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December 06, 2016
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Gas at a glance

Natural gas pipeline safety bill signed into law

PA Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law House Bill 344 (Baker-R-Tioga) establishing regulatory oversight of natural gas pipelines to the Public Utility Commission (PUC), as reported in PA Environment Digest.

The new law authorizes the PUC to conduct safety inspections and investigations of natural gas pipelines within the Commonwealth in coordination with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration. Rep. Matt Baker noted that the new law will also give the PUC the power to regulate natural gas pipelines without having to deem them a public utility.

Therefore, the power of eminent domain is not extended. The law also provides for the hiring of additional safety inspectors.

Baker said money to hire the anticipated 12 or more inspectors will come from both federal funding and the gas industry through assessments outlined in the legislation.

Forum to focus on Marcellus Shale drilling impacts on forests

“Oil and Gas Development Impacts on Forested Ecosystems: Research and Management Challenges” will be studied April 9-10 as part of the Pennsylvania State University Goddard Forum, University Park. The conference targets scientists, managers, conservation organizations and industry representatives who are working with oil and gas development to share research results and management strategies.

Presentations by both managers and scientists are encouraged. Topics should include the full range of forest issues, including landscape modification, forest water, air, habitat, roads, timber supply, recreation impacts, invasive species, noise, landscape restoration, management and monitoring strategies, and other topics focused on forests. Attendees wishing to offer papers must submit proposals by January 27.

Include title, names and affiliations of all authors, and contact information for the primary author with an abstract of no more than 350 words. Submit abstract by email to

NYC Bar Association comments on local law issues in DEC’s dSGEIS

The New York City Bar Association is an organization of over 23,000 lawyers and judges. Its committees on Environmental Law and on Land Use Planning and Zoning, which deliberate on legal and policy issues relating to the environment and to land use planning and zoning, respectively, have submitted comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to convey the Association’s position regarding local law issues in the Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. See the comments at

EOG Resources pays $367,335 in settlements for four pollution events

In its fourth settlement in 2011, EOG Resources, a Houston, TX drilling company, has agreed to pay a $93,710 settlement to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) as a result of the company’s pollution of Clearfield County’s Little Laurel Run in late 2010. Investigations determined that the substances the company released were deleterious, destructive or poisonous to fish. The substances first entered Little Laurel Run on December 13, 2010, and affected the creek through March 22, 2011. EOG also agreed to pay an additional $65,000 towards an environmental project of the PFBC’s choosing in the Laurel Run watershed. In April, the company settled charges involving three separate pollution incidents in Clearfield County.

Between August 25 and October 30, 2009, EOG allowed fluid from a pit to enter Alex Branch and its tributaries. EOG paid $99,125 for this incident. On Oct. 10 and 11, 2009, EOG allowed well wash fluid containing surfactant to enter Alex Branch and its tributaries. EOG paid $10,000 for this incident. Between June 3 through August 16, 2010, EOG allowed gas and a mixture of fresh water and well flowback water to flow into Little Laurel Run. EOG paid $99,500 for this incident. The PFBC hosts a toll-free hotline for the public to report suspected pollution incidents or fish kills (855/347-4545).

In other gas news (12/30)

It doesn't matter if it is EOG, or Range, if a township lets a driller into the community, the township loses control over anything the driller doesn't want controlled.

Range Resources, that good neighbor from Fort Worth, Texas, mostly active in the western part of PA, has brought suit against South Fayette Township over the Township's zoning regulations. So far, it's a 4 month battle.

In another township, this time in Lycoming County, the township supervisor resorted to felling six trees in order to block an unpaved road that Range kept using illegally. The Range drilling and frac'ing trucks had destroyed the road to the point that PA DEP issued citations against the township for the polluting runoff and sediment that was resulting. The township posted signs, revoked permits, then put up barricades, but the truckers kept ignoring them.

Finally, the supervisor blocked the road with the trees. One of the supervisors was quoted as saying something to the effect, "I'm thinking we got their attention".

In Michigan, landowners were scammed by Chesapeake through leasing to a shell company.

"TRAVERSE CITY Mich. By Joshua Schneyer and Brian Grow
(Reuters) -

Late in the summer of 2010, hundreds of farmers in northern Michigan were fuming.

All had signed leases with local brokers permitting drillers to tap natural gas and oil beneath their land. All were demanding thousands of dollars in bonuses they had been promised in exchange. But none knew for certain whom to go after.

That's because the company rejecting their leases hadn't signed them to begin with. In fact, the company issuing the rejections wasn't much of a business at all. It was a shell company - a paper- only firm with no real operations - called Northern Michigan Exploration LLC.

One jilted land owner, Eric Boyer-Lashuay, called to complain to the broker who had handled his lease. Northern, he recalls saying, is "a shell company ... a blank door with no one behind it."

Today, he puts it this way: "It was all a fake, all a scam."

The New York Times, today, has quite a story about a 14 year, ongoing lawsuit (How long? During that time 13 of the family members have died) in Louisiana, where the landowners brought suit against Texaco, a subsidiary of Chevron, for thoroughly contaminating the land the owners had leased to the company. Now, in a twist after 14 years, Sabine Pipe Line, another subsidiary of Chevron, brought suit against the landowners to get the land condemned, so that Sabine can take it over.

When does PA become the next Louisiana? We have a lot to look forward to?

Did Cabot and PA DEP withhold test results from the EPA?

Pro shale gas radicals, is this why you want the EPA out of the picture? The EPA can't be bought quite as easily as state agencies, such as PA DEP? Did Cabot, and PA DEP, withhold test information from the EPA the first time around?

By Laura Legere

"Federal environmental regulators are reopening their review of Dimock Twp. water supplies after recently released tests of the water wells taken by a natural gas drilling contractor were found to "merit further investigation."

Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were in Dimock Thursday and Friday to visit residents whose water supplies were found by state regulators to have been tainted with methane from Cabot Oil and Gas Corp.'s Marcellus Shale drilling operations.

After a preliminary review of results from water tests taken earlier by the state, Cabot and other outside firms, the EPA wrote to the residents on Dec. 2 to say the information they had gathered "does not indicate that the well water presents an immediate health threat to users."

But in an information sheet provided to residents during visits this week, the EPA wrote that it "has recently received additional Cabot data from residents that merit further investigation." The EPA is now "concerned about" potential gaps in water sampling and test results, the number of water supplies potentially affected, if residents that need them have alternate sources of fresh drinking water, and if residents have any more data to share..."