From Food & Water Watch today:
Today, the Maryland Senate Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs passed a 2-year fracking moratorium bill, which could now go to the full Senate for a vote. A similar bill passed in the Maryland House last week with overwhelming, bipartisan support.
Senator Karen Montgomery is the lead sponsor on the Senate bill. Delegate David-Fraser Hidalgo introduced the similar House bill.
Here is a statement from Food & Water Watch Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter: "We are very encouraged that the legislature is beginning to acknowledge the will of Marylanders to keep fracking out of the state. The moratorium bill now before the State Senate would indeed guarantee that no fracking happens for at least two years. In that time, as more and more science pointing to the inherent human heath and environmental hazards of fracking continues to emerge, we will continue educating and organizing to make sure that no fracking ever comes to Maryland."To read more or comment...
Ohio has approved 1,867 Utica Shale permits, as of March 28.
Of that total, 1,414 Utica wells have been drilled and 834 Utica wells are producing, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Ohio has 27 drilling rigs at work.
Four new permits were approved: three in Jefferson County and one in Monroe County.To read more or comment...
A federal agency on Wednesday declared the northern long-eared bat to be a threatened species due to a fungal disease that has devastated bat populations in Ohio and other states.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it is likely that the bat — once one of the most numerous in Ohio — will become an endangered species in the foreseeable future and perhaps extinct due to white-nose syndrome.
There is little that can be done to prevent that from happening because there are no cures for the disease, federal officials said.
But the bat is not on the brink of extinction, and the federal listing as a threatened species is justified and needed, agency spokesman Tony Sullins said in a teleconference.
“Bats are a critical component of our nation’s ecology and economy, maintaining a fragile insect predator-prey balance; we lose them at our peril,” agency Director Dan Ashe said in a statement.
The northern long-eared bat is a medium-sized bat about 3 to 3.7 inches long with a wingspan of 9 to 10 inches. Its fur color can be medium to dark brown on the back and tawny to pale brown on the underside. It has big ears and feeds on insects.
The federal designation, under study since October 2013, and interim protective rules that limit some summer tree cutting will go into effect May 4. Final rules should be completed by Dec. 31.
The protective measures improve the bats’ breeding opportunities by restricting some logging and tree removal from forests where the bats spend the warmer months. The rules will be in effect in June and July, when newborn bats live in nests before learning to fly.
The issue of whether the northern long-eared bat would become an endangered or threatened species had concerned mining operators, oil-and-natural gas drillers, electric utilities, residential and business developers and those involved in road and bridge projects because of the federal rules that could be imposed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a statewide trade group, said it was pleased that the bats were not listed as endangered, said spokesman Mike Chadsey.
“The northern long-eared bat is found in 39 states… and has a very healthy population in Ohio. An endangered listing would not have addressed the true threat to the bat which is a disease known as white-nose syndrome, not activities caused by industry activities, including oil and gas development, commercial development, residential development and wind power generation,” he said.
The federal action “will enable Fish and Wildlife to set up funds for additional research to find a cure for this disease while allowing certain industry activities to continue,” he said.
It is expected that the Fish and Wildlife will be modifying the interim rules based on comments submitted by hundreds of stakeholders, including the OOGA, Chadsey said.
The federal protection is “probably appropriate,” said Mike Johnson, chief of resource management for Summit Metro Parks. “But I’m not pleased. It’s just sad that such action is necessary.”
Park district surveys in 2013 and 2014 turned up no northern long-eared bats in Summit County, although it was the third most numerous bat in the past locally, he said.
“And we’ve been looking hard for it,” he said. “We used to find it all the time. We used to catch it all the time. It used to be very common.”
The number of bats that winter in caves and crevasses in Liberty Park in northern Summit County has dropped sharply due to the disease.
It was found in Ohio in 2011 and confirmed at Liberty Park in early 2012. There is no cure. People cannot contract the fungus. The disease was discovered in New York in 2006 and it has killed six million bats in Ohio and other states. It has been confirmed in 25 of the 37 states where the northern long-eared bat lives.
Liberty Park probably housed “tens of thousands of bats, perhaps as many as 100,000 bats in the past, but that total is now in the hundreds,” Johnson said.
The park district is working to win federal approval for a bat conservation project based in and around Liberty Park in Twinsburg, Twinsburg Township and Reminderville.
From the Associated Press today:
North Dakota is requiring oil companies to reduce the volatility of crude before it's loaded onto rail cars.
The new rules went into effect today and will require companies to remove certain liquids and gasses from oil train shipments. It's a process some say will make such transport safer.
Crude from North Dakota's oil patch has been linked to several fiery oil train crashes in the past two years.To read more or comment...
From the Associated Press:
A former Consol Energy executive has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison for stealing $440,000 in gas royalties from the company by forging deed transfers so he could funnel the money into a fake company he ran out of a post office box.
Thirty-eight-year-old Scott Hamilton, of Baden, was sentenced by a federal judge in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He pleaded guilty to mail fraud in November.
Hamilton was Consol’s land records general manager when he used two fake identities to forge deed transfers from Consol to his fake company, PRH. That enabled him to funnel drilling rights royalties from a 1,100-acre parcel in West Virginia and a 95-acre parcel in Illinois to the bogus company.To read more or comment...
From the American Petroleum Industry:
WASHINGTON, March 30, 2015 – The federal government’s proposal for future offshore oil and natural gas leasing is already too restrictive and should not be reduced any further, according to comments API submitted to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today.
“America’s energy security depends on our ability to produce oil and natural gas here in the U.S.,” said API Director of Upstream Erik Milito. “The administration should not make the map or the list of lease sales any smaller. Too many promising areas are already excluded, taking off the table hundreds of thousands of potential jobs and tens of billions of dollars in government revenue.”
API also encouraged BOEM to hold the currently proposed Atlantic lease sale a year or two earlier and to add a second Atlantic sale to the program.
“Safe and responsible energy development in the Atlantic will strengthen local economies with new job opportunities and private investment,” said Milito. “The Obama administration should carefully consider America’s long-term energy needs because these decisions will impact the country for a long time.”
API’s comments were co-signed by the National Ocean Industries Association, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, the American Exploration & Production Council, the International Association of Geophysical Contractors, the Petroleum Equipment and Services Association, and the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.
From Keyera Corp. on Tuesday:
CALGARY, March 31, 2015 /CNW/ - Keyera Corp. (TSX:KEY) ("Keyera") today announced a 50-50 joint venture with Kinder Morgan, Inc. (NYSE:KMI) ("Kinder Morgan") to build the Base Line Terminal (the "Terminal"), an above ground crude oil storage terminal near Edmonton, Alberta. The project is underpinned by several take-or-pay agreements ranging up to 10 years in length with creditworthy customers. Based on current capital estimates, Keyera's share of costs to construct the Terminal is estimated to be approximately CDN$330 million, excluding capitalized interest. The Terminal is expected to be commissioned in phases, with the first tanks scheduled to be commissioned in the second half of 2017, based on the most recent construction schedule.
The Terminal will be built on undeveloped land at Keyera's Alberta EnviroFuels site. Initially, 12 tanks will be constructed to provide customers with 4.8 million barrels of storage capacity. Sufficient land remains to add up to 1.8 million barrels of incremental storage capacity subject to future demand. The Terminal will be connected via pipeline to Kinder Morgan's existing Edmonton storage terminals and will provide customers with access to all crude oil streams handled by Kinder Morgan. From the Terminal, customers will be able to deliver products to end markets using multiple delivery options, including but not limited to major pipelines and nearby rail terminals operated by Keyera and Kinder Morgan. Kinder Morgan will oversee construction of the project and operate the Terminal once it is in service.
"This project is another example of Keyera and Kinder Morgan combining complementary assets and expertise to meet our customers' needs," said David Smith, Keyera's President and Chief Executive Officer. "While Keyera is contributing valuable undeveloped land, Kinder Morgan provides unparalleled connectivity to sources of crude oil in the Edmonton area."To read more or comment...
From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection:
DEP to Hold Question-and-Answer Session and Public Hearing on the First Environmental Permit for Proposed Shell Cracker Plant
This is the first permit application from Shell to be considered by DEP for the proposed construction of a petrochemicals complex that will, when complete, crack ethane and manufacture polyethylene pellets for use in the plastics industry. The proposed Shell complex would be located on the site formerly occupied by Horsehead Corporation’s Monaca Zinc Smelter in Potter Township, Beaver County.
The Plan Approval application was submitted to DEP on May 1, 2014, and has undergone a thorough technical review by DEP’s Bureau of Air Quality.To read more or comment...
From Dominion today:
RICHMOND, Va., April 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: DM), today announced that it has acquired Dominion Carolina Gas Transmission, LLC, from Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE: D), for approximately $495 million. Dominion Midstream is issuing approximately $200 million of limited partnership units to Dominion and has entered into a two-year note with Dominion for the remaining $295 million in transaction consideration.
Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion and Dominion Midstream GP, LLC, said:
"Today's asset contribution demonstrates Dominion's and Dominion Midstream's ability to execute complementary acquisitions to augment our dropdown strategy to achieve targeted best-in-class distribution growth at Dominion Midstream."To read more or comment...
From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:
Natural gas production from the Marcellus shale formation in the Appalachian basin increased to 14.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in January 2015, accounting for more than 36% of shale gas production and more than 18% of total dry natural gas production in the United States, according to EIA's Natural Gas Weekly Update. Recent updates to EIA's maps and geologic information for the Marcellus shale play help to characterize the formation's structure, thickness, and extent.To read more or comment...
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.