Judge Fines Environmental Attorneys $52,000 For ‘Frivolous’ Injection Well Suit

A federal judge has ordered a pair of attorneys for an environmental group to pay $52,000 in legal fees to an energy company because, the judge said, they filed a “frivolous” legal challenge to a fracking waste injection well in Indiana County. U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter of the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled the attorneys, Thomas Linzey and Elizabeth Dunne, should pay part of Pennsylvania General Energy’s (PGE) legal fees for advancing a “discredited” legal argument that had already been defeated in prior decisions. In addition to the fine, the judge referred Linzey to the state Supreme Court Disciplinary Board for additional discipline. Read full story here. 

A Surge, Then A Fade For Pennsylvania’s Wind Industry

While the wind power industry booms across the United States thanks to favorable federal and state policies, the development of new wind farms has stalled in Pennsylvania. More than two dozen wind farms popped up across the state leading up to 2012, but only one in the years since. Read full story here. 

Trump Proposes Oil And Gas Drilling Off The Atlantic Coast

President Trump wants to open up almost all federal waters to offshore drilling, including waters along the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware. The draft proposalcould lead to the largest lease sale ever. But the plan would face substantial opposition along the New Jersey and Delaware shorelines. Read 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."

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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.