Marie Cusick

WMHT/Capital Region reporter for the Innovation Trail.

As a television reporter, Marie has covered energy and environmental issues from Wyoming to Pennsylvania.

Marie joins WMHT from her hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she reported for a cable TV news station. During her time there, she was the creator and host of a weekly series which covered local environmental issues.

Marie previously worked as a reporter and anchor for an ABC affiliate in Casper, Wyoming. She began her broadcasting career as an intern on the assignment desk at WBZ-TV in Boston.

Marie contributes television reports to WMHT's weekly public affairs show, New York NOW, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She also files radio reports for NPR and public stations throughout upstate New York, including the Innovation Trail’s partners: WMHT, WXXI, WRVO, WNED and WSKG.

Virginia State Parks / Flickr

Pennsylvania counties and municipalities mishandled millions of dollars meant to offset the negative effects of the Marcellus Shale gas boom, according to a report published Tuesday by the state Auditor General. In one notable example, auditors say North Strabane Township, Washington County, spent $32,602 on recreational events and parties– including $7,500 on fireworks, $1,200 for a performance by former American Idol contestant Adam Brock, and $4,250 on inflatable party rentals. “I’m pro...

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A newly-formed citizens’ coalition is pushing to change the way eminent domain is applied in Pennsylvania. The group, called Protect Our Pennsylvania, held a rally at the State Capitol Tuesday. Their primary focus is limiting the seizure of private property for pipeline projects. The group’s spokesman, Eric Friedman, cites Sunoco Logistic’s proposed Mariner East 2 project , which is designed to move natural gas liquids from western Pennsylvania to an export terminal near Philadelphia....

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

After wending their way through a convoluted, controversial five-year process, new regulations for Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale drillers are set to take effect Saturday. The intense political battle has been unlike anything Kurt Klapkowski has seen in his nearly 23-year career at the state Department of Environmental Protection. Over the years there have been efforts to slow down the process, weaken , and eliminate sections of the rules. “It’s a highly contentious issue,” says Klapkowski,...

Trade Group Seeks To Block New Drilling Rules

Oct 5, 2016
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

An oil and gas trade group is seeking to block new Marcellus Shale drilling regulations scheduled to take effect later this week. The rules have been in development since 2011 and have been the subject of significant controversy . The Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA) objects to regulatory language giving the state Department of Environmental Protection a greater role in scrutinizing well permit applications near public resources, such as parks. PIOGA cites the state...

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

The ramifications of the Obama administration’s recent decision to temporarily halt construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline are being felt throughout the country– particularly in Pennsylvania. Industry executives worry about growing public opposition to pipelines, while activists have been encouraged by the success of Native American protesters. Once under the radar, pipeline projects have taken center stage in an intense battle over the nation’s energy future and global climate change...

Joe Ulrich / WITF

Following internal audits over the past year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has recovered $1.3 million in gas royalty money from drilling in state forests. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has leased 386,000 acres of publicly-owned forest land for drilling, and like private landowners , it’s had problems getting paid properly. Recently the royalty disputes have led some local governments to try to halt production , alleging the gas is being stolen. DCNR says it...

Bradford County Ramps Up Campaign For Gas Royalties Bill

Sep 16, 2016
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

About 700 people attended a meeting in Bradford County Wednesday night where state and local officials urged them to contact legislative leaders in Harrisburg about a bill aimed at ensuring gas companies pay fair royalties. For years people in the region have complained some drilling companies charge exorbitant, and possibly fraudulent fees for processing gas– leaving landowners with little to no royalty money. In some cases, people have received notices their royalty account has a negative...

Pro-Drilling County Targets Gas Trade Group

Sep 8, 2016
Ian Sterling / StateImpact Pennsylvania

When the Marcellus Shale gas boom was taking off, Bradford County welcomed it with open arms. With more than 1,000 active wells, this region in north-central Pennsylvania became one of the most heavily drilled places in the state. But the enthusiasm turned to anger , and many people now allege they’re being cheated out of royalty money by drilling companies. “We’ve had enough,” says Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko (R). “This has been going on for years.” McLinko says he remains a...

Wolf Still Searching For New Environmental Chief

Sep 1, 2016
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

More than three months have passed since the controversial resignation of Pennsylvania’s environmental secretary, John Quigley, and Governor Tom Wolf is still looking for a permanent replacement. The law requires the governor to nominate someone to fill the vacancy within 90 days. In order to comply, the administration submitted a placeholder name , Thomas Yablonski Jr., to the state Senate last week. Yablonski is a staffer in the governor’s office, and his name was used for 24 different...

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania environmental regulators have green-lighted a proposal to use 3,950 tons of natural gas drilling waste for an experimental road construction project at a Lycoming County hunting club. This approval marks the first time the waste– known as drill cuttings– can be re-purposed as construction material an area that’s not an industrial site. The work is being done by Clean Earth, the same firm that backed out of controversial plans to put 400,000 tons of drilling waste near...

Jeff Brady / NPR

State and local officials attended a ceremony Wednesday morning to celebrate the groundbreaking for a 20-inch pipeline that will deliver Marcellus Shale gas to a new power plant in central Pennsylvania. The Sunbury Pipeline is being built by UGI Energy Services. It will begin in Lycoming County and travel 35 miles to feed into the Hummel Station power plant , which is under construction at the site of the former Sunbury coal plant in Shamokin Dam, Synder County. Construction on the pipeline...

Matt Rourke / AP

During his campaign, Tom Wolf pitched himself as "a different kind of governor." He made good on a promise to donate his salary to charity and refuses to drive a state car. Upon taking office, he swiftly enacted a gift ban for the executive branch and has been known to refuse freebies, such as a bottle of water. But the Wolf administration has continued one political tradition--nepotism. WITF identified four children of current and former Democratic state lawmakers who have jobs in the Office...

New Environmental Secretary Hopes To Resurrect Drilling Rules

Aug 4, 2016
WITF

The new head of the Department of Environmental Protection says he hopes his staff can work quickly to resurrect regulations for the conventional oil and gas industry that got tossed out during the annual state budget negotiations in Harrisburg. “Obviously, we have a good starting point with the existing reg,” said Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell . “But we’ll be engaged with industry and other stakeholders to put together the best version we can.” Watch more from our conversation with...

Senate Approves Bill Weakening Drilling Regulations

Jul 14, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

The state Senate voted Monday to approve an amendment that would undo parts of the state’s pending oil and gas regulations. SB 1229 is now in the House. The bill was introduced in May and initially pertained to horse breeding , however an amendment approved Monday restricts state environmental regulators from implementing some of their proposed regulations for Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale industry ( known as Chapter 78a ), which are currently under review at the Attorney General’s office....

EPA Finalizes New Methane Standards For Oil And Gas Industry

May 13, 2016
Joe Ulrich / WITF

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the first-ever federal standards Thursday aimed at curbing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. It’s part of the Obama administration’s broader plan to combat climate change.

Keith Srakocic / AP

President Barack Obama’s major climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan, is currently in legal limbo as federal courts decide its fate.

Tim Lambert / WITF

Pennsylvania is facing a $2.9 million deficit in the fund that supports its oversight of oil and gas wells in the next fiscal year, according to a projection from Governor Tom Wolf’s budget office. The overall slowdown in drilling means less money is available in fines and fees for the Well Plugging Fund, which supports things like DEP’s well inspections and permit reviews– essentially everything the agency does to ensure oil and gas activity is managed appropriately and safely. The following...

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

An interfaith group of religious organizations held a rally at the state Capitol Monday, calling on Governor Tom Wolf to halt natural gas development. About 50 people attended the event and asked the governor for what they called a “moral-torium” on unconventional gas development and related infrastructure, such as pipelines. “We are calling on our legislators to listen to science and protect public health,” says Rev. Dr. Leah Schade of the United in Christ Lutheran Church in Lewisburg. “This...

U.S. Proposes New Safety Rules For Natural Gas Pipelines

Mar 21, 2016
West Virginia State Police / AP

Following a series of explosions and accidents the federal government announced Thursday it would expand safety rules for natural gas pipelines.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The gas industry’s downturn means Pennsylvania is getting a lot less royalty money from drilling on public forest land. But the state continues to have problems getting paid properly from the activity that’s still happening. As StateImpact Pennsylvania previously reported , the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which manages drilling on public lands, recently hired an in-house auditor to review royalty payments from gas companies. “We look at the receipts and the data and find...

Joe Ulrich / WITF

The year 2016 is already shaping up to be a bad one for Pennsylvania’s gas industry, and it’s going to hurt state and local governments too. Impact fees paid by drillers are projected to bring in the lowest amount ever — $185.5 million — according to a new analysis by the state’s Independent Fiscal Office. It’s a 17 percent drop compared to the previous year. The decline is driven by two factors: depressed gas prices and fewer new wells being drilled. “The data from DEP suggests there was a...

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Seven people were arrested for disorderly conduct after they disrupted the final meeting of Governor Tom Wolf’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force in Harrisburg Wednesday. The protesters shouted as they were escorted out of the meeting by Capitol Police: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAK-DrsTi9k The task force was convened by state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley last year. It’s made up of representatives from industry, government, academia and environmental...

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

State environmental regulators are finalizing updates of new oil and gas regulations, which include more stringent rules around permitting, waste handling, water restoration, and identifying old wells. The new rules from the state Department of Environmental Protection come at a time when Pennsylvania is already nearly a decade into the Marcellus shale boom. “The process is what it is,” DEP Secretary John Quigley said of the multi-year effort. “It has taken as long as it’s taken. What we have...

Kim Paynter / WHYY/Newsworks.org

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D) plans to investigate how local governments are spending the millions of dollars they’ve received from gas drilling impact fees . The fees have brought in more than $854 million to Pennsylvania since 2012. The majority of that money gets sent back out to local governments. But so far, $33.1 million has been unaccounted for, because counties and municipalities have repeatedly had trouble filling out the paperwork to explain what they’ve done with it....

AP Photo/Ralph Wilson

Somehow Pennsylvania lost 160,000 gas industry jobs overnight. What happened? Did drillers flee at the specter of a new tax on production ? Not quite. Although companies have been laying off workers and cutting costs– lackluster market conditions don’t explain this shift.

UGI Energy Services has announced plans to build a new $60 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Meshoppen, Wyoming County. It will help meet peak demand for gas during cold days, and service emerging markets for LNG, like truck fleets, drill rigs, and industrial sites. The plant will take locally produced natural gas– in its gaseous form– and cool it down to -260 degrees Fahrenheit, converting it into a liquid that can be stored and used as a transportation fuel. “This is really more...

Courtesy of Michelle Johnsen via StateImpact PA

Local governments all over the country are trying stop the surge in oil and gas development by embracing a novel legal tactic–community-based rights ordinances. It’s a strategy that carries risks.

On the side of a mountain road in Pennsylvania's Tiadaghton State Forest, I'm trying to avoid a steady stream of heavy truck traffic. Acres of freshly cut tree stumps stretch out in front of me. Kevin Heatley lives in the area and has come to these woods for years to hike. He's an ecologist by trade and he's concerned about what he's seeing. "Everything from the noise and the traffic to the lighting, to the pad placements, to the pipeline construction to the road expansion — this is all...