Friday, December 9, 2016

State Court Reimposes Stay On DEP Enforcement Of Certain Sections Of Drilling Regs

Commonwealth Court Judge P. Kevin Brobson Friday granted a motion by the Marcellus Shale Coalition to reimpose the temporary stay he imposed November 8 on enforcement of certain sections of DEP’s Chapter 78a drilling regulations challenged by the MSC.
This Court action follows an appeal of a Commonwealth Court’s November 8 temporary stay by DEP on Tuesday that resulted in an automatic stay of the November 8 the Court’s action Friday reimposed.
The Court has not set a hearing date on the merits of the case.
Following all that?
On November 8, Commonwealth Court Judge P. Kevin Brobson put a temporary stay on sections of the new rules  until the court can consider the merits of an industry group’s challenge to the month-old regulations.
The judge sided with the Marcellus Shale Coalition and stopped implementation of narrow sections of the rules related to public resource protections, large fluid holding ponds, well site restoration standards and monitoring for underground hazards around fracking operations.
He found that some aspects of the rules might exceed regulators’ authority to impose them and that the costs of complying with those provisions now would cause the industry irreparable harm if the sections are later found to be invalid.
“Today DEP has filed an appeal of the Commonwealth Court decision to enjoin sections of the Chapter 78A unconventional drilling regulations to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.  “By the decision issued on November 8, the Commonwealth Court temporarily stayed limited provisions contained in the new regulations. These regulations establish basic protections for areas that could be impacted by unconventional drilling – places like schools, playgrounds, and other public resources. That ruling resulted in a narrow temporary stay, which DEP is now appealing.
“These commonsense regulations were the result of five years of public participation, including dozens of meetings with natural gas industry leaders and trade groups, as well as nearly 25,000 Pennsylvanians who made their voices heard by providing public comments,” said McDonnell.
DEP’s appeal alleges an error of law on the part of the Court in issuing the temporary stay because, among other things, the Marcellus Shale Coalition presented no evidence to the Court about specific harm it would suffer if the disputed regulations would be implemented.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition filed a lawsuit against DEP’s implementation of its Chapter 78a regulations that apply to Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling operations on October. 13.
Among the allegations by the MSC were--
-- Expanding the responsibility of drillers to avoid and protect threatened and endangered species, which the industry says goes beyond current state or federal law;
-- Requiring operators to identify and plug any nearby abandoned well, which drillers say would require them to obtain access to property they do not control, and would impose plugging liability for wells the operators do not own;
-- New rules governing centralized freshwater storage ponds, which the industry says are not authorized by Act 13; and
-- Other rules governing site restoration, spill-reporting, and waste-disposal permitting.
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State Tax On Gasoline Going Up 8 Cents/Gallon, Diesel 10.7 Cents/Gallon January 1

The Department of Revenue published notice of mandated increases in the state tax on gasoline and diesel fuel under the Oil Company Franchise Tax in the December 10 PA Bulletin.  The changes will be--
-- Gasoline from 50.3 cents per gallon to 58.2 cents per gallon
-- Diesel Fuel from 64 cents per gallon to 74.7 cents per gallon
-- Aviation Gasoline will remain the same at 55 cents per gallon
-- Jet Fuel will remain the same at 1.6 cents per gallon
The Oil Company Franchise Tax imposes taxes on vehicle fuels at the wholesale level.  Competition and market conditions will determine how much of these increases will be passed on to the consumer.
The tax rate changes were mandated in Act 89 of 2013 enacting a highway and transportation funding program.

Trump Nominates Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt As EPA Administrator

This is the full text of the Trump Transition Team announcement Wednesday of Scott Pruitt’s nomination as EPA Administrator—
President-elect Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, a cabinet-level position.
An expert in Constitutional law and one of the country’s top attorneys general, Pruitt brings a deep understanding of the impact of regulations on both the environment and the economy making him an excellent choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
“For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn. As my EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, the highly respected Attorney General from the state of Oklahoma, will reverse this trend and restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe,” said President-elect Donald Trump. “My administration strongly believes in environmental protection, and Scott Pruitt will be a powerful advocate for that mission while promoting jobs, safety and opportunity.”
“I am deeply grateful and honored to serve as President-elect Trump’s EPA Administrator,” said Mr. Pruitt. “The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses.”
Energy Independence
Mr. Pruitt will be deeply involved in the implementation of President-elect Trump’s energy plan, which will move America toward energy independence, create millions of new jobs and protect clean air and water.
Mr. Pruitt will ensure that we conserve our natural habitats, reserves and resources, while unleashing an energy revolution that will bring vast new wealth to our country.
Rescinding Regulations
Mr. Pruitt agrees with President-elect Trump that we must rescind all job-destroying executive actions and eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production. This will create at least a half million jobs each year and produce $30 billion in higher wages.
Mr. Pruitt has been a national leader against the EPA’s job-killing war on coal. As Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Pruitt established the state’s first “federalism unit” to combat unwarranted regulation and overreach by the federal government.
States Should Make Their Own Regulatory Decisions
Pruitt agrees with President-elect Trump that states should have the sovereignty to make many regulatory decisions for their own markets.
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Apply Now For 2017 Ben Franklin Shale Gas Tech Innovation Contest

The Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center is now accepting entries for its 2017 Shale Gas Innovation Contest which this year is offering a total of $60,000 in cash prizes for the three best shale energy oriented innovations.
The deadline for applications is February 5.
Researchers, entrepreneurs, or small businesses in Pennsylvania focused on developing a new product or service with applicability to the oil and gas industry can apply.
Any idea or already commercialized product or service related to the oil and gas industry is eligible.
Examples include well pad EH&S products or services, novel materials or chemicals to enhance performance, or for instance prevent corrosion or improve product yield, remote site monitoring technologies, natural gas or NGL use or conversion technologies, and water management or remediation technologies.
In addition to the cash prizes, successful applicants will gain exposure to investors, potential partners, and industry sponsors.
Finalists will be chosen by a panel of industry experts.
“We are excited to once again support our entrepreneurial community across the Commonwealth,” said Bill Hall, Director of the SGICC.  The rapid pace of innovation adoption across the shale energy play has been amazing! Through the contest SGICC shines a light on the best new innovations being developed in the state.”
Finals Event
This year’s Finals Event is scheduled to take place May 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Southpointe, Washington County.  There will be a poster session included to highlight some of the most promising technologies under development at Carnegie Mellon and Penn State universities.
A keynote address will also be included highlighting the opportunities companies are being presented through the rapidly advancing Industrial Internet of Things (IoT). Rich Hufnagel  IoT Specialist from Verizon Wireless will address how network connectivity of products can allow them to both send and receive data, expanding B2B opportunities.
Nonprofit sponsors include: Carnegie Mellon University’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, and the Penn State University’s Institute for Natural Gas Research.
For all the details, visit the 2017 Shale Gas Innovation Contest webpage.  Questions should be directed to Bill Hall by calling 814-933-8203 or sending email to: billhall@psu.edu.

DEP Wins 2016 PA Excellence In Technology Award For Network Innovations

The Department of Environmental Protection has won a 2016 Pennsylvania Excellence in Technology Award for innovations leading to improved network operations and cost savings.
The annual Excellence in Technology awards, presented to multiple state agencies by the PA Office of Administration and Government Technology magazine, recognize outstanding accomplishment, dedication, innovation, and leadership in information technology to enhance government service.
The DEP award was presented to the Bureau of Information Technology Network Administration Section: Greg Fiedler, Matt Clark, and Dave Hayes.
“These professionals have worked tirelessly to bring the DEP network up to speed by evaluating how the department currently manages its essential network communications and finding efficiencies, cost savings, and more practical approaches to managing customer service,” said CIO Sean Crager.
This year, the Network Administration team has: challenged the traditional way in which DEP received network services and evaluated, tested, and begun to deploy a new technology network that will save DEP approximately $900,000 over 5 years; taken the initiative to clean up and rebuild all of the network closets in the Rachel Carson State Office Building, resulting in a 5-year savings of approximately $190,000 by eliminating unused network equipment and its associated support costs; and rolled out a new wireless network throughout the entire building and consolidated its operations into an easy-to-manage interface.
The 2016 Excellence in Technology Awards were presented at the annual PA Digital Government Summit, December 1, at the Harrisburg Hilton.
(Photo: DEP Network administrators Greg Fiedler, Matt Clark, and Dave Hayes and State CIO John MacMillian.)
(Reprinted from the December 8 DEP News.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

PennTAP Facility Operations Workshop On Energy Efficiency March 14 In State College

The PA Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) and the Department of Environmental Protection are hosting a Facility Operations Workshop on Energy Efficiency March 14 at the Penn Stater Hotel & Conference Center in State College.
The purpose of the workshop is to educate building operators, facility engineers, energy managers, and service personnel (e.g. HVAC technicians) in commercial buildings about how to find and fix energy-wasting practices, while at the same time potentially extending the life of equipment and improving the comfort of building occupants.
The workshop will include Building Re-tuning (BRT) and Building Operator Certificate (BOC) tracks.
Building Re-tuning (BRT) is a systematic process to identify and correct building operational problems that lead to energy waste. It is implemented at no or low cost other than the labor required to perform the re-tuning process.
The BRT track at the workshop will include a blend of classroom training, and building walk-throughs, looking at the building envelope, HVAC, and lighting at various Penn State University campus buildings.
The Building Operator Certificate (BOC) track of this workshop is designed to provide up-to-date information on the latest tools, trends, and best practices for building operators. BOC maintenance points will be earned at the session.
The target participants for this workshop is medium-sized facilities from local government, colleges, and K-12 school facilities located throughout Pennsylvania.
The workshop cost is offset with support from DEP’s PA State Energy Plan funding from the United States Department of Energy.
For all the details and to sign up, visit the Facility Operations Workshop on Energy Efficiency webpage.
(Reprinted from the December 8 DEP News.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

December 8 DEP News Now Available

The December 8 edition of the DEP News is now available from the Department of Environmental Protection featuring articles on--
-- Click Here to sign up for your own copy.
For more information, visit DEP’s website, Like DEP on Facebook, Follow DEP on Twitter and visit DEP’s YouTube Channel.

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