Berman & Asbel, LLP

February 2015 Archives

Pipeline Paths Meet Opposition from Native American Nations in Pennsylvania

Pipeline construction in Pennsylvania is facing significant opposition from local municipalities, individual landowners, citizens groups, and Native Americans. Chief Carlos Whitewolf of the Northern Arawak Tribal Nation of Pennsylvania and Ceremonial Chief Chuck Diamond of the Lenape Nation drew attention to the potential impacts the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project and the PennEast pipeline, respectively, will have on Native communities in the pipelines' paths.

Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material from Fracking Wastewater

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently released the results of its approximate two-year study on the effects of radiation in produced-fracking wastewater on workers handling the material from creation at the pad to disposal at landfills. The study is known as the TENORM study and it concluded that there is little possibility of harm to workers and the public regarding radiation exposure due to oil and gas operations. The study did, however, indicate that there is a potential long-term disposal issue and that further consideration is needed. The study also called for further study of radiological impacts on the use of brine for dust suppression and road stabilization due to radiation exposure to recreationists using roads treated with brine from conventional natural gas wells.

Severance Taxes, Impact Fees, and Pipelines in Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf has announced plans to introduce the Education Reinvestment Act, which, if passed, will go into effect on January 1, 2016. The majority of the estimated $1 billion revenue will be reinvested in Pennsylvania's public school system, where past cuts have negatively impacted many schools. The funds will also be used to reinvest in environmental and regulatory programs overseeing the natural gas industry. The Governor stated that the Act is modeled after neighboring West Virginia's severance tax. Texas, West Virginia, and Oklahoma have already imposed severance taxes on the natural gas industries operating within their borders.

Pipeline Overview and Jurisdiction

U.S. natural gas production has increased in recent years, primarily since 2012. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation for natural gas production. All that natural gas production means pipelines will need to be constructed to transport the gas to demanding markets.

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