Thursday, March 29, 2012

WIN-WIN for who?

Late in 2011, two companies, Aqua America and Penn-Virgina Resource Partners formed a joint venture subsidiary called Aqua-PVR Water Services LLC.

EXCERPT: Aqua America, PVR Partners Form JV for Private Water Pipeline in Pa.

   " construct and operate a private pipeline system to supply fresh water to natural gas producers drilling in the Marcellus Shale in north-central Pennsylvania. The 12-inch diameter steel pipeline will largely parallel the trunkline of PVR's gathering system in Lycoming County and will share PVR's existing rights-of-way.

    PVR is constructing the fresh water pipeline and handling negotiation of water pipeline capacity contracts with producers. Aqua will operate the system when completed and handle water intake supply arrangements. Aqua and PVR each anticipate investing approximately $12 million for construction of the first segment of the project. The joint venture has entered into an agreement with Range Resources - Appalachia, LLC a wholly owned subsidiary of Range Resources to supply fresh water to three of Range's water impoundments, and negotiations with other area producers for supply agreements are on-going."

EXCERPT: Daily Kos: Fracking: Corruption a Part of Pennsylvania’s Heritage

 "The extraction of natural gas has also led to the development of other industries—and the exploitation of the people. In Jersey Shore, Pa., about 20 miles west of Williamsport, Aqua PVR bought a 37-unit mobile home village, with plans to build a water withdrawal plant to provide up to three million gallons a day to the natural gas industry. The day the purchase was completed on Feb. 23, 2012, Aqua told the residents their leases were terminated “immediately,” according to reporting in the Sun-Gazette. The company gave residents until May 1 to leave. To sweeten what may be seen as a callous corporate action, Aqua said it would give $2,500 to each resident who moved by April 1, and $1,500 if they moved by May 1. However, as the Sun-Gazette reported, the cost to move each mobile home ranged from $5,000 to $12,000. Many of the residents lived in the village more than a decade; one was there 38 years. The newspaper reported that most trailer parks in the area were already at maximum occupancy, and others would not accept the older trailers.

“Residents are afraid to speak up,” says Diane Siegmund, who points out there is “a lot of fear” among the residents, those whose lives are being uprooted, those whose health is being compromised, and those whose economic benefits may be compromised if fracking operations are reduced.

“As long as the powers can keep the people isolated and fragmented,” says Siegmund, “the momentum for change can never be gained.” The experience in Dimock and Jersey Shore is seen throughout the Marcellus Shale region.

It’s not unreasonable to expect people who are unemployed or underemployed to grasp for anything to help themselves and their families, nor is it unreasonable to expect that persons—roustabouts, clerks, truck drivers, helicopter pilots, among several hundred thousand in dozens of job classifications—will take better paid jobs, even if it often means 60 hour work weeks under hazardous conditions. It’s also not unreasonable to expect that families living in agricultural and rural areas, who are struggling to survive, will snap at the lure of several thousand dollars to lease mineral rights and some of their land to an energy company, which will also pay royalties. But what is unreasonable is that government allows corporations to flourish at the expense of the people and their environment.
NOTE: Aqua-PVR Water Services has "generously" extended the eviction time to June 1.  Residents were not offered any financial assistance beyond the initial $2,500.

EXCERPT: New Joint Venture Building Private Water Pipeline in the Marcellus Shale
"Referring to the project as a "win-win," PVR Chief Executive Officer William H. Shea, Jr. said, "The pipeline will provide contracting producers with a more reliable fresh water source at a lower delivered cost. By reducing the number of trucks operating on area highways, area residents will benefit from reduced traffic congestion, noise and delays."
Who is this a WIN-WIN for?  It's a WIN-WIN for Aqua America.  It's a WIN-WIN for Penn-Virginia Resource Partners.  It's a WIN-WIN for the previous owner of Riverbend Mobile Park.  It's certainly a WIN-WIN for the natural gas industry.

Mr. Shea, please explain how it's a WIN-WIN for the 32 families you and Mr. DeBenedictis (CEO of Aqua America) are evicting?  How is being thrown out with little notice a WIN-WIN?

Do you care? Probably not, because this deal is a WIN-WIN for your profit line.  It's a WIN-WIN for everyone except for real people.

These are the Real People. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Money to Burn?

In a recent Market Watch article: Face-off Over Fracking, March 22, 2012, 1:44 PM, there was some discussion regarding methane being released into the air.

McClendon also took issue with Gallay’s contention that energy companies are releasing methane into the air from fracking. “We don’t want to leak methane. That’s money to us,” he said.
Really, Aubrey?  Your "money" is leaking....

And Money to Burn too?

As natural gas production grows, questions arise about methane leaks
By McClatchy Newspapers - March 24, 2012

Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Methane can enter the atmosphere when gas is stored or transported, but it's particularly a concern with shale gas production during flowback -- when fracking fluids, water and gases flow out of a well after drilling but before the gas is put into pipelines.

Companies often burn or capture the methane during flowback. How extensively or effectively that's done overall, however, isn't clear.

The oil and gas industry is the biggest source of U.S. methane emissions, accounting for about 40 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Industry says that figure is inflated, because equipment is widely used to keep methane from entering the air.

It's generally agreed, however, that there isn't good data on how much methane is entering the atmosphere from natural gas operations.

"Even small leaks can wind up undoing most of the global warming benefit we think we're getting when we substitute natural gas for coal," said Mark Brownstein, who leads the natural gas and oil team at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Money Runs Through It

Franklin, Dimock, Leroy, Lenox, Butler – a few of the Pennsylvania towns where clean and safe water has become an issue in the past year.  Families who once thought they would find their American Dream in Pennsylvania are now living an American Nightmare.

But, this is not a story about those towns and those families.  This is a story about another town and other families who are being forced from their homes – not because their water is bad, but rather because of the good water.

Earlier this month, 32 residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Village in Piatt Township received notification the park had been sold to Aqua PVR LLC.   They have until May 1, 2012 to vacate the park. 

Why did Aqua PVR, LLC buy the park?  Aqua PVR, LLC plans to eliminate the park and build a water withdrawal facility to be used by the natural gas industry.   The company received permission from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission on March 15 to withdraw up to 3 million gallons of water per day from the site. The water will be transported via pipeline to gas drilling sites located to the north of the township.

Who is Aqua PVR, LLC?  To understand this we must look back to September 2011.  Two corporations – Aqua America and Penn-Virginia Resource Partners, LP formed a joint venture between certain of their operating subsidiaries.  This joint venture became known as Aqua PVR LLC.  

Its purpose is to construct and operate a PRIVATE pipeline system to supply fresh water to natural gas producers drilling in the Marcellus Shale. 

PVR is constructing the fresh water pipeline and handling negotiation of water pipeline capacity contracts with producers.  Aqua will operate the system when completed and handle water intake supply arrangements.  Aqua and PVR each anticipate investing approximately $12 million for construction of the first segment of the project. The joint venture has entered into an agreement with Range Resources - Appalachia, LLC a wholly owned subsidiary of Range Resources Corporation (NYSE: RRC) to supply fresh water to three of Range's water impoundments, and negotiations with other area producers for supply agreements are on-going.”

The CEO of Aqua America is Nicholas DeBenedictis.   Prior to becoming CEO, Mr. DeBenedictis served as DEP Secretary and Director of the Office of Economic Development under former Gov. Richard Lewis "Dick" Thornburgh (1979-1987).    In 2005 he became a director for the Exelon Corporation.

Side note:  After leaving his position of Homeland Security Secretary, former Gov Tom Ridge formed the
Ridge Policy Group.  Former Gov. Tom Ridge also joined the board of directors for the Exelon Corporation.   The Ridge Policy Group became a lobbyist for the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Aqua America and Penn Virginia are also members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

In 2010, Gov. Tom Corbett formed a Marcellus Advisory Panel.  At that time Corbett said he wanted to develop the Marcellus Shale gas deposits as a long-term economic venture while maintaining environmental protections.  So of course, he packed the panel with industry lobbyists. 

The Marcellus lobbyists on the panel have other major businesses and organization clients too.

They include Peter Gleason of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Gates who represents Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. and Chesapeake Appalachia, two firms active in Northeast Pennsylvania, according to lobbyist disclosure reports with the Department of State. Cabot is at odds with DEP over whether the company's natural gas drilling is responsible for water supply contamination in Dimock Twp.

Also lobbyist Stanley Rapp with Greenlee Partners who represents Range Resources-Appalachia, CNX Gas Corp. and NextEra Energy Resources. He represents PPL Corp. as well.

And lobbyist Pam Witmer with Bravo Group who represents Chief Oil and Gas, Chief Gathering LLC and RRI Energy.

The panel is chaired by David Kleppinger, an attorney with McNees Wallace and Nurick who lobbies for the Industrial Energy Consumers of Pennsylvania.

David Hess and Nicholas DeBenedictis, former DEP/DER secretaries under Govs. Mark Schweiker and Richard Thornburgh, are on the panel. So is John Oliver, a former DCNR secretary under Gov. Tom Ridge.

George Ellis, president of the Pennsylvania Coal Association, and Ellen Ferretti, Dallas, vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council who works on Pocono land issues, are on the panel. Patrick Solano, Pittson, a former DEP deputy secretary, and John Rich, owner of a coal waste power plant in Schuylkill County, are members.

Corbett is drawing on Ridge administration veterans, lobbyists and lawmakers to fill many spots on 17 transition committees, said Terry Madonna, Ph.D., pollster at Franklin and Marshall College.”

William H. Shea Jr is the Director and Chief Executive Officer of Penn Virginia Resource Partners, L.P.  Mr. Shea is also the majority owner of the Lexington Legends, the Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, and is managing partner of the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

“William H. Shea, Jr. is on the Board of Trustees of the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Free Library. He is also a director of the Kayne Anderson MLP Income Fund (KYN), Kayne Anderson Total Energy Return Fund (KYE), Niska Gas Storage Partners (NKA) and Gibson Energy LLC.  William H. Shea, Jr. currently lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. “

In January of this year, the Rail-Trail Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania has signed an option for a pipeline easement in nearly 30 miles of its right of way with Penn Virgina Resource Partners.   “The optioned easement extends 28.8 miles north from the Tennessee pipeline in Union Dale through Ararat, Thompson, Lanesboro and other municipalities to the New York state line.”

The residents of Riverdale Mobile Home Village were told the developer would provide residents with a $2,500 incentive payment if they moved by Junel 1.  Previously the "incentive" was $2,500 to move by April 1 and a $1,500 payment if they moved by May 1.  Quotes from mobile home movers have put the cost of moving the trailers at between $5,000 and $12,000.

People are being driven from their homes by the Natural Gas corporations.   The Natural Gas corporate talking heads tell us to look at all the jobs.   How many jobs?   How many jobs are worth the destruction of someone’s home?   

To my knowledge, no one has given  Mr. Shea Jr. or Mr. DeBenedictis $2,500  to vacate their homes and make room for the gas drilling industry.   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Does the Fracker want a Cracker?

It was announced that Beaver County, PA will be getting a cracker plant.  The "cracker plant" is Royal Dutch Shell's project, and it won't be Saltines being churned out.   As usual, the hype is all about the jobs and nothing about the cost to health, safety or well being of it's workers or those living nearby.

Corbett is smiling, presumably about the cracker plant, however there is more to the story.

East Resources was sold to Royal Dutch Shell, the former CEO, Terry Pegula became an executive with Royal Dutch Shell and retired shortly after the sale.  His wife, Kim, was listed as an executive for Royal Dutch Shell according to campaign finance disclosures.

Terry & Kim donated $280,000 to Tom Corbett's 2010 campaign.   Tom Corbett later appointed Terry to the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.  Read more here:You Can’t Tell the Players Without a Scorecard!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Twisting Arms

In 2011, Gov. Corbett's budget included severe cuts for higher education. His proposal, (at that time) called for as much as 50% for some universities.

There was an outcry over the cuts.  Corbett's response was to tell his critics to go frack themselves.

Corbett: Schools should drill - Some Pennsylvania universities should consider drilling for natural gas below campus to help solve their financial problems, Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday.

The Erie Times-News reported that Corbett made the suggestion during an appearance at a meeting of the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees at Edinboro University.
Corbett said six of the 14 campuses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education are located on the Marcellus Shale formation, part of a vast region of underground natural gas deposits that are currently being explored and extracted."
While the final budget cuts to education weren't that draconian in 2011,  Corbett is at it again this year.

Corbett's current budget proposale includes even more cuts to education.

" Gov. Tom Corbett proposes major cuts to higher education
Published: Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is seeking to trim $330 million, or 20 percent, from 14 state-owned universities. He also wants to reduce aid to Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University by about 30 percent.

It marks the second straight year Corbett has proposed slashing funding to the schools.
State colleges and universities say they won't be able to easily absorb their cuts. Temple has already cut $76 million from its operating budget in three years, University President Ann Weaver Hart said."
One can not help to wonder if these types of cuts are a form of arm twisting to force schools to open up their campuses to gas drilling as a way to make up for lost funding.

"We are reducing the funding to education because we do not have the money — it is that simple,” the governor said.  “And I ask anybody who talks about [the fact that] we’re reducing education, from the education side, to tell me where would you have me take it from?  Would you have me take from the social services?  Would you have me take it from law enforcement?"

His cavlier attitude towards education seems pretty apparent, especially when you consider the recent passage of the Voter ID Act which is estimated to waste as much as $11 million dollars for training poll workers, public information and hiring of additional election staff.

If Corbett can find the money for a Republican Party power grab, he can certainly find the funds to problem support education.

The other little nugget buried in Corbett's budget is the permanent and total elimination of the Farmland Preservation program.  The Farmland Preservation program receives about $20 million annually from the tax on cigarettes.  

Without this aid, many Pennsylvania family farms will be struggling even more than they already do.   Farmers, who are concerned about producing healthy foods, may be forced to sell their farms or reluctantly lease to the gas industry.

While Corbett hasn't come right out and told critics to go frack themselves -- his budget certainly does.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fracking: Untold Stories

A film about a man in Tioga county dealing with the negative impact of Fracking happening on two sides of his property. ED is a Vietnam Vet suffering from long term PTSD and hypervigilance. He moved to Tioga County to get away from it all but now finds himself in the center of industrial mayhem.

Connecting the Dots: The Marcellus Natural Gas Play Players – Part 4

Connecting the Dots: Part 4

Dory Hippauf continues her excellent series on who “they” are.  Taken together, this series provides reference that no serious activist can be without. It provides you the direction and background you need to “fight the fight” If you are new to this series start from the beginning: Part One; Part Two, Part Three.

Truckin Pond, Dimmock
“Based on my conversation with you it was clear that EPA is really at the very early stages of its learning curve with respect to Dimock and EPA’s understanding of the technical facts and DEP’s enforcement history with respect to Dimock is rudimentary.” – Michael Krancer, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) Secretary.