Marcellus Shale

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

As lawmakers hash out differences between the tax bills in front of Congress, they must decide whether to keep a proposed tax break for oil and gas investors -- and just how big the reduction should be.

Ralph Wilson / AP

Better collaboration between employers and workforce training programs is key to filling the expected job openings in the growing oil and natural gas industries, according to research from the RAND Corporation.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania lawmakers might be close to a bipartisan agreement that gets a natural gas severance tax to the House floor.

Similar efforts have failed repeatedly over the last several years—and as recently as this month. But a slightly friendlier committee might make this time different.

Most House severance tax bills end up in the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, which is stacked with conservative Republicans who tend to oppose tax hikes or new taxes.

Marc Levy / AP

A Republican state senator running for governor is on a recording telling a crowd that he's urged House Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor to block a tax on Marcellus shale natural gas production to hurt Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's re-election chances.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Law enforcement agencies aren't interested in putting protesters behind bars, according to panel speakers at the two-day Shale Insight energy conference Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

State House Democrats and a handful of Republicans are trying to figure out the best way to bring a natural gas severance tax up for a vote.

The group briefly tried to bring a bill to the floor Tuesday, but had to drop the effort because they were short on support.

The version of the severance tax under consideration has been sitting in the GOP-controlled House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee since January.

The panel's leaders haven’t seemed inclined to act on it.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennslvania

The fight over how to fund Pennsylvania’s overdue budget is boiling down to just a few points of contention -- including whether to impose a new tax on natural gas drillers.

Pennsylvania's Ugly Budget Fight Gets Personal And Regional

Sep 18, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The feel-good bipartisan spirit that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf tried to instill last year in Pennsylvania's Capitol is gone, stomped to bits in an increasingly ugly budget stalemate.

House Panel Rebrands Marcellus 'Impact Fee,' Now Calling It 'Severance Tax'

Sep 11, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

What’s in a name?

A lot, apparently, when it comes to Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania environmental regulators and the state's most active gas driller have reached a settlement on claims the Texas-based company failed to repair a natural gas well that contaminated groundwater and a stream.

The Department of Environmental Protection had initially pursued a record $8.9 million fine against Range Resources over the methane contamination in Lycoming County.

Katie Colaneri / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Climate-damaging methane emissions, as well as volatile organic compounds from Pennsylvania’s shale gas industry are on the rise, while other harmful air pollutants have decreased, according to new data released Thursday by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact PA

A group of Roman Catholic nuns has filed a lawsuit against the federal agency that approved construction of a major interstate natural gas pipeline, planned to run through the nuns’ property in Lancaster County.

The suit, filed by sisters from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, targets the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline and alleges the project violates their religious freedom, which is protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state House has no official plans to resume negotiations on balancing the state budget.

In a rare update, House Majority Leader Dave Reed said while members continue to discuss a proposal passed by the Senate last month, they’re not ready to introduce a counter-offer of their own.

Key components of the Senate plan include a severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling, sales tax expansions, and consumer taxes on natural gas, electricity, and phone service.

Reed said the consumer gas tax—known as a gross receipts tax—is particularly hard to swallow.

A Mon River Water Filtration System In West Virginia Is Among The Nation's Best

Aug 8, 2017
Michael Virtanen / AP

A raft of garbage covers a swath of the Monongahela River in northern West Virginia, a dozen miles upstream from the drinking water intake for 100,000 people.

Old tires, damaged toys, algae, oil drums, sticks and other refuse have crowded against the dam for so long that weeds sprout from them. Stuck against the spillway, the trash spans a football field's length from one bank to the other and spreads almost 30 yards upstream.

Senate Jams Shale Tax, Industry Permits Into Unhappy Package

Aug 7, 2017
Keith Srakocic / AP

For years, environmental advocates have sought a tax on Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale natural gas production while business associations have sought speedier state approval of permits for the activities of polluting industries.

Now, legislation approved by the Republican-controlled state Senate gave both provisions an unexpected and unwelcome passenger: each other.

Tom Downing / WITF

A month past the due date, negotiations on how to fund Pennsylvania's $32 billion spending plan are effectively stalled.

With the state House in indefinite recess as lawmakers consider how to respond to a revenue proposal from the Senate, Governor Tom Wolf is seeking to allay fears about what an unbalanced budget means for the commonwealth.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

Every day, about 200 barrels of something called produced water bubbles out of each of the roughly 9,600 shale gas wells in Pennsylvania. The water is laced with chemicals and minerals, and since energy companies have been fracking gas wells, they have tried to figure out the best way to deal with it.

Fractracker Alliance / StateImpact PA

Pennsylvania’s shale gas drillers continued to break records for production in 2016, tapping about 5.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Although the increase in production was not as high as in previous years, it still represents an upward trend, while the number of new well permits are declining, according to data published this week by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Pennsylvania still ranks second behind Texas in total volume of natural gas production.

Report Finds Fracking Companies Often Get Slap-On-The-Wrist Fines

Apr 3, 2017
Ted Auch / FracTracker Alliance

According to a new report from the group PennEnvironment, only 17 percent of environmental or health violations by fracking companies in Pennsylvania resulted in fines. And when companies did get fined, the penalties were relatively small. In fact, the report found the median fine was just $5,263.

Pennsylvania Confirms First Fracking-Related Earthquakes

Feb 22, 2017
Mark Schmerling / FracTracker Alliance

Pennsylvania officials say they’ve confirmed the state’s first fracking-related earthquakes took place last year in Lawrence County, northwest of Pittsburgh. As a result, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is stepping up its requirements for drilling in that part of the state, which is known for seismic activity.

Citizen Complaints Over Drilling Have Soared During The Gas Boom

Feb 3, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

For the first time, the public can view a comprehensive record of citizen complaints about oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania. The investigative website Public Herald has scanned and published more than 9,000 complaints made by residents over 12 years to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection about conventional and unconventional drilling, or fracking.

Brian Peshek

On the Sunday before buck hunting season started in late November, Randy Santucci, chair of a group called the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, got up early to show me some of his favorite hunting sites.

Santucci is a big guy, in his 50s, and owns a machine shop in Robinson Township near the Pittsburgh airport. Today, he’s wearing a camo shirt, a ball cap and what looks like a week’s worth of scruff on his face.

Google Maps

UPDATE: This story was updated at 11:40am to clarify that the fire was due to an equipment failure at the well pad.

Rebecca and Jeffrey Ruffing and their six children live less than 600 feet from the Rice Energy natural gas well pad that caught fire Sunday afternoon.

Despite Nationwide Drop, Gas Drill Rigs Increase In PA

Dec 28, 2016
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Despite numerous layoffs and realignments in the Pennsylvania gas industry in 2016, the year is ending with more drill rigs operating in the state than at the same time last year.

The number of active gas drill rigs in Pennsylvania went up from 26 in December of 2015 to 31 in 2016. The increase comes at a time when the number of active rigs nationwide is down more than 10 percent – down to 637 in 2016, versus 709 in 2015.

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

 

Going back to school is starting to look a lot different. 

Ninety-six percent of students at Pennsylvania College of Technology entertain job offers in their final semester. It's an enviable statistic, one that the college is very proud of, said Tracy Brundage, vice president of workforce development and continuing education. 

“Our tagline is ‘degrees that work,’” she said.

But employer interest isn't limited to graduates of the Penn State affiliate's two- and four-year degree programs.  

Group Of Doctors Says It's Time To Hit 'Pause' On Fracking

Nov 23, 2016
Alex Brandon / AP

In 2013, Walter Tsou, a Philadelphia doctor, began to worry about the impact drilling has on the health of people near natural gas wells. He authored a resolution for the Pennsylvania Medical Society—which represents about a quarter of the state’s doctors—calling for a moratorium on new hydraulic fracturing operations. It didn’t go over very well.

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.

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.

Evan Vucci / AP

The Confluence – where the news comes together is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program .

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist, and host, Kevin Gavin. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Topics for this week include a discussion of the Marcellus Shale Insight conference which took place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. We'll try to discover what issues are on the agenda for state lawmakers as they return to Harrisburg. Looking ahead we'll discover what Pittsburgh-related items are on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Evan Vucci / AP

 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went before a group of shale gas industry professionals gathered in Pittsburgh Thursday and promised that energy industry workers are going to “love Donald Trump,” if elected.

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