Natural Gas

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennslvania

House lawmakers have begun moving a natural severance tax through their chamber.

It’s major priority for Democrats, who have been trying unsuccessfully to pass one for a decade.

But it’s slow going—the bill is saddled with well over 300 amendments.

Along with Democrats, the tax is championed by a coalition of moderate, largely southeastern Republicans.

GOP Representative Kate Harper, of Montgomery County, is one of the most vocal advocates.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennslvania

State House lawmakers have moved a bill onto the floor calling for a severance tax on natural gas drilling.

It's a big step for Democrats and moderate Republicans, who have pushed the tax for years. But there's a good chance the measure will languish without a vote for the foreseeable future.

It would create a tax on the volume of gas taken from the ground, on top of an existing fee for new wells drilled.

Its sponsor, moderate Bucks County Representative Gene DiGirolamo, estimated annual revenue between $200 million and $250 million, depending on gas prices.

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.

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.

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.

John Miller / 90.5 WESA

One of President Trump’s signature campaign speeches was at a scrap aluminum plant near Pittsburgh in January 2016.

“We are going to put American steel -- and aluminum – back into the backbone of our country,” he said at the speech in Monessen, Pa. “This alone will create massive numbers of jobs, high-paying jobs.”


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.

Gas Severance Tax Won't Have Big Impact On Pennsylvania, Says Research Group

Aug 10, 2017
Tim Lambert / WITF

A natural gas severance tax has been a hot-button issue in Harrisburg for nearly a decade, but the plan recently approved by the state Senate is unlikely to have a major impact–  either in terms of government revenue, or drilling company investment decisions, according to research from the nonpartisan environmental economic think tank, Resources for the Future.

Cabot Oil Files $5M Suit Against PA Resident, Lawyers

Aug 9, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP, file

A gas driller that was targeted with allegations that it polluted residential water wells in Pennsylvania has filed a $5 million lawsuit against a Pennsylvania resident and his lawyers, asserting they tried to extort the company through a frivolous lawsuit.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. said Dimock resident Ray Kemble and his lawyers sought to harass and extort the Houston-based driller, attract media attention and "poison" the community by recycling "stale, settled claims" against the company.

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.

Matt Rourke / AP, file

A gas driller says the water in a northeastern Pennsylvania village does not pose a threat to "human health and the environment."

Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. released a statement Thursday after learning that government scientists are collecting water samples from about 25 homes in Dimock, where some residents continue to blame the driller for contaminating their drinking water.

Government scientists collected water samples this week from about 25 homes in Dimock, a tiny crossroads about 150 miles north of Philadelphia.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state Senate has taken a step toward finishing Pennsylvania’s unbalanced budget, which was supposed to be done nearly a month ago.

The revenue proposal the chamber passed Thursday relies on a hodgepodge of new taxes, plus borrowing to fill a $2.2 billion funding gap.

However, it’s likely setting up a battle between the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. With the ball now back in the House’s court, it’s unclear what it'll do with it.

Senators turned the new proposal around quickly.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania Senate passed a revenue package to patch a more than $2 billion hole in the state's $32 billion budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. It could face opposition in the House of Representatives before it reaches the desk of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who supported it. Here are details:

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NATURAL GAS PRODUCTION

Is Fracking An Environmental Justice Issue?

Jul 26, 2017
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Kirk Jalbert started thinking about fracking and environmental justice last year.

Concerned About How Fracking Is Affecting Your Health? This Organization Can Help

Jun 30, 2017
Environmental Health Project

With all the oil and gas development happening in the region, people are wondering how it is affecting their health.

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.

NRG Energy

When Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt visited a Greene County coal mine last week, he said, to applause, “the war on coal is done.”

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.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Opponents of the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline have raised tens of thousands of dollars for a new encampment in Lancaster County, but most of the money is from one source–  British cosmetics firm, Lush.

Philadelphia Gas Works Seeks Rate Hike To Boost Revenue Amid Climate Change

Mar 1, 2017
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Philadelphia Gas Works is asking state regulators for permission to raise its rates and generate $70 million more in revenue because of climate change.

Warmer winters and more energy efficient appliances mean customers are using less natural gas, so the city-owned utility is making less money. The company says it’s seen an 11 percent decline in sales volume since 2009 — the last time it sought a rate hike from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Meanwhile, the cost of doing business has gone up and natural gas prices have gone down, said spokesman Barry O’Sullivan.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The sounds of buzzing chainsaws echoed through the hills around Raystown Lake on Thursday afternoon as contractors for Sunoco Logistics cleared trees to make way for the new Mariner East 2 project.

The 8,300-acre lake in Huntingdon County is a popular spot for swimming, boating, hiking and mountain biking. It draws about 1.5 million visitors annually.

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.

PA Department of Environmental Protection

Pennsylvania environmental regulators are set to release the findings of their investigation into a series of minor earthquakes that took place near fracking operations by an oil and gas company.

The quakes were recorded last April about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh and three-quarters of a mile from a natural gas well owned by Houston-based Hilcorp Energy Co. They were too weak to be felt by humans and no damage was reported.

Environmentalists Oppose Permits For Pennsylvania Pipeline

Feb 15, 2017
Matt Slocum / AP

Environmental advocacy groups are trying to halt construction of a $2.5 billion natural gas liquids pipeline across southern Pennsylvania while they appeal newly issued permits that they say would unleash massive and irreparable damage to the state's environment and residents.

In filings Monday night, three groups said the state Department of Environmental Protection had approved incomplete and legally flawed permit applications for Sunoco Logistics' Mariner East 2 pipeline hours earlier "in response to heavy and sustained political pressure."

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.

Appalachian Region Could Support 4 More Cracker Plants, Says Report

Jan 27, 2017
Marie Cusick / State Impact

The Appalachian region could support up to four more petrochemical processing plants, known as crackers, according to a forthcoming report from IHS Markit.

Denise Brinley, a special assistant to the Secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, previewed the report Thursday during a presentation at the Hart Energy Marcellus Utica Midstream conference in Pittsburgh. She says it will be published in the next few weeks.

Trump Gives Pipeline Industry A Boost, But Leaders Warn Against Complacency

Jan 26, 2017
Kyle Pattison / Public Herald

Donald Trump’s public support of big pipeline projects is giving the industry a shot in the arm. But it still faces hurdles from state and local opposition, according to industry leaders.

On Tuesday, Trump signed executive orders to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and expedite environmental reviews on some projects. 

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