natural gas

Three Gas Storage Protestors Sentenced To Jail Terms

Nov 20, 2014
Gas Free Seneca / Facebook

In a Schulyer County courthouse on Wednesday, 16 people were arraigned on trespassing charges, for blocking the entrance to a proposed natural gas storage facility near Watkins Glen. Three refused to pay a $250 fine and were sentenced to 15 days in jail, starting immediately.

The three protesters sentenced to jail include a retired air force master sergeant, a prominent scientist, and 86-year-old Roland Micklem, who leaned on his cane and told the judge, “a person’s got to do what a person’s got to do.”

PennEast Pipeline Company

The Delaware River Basin Commission has prevented natural gas drillers from drilling in the watershed since 2010. And now the multi-state commission will now help determine whether a new natural gas pipeline can move forward.
The proposed PennEast pipeline would cut under the Delaware River to deliver natural gas from Pennsylvania to heat homes in New Jersey. It would also pass through reservoirs and state parks. That’s why the basin commission has decided to review the project’s potential impact on the watershed.

A pair of new studies from the U-S Geological Survey show low-to-moderate concentrations of naturally occurring methane gas in private water wells in Wayne and Pike counties.

The two counties fall under the jurisdiction of the Delaware River Basin Commission—an interstate compact which has imposed a moratorium on fracking. U-S-G-S researcher Ronald Sloto says that’s why it’s important to set a baseline before drilling occurs.

Doug Kerr / via flickr

The DEC’s “draft permit conditions”, released on Monday, propose rules that would have to be followed if the state issues a permit to Finger Lakes LPG Storage. Finger Lakes LPG, which is owned by Houston-based Crestwood Midstream Partners, wants to store up to 2.1 million barrels of butane and propane in old salt caverns on the western shore of Seneca Lake, in the Town of Reading.

That’s what the draft permit conditions issued by the DEC are about. The “issues conference” is part of the DEC’s permitting process. It comes after public hearings, but before a judge would decide on major points of dispute.

And, in this case, there have been some points of dispute.

Court Permanently Bars Activist From Gas Sites

Nov 11, 2014
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A Susquehanna County judge has ruled a 63-year-old anti-fracking activist will be permanently barred from setting foot on or near gas drilling sites. Vera Scroggins describes herself as a “gas tour guide” and says she wants to expose the environmental violations of Cabot Oil & Gas.

Cabot says she’s repeatedly trespassed on its property and her actions pose a safety risk.

The feud made international news earlier this year when Cabot got a sweeping, yet temporary, court injunction against her – which effectively barred her from about half the county. That order was later revised to be less restrictive.

Now a judge has ruled she must adhere to a permanent injunction, which means she has to keep off Cabot sites and observe a 25 to 100 foot buffer zone.

New York has had a de facto moratorium on fracking for several years. Most recently Governor Cuomo has said he’s awaiting results of an over two years long health review being conducted by his administration.

During a debate in October, Cuomo said the review would finally be completed by the end of the calendar year.

But just one day before elections, Cuomo seemed to be once again moving away from that date. He said an end of the year deadline was set between him and former Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah. Shah resigned in the spring to take another job. Cuomo says he has not yet talked with Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker about the status of the fracking health review.

“I have not had the conversation with him since Dr. Shah left,” Cuomo said. “We had this little issue pop up called Ebola that we were dealing with.”

Feds Subpoena Chesapeake About Royalty Payments

Nov 7, 2014
Matt Richmond / WSKG News

One of the biggest natural gas companies in Pennsylvania has been subpoenaed by the federal Justice Department over allegations it cheats landowners out of gas royalty money.

In a regulatory filing, Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy disclosed  it’s been subpoenaed by the DOJ and several states.

The company is the second largest gas producer in the United States, and one of the top drillers in the Marcellus Shale.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

It all started nearly two years ago, with a celebrity bus tour. Fracking activist Sean Lennon. He was joined by his mother, Yoko Ono, and Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon on one of the many natural gas tours hosted by 63-year-old anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, a rural area that’s become the center of the state’s fracking universe.

Map courtesy of PennEast Pipeline Company

A new billion-dollar pipeline project is being proposed to bring natural gas from the Marcellus Shale to customers on the East Coast.

Kristin McCarthy, a township committeewoman in Delaware, New Jersey, has one request for voters this Tuesday.

"I'm asking people not to vote for me," says McCarthy.

She wants to step down from local government to devote more time to fighting the PennEast pipeline, which would bring natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in northeast Pennsylvania to customers in New Jersey. That includes electric generation companies looking to switch from coal to natural gas.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A Susquehanna County judge has ruled that an anti-fracking activist will not be fined or jailed for allegedly violating a court order designed to keep her away from natural gas well sites.

63-year-old Vera Scroggins is a well-known anti-fracking activist who frequently irritates Susquehanna County’s biggest driller—Cabot Oil & Gas.

Their feud made international news earlier this year after Cabot got a court order, effectively barring her from nearly half the county.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Republican candidate for governor in New York is putting off a visit to a Pennsylvania drilling site designed to highlight the benefits of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

A spokeswoman for Rob Astorino says the drilling operator didn't want reporters to be included and that the visit will be postponed until after Election Day.

Astorino is seeking to unseat Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in next week's election. Cuomo has said he will wait on a state study on the health effects of the drilling practice, known as fracking, before deciding whether it should be allowed in New York.

Astorino says fracking can be done safely and would be a boon to the economy in the state's Southern Tier.

Tom Wolf campaign / via Facebook

Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, is emphasizing his pledge to enact a new tax on natural gas production but Wolf is vague about how much of that money would remain at the local level.

Gas companies are currently required to pay an impact fee for each well they drill.

In three years, those fees have generated more than $630 million.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

A major oil and gas services company’s breast cancer awareness campaign has sparked a backlash from some women’s health advocates and anti-fracking groups.

Fans packing into Heinz Field for Sunday’s Steelers-Colts game were met by a handful of protestors with signs warning passersby to “think before they pink.”

At half time, the CEO of drilling services company Baker Hughes handed over a $100,000 check to the Susan G. Komen foundation. The company is also distributing 1,000 pink drill bits to its customers around the world.

Dana Dolney is with Friends of the Harmed, a group working with Pennsylvania residents who say their health has been hurt by nearby oil and gas development. She’s also a breast cancer survivor.

courtesy of Cuomo campaign

During Wednesday’s only gubernatorial debate, Governor Cuomo said that the long awaited health review on potential dangers of hydrofracking will be completed by the end of the year.

Cuomo, answering a question on whether fracking, which is on hold in New York, will begin in the next four years if he’s re elected, says an over two year old health review  will be concluded by the end of the year, though not before Election Day. He says he’s told experts at his Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation to “give me a report”.

Climate Marchers Converge With Local Fracking Activists

Oct 21, 2014
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

In Washington, D.C. next month, environmentalists who've made their way across the country, are planning to pressure the Obama administration to stop using fossil fuels. They're  part of the Great March for Climate Action that began in spring in Los Angeles.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, activists gather in Diamond Park, across from the Butler County Courthouse. This is part of the Global Frackdown, one of many protests worldwide against fracking for oil and gas. These locals are also waiting expectantly for a busload of marchers that have been traveling--mostly walking--across the country.

Turning Frack Water Into Profit Proves A Challenge

Oct 19, 2014
Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Inside a big industrial building not far from downtown Pittsburgh, Mike Broeker shows off what he hopes is the next big thing in cleaning up the fracking business.

"We have three 8 foot diameter satellite dishes. These are the most common satellite dishes in the world--typically used for radio communications," says Broeker.

You might say these are no ordinary satellite dishes--but, that’s the thing. They are totally ordinary satellite dishes. What Broeker’s company puts on the surface of these dishes--that’s the “not so ordinary” thing happening here.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Oklahoma-based Williams Partners is seeking to build 177 miles of new pipeline through 10 Pennsylvania counties in an effort to bring Marcellus Shale gas to markets along the East Coast.

More than two hundred people turned out for a meeting in Lancaster Thursday to discuss a proposed interstate natural gas pipeline.

Attorneys were on hand to discuss ways landowners can negotiate with a pipeline company and deal with regulatory agencies.

Williams needs the approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (or FERC) to go forward with the project.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

During a visit to a manufacturing company near Albany on Wednesday, Governor Cuomo made some of his most extensive comments on the controversial topic of hydrofracking to date.

For the past two years, ever since the Governor asked his health department to conduct a health review,  Cuomo has had little to say about the review or even what was being studied.  He would only say that  the work was continuing.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Pennsylvania State Attorney General Kathleen Kane has filed criminal charges against gas driller E-Q-T Corporation for a major pollution incident.

In 2012, state regulators say EQT allowed hundreds of gallons of flowback fluid to leak from an impoundment pond in Tioga County, north central Pennsylvania. They say it seeped into groundwater and polluted nearby streams.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

When members of Pennsylvania’s largest gas industry trade group got together for their annual conference last week they were a bit worried.


Anyone paying attention to voter polls or listening to the rhetoric coming out of Harrisburg knows there is the very real possibility of two major changes for the gas industry— a new Democrat in the governor’s mansion and a new tax on gas production.

wwwukberrinet / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has levied its largest fine ever against a natural gas driller.

For the full story, check out StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Study Finds Flawed Well Casings Caused Tainted Water

Sep 18, 2014
Gerry Dincher / Flickr

A new scientific study takes on one of the most hotly debated issues associated with the natural gas boom. StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Marie Cusick reports it shows groundwater contamination from shale gas extraction in Pennsylvania was caused by faulty well casing—not the hydraulic fracturing of wells.

Check out the full story at StateImpact Pennsylvania

diana_robertson / Flickr

The issue of hydro fracking played a role in the recent Democratic primary for governor in New York, and those who oppose the gas drilling process hope it will influence the general election, too.

Governor Cuomo, once on a fast track to begin the natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing in New York, has put his decision on hold while his administration is conducting a health review that began two years ago. Cuomo, asked about the future of fracking in the state one day after the Democratic primary, said he’s still reserving judgment.

New study to Examine Effects of Shale Boom on Families

Sep 4, 2014
Sage Ross / Flickr

Since the hydrofracking boom began in Pennsylvania, drillers have paid landowners millions of dollars as royalty payments. Now, a researching want to study how all that money is impacting children and their parents.

Check out the full story at StateImpact Pennsylvania.

wwwukberrinet / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has posted a list of the cases on its website with links to the letters sent to homeowners confirming their water well was polluted or impacted by gas development.

Names and addresses have been redacted, but the list shows wells were contaminated or suddenly produced less water in spots across the Marcellus Shale region.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is reportedly widening her investigation into whether landowners are being shortchanged on royalty payments from their natural gas leases.

To read the full story, visit StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Here’s a question: Just how noisy is natural gas development? Well, the answer depends on what you’re hearing - whether it’s drilling, fracking, or processing gas.

This summer, state regulators in Pennsylvania are trying to get a handle on one of the most persistently noisy places: compressor stations.

For the rest of the story, visit StateImpact Pennsylvania.

In response to allegations it discouraged employees from responding to complaints about Marcellus Shale drilling Pennsylvania’s Department of Health is updating its policies for handling these concerns.

To read the full story, visit StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Both sides in the long-running battle over a proposed gas storage facility next to Seneca Lake are looking to moving on to the next stage.

Houston-based Crestwood Midstream has submitted a construction plan to federal regulators. The company says they are waiting on approval of the construction plan from federal regulators before beginning work.

The Department of Environmental Conservation announced last week that it will hold an issues conference this fall to hear concerns from both sides before signing off on the project.

On Public Land, A Gas Company Takes Private Control

Aug 13, 2014

A Pennsylvania court will soon decide if more natural gas leasing can occur in the state’s public forests.

So far, much of the debate has focused on impacts to plants and animals.

But some gas companies have been blocking people from accessing public roads and forests.

To read the rest of the story, visit the StateImpact Pennsylvania website.