Author Archives: Stephen C. Smith

Commonwealth Court Opens Brief Window for Impact Fee Refund

On March 29, 2017, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued a decision in Snyder Brothers, Inc. v Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, No. 1043 C.D. 2015, reversing and rejecting the PUC’s interpretation of the obligation to pay impact fees under Act 13 for a low producing or “stripper” well, which is defined as an “unconventional gas… Read More »

PADEP Sues Townships Over Fracing Bans

On the same day it issued permits authorizing two energy companies to dispose of oil and gas wastewater in underground injection wells, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) filed a petition for review in Commonwealth Court challenging two townships for attempting to restrict unconventional gas operations.  In asking the court to enjoin the townships… Read More »

Resurgence in Coal: Can Politics “Trump” Economics?

President Trump’s repeated proclamation of his desire to restore coal jobs certainly appealed to unemployed miners in the coal fields.  True to his word, the new administration has reeled in regulatory initiatives put in place by his predecessor which were viewed as detrimental to the coal industry.  While his efforts may have helped spur the… Read More »

Concentrated Solar Plants – A Ray of Light for Renewable Power?

Proponents of the development of renewable energy sources have struggled to address the challenge of many renewable energy sources. How do you make electricity when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine?   Many have hoped that innovations in batteries or other large scale power storage systems could provide the answer and… Read More »

NGOs Seek to Block Pipeline Development

Last summer I published an article in this blog discussing the fact that many stakeholders were turning their focus to pipelines.   http://www.environmentalessentials.com/stakeholders-focus-on-pipelines/ With steady supplies of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays as well as gas from gulf states and low prices expected to continue, it is not surprising that NGOs have… Read More »

LNG Exports Begin as NGOs Press Climate Change Challenges

The first commercial shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) left Cheniere Energy’s newly constructed export terminal in Sabine Pass, LA at a time when natural gas prices are expected to remain low and NGO’s seek to block future exports through climate change challenges. According to a Law360 article, Cheniere closed on a $5.9 billion financing… Read More »

Emergency Response Plans – Lessons from PA DEP Enforcement

On January 6, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a news release advising of the settlement of an enforcement action against the largest energy infrastructure company in North America which will result in the payment of a civil penalty totaling $745,000 for violations at two of the company’s facilities near Philadelphia. Notably,… Read More »

Pennsylvania DEP Moves Forward with Oil and Gas Rulemaking Despite Legal and Political Challenges

On January 6, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) forwarded to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) DEP’s proposed final rulemaking package that would revise the oil and gas regulatory program applicable to conventional oil and gas operations (Chapter 78) and create a separate chapter applicable to unconventional drilling (Chapter 78a) in Pennsylvania. As… Read More »

Perspectives on COP21 and Future Coal Production

Reporting on the historic climate deal in Paris as a result of the COP21 climate change conference, the Guardian’s headline proclaimed “Paris climate deal: nearly 200 nations sign in [sic] end of fossil fuel era.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/12/paris-climate-deal-200-nations-sign-finish-fossil-fuel-era. The future of coal production domestically and internationally is an important topic to many readers of this blog. Therefore,… Read More »

Climate Change: From the Parlor to the Boardroom

On the November 6, 2015, President Obama announced that the U.S. Department of State rejected the application for the Keystone XL pipeline as not being in the national interest. On November 9, 2015, Peabody Energy, Inc., the largest U.S. coal producer, agreed to disclose climate change and climate-related regulatory risks to its business in response… Read More »