, ultimately, but there are other ways to make plastic.”
Read the rest of that article by clicking here. 

It's with studies like that in mind that protesters are fighting to try and stop the proposed cracker plant, as reported by The Times Leader:
A potential ethane cracker plant proposed for Dilles Bottom is facing some opposition.

More than 30 people from communities such as Wheeling, Bridgeport, Moundsville, Shadyside and Weirton held signs and stationed themselves on both sides of W.Va. 2 at the Moundsville Plaza, located across the Ohio River from the proposed plant site. Many drivers honked horns as they passed, and some shouted encouragement and gave thumbs-up signs. 
PTT Global Chemical America and Daelim Industrial Corp., based in Thailand and South Korea, respectively, obtained an air permit-to-install and a modified wastewater discharge permit for the project in 2018. Environmental groups opposed to the project immediately challenged one of those permits, but that issue was resolved in September, when a settlement was announced. 
Vincent DeGeorge, representing the activist organization Concerned Ohio River Residents and president of Ohio Valley PEACE, said the protesters have environmental and health concerns. 
“We’re a group of local citizens who think the truth, all the information about this cracker plant, hasn’t come out, and we’re confident when that information comes out, the environmental concerns, the economic concerns, the health concerns, Ohio River residents will be convinced that this cracker plant is not the way to go, that there are much better alternatives,” he said. “(We’re) letting other people who have concerns about the cracker plant know that they’re not alone.”
That whole article can be read by clicking on this link. 

Columbia Gas Faces Opposition to Pipeline in Union County

From the Marysville Journal-Tribune:
The Union County Commissioners are filing an appeal to a project that would bring nearly five miles of gas line from Jerome Township and into Marysville. 
“While we are not so much opposed to what they are doing, we just don’t feel it goes far enough,” said Tim Hansley, Union County Administrator. 
In December, Columbia Gas submitted a Letter of Notification, indicating they intended to construct a 4.78 miles natural gas pipeline, known as the Marysville Connector, beginning at Watkins-California Road between U.S. 42 and Derio Road and ending on Industrial Parkway near Veyance Technologies. 
While Columbia Gas says the majority of the 12-inch natural gas main will be constructed within permanent private pipeline easements, paperwork from the company says it does not actually have any of those easements yet. In addition to the 4.78-mile length of the pipeline right-of-way, Columbia Gas says it will obtain land rights for staging areas that will be situated along the pipeline right-of-way and other areas needed during construction.
Click here to continue reading. 

Rig Count in Utica Shale Slips to 10 on Latest Report

WEEK ENDING 01/11/20

New permits issued last week: 4 (Previous week: 2)  +2
Total horizontal permits issued: 3184 (Previous week: 3182 +2
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2711 (Previous week: 2709)  +2
Total horizontal wells producing: 2423 (Previous week: 2423)  +-0
Utica rig count: 10 (Previous week: 11)  -1

ODNR Publishes First Well Activity Maps of 2020

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Rig Count and Total Permit Count in Utica Shale Continue to Decline

WEEK ENDING 01/04/20

New permits issued last week: 2 (Previous week: 2)  +-0
Total horizontal permits issued: 3182 (Previous week: 3187 -5
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2709 (Previous week: 2706)  +3
Total horizontal wells producing: 2423 (Previous week: 2422)  +1
Utica rig count: 11 (Previous week: 12)  -1

Friday, January 3, 2020

Ohio Supreme Court to Review Case in Fight to Overturn FirstEnergy Nuclear Bailout

From The Columbus Dispatch:
The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to rule on federal-court questions that could revive the failed referendum campaign seeking to repeal the ratepayer-financed House Bill 6 bailout of a pair of nuclear power plants in the state. 
U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in Columbus ruled on Oct. 23 that Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts turned to the wrong court in its bid for additional days to gather more signatures for its petition drive to place a ballot issue before voters. 
Sargus sent the case to the state Supreme Court, which agreed Tuesday by a 4-0 vote to hear the lawsuit filed by opponents of the new law. 
Justices Judith French, Patrick Fischer and Patrick DeWine did not participate in the vote because they have conflicts of interest involving their past campaign managers having served roles in the referendum campaign. State appellate court judges would be appointed to replace them in hearing arguments. 
Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts had asked Sargus, in a suit against Secretary of State Frank LaRose, to grant it up to 38 additional days to gather signatures. The group argued that unconstitutional state laws and reviews denied it the full 90 days and thus access to the ballot.
Read the whole article by clicking here. 

ODNR Has the Money to Plug Abandoned Wells, Now Looks for Contractors to Take on the Work

From the Canton Repository:
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is still seeking contractors to plug the state’s backlog of orphan and idle wells. 
ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management wants to award up to $25 million in contracts to plug some 200 wells before the fiscal year ends in June. 
Contractors who wish to bid have until Jan. 20 to be certified through the state’s Department of Administrative Services. 
ODNR spokesman Adam Schroeder said the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management has been focused on enlarging the pool of contractors eligible to bid. 
“We certainly have budget dollars in the Orphan Well Program to plug more wells and there’s definitely an inventory of wells to be plugged,” Schroeder said. “So, the more contractors we can have bidding on these projects, the better.” 
Orphan wells are oil and gas wells that weren’t plugged properly in the past and don’t have an owner who could pay to have them plugged now. The wells are health and environmental hazards because they can leak oil, natural gas and brine, and even cause explosions when natural gas collects in a building near a leaking well. 
Orphan wells in Ohio have been found under a school, next to houses, in farm fields and even under a reservoir. ODNR has identified nearly 1,000 orphan wells in 71 counties. (Stark has seven while Summit has nine, Carroll has 13, Wayne has 10 and Tuscarawas has three.)
Find out more by clicking here. 

Court Ruling May Lead to Sales Tax Refunds for Ohio Frackers

From JDSupra:
The Tenth District Ohio Court of Appeals recently applied a statutory amendment clarifying the oil & gas exemption for Ohio sales & use tax retroactively. Interestingly, while this appeal was pending at the Board of Tax Appeals, the legislature amended the statute to clarify the scope of the exemption for fracking equipment. Although legislation is generally applied prospectively, this amendment was considered remedial and expressly stated that it clarified existing law and applied retroactively, including to current appeals. R.C. 5739.02(B)(42)(q). Stingray Pressure Pumping, LLC v. Tax Commr. of Ohio, 2019-Ohio-5198. This decision opens up refund opportunities for taxpayers in the oil & gas industry, even those currently appealing an assessment. 
The particular issue in this case was whether a sales tax exemption applied to certain equipment used by Stingray Pressure Pumping, LLC in the production of crude oil and natural gas by fracking. The BTA initially denied exemption for equipment used to mix liquids and materials before being pumped into wells. Under previous case law, this type of property was taxable since it was considered adjunct to the drilling process, rather than used directly in the production of oil and gas.[1]
Read more by clicking here.