Monday, July 07, 2014

Sharing the wealth

What are the benefits of having oil and gas extraction dominate your state's economy?   Cash payoffs, apparently.   Pennsylvania residents are enjoying that exact benefit now.  And it only cost them... some legal technicality.
It didn't take long for the residents of Finleyville who lived near the fracking operations to complain – about the noise and air quality, and what they regarded as threats to their health and quality of life. Initially, EQT, one of the largest producers of natural gas in Pennsylvania, tried to allay concerns with promises of noise studies and offers of vouchers so residents could stay in hotels to avoid the noise and fumes.

But then, in what experts say was a rare tactic, the company got more aggressive: it offered all of the households along Cardox Road $50,000 in cash if they would agree to release the company from any legal liability, for current operations as well as those to be carried out in the future. It covered potential health problems and property damage, and gave the company blanket protection from any kind of claim over noise, dust, light, smoke, odors, fumes, soot, air pollution or vibrations.

The agreement also defined the company's operations as not only including drilling activity but the construction of pipelines, power lines, roads, tanks, ponds, pits, compressor stations, houses and buildings.
But hey, fifty grand, right? Who wouldn't trade all future claims against poisoning for that?

Someone should tell St. Tammany Parish residents to ask Helis Oil if they can get in on this deal.

Actually the smart guys in Louisiana might be a bit more risk-averse.  They're only willing to sacrifice their integrity. 
In April, the PSC hired Acadian Consulting Group LLC of Baton Rouge to complete a report by Nov. 30 comparing net metering’s costs against its benefits.

State records show David E. Dismukes is an owner of Acadian Consulting Group, the company hired for the study. Dismukes also is an economics professor and executive director of LSU’s Center for Energy Studies.

In a complaint filed Tuesday with the PSC, C. Tucker Crawford, president of Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association, alleged Dismukes cannot produce an impartial study on net metering because he has in the past lobbied “for the elimination of renewable energy subsidies and the augmentation of fossil fuel subsidies.”

Crawford added that Dismukes accepted $20,000 from a fossil fuel group, the American Energy Alliance, before arguing last year against federal tax and financing policies benefiting the wind-energy industry.

In addition, Crawford wrote the PSC, Dismukes received $96,000 from America’s Natural Gas Alliance in 2012; $76,000 from Shell in 2012; and $37,000 from the Louisiana oil industry in 2004.

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