Corbett names pick for Conservation and Natural Resources

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

By Laura Olson and Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett announced his pick for one of two remaining cabinet posts this afternoon, selecting Richard J. Allan to head the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Mr. Allan, 57, has spent his career working in scrap recycling. His family operates Allan Industries, a metal recycling facility, in Wilkes-Barre, and he has run his own energy consulting firm since 2005. The Cumberland County resident also is an executive director for the PA Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, and serves on the board of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. He earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences and biology from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre.

The conservation agency has gained attention for its oversight of the growing number of Marcellus Shale gas wells being drilled on state forestland. Cuts in DCNR funding in recent budgets have shrunk the department’s resources for drilling oversight, state park operations and forest management.

“Richard Allan is a proven leader and commands a wealth of knowledge and experience in environmental and energy issues,” said Mr. Corbett in a news release. “I am confident that his abilities and background will be a tremendous benefit to DCNR, especially during this critical time in the agency’s history.”

Mr. Allan is the nephew of Pat Solano, former Luzerne County Republican chairman and a power broker in the state’s northeastern GOP politics. His wife, Patricia, was recently named policy director for the Department of Environmental Protection. He contributed $2,150 to Mr. Corbett during the last campaign cycle, according to the Department of State’s campaign finance database. He also was a member of Mr. Corbett’s transition team for energy and environmental issues.

The department has been run by Acting Secretary Cindy Dunn, formerly a deputy secretary for the agency, since the Corbett administration took over in January. The remaining department without an announced secretary is Labor and Industry. Mr. Corbett said earlier this month that he had made offers to candidates for both of the unfilled positions.

Below are comments from Anne with the Responsible Drilling Alliance (RDA). Definitely some things to think about and be concerned with.

COMMENTS:

I have highlighted parts of the above text in bold for emphasis.

Mr. Allan brings to the post of head of PA’s Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) an unusual background. Only time will tell whether one whose career has been in scrap recycling understands the depth and breadth of environmental issues facing Pennsylvania – particularly issues regarding deep shale natural gas extraction, processing and transmission.

Mr. Allan would be wise to listen carefully to DCNR’s experienced staffers, particularly its scientists and attorneys, whose training and daily work experience in environmental areas is more recent than Mr. Allan’s bachelors degree.

Besides the issue of adequate background for an understanding of PA’s environmental complexities, there are some other areas of potential concern. There’s the obvious one of whether campaign contributions, family and political connections fostered a political appointment. And, there are questions about Mr. Allan’s status within Allan Industries, including whether he continues to profit from this corporation and whether its activities are regulated by either DCNR, which he will head or PA DEP, where his wife holds a key position.

More important, however, is how this appointment may affect the relationships among regulatory agencies. When considering the long term and critically important connection that DCNR has had with PA’s Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), some may question the appropriateness of having DCNR’s head coming from the same household as PA DEP’s Policy Director. Both agencies have working relationships in such crucial areas as permit reviews. With budget cuts and mandates for expedited permit reviews coming from the new Governor, one can only hope that concerns of potential conflicts of interest will not materialize and DCNR’s role will not be further marginalized than it has been to date from its severe budget cuts.

Anne

Governor’s Marcellus Commission Meeting Scheduled for March 25

Hi All,

A notice in the PA Bulletin announced the first meeting of the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.

Scheduled for Friday, March 25, 2011, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., It will be held in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson State Office Building, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA.

This Commission, composed of State government leaders, industry and environmental experts, has been established by Governor Tom Corbett to insure the successful development of the natural gas industry and advise the Governor on pertinent issues, including possible legislative and regulatory changes.

The membership of the Commission is listed at:

http://www.depweb.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/marcellus_shale_advisory_commission/20074

The agenda will soon be available.  Seating in the conference room is very limited. If you are attending, contact Chris Gray at (717) 783-8727 or chrgray@state.pa.us

There will be no reserved seating.  Public comment should be directed to the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, Office of the Governor, 225 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120, marcelluscommission@state.pa.us

A thank you goes out to Janet Hosey for the heads-up on this!

Senator Casey Introduces Three Natural Gas Bills

The following is a press release from Senator Robert Casey regarding three bills he has reintroduced.

(1) S1215: Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act (aka: The Frac Act)

(2) S S3964: Faster Action Safety Team Emergency Response Act (aka: FASTER)

(3) S3720: Marcellus Shale On-the-Job Training Act of 2010

Senator Casey’s release describes these bills. However, if you want to read the bills themselves, click here and type in the bill number or name in the appropriate location, or scroll through the list of legislators to find the person sponsoring the bill: http://thomas.gov/

NOTE: newly introduced bills may not be posted immediately. At the time I received this information the three bills described in this release are not yet on this site.

Has Your Stream Been Affected by Gas Drilling?

How do you know?

For many, it rests upon early detection –  and prevention of environmental impact.

In 2010 the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM)  researched and tested a volunteer-based Marcellus Monitoring protocol for the early detection of flowback contamination in small Pennsylvania streams.

Attend the session that covers the steps in and the science behind the protocol as well as information on Marcellus Monitoring resources throughout the state.

WREN / ALLARM webinar

Marcellus Monitoring

Wednesday, March 23

Noon – 1 PM

The webinar is sponsored by WREN and will be presented by Julie Vastine, the director of ALLARM at Dickinson College.

Frack Water Missing and Unaccounted For

I just received this info from the RDA:

Over 54 million gallons of frack water missing & unaccounted for!

The PA Department of Environmental Resources has discovered that records on recycling of gas drilling wastewater have been wildly inflated due to a reporting error. Even worse, no one seems to have any idea where the missing frack water has gone.

Seneca Resources Corp., a subsidiary of Texas-based National Fuel Gas Company acknowledged that a worker gave data to the state in the wrong unit of measure, listing gallons where he should have listed barrels of water. Because of the error, every 42 gallons of wastewater was listed as just one, for a total of 54,600,000 gallons of missing toxic drilling fluids.  DEP officials did not immediately respond to inquiries about the problems with the state’s data.

The AP reported in January that previous attempts to track wastewater were also flawed. Some companies reported that wells had generated wastewater, but failed to say where it went. The state was unable to account for the disposal method for nearly 1.3 million barrels of wastewater, or about a fifth of the total generated in the 12-month period that ended June 30.

These omissions are of grave concern, because Pennsylvania’s strategy for protecting the health of its rivers is based on knowing which waterways are getting the waste and how much they are receiving.

PRESS CONFERENCE – Moratorium on Drilling in State Forest

March 9 – 10 AM Moratorium on future gas leases in State Forests

Representative Vitali will hold a press conference in Media Room, main Capitol.

Greg will announce the introduction of a bill for 3 year moratorium on leasing in State Forests. He would like to have a stage full of representatives from Environmental Groups at the Press Conference.

Call Rob Fogel at Greg Vitali’s District Office 610 – 789 -3900 OR 717 – 787 – 7647

If you can’t get through to either number, the backup is 717-787-7647

to say “I’ll be there with bells on”

If you can’t be there, please find a warm body to represent your organization.

The press conference will take about 45 minutes.

Toxic Water Interactive Map

Here is a link to the interactive map that was put out by the New York Times with their article “Toxic Contamination From Natural Gas Wells” If you have not had a chance to check it out yet, you should.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/02/27/us/natural-gas-map.html?ref=us

Marcellus Shale Drilling – Avenues for Action: Regional advocacy workshops

See the below message from Penn Futures. Register today! Pre-registration is required.

As drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale continues in our region and across Pennsylvania, PennFuture, Clean Water Action, PennEnvironment, Pennsylvania Sierra Club, Responsible Drilling Alliance and EARTHWORKS are holding an invitation-only strategy session to discuss the avenues and opportunities for action in 2011.

At these sessions, you will:

* Hear from top environmental advocates about the political landscape in 2011.

* Review the legislative avenues for action at the state and federal levels.

* Learn more about drilling on state lands, the drilling tax, protections of our water, bonding, enforcement, and other issues confronting Pennsylvania.

* Learn more about wastewater treatment, compressor stations, municipal zoning authority, and the issues facing your local community.

* Find out how to be involved in local citizen monitoring and visual assessment efforts.

The events are free, but pre-registration is required.

We can’t do this without you! Join us at an event near you!

RSVP for March 19, 2011

1 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Lycoming College

Jane Schultz Room

700 College Place

Williamsport, PA 17701

RSVP for March 26, 2011

1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh

Katz Performing Arts Center

5738 Forbes Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15217

RSVP for April 2, 2011

10 a.m. to 1p.m.

NIER Institute

1600 Plank Road

Mayfield, PA 18433

 

Cheaper by the billion

Via Penn Futures – Friday, March 04, 2011

Range Resources is selling the 52,000-acres it owns in the Barnett Shale natural gas play in Texas for a cool $900 million.

Is Range bailing out of one of the most productive shale plays in America?

Are they going bankrupt?

Um, no.

According to one industry analyst, Range intends to plow the proceeds of that sale into developing its Marcellus shale holdings in Pennsylvania.

Why? Because production in Pennsylvania is “cheap.”

And production is not the only thing that is cheap.

Transportation of gas to market is the largest component of a gas driller’s cost. Pennsylvania’s Marcellus gas lies in the middle of the strongest natural gas market in the world – the Eastern United States.

So, transportation costs in Pennsylvania are also cheap.

According to this analyst, Range will spend over a billion dollars this year developing its Marcellus production capacity. Despite giving up its Texas holdings, Range expects production to grow 10 percent this year, and 25 to 30 percent next year. It also expects that costs will remain low this year and next year, meaning “solid” (an industry term for huge) profit margins will continue.

“Range offers shareholders a future full of cheap production growth. The company is going to generate significant cash flow, which is great news for shareholders,” wrote the analyst.

But it gets even better for Range.

According to another report, Range has the potential for a “triple play” – to produce natural gas and natural gas liquids not only from the Marcellus Shale but also from the Upper Devonian Shale above the Marcellus and the Utica Shale below the Marcellus.

Range Resources CEO John Pinkerton sums it up well. “…our shareholders are going to make a whole bunch of dough…”

But none of this is great news for ordinary Pennsylvanians facing drastic reductions in government services, for communities in the Marcellus region that are struggling to deal with the impacts of gas development, or for Pennsylvania’s environment. Because Range, like all the other gas drillers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus development boom – who have similarly cheap production – pays no drilling tax.

That’s what’s really cheap.

Documents: Politics, Recycling and Tracking of Natural Gas Waste

The New York times ran this article recently. Documents: Politics, Recycling and Tracking of Natural Gas Waste

Over the past nine months, The Times reviewed more than 30,000 pages of documents obtained through open records requests of state and federal agencies and by visiting various regional offices that oversee drilling in Pennsylvania. Some of the documents were leaked by state or federal officials. Here, the most significant documents on wastewater recycling are made available with annotations from The Times. Previously published documents relate to natural gas waste.

To see these documents click the link below.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/03/01/us/natural-gas-documents-2.html#document/p64/a10110

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