Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Lawsuit Over Royalty Payments Advances

A lawsuit is moving forward by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office alleging natural gas companies didn’t pay royalties to landowners as they’d promised. Bradford County Common Pleas Court Judge Kenneth Brown denied the preliminary objections raised by the defendants, Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko Petroleum. The lawsuit, filed in 2015, accuses the companies of violating the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, by promising landowners royalty money they never paid. You can read the full story here.

Study: New York Behind On Clean Energy Investments

SYRACUSE (WRVO) - A new study argues that New York state leaders needs to substantially ramp up their green investments to protect the climate. The pro-clean energy coalition New York Renews helped fund the study from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, which finds New York's public and private sectors currently invest $6-7 billion a year into renewables like wind and solar and energy efficiency projects. One of the study's authors Robert Pollin says that needs to increase five fold to about $31 billion a year if New York state is to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions 50 percent by 2030. "New York state already has very ambitious goals and has a policy infrastructure in place and those are quite favorable developments, the problem is that the level of commitment in terms of funding and regulatory enforcement is just not there," Pollin said. "There’s no way the state is going to get to this 2030 goal unless it gets much more serious about encouraging and supporting private investments  and expanding public investments."

Federal Regulators Won’t Reconsider Approval Of Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

Federal regulators won’t revisit their decision to approve a major natural gas transmission pipeline through Pennsylvania. In a December 6 order, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied a rehearing request by landowners, anti-pipeline activists, environmental groups, Native American tribes and the public service commissions of North Carolina and New York. They were challenging FERC’s approval of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. Read full story here. 

Study: Low Birth Weights Linked To Fracking Sites

Infants born to mothers who live very close to natural gas fracking sites have a higher risk of low birth weight, according to a new peer-reviewed study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. 

The study is the largest of its kind, and was conducted by researchers from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and Princeton University. It builds on previous research that also found health impacts to infants born near gas wells in Pennsylvania. Read full story here. 

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Time Running Out To Save Three Mile Island From Early Closure

There are multiple efforts underway at the federal, state, and regional levels to try to boost the nuclear power industry. If they all materialize, Exelon might reverse its decision to close its Three Mile Island plant outside Harrisburg. But the stars would have to align for that to happen, and time is running out. Read full story here. 

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Trump Administration Coal Plan Could Have Big Impact On Pennsylvania

The Trump administration’s plan to prop up money-losing coal and nuclear plants could have a big impact on how Pennsylvanians get their electricity. Federal regulators will now decide what to do with it. The Department of Energy has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to act on its proposed “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule.” The plan would likely help a few energy companies in the mid-Atlantic, but it would just as likely make ratepayers in the region pay more for their electricity. State utility commissions, grid operators, and the oil and gas and renewables industries have all voiced opposition. Read full story here

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Lawmakers Consider Tax Breaks For Oil And Gas

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. Both the House and Senate versions cut the tax rate for owners of oil and gas companies that operate as publicly traded partnerships. These companies, such as Shell and Energy Transfer Partners operating in Pennsylvania, span many aspects of the industry, from drillers to pipeline operators to gas processors and oil refiners. Read full story here. 

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New York’s Fracking Ban Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

In 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a bold statement by banning hydraulic fracturing in the Empire State, declaring alongside his health commissioner that “no child should live near” a shale-gas well because of its potential harm. 

The governor’s proclamation made him a hero among environmentalists and persona non grata in the oil and gas industry. Energy in Depth, an industry-funded website, criticized Cuomo for basing the moratorium on dubious science “to kowtow to Yoko Ono, Mark Ruffalo, and all of the environmental pressure groups in New York.”

In truth, though, the picture is murkier, and Cuomo’s ban is less than absolute. Moratorium notwithstanding, New York is still reaping the rewards of fracking, importing shale gas from neighboring Pennsylvania and preparing to process it in a mammoth power plant under construction 65 miles northwest of New York City. Read full story here. 

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PA Eyes New Land For Abandoned Mine Cleanup

Environmental officials in Pennsylvania have long focused on cleaning up the most hazardous old mines, but they plan to start addressing other abandoned mining sites that pose fewer public health dangers. Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, announced Tuesday that his agency is developing a program aimed at converting these spaces into recreation areas. “Traditionally the moneys we’ve had available for mining have been focused on dangerous highwalls, major stream impacts, things like that,” he said. Red full story here.