From 40 Ohio eco-groups today:
COLUMBUS - - Today 40 Ohio community and environmental groups fires off a challenge to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) authority to manage chemical reporting and emergency response for the state’s oil and gas industry. The challenge, carried in a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, is based on the fact that Ohio law appears to contradict federal law with respect to what agency should receive hazardous chemical information and also respond to chemical accidents and emergencies. The letter to US EPA seeks clarification of these federal requirements in order to forestall an oil and gas industry agenda in Ohio’s legislature to shift custody of the industry’s chemical use data from front-line emergency responders to the industry’s accommodating but unqualified supporters at ODNR.
The federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) states that authority to accept hazardous chemical information and respond to chemical accidents resides with the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), as well as local emergency planning committees and fire departments. Indeed, every other chemical-intensive industry in the state reports to SERC and SERC coordinates and plans emergency response for them. Ohio law, however, carves out an exception for the oil and gas industry, diverting its hazardous chemical information and emergency response authority to ODNR.
The groups point out sections of existing Ohio law (ORC 1509.231) and proposed legislation (2014’s HB 490) that it says allows ODNR to, “…adopt a new and separate program tailored exclusively for its patrons in the oil and gas industry.” The group alleges that ODNR is “captured” by the industry it regulates and “…routinely ignores and ridicules the concerns of sensible citizens regarding fracking while reflexively repeating the industry’s public relations talking points on this important subject...”.To read more or comment...
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Friday completed its revision of rules for well pad construction.
The rules were last revised last September.
The new rules must still be reviewed by the Ohio Common Sense Initiative and by the Joint Committee on Agency Rules Review.
To learn more, go the Energy and Environment Law blog of Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease LLP.To read more or comment...
Progress is being made in locating an $800 million power plant to burn natural gas to produce electricity in Lordstown in Trumbull County.
A ground breaking is planned for September 2015. The plant by Clean Energy Future is slated to begin operations in late 2018.
The plant announced last spring has been moved from Salt Springs Road to the Lordstown Industrial Park on Henn Parkway.
Click here to read a recent post by Jim Willis of the Marcellus Drilling News.To read more or comment...
A former top Pennsylvania energy adviser has a new job with the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a pro-drilling industry group.
Patrick Henderson was the top energy adviser to former Gov. Tom Corbett.
Henderson will be the director of regulatory affairs for the shale group
Click here to read the full story from NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.To read more or comment...
From the American Petroleum Institute on Friday:
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File Type: pdf | File Size: 19472To read more or comment...
From the Associated Press last week:
The former chief operating officer of an Indiana County drilling company was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for embezzling $9 million to feed his casino gambling habit, which included playing $100 slot machines.
Larry Dean Winckler, 54, was ordered to pay $9 million in restitution to Falcon Drilling LLC, of Rayne Township, which he co-founded with the company's former owner. He must also pay the Internal Revenue Service $1.2 million in past-due income tax on the money he stole, plus interest and penalties.
U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry in Pittsburgh refused the defense attorney's request to let Winckler report to prison in a few weeks. Instead, Winckler had to take off his tie and belt so he could be handcuffed and led from the courtroom as several family members burst into tears. They declined comment afterward.
McVerry told Winckler he found it "somewhat mystifying and un-understandable" that Winckler stole the money while being paid $260,000 a year, plus a $1.2 million bonus one year when the company changed hands.
Defense attorney Martin Dietz didn't comment after the sentencing, but he had argued in a memo to the court that Winckler's life derailed when his son was diagnosed with severe autism as a 2-year-old in 2004.
"I thought I could handle this all on my own, and I was completely wrong," Winckler said, his voice breaking as he wept.
But U.S. Attorney Gregory Melucci likened Winckler to an "uncontrollable train of embezzlement that left a trail of disaster behind it."
"It knew no limitation in the pace with which it moved," Melucci added, noting Winckler stole the money from 2004 until the scheme was uncovered in 2012.
McVerry suggested he didn't buy Winckler's motives, noting the defendant didn't use any of the money he stole "to pursue special medical treatment for your son" but instead bought expensive jewelry and a hunting camp, when he wasn't blowing the money at casinos.
Winckler is forfeiting three Rolex watches, diamond-encrusted Mickey Mouse and Hello Kitty jewelry, the hunting camp and a bank account containing $481,000.
Winckler told the judge his actions were "completely my fault and I certainly understand what I did wrong." He apologized for hurting the business, his family and two others he enlisted in the scheme.
The first was Cheryl Diane Brooks, of Clymer, who pleaded guilty in January 2013 to her role in helping Winckler steal more than $5.4 million from the company, including $557,000 she kept for herself. Brooks joined the firm as a secretary in 2001 and despite lacking an accounting background became its controller by 2004.
Brooks has cooperated with the government, sold personal assets to repay her debt and surrendered a vested pension. She's scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 20.
The third person charged is former auto repair shop owner Daniel Pikel, who's serving 27 months in prison for helping Winckler launder about $3 million. Pikel pleaded guilty to cashing hundreds of checks for fake invoices, then returning the money to Winckler.
From the Associated Press last week:
The state of Pennsylvania has agreed to pay about $40,000 to an anti-gas drilling group that was erroneously characterized in security bulletins as a potential terror threat.
The settlement terms between the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition were released Friday. The Associated Press obtained the document through an open-records request.
The coalition’s lawsuit said the bulletins characterized the group as a possible threat to infrastructure without evidence. A private contractor, the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, produced the reports under a one-year, $103,000 contract.To read more or comment...
The BakerHostetler law firm's North American Shale blog questions whether drilling companies are prepared to deal with possible layoffs as the prices paid for natural gas and oil continue to drop.
Click here to read the full story.To read more or comment...
The new Texas Legislature has two bills pending that would restrict local communities that want to impose bans on hydraulic fracturing or fracking.
Click here to read more from the Baker Hostetler law firm's North American Shale blog.To read more or comment...
Energy giant Chevron Corp. announced on Wednesday that it was laying off 162 staffers at its offices outside of Pittsburgh.
The cuts are due to slowdowns in the Marcellus and Utica shales.
That represents 23 percent of Chevron's work force in western Pennsylvania.
Click here to read the full story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.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.