Rail Traffic Linked to Chemical Production

While natural gas is not considered a chemical, it is a
feedstock for the chemical industry. Natural gas is used to make chemical such
as ethaline, propylene, and methanol – which are all chemicals that are widely
used in manufacturing to create items that we use on a daily basis. Chemicals derived from natural gas tend to be manufactured near
supplies. While Beaver County, PA has an ethane cracker plant currently under construction,
there are other local chemical producing plants utilizing natural gas. According to the AAR, the chemical/energy hubs near the Ohio River Valley,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are already the third largest
chemical production markets served by railroads; this is before Shell’s ethane
cracker plant begins production.

Pennsylvania Takes Steps to Strengthen Gas Liquids Pipeline Safety Rules

The PUC on June 13 announced it is considering two separate rule-making proposals involving safety of pipelines carrying petroleum products and other hazardous materials.

The first is seeking public comment on an advance notice of rulemaking order to be considered in making potential changes to comprehensive safety regulations. The areas that may be addressed include a number of subjects that were problems with the Mariner East II pipeline, which was built across the state, but also resulted in spills, water damage, several shutdowns, and fines.

The second proposal would require that pipeline public utilities would be required to file annual reports of a pipeline’s service life, capital investment plans and other financial reports.

Regulation and Oversight of Pipelines Carrying Natural Gas Liquids

Regulators and legislators are taking a new look at regulation of the pipelines that carry highly valuable gas liquids from the fracking fields of North America to the processing facilities and refineries that convert these liquids into plastics, fuels, and chemical products.

West Virginia Court Rulings Highlight Evolving Law on Property Owner Rights

Two recent decisions by the West Virginia Supreme Court
illustrate the evolving legalities over the rights of property owners near gas
drilling operations. In a ruling issued June 5, the court unanimously ruled that
EQT trespassed when it drilled wells on property owned by two Doddridge County
residents to access gas reserves on neighboring properties. While the company had a lease that entitled it to drill for
gas beneath their property, it did not have permission to enter the land to
build a new well pad to take the gas from thousands of acres of adjoining land. Unconventional gas well development involves drilling horizontal
wells deep into the earth, which then are turned laterally and can stretch out
a mile or more. After drilling, a process called hydraulic fracturing is used
that involves pushing fluids and sand under high pressure into the well to
fracture or “frack” the Marcellus Shale layer and allow the gas stored in it to
be released.

Report Finds Devaluation of Homes Near Pipelines

A recent study indicates that homes built near and around pipelines face potential devaluation. Published in the journal Resource and Energy Economics, the study entitled Shale gas transmission and housing prices used real estate data in New York State to study the correlation between home values and pipeline infrastructure. The researchers chose New York as it is home to the Constitution Pipeline, a 125 mile long pipeline which transports natural gas from the Marcellus Shale basin in Pennsylvania to Albany, New York. Their work was extensive, but the most interesting conclusion stemmed from their comparison between home values pre-announcement of the Constitution Pipeline and post-announcement. Though they found from previous research that home values in the area were increasing pre-announcement, the trend was reversed post-announcement.

Gov. Wolf’s Restoration Plan Aims to Benefit PA Parks with new Shale Gas Tax

The 121 parks that make up the Pennsylvania State Park system hope to receive a facelift in the coming years. However, funding for that facelift is contingent upon the passage of Governor Tom Wolf’s “Restore Pennsylvania” infrastructure plan—a $4.5 billion initiative funded through a new severance tax on unconventional natural gas. The State Legislature has rejected the establishment of a severance tax multiple times in the past. According to officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the agency that oversees Pennsylvania’s State Parks, facilities throughout the system are in dire need of renovation. A number of picnic areas, restrooms, and bathhouses are old, outdated, and/or unsafe for public use.

Franklin & Marshall College Poll Gauges Pennsylvanians’ Attitudes towards Energy-Related Issues

The Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania have released the data collected from their annual poll. The poll covers many different topics and subject areas, including energy and environmental issues. Pollsters asked Pennsylvanians their opinions on climate change, sources of energy and energy policy in the Commonwealth. Their study found that climate change is in the forefront of most of the population’s minds. A majority of 67% of Pennsylvanians believe that climate change is causing problems now, an increase of 5% from last year’s poll, though the percentage of respondents who state that they have personally experienced climate change related issues slightly dropped from 39% to 37% since last year.

API Report Shows Decrease in Pipeline Incidents while Productivity Rise

The American Petroleum Institute has released their Liquids Pipeline Performance Report, tracking various metrics related to oil and natural gas pipelines over the past five years. Using data provided by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the report’s findings indicates a positive trend in production, while incidents have fallen. Pipeline safety is an ever-salient topic in the minds of Pennsylvanians. As natural gas development continues to sweep across the Commonwealth, many residents have developed a fear of the industry, especially pipelines. Their fears are not unwarranted, however.

An Indiana County Town has been Ordered to Pay O&G Company’s Legal Fees after Losing Federal Lawsuit

Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE), an oil and gas company, will not have to foot their legal counsel’s bills after battling an Indiana County community in court over a wastewater injection well. A judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania of the U.S. District Court ruled that Grant Township will pay just over $100,000 to PGE. The legal battle began when PGE plans to build a wastewater injection well in Grant Township became public. The plans were immediately met with pushback from the community. In an effort to prevent PGE from moving forward with the injection well project, Grant Township decided to adopt a home rule charter with a special provision disallowing oil and gas development in the township.