KATHRYN “JOBS JOBS JOBS” KLABER DEPARTS

klaberIf you are involved in fighting the frack, you are probably aware of who the woman pictured on the left.  If not – it’s Kathryn Klaber, Executive Director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC).

Or should I say the soon to be former Executive Director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Soon to be former? YEP, MSC announced this week that Kathryn “JOBS JOBS JOBS” Klaber will be leaving “some time within the next few months”.

However, before you start singing Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead, just because one Executive Director is gone doesn’t mean the entire natural gas industry funded front group is gone.  It’s just going to be a name change on the Executive Director’s office door.

What will be the new name on the office door?  We don’t know, MSC is planning on conduction a nationwide search.  This says to me, there is no one currently with MSC who is “qualified” or interested in the position.

My guess is the new MSC Executive Director will be plucked from lobbying industry, and given the industry’s tendency to be enamored by appearances; it may even be a former beauty queen.

A couple of posshopperibilities may be Regina Hooper and Brooke Alexander.

America’s Natural Gas Association (ANGA) is another industry front group co-founded by the former Chesapeake Energy CEO, Aubrey McClendon.

A few day prior to the Chesapeake announcing Aubrey McClendon’s “cvoluntary early retirement”, Regina Hopper resigned as ANGA CEO.  Hopper was a Miss Arkansas in 1983 (In  2009, Hopper returned as emcee of the show).  She later joined the Miss America Board of Directors.

Another former beauty queen for ANGA is Brooke Alexander.  You probably know her best from ANGA TV Commercials. brooke1

In 1980 she was Miss Hawaii World, later crowned Miss World America, giving her the right to compete in the 1980 Miss World pageant where she placed as 6th runner-up.

She is best known for her role as con-artist Samantha Markham in As the World Turns (1994–1996), and seems to have put that acting experience to work as the ANGA spokeswoman.

Either women would be able to handle the MSC Executive Director position.

Based on assessing Klaber’s past performances, all that is needed is to smile and say “JOBS JOBS JOBS” as many times as possible when talking about fracking the Marcellus Shale.

Meanwhile, where will Klaber end up?  Probably in Washington DC as a lobbyist, because as you see, the Natural Gas does create jobs, just not the ones we would expect.

© 2013 by Dory Hippauf

THE MESSENGERS OF THE NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY – PART 2

WATCH The Messengers  as we explore the Public Relations and Lobbying Firms involved with the Natural Gas Industry. Is the natural gas message being coordinated? You bet it is!   Watch how we connect the dots!

the messengers

THE MESSENGERS OF THE NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY – PART 2

Be Sure to Watch: The Message – Part I Dissecting the industry talking points.

the message

THE MESSAGE PART 1

DCNR – DRILL OR NO DRILL?

dcnr drillbitThe big shocker in yesterday’s news (6/13/13) was the announcement of Richard Allan’s resignation as Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  According to news reports, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett asked Allan to resign.

Being “asked to resign” is a polite way of saying “YOU’RE FIRED”.

The big question is WHY was Allan fired?  The Governor’s office is silent as to the reason.  Spokesman Kevin Harley would only say it was a “personnel decision.”

Two possible reasons are making the rounds:

1. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported it was after an email to his wife surfaced in which he used a racial epithet.

“…sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Corbett became aware of an email that Allan wrote to his wife, also a state employee, in which he jokingly uses a derogatory racial term for an African American.”

Allan’s wife is Patricia Allan, who is Policy Director for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, also known as the Department of Energy Production and as Don’t Expect Protection.

2. DCNR’s leanings towards allowing gas drilling (and its related infrastructure) in Loyalsock State Forest recently grabbed the headlines when over 500 people showed up for the ONLY public hearing regarding Anadarko’s plans to frack the forest.   The hearing went well over the scheduled 2-hour time limit as more and more people lined up to express their concerns.

Of the two reasons, Anadarko’s drilling plans for Loyalsock seems to be most plausible.

Keep in mind Corbett’s polling numbers are not good, although Corbett says he is not concerned by polls.  In April 2013, a Quinnipiac University Poll reports a 47-38% DISAPPROVAL rating on job performance.  If the election were held today, Corbett would be a one-term governor.

Corbett said he isn’t bothered by the poll numbers because budget cuts have been painful and the economic turnaround they were meant to achieve hasn’t fully happened yet.

Not being concerned by polls is the usual response by a politician when their poll numbers are in the toilet.   READ: Dead Governor Walking | Esquire | By Charles P. Pierce | May 2, 2013.

ANADARKO CAMPAIGN DONATIONS AND LOBBYING

In 2010, Anadarko tossed about $5,500 into Corbett’s campaign coffers according to marcellusmoney.org.          Between 2008 and 2010 Anadarko donated a total of $26,500 to various legislators, predominately Republican Legislators.

Partial list (see Anadarko at Marcellusmoney.org  for complete list.)

anadarko campaign contributions

In the grand scheme of political campaign donations $26,500 is a drop in the bucket.   Not so much of a drop in the bucket is the lobbying money being spent.   Anadarko’s lobbying expenditures from the last quarter in 2010 through the first quarter of 2012 cha-chings at $120,750.

The Million Dollar lobbying club includes:

  • Dominion: $1,007,715
  • Chesapeake Energy: $1,258,585
  • Range Resources: $1,567,514
  • UGI Energy Services: $1,700,472
  • Marcellus Shale Coalition: $3,665,328

Was Allan’s firing because of Loyalsock and Anadarko hitting the headlines?  Did Anadarko tell Corbett to fire Allan?  Compared to the other heavy weights, Anadarko’s campaign “donations” and lobbying expenditures lag far behind.   Looking at these numbers, if Anadarko did pressure Corbett to fire Richard Allan, they probably weren’t the only drillers to do so.

While the news regarding Loyalsock is not good for Corbett, there is more than just one forest being fracked.

CAN’T SEE THE FOREST FOR THE DRILL RIGS

Below is a DCNR map of State Forest Land locating DCNR Oil & Gas leases, and privately owned Oil & Gas rights.

DCNR-MAP

DCNR States: Approximately 1.5 million acres of the 2.2 million-acre state forest system are underlain by Marcellus and other shale gas formations, making it a key venue for developing this important energy source in Pennsylvania.

Highlights from DCNR 2012 Shale Gas Leasing Statistics Fact Sheet:

  • Approximately 700,000 acres of the 1.5 million in the Marcellus gas play are available for natural gas development.
  • DCNR has issued three shale gas-specific leases totaling 138,866 acres. Together they have generated $413 million in “bonus-bid” revenue for the Oil and Gas Lease Fund
  • DCNR has approved 211 well pads and 842 shale gas wells since 2008 (2008, 21; 2009, 179; 2010, 284; 2011, 315 2012, 55). Each well pad can host 6 to 24 wells.
  • Approximately 276 wells have been drilled and are capable of producing natural gas. They have generated approximately $100 million in royalty revenue since 2008.

In January of 2010, DCNR opened bids for drilling 31,000 acres in state forest lands.  The drilling bids were done under former Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration.  Rendell did place a moratorium on drilling for about 700,000 acres in October 2010.  

READ: Why Rendell’s “moratorium” on forest drilling means very, very little | October 27, 2010

Specific Tract Bids:

  • Tract 1 Seneca 3,125/acre $23,253,125 total
  • Tract 737 Anadarko 4,111/acre $11,198,364 total
  • Tract 007 Seneca 4,625/acre $48,530,125 total
  • Tract 323 Exco 5,250/acre $24,354,750 total
  • Tract 426 Penn Virginia 3,750/acre $13,867,500 total
  • Tract 419 Chesapeake 2,437/acre $ 7,194,024 total

As you can see (do the math) – Seneca takes the lead with two track bids for a grand total of $71,783,250.   Anadarko places 4th ahead of Chesapeake Energy.  The 2010 Grand total for fracking our forests was $128,397,888.

Rendell officially left office in January 2011, Corbett was sworn in as governor and by August 2011 Corbett’s  Secretary of Economic and Community Development, Alan Walker, wanted to see more drilling in state forests.

Walker stated “Pennsylvania’s state forests could bring in “close to $60 billion” over the next three decades, ”That allows us to solve just about every economic problem we have that is hanging out there, including un-funded pension liability, infrastructure problems,”


ABOUT SOLVING JUST ABOUT EVERY ECONOMIC PROBLEM?

Corbett said in April 2013 he isn’t bothered by the poll numbers because budget cuts have been painful and the economic turnaround they were meant to achieve hasn’t fully happened yet.

Pension Liability problem?  Not Solved by drilling.   If the bill for the state and school employees’ pension systems’ $45 billion unfunded liability were called due, Corbett said it would require a payment of nearly $9,500 per Pennsylvania household.

Education Funding problem?  Not Solved by drilling.   Over 18,000 teachers have lost their jobs because of cuts.  According to data compiled by The Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University, Pennsylvania Ranked 46th Out Of 50 In Its Per Capita State Support For Higher Education in 2012. [Rutgers University, Budget Facts]

Every economic problem?  Not Solved by drilling.  Read: Assessment of Governor Corbett’s 2012-13 Budget Proposal by the Numbers

March 2011: Corbett calls for shared sacrifice.   In his first budget as Pennsylvania governor, Tom Corbett called for $1 billion in cuts state education spending and the elimination of hundreds of state jobs in a $27.3 billion proposal he said separates “the must-haves from the nice-to-haves.”

“If government is here to share the taxpayers’ wealth, then everyone needs to share in the sacrifice,” he said.

When Corbett talks about Shared Sacrifice he doesn’t put corporate tax breaks on the altar.  A recent bill passed by the PA House closes the Delaware loophole which will (supposedly) prevent companies operating in Pennsylvania from shifting profits earned in PA to other states, and forces them to pay their full share.

Supposedly this will generate $90 million in new revenue.  But where is the revenue really going?  To education?  Pensions?  Infrastructure? To every other economic problem?   NOPE.

It will be kicked back to corporations as tax breaks.

The money will be used to help fund the tax breaks needed to help business save money, which in turn will allow them to invest in their operations and create jobs said Rep. David Reed, R-Indiana (and the bill’s author).

Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria, questioned the long-term costs of the tax breaks.  “There is no evidence that corporate tax breaks will create new jobs”, he said.   Barbin calls it a shell game.  Meanwhile, the tax breaks could cost the state $800 million in lost revenue by 2025.

The bill calls for the corporate net income tax — which is levied on all companies with headquarters, land or equipment in the state — to drop from the current rate of about 10 percent to about 7 percent by 2025.

The bill is now headed for the PA Senate.  A similar bill died in the senate last year.

Has drilling solved every economic problem?  Money may not grow on trees, but if you sacrifice the forests and people to put up a drill rig it does make a very few people wealthy.   As far as drilling in state forests go, we’ll have to see if Ellen Ferretti, the now acting DCNR Secretary will protect the forest or the drill rigs.

Related:

©2013 by Dory Hippauf

MINUTEMAN ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES RAID – TIP OF THE DRILL BIT?

drill bitThe barrage of public relations and damage control has begun in what may be just the tip of the drill bit.

On its website, Minuteman Environmental Services’s (MES President, Brian Bolus, posted a letter to its customers.

Bolus again blames former employees as he did in the press release dated May 30, 2013

Several months ago I became aware that the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General (OAG) was questioning several former, disgruntled employees of Minuteman Environmental Services.

The posted customer letter further states, MES hired a former United States Attorney, now engaged in private practice, to represent them.  Mighty big guns to handle a simple case of disgruntled former employees wouldn’t you say?

At the end of the first paragraph, Bolus switches gears from “disgruntled former employees” to the question of waste disposal.

This material enables us to completely document that we have handled all of your waste professionally and in conformity with state and federal laws and regulations.  Anyone taking the time to review this material can be assured of the integrity of our business practices.

If this is all about “disgruntled former employees” why bring up the issue of waste disposal?

Obviously, the boxes and boxes of material removed during the raid will be reviewed thoroughly by state and federal agents.

Raiding a business on this scale is not something any federal or state agency does lightly.  No elected or appointed government official wakes up one morning and on a whim says “Hey gang, let’s have a raid today.”

SELDOM SIMPLE

According to “NOT THE ITEM” blog post FEDS RAID EX-CELOTEX SITE OPERATOR, news reports failed to mention the link between MES and Moran Industries – Minuteman were busily engaged in 2011 in shipping fracking waste through the Moran-owned former Celotex site, and in the process aroused much controversy and caused many problems for local residents.

When MES was shipping fracking waste through the former Celotex site, there were documented reports of trucks drilling foul smelling fluids, leaking waste containers and leaking rail cars.

According to the article, “Money, politics and pollution in fracking country” | BY WILL BUNCH, Daily News Staff Writer | January 13, 2013:  One day before Corbett took his oath of office, trucks started rolling into the Sunbury industrial site.

At the end of that day, stunned and angry neighbors counted 27 large dump trucks on their small residential street, filled with the debris from gas-drilling rigs in the Marcellus Shale. Some of the trucks were leaking liquids, said the neighbors, including Cora Campbell, who recalled that “it smelled like a combination of diesel fuel and dirt.”

For months, Campbell and others in the history-rich town of 10,000, an hour north of Harrisburg, and environmental activists pressed the new owner of the site, the logistics firm Moran Industries, and regulators from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), to find out what was happening at the property and how it could handle so much fracking waste without environmental permits.

But there was something else that Sunbury residents didn’t find out until long after DEP sided with Moran Industries: Its subsidiary’s contract with an interstate railroad, signed three months after the waste-transfer station opened, now meant that it was exempt from Pennsylvania permitting laws.

CEO of Moran Industries is John Moran Jr., Moran had donated more than $100,000 to Corbett’s campaign.    Much later it was revealed Moran had “gifted” Corbett with $2,400 for personal travel, including hosting Corbett and his wife on a yacht off the coast of Rhode Island in 2011.

The records clearly show a casual, cozy relationship between the Corbetts and those seeking influence in Harrisburg.

  • On Dec. 12, 2011, Frank Schoeneman, chief executive of the Pottsville-based Empire Education Group, a leading chain of beauty schools in Pennsylvania and nationally, flew Gov. Corbett on a private jet to an event in Pittsburgh – a jaunt that the governor priced at nearly $1,407, the price of a first-class plane ticket.
  • Ten months later, Corbett signed a bill into law aimed at aiding cosmetology students who attend schools like those operated by Schoeneman, by making it easier for those students to obtain a state license.
  • On Jan. 30, 2010, when then-Attorney General Corbett was running for governor, the powerful Blank Rome law firm bought the Corbetts a pair of $2,500 tickets to attend the Philadelphia Academy of Music anniversary concert. Blank Rome also bought Corbett a $65 ticket to the Phillies’ home opener in 2010.
  • Blank Rome operates a lobbying shop representing a number of powerful interests in Harrisburg, and in 2010 was getting more involved in issues related to natural-gas drilling, or fracking, in Pennsylvania. Blank Rome is listed as an associate member of the pro-industry Marcellus Shale Coalition.
  • In January 2011, when Corbett was becoming governor and his hometown Steelers were deep into a playoff run, his longtime friend Jack Barbour – head of the powerhouse Pittsburgh law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney – bought him tickets to two of the games, worth $325. Buchanan Ingersoll is also one of the state’s most powerful lobbying firms, representing UPMC, as well as energy companies EQT and the Williams Cos. and numerous medical and pharmaceutical outfits.
  • When Corbett was sworn in that month, insurance executive Marty Lane, then-chief executive of Aegis Security Insurance, donated $1,800 to defray the cost of Susan Corbett’s inaugural gown and coat. At the time, Aegis was regulated by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. (Designers Richard and Theresa Andries, of Andries Couture, also donated $8,276 in inaugural clothing for Pennsylvania’s first lady, as well as a $1,500 birthday jacket.)
  • As the Daily News reported in January, business executive John Moran of Moran Industries was running a fracking-well waste-recycling business in Sunbury, Pa., that was under scrutiny by the state Department of Environmental Protection at the same time he paid $1,422 for the Corbetts to fly to Rhode Island for a yachting vacation with Moran over July Fourth weekend in 2011. Moran paid an additional $902 to fly the governor to events in Williamsport and Pittsburgh on Sept. 30, 2011.
  • None of the gift-givers seems particularly eager to talk. The most expansive comment came from UPMC spokesman Paul Wood, who said: “The NHL Winter Classic was a major international event showcasing Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, and UPMC was more than happy to host the governor-elect and his wife.”
  • Lane, the inaugural-gown giver, reached by the Daily News at his second home in Florida, said he’d have to check his records when he returned to his office near Harrisburg. “I don’t have them right now,” he said.

As a side note, in April of 2013, when DEP Secretary Michael Krancer officially resigned, he rejoined Blank-Rome as a partner.  Krancer was a partner from 1992 through 1999.

A partner at Blank Rome from 1992 to 1999, Mr. Krancer represented clients in complex civil and commercial litigation in state and federal courts.  He left Blank Rome for public service, serving until 2007 as Judge and Chief Judge of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), the state-wide trial/appellate court for environmental matters involving appeals from actions of the DEP.  He returned to the EHB in 2009 after a run for Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and a stint as Associate General Counsel of the Exelon Corporation, where he focused on areas of environmental law, health and safety compliance, and litigation. Governor Tom Corbett appointed Mr. Krancer Secretary as his first Secretary of DEP in January 2011.

Krancer will be leading  Blank-Rome’s Energy, Petrochemical and Natural Resources Practice.

Where all of this will eventually lead is unknown.  There are many different players.    Again we ask, does this seem to be a simple case of “disgruntled former employees” or is there more to it?   Is this just the tip of the drill bit?

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©2013 by Dory Hippauf