Posted By Steve Downey, EnerVest Operating,
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 8, 2019
So how did a guy from West Virginia become the President of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association? It is a good question and I often wonder myself; but as I reflect on my years as a member of the Association, the Board of Trustees, the Executive Committee, and my career, I guess it is not that hard to figure out.
I’ve had the great pleasure to work for several companies throughout my 30 years in the oil and gas business. From my time at Columbia Transmission, Triana Energy, Chesapeake Energy, and currently EnerVest Operating, which has allowed me to not only join but engage in several state Associations. Through that engagement, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interact with some amazing people and have been lucky enough to be mentored by many of them. They may not have realized that they were mentoring me, but probably most leaders do not realize the effect they have on others because it just comes naturally to them. As I page through my OOGA directory and read the names of the Past Presidents and Hall of Fame members of the last many years, I count those leaders as my mentors. As they look at me, I’m sure they are thinking, “there goes the neighborhood!” With all kidding aside, what they taught me is to become engaged, express your opinion, and get involved in the Committees to make a difference. To that end, I’ve endeavored to do so.
My first stint was co-chairing the Commerce Committee, then ultimately chairman wherein we worked through many issues affecting the Industry. From that, we conceived the Midstream Subcommittee, given the activity surrounding processing, fractionation, and pipeline construction. My simplistic view was that it would ultimately help us get our product to market and improve our netbacks, so it would be an offshoot of the Commerce Committee. Little did I know, this Subcommittee’s first charge was to draft legislation to fend off the onerous rules that regulatory agencies were trying to burden the midstream industry with and make the construction and operation of the facilities more difficult than necessary. Thereafter, it was ultimately decided that this facet of the Industry was so important that it needed to be separated as its own Committee. I take great pride in that!
Through my work in the Committees, I was given the opportunity to become a member of the Executive Committee, ultimately leading to the Board electing me an officer; and for that, I thank you! So the answer to the question I earlier posed, is through Committee engagement. Being a Trustee is not a rite of passage nor a ceremonial appointment. It was a charge that was given to me by the Trustees that voted for me, and the mentors that shaped me, both of whom expect me to help carry the load.
As we enter 2019, we will have a new Governor, Administration and new department heads that we must become acclimated to and contend with. The more things change, the more they stay the same, so expect many of the battles that have raged in the past to rage again along with new ones we probably haven’t even thought of yet. However, be assured that your Association will be at the forefront of the issues and working in unison with our members to craft a viable outcome for our Industry. To that end, I urge you to become involved in the Committees and be engaged so that your voice will be heard and you will be part of the solution. The Association is only as strong as its members and Committees, in order to succeed, we all have to be engaged. Please accept the challenge!
Posted By Guest blog: U.S. Department of Energy,
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Report highlights the benefits of an ethane storage hub located in the Appalachian Region
Today in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published a Report to Congress: Ethane Storage and Distribution Hub in the United States. The report highlights the potential in Appalachia for the development of a new ethane hub based on the tremendous low-cost resource from the Marcellus and Utica shales, and the accompanying security and reliability benefits derived from geographic diversity in the nation’s petrochemicals manufacturing base.
“We have found an incredible opportunity, which is the potential for establishing an ethane storage and distribution hub in the Appalachian region,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry today at the annual National Petroleum Council Meeting in Washington D.C. “As our report shows, there is sufficient global need, and enough regional resources, to help the U.S. gain a significant share of the global petrochemical market. The Trump Administration would also support an Appalachia hub to strengthen our energy and manufacturing security by increasing our geographic production diversity.”
The United States is now the top producer of oil and natural gas in the world, with an additional benefit in the form of increased natural gas liquids (NGLs), including ethane. Some NGLs are burned for space heating and cooking while others are blended into vehicle fuel. Ethane is particularly useful as a feedstock for petrochemical manufacturing. Ethane production in the Appalachian basin is projected to continue its rapid growth through 2025 to a total of 640,000 barrels per day, more than 20 times greater than just 5 years ago.
The Appalachian region has experienced near-exponential growth in natural gas production, and that production is expected to increase for decades to come. The region is home to the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, and were it an independent country, Appalachia would be the third-largest natural gas producer in the world.
According to the Energy Information Administration, production in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia has increased so rapidly that their combined share of total U.S. natural gas production has jumped from only 2% in 2008 to 27% in 2017. In addition, natural gas liquids (NGLs) processing and fractionating capacity in Appalachia has grown quickly to match this increase in natural gas production. However, the Appalachian region currently lacks other physical infrastructure for a “hub” that connect supply and demand sources, including storage for the liquids.
This Report to Congress examines the potential for a hub by comparing it to existing ones that already service the Gulf Coast and Permian Basin, which account for most of the U.S. growth in NGLs outside of Appalachia. In addition, market analysis from the report emphasizes that the development of an Appalachian hub may offer a competitive advantage for the U.S. to gain global petrochemical market share while not being in conflict with Gulf Coast expansion. The report explains that a new Appalachian hub would enhance the geographic diversity of the vital US petrochemical industrial sector, supporting U.S. economic security.
Posted By Mike Chadsey, Director of Public Relations,
Monday, December 3, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2018
For the fifth year in a row Ohio’s oil and gas industry is partnering with the Toys for Tots Foundation to distribute toys throughout southeastern Ohio. Many churches, social organizations, local businesses among others collect toys this time of year for the Foundation’s efforts, and the oil and gas industry is coming together with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) to coordinate the distribution of the toys to local families in need.
OOGA’s members that are participating this year are MarkWest, Ascent Resources, EdgeMarc Energy, XTO Energy and Williams.
Carroll County resident and Foundation Coordinator Deb Oberlin is once again leading the entire effort not only for her home county but most of southeast Ohio. According to Deb who has been honored by the United States Marine Corp and Duracell over the years for her longtime efforts for the Foundation, “Each year my family and I work to provide toys for the kids of Appalachia through the Foundation and appreciate our partners in the oil and gas industry.”
Ohio Oil and Gas Association spokesman Mike Chadsey says, “we are so grateful for Deb and her entire team at the Toys for Tots Foundation for the willingness to work with us and our member companies on toy collection and distribution, as we know there is a need in our operating areas and we want to do our part to serve our neighbors.”
Posted By Mike Chadsey, Director of Public Relations,
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
On a cold November afternoon on the outskirts of St. Clairsville, the staff of the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) in Belmont County eagerly cut the ribbon on the county’s new state of the art emergency response vehicle.
The process for this long-awaited milestone started more than a year ago when local active driller Ascent Resources held a training drill exercise with the EMA and other first responders in the county. At the end of the day the team involved gathered inside a rickety school bus that was then serving as the county’s command center. It became clear once everyone was inside that there was not enough room to conduct a debriefing, so everyone filed back outside to discuss the day’s events. On the way out of the bus, the staff of Ascent Resources noticed the outdated communications equipment and rusty desks. It was clear that the current county command center was not going to be able to make do any longer.
Fast forward a couple of months and Amanda Finn with Ascent Resources had raised nearly $50,000, donated from Ascent Resources along with help from fellow Utica producing companies Antero Resources and EQT, which was enough to purchase and outfit a new command center for Belmont County.
During a ribbon cutting ceremony held on November 13, Finn shared that, “today was a long time coming, but I think the trailer turned out really well and will benefit not only Ascent, Antero and EQT, but the other producers active in the Utica, as well as the entire community it will be able to serve.”
The newly acquired Fifth Wheel has 911 dispatch capabilities, a meeting area that can hold up to 20 people [with room to move], a small kitchen, two bathrooms with a shower, as well as flat screens and sleep quarters.
While the vehicle will be based in St. Clairsville it can be dispatched by any of the surrounding counties for shared use.
Mike Chadsey with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association said at the ceremony, “this trailer is ready to roll to serve the people of Belmont thanks to our member companies stepping up to provide the funds necessary to make it happen. We are so grateful for their ongoing commitment to the communities that they operate in.”
Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Manager,
Monday, October 29, 2018
James (Jim) Haas is second generation oil and gas. Haas grew up in Chagrin Falls, graduated high school from Notre Dame Cathedral Latin and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati business school. After forging a path in commercial real estate for the first decade of his career, Haas found his way back to the family oil and gas business, Reserve Energy Exploration Company.
Right out of college, Haas started working for Developers Diversified Realty Trust (DDR) and was an early member of the Executive Training Program. Haas did this for five years, with the focus on developing large power center shopping centers throughout the country. He went from a role in a large public company to a small family business when he took an opportunity to work for a privately owned real estate developer in Cleveland. He remained in this role for nine years, wearing many hats and leading the development of smaller scale shopping centers, post offices and historical buildings. This all involved handling leasing with tenants, coordinating with contractors, government officials, historical tax credit buyers and lenders.
Haas grew up around oil and gas, as his father, Joe, has been working in the business since 1973. Growing up his father emphasized the importance of having a strong work ethic by requiring all of the Haas children to have jobs. This was not just encouraged for money, but to gain an understanding of responsibility. In high school and throughout college, Haas started doing odd jobs, from painting tank batteries, to installing pipelines and working for Orwell Natural Gas one summer. The work he did for his father at this time was more technical, including doing courthouse research.
When Haas graduated in 1996, the opportunity that existed in oil and gas in the Appalachian Basin looked very different than it does today. Having a college internship at DDR and a great job lined up out of school led Haas to commercial real estate. The skills that he built in this field would later be of great value as the shale play started taking off in our region in the late 2000s. In 2009, Haas decided to start working for his father.
Reserve Energy Exploration Company
In 2001, Reserve Energy Exploration Company was founded by Joe Haas, based in Auburn Township, Geauga County. Joe had been in the oil and gas business nearly thirty years and previously worked for his brother and on ventures of his own. The company’s business model is to locate new reserves beginning with the development of a geological concept, reviewing historical data and using this experience to identify potential areas that may support oil and gas exploration. Upon completing the initial studies, a land team will research lease availability and infrastructure. Reserve will begin to acquire leases.
“Reserve is pretty unique in that we are an early stage exploration company, which is rare, not a lot of people are focused on exploration,” said Jim Haas. “You don’t see many groups even having exploration budgets. Everyone is willing to participate once you prove up an area, and they have budgets for the development piece.”
The exploration team will then high grade the prospect with an in-depth subsurface study and geophysical studies that furthers the likelihood for a successful drilling program. Depending on the size of the program, Reserve will begin developing the project or, in the case of larger acreage plays (10,000+), seek an industry partner to jointly develop the prospect. Many times Reserve will continue to do land services after the prospect is in the development stage.
At Reserve, Jim is the vice president of development and, being that it is a small family company, still wears many hats. Haas’ primary role is to look for new opportunities and execute on existing projects with industry partners. He truly believes that it’s a relationship-based business, with many repeat partners and some of the relationships stemming back to his father’s work in the industry multiple decades ago. Haas also works alongside his three siblings and says they all have characteristics that complement each other and the business well.
“Our business model and focus are that we treat people well, from the bottom to the very top,” explained Haas. “From our staff, to our contractors working in the field, to the landowners—if we drill on their land to ensure that property is taken care of.”
Haas likes working in the energy industry because it is essential to our every day life and comforts along with providing an exciting opportunity to be entrepreneurial. Also growing up around the business draws people into it. He has seen the industry change tremendously because of the shale play over the last years.
“It is a hope that we can continue to work towards having the average Ohioan fully realize the positive impacts of our industry and to shed this negative stigma,” explained Haas. “It is amazing what one HBO documentary can do to an industry. There’s so many uses for the products that are derived from oil and gas that people do not even think about. The average consumer could really suffer economically if it wasn’t for our industry.”
Ohio was traditionally groups of independent operators, conventional service companies and rigs. Haas has noticed this shift as larger groups came into the state to drill horizontal shale wells. This shift has had broader impacts on changes in land, leasing and royalty rates, changes in well costs and overall midstream capacity. Private equity has really energized the business with the money but changed the way people are viewing exploration. In Ohio, it is amazing how important midstream and take away is, with the quantity of gas being produced.
OOGA & Professional Involvement
Haas recounted his father instilling the importance of being involved with professional organizations since he was young. He attended his first OOGA Summer Meeting with his father when he was still in high school. As Haas has built his career over the years, his perspective on the importance of these groups has also evolved. Early on he saw professional organizations as a means of providing networking opportunities, but as he has become more involved with OOGA this notion has completely changed for him.
In 2015, Haas was elected to the OOGA Board of Trustees and since then has gotten a glimpse of the broader impacts on the industry. It has been eye opening to Haas the level of proactivity that OOGA derives and its ability to emphasize the bigger picture and support the industry as a whole.
“There should be a huge level of respect for the past board members and trustees who have put in so much time and effort to get the policies in place that we currently have,” emphasized Haas. “It is a big commitment to be that involved, but everyone who is realizes the need for it. It is equally as important to stay ahead of forthcoming issues and continue to build a group of people willing to be that involved as we’re facing a shift in generations.”
The member spotlight series features OOGA members making an impact with their membership. If you would like to recommend someone to be highlighted, please contact Lyndsey Kleven at: email@example.com
Are you headed to the 8th annual SHALE INSIGHT™ conference in Pittsburgh this week? This year’s events will include the kind of stimulating conversation and noteworthy featured speakers that you’ve come to expect, along with a few new, exciting features.
Policy Insight from Top Government Officials: Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will kick off the conference by discussing his efforts to bring clarity and predictability to EPA policy actions, while Admiral Michael Rogers, former head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, will close the event with his take on how American shale is a gamechanger in terms of U.S. global leadership and stability. Mr. Wheeler will speak on Wednesday around 9:15 a.m. & Admiral Rodgers will take the podium on Thursday at 1:45 p.m.
Engaging Panels Addressing Today’s Issues: Hear from leaders at major companies including XTO Energy, MPLX Energy, Ascent Resources, Dominion Energy, K&L Gates and many more on subjects such as the potential of our region’s natural resources, maximizing opportunity for natural gas-fired power plants, the challenges facing pipeline expansion, and protection from cybersecurity threats and attacks.
Join XTO’s Karen Matusic and Andreè Griffin as they discuss the potential of the Utica Shale and how this enormous shale play has become a global opportunity. Karen and Andreè are slated to speak following Administrator Wheeler’s address on Wednesdaymorning.
Michael Huwar of Columbia Gas will foster a dialogue among senior pipeline executives to discuss the buildout of pipelines, challenges, opportunities and lessons learned, highlighting the $13 billion of approved projects and sensationalized public protests. Pipelines to Prosperity II: Challenges, Opportunities and Lessons Learned is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, following a conversation about getting gas to market.
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum will guide a conversation Thursday morning focused on the threat of cybersecurity attacks in today’s digital age. Cybersecurity: How will Operational Cyber Threats and Attacks Impact You? will begin Thursday at 9 a.m.
Groundbreaking Findings: Debuting this year, the University Research Showcase will highlight the important studies, projects and research surrounding the natural gas industry being conducted by students from universities in the region. Students will present at various times, click here for a schedule, including the research topics.
Emerging Technologies: Check out presentations from suppliers of emerging technologies that will create value, reduce costs and generate competitive advantages to address Appalachian Basin shale industry challenges. The Technology Showcase will take place on Tuesday from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., be sure to stop by!Click here to learn more about this year’s presenters and topics.
Endless Networking Opportunities: SHALE INSIGHT™ offers a unique opportunity to foster relationships and engage with colleagues from around the tri-state area. Networking breaks are scheduled throughout the day in the exhibit hall. And be sure to join us Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. for the Welcome Reception to renew and build new business relationships with industry professionals.
For a full conference schedule, click here, and if you’re on social media, join the conference conversation with #ShaleInsight and by following @ooga_hq on Twitter.
Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Manager,
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Kevin Ellis has a unique background that brought him to Antero Resources in West Virginia. Ellis grew up in Abbeville, South Carolina, which is a small rural farm town where the primary businesses were the railroad and textile mills. Ellis’ father worked on the railroads and had a military background, as did his grandfather. After high school, Ellis joined the U.S. Army Reserves and the very night that he graduated went off to basic training. In 1990, his unit was called to active duty during Operation Desert Storm, where he was deployed to southwest Asia for almost a year. When he returned, Ellis finished an undergraduate program at The Citadel, in the military college of South Carolina.
Ellis remained in South Carolina for the next eight years, where he worked as a deputy sheriff and he held various positions in the grocery business. In 2002, Ellis and his family decided to make a major career change. He decided to attend law school at West Virginia University, graduating in 2005, and began working at Steptoe & Johnson in Morgantown.
At Steptoe & Johnson, Ellis practiced energy law, focusing on coal and oil and gas, primarily doing titles and transactions. Initially when joining the firm, he spent his first few years as a new lawyer in record rooms researching title and writing title opinions. These actions proved valuable as he learned how to properly do title work.
“It became apparent to me even back then, that energy law was the area of law you wanted to be in, in the Appalachian basin,” explained Ellis. “Timing is everything, it just so happened at the time when I joined the firm that energy law had a need and I had an interest, which made it a natural fit for me.”
Ellis left Steptoe & Johnson and ultimately went on to work for one of his clients, Bluestone Energy Partners, a small producer based in Richie County, West Virginia. Bluestone was a family run business where Ellis managed landmen, oversaw land management and obtained new leases.
“To me, the nuts and bolts of the energy business was understanding titles,” said Ellis. “It was fundamental and there is the old adage, ‘no lease, no grease,’ you have to find out who owns the rights to the lease. I wasn’t an engineer or geologist, so for me this was where I needed to be.”
Ellis enjoyed working at Bluestone and got to wear many hats, including working on the permitting, developing drilling units, business development along with doing various legal work. Bluestone held about 40,000 acres of lease holds and drilled upwards of 150 vertical conventional wells and at one point, Bluestone had the most Marcellus wells of any other operator in WV, albeit all vertical wells. Branching into the Marcellus, vertical wells progressed into a drilling a few horizontal wells, and soon Bluestone’s assets became of interest to other operators.
Antero Resources acquired Bluestone Energy in 2010. Ellis was retained by Antero to manage the land department in WV. Ellis’ background in lease negotiation, surface agreements and pipeline right of ways put him at the forefront of many deals involving conventional producer’s acreage. Ellis remained in this area for the next four years, focusing on land, growth and helping with litigation and title disputes. After this time, Ellis began to work in the area of government and community relations and expanded this work to cover both WV and OH where Antero continues to have significant operations.
Ellis helped to establish an official government relations branch within Antero and was promoted to vice president of government relations and still wears many hats. He covers government relations, community relations, landowner relations and oversees office administrative personal in the Marietta and Bridgeport offices.
“There really are major opportunities for people that grew up in this region to be able to stay here, and work in a field that they like,” explained Ellis. “The oil and gas industry provides a variety of opportunities that can be really amazing for people that are willing to roll their sleeves up and work hard to get there.”
Antero employs about 3,000 people, including all its employees and contractors. Ellis enjoys working for Antero because, even though it is a large operation, it still has a small company feel and allows him the ability to do a variety of work. He also respects the values Antero holds for its employees and the communities it operates in. Antero is heavily involved philanthropically with local food banks and among charities impacting children in need.
Ellis got into energy law on the front end of shale development in the Appalachian Basin. He described seeing the industry shift and a change in fundamental players within the Basin. Conventional producers have and will continue to play a very important role in the industry in Ohio and elsewhere. Ellis commented that “Conventional and unconventional producers are aligned in many ways including the continued production of conventional wells to maintain HBP lease status even during very difficult economic times. As has been the history of the conventional industry – most being family owned for generations – they continue to look at their business and adapt to find new innovative ways to be competitive and profitable.”
On some of the early challenges to Ohio’s unconventional shale producers, Ellis observed that, “I’ve seen the industry from the earlier stages where it was really about justifying what we were doing, that we were safe and environmentally responsible, that we were impacting the economy by hiring local people. We overcame those hurdles. We got to a place where you finally put to bed some of the myths. This translates to the messaging, while we continue to evolve operationally, we now need to look at delivering on the value-added benefits of all of this production, how do we get to the downstream opportunities.”
Ellis is optimistic that the regional alliance being built across the Appalachian Basin is in the interest of all producers and will provide new opportunities. Producers are finding ways to drill longer laterals and derive both cost and operational efficiency in their operations. Much of the positioning is starting to settle, and Ellis thinks most of the big deals are done or starting to become more predictable. He pointed to the Chesapeake announcement as a recent big event that people have to take notice of, just due to the sheer size of its footprint.
“The industry is in the middle of an infrastructure build out of pipelines that is necessary to get the region’s gas to the places that it needs to go. This is what is helping companies and operators still be able to produce in a low-cost environment, to get some production to outlets that provide a better return, which has a ripple effect on the economy of places where the gas is being produced,” described Ellis. “The end game that policy makers and residents want is now the downstream piece that encompasses manufacturing jobs, cracker plants and ethane storage hub.”
The industry has changed over the years, yet it is still vibrant and important. Ellis feels the energy industry is the most exciting business to be in, bar none. Every day is different and brings new challenges to face and problems to solve, all in ways to make things better.
Trends and Legislation to Watch
Rules and legislation impacting the industry need to be closely monitored. Ellis is currently watching the development of new rules packages from ODNR, (including simultaneous operations, waste facility rules and spacing rules).
“Anything we can do to help enable a producer to drill a well sooner is always helpful,” explained Ellis. “Streamlining unitization at the administrative level is a priority, as are timely orders. Getting a well drilled faster than you might be able to in another state or county, is really the name of the game, these companies want to get the wells put in the ground.”
Another area of particular interest to Ellis is the dormant mineral act (DMA) in Ohio. As it currently stands, the DMA creates uncertainty in business and creates confusion around its application and process. Ellis is leading the OOGA DMA workgroup to help identify the issues and put forth possible solutions, rather than intolerably continuing to react on a case-by-case basis across every shale county.
OOGA & Professional Involvement
Ellis began to interact with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association early in 2012. As Antero grew its operations, Ellis grew his participation and involvement among the Association. Ellis has been on the OOGA Board of Trustees for the past two years and looks forward to continuing to work with all the other board members to advance OOGA’s common interest.
“It all comes back to what policies and goals the Association will undertake to achieve. All of that is informed by a very experienced group of people and many of the board members have been in business in Ohio for generations,” said Ellis. “Companies like Antero that bring in people like myself, want to continue to learn from those experiences, to leverage those experiences, so we can help each other achieve our business objectives.”
Ellis likes being involved with the Association because it’s always good to have friends in the trenches. OOGA is a group of people who have and overall commonality of interest. The members are able to pursue those common goals together and show a unified front. Ellis feels OOGA has demonstrated effectiveness in this regard, in achieving successful legislative outcomes.
Ellis’ experience working with and leading other oil and gas trade associations has brought an added value to the OOGA board. Ellis has recently served as a three-term president for the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA), where he has served since 2013. He is currently the interim chairman of Energize West Virginia, the public education and outreach nonprofit affiliate of WVONGA. He is also in the middle of a three-year term serving as an elected board of director for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia (IOGA WV), and also co-chairs its government relations committee. He is a board member of the Nature Conservancy of West Virginia, and on the board of the Chamber of Commerce, Harrison County, West Virginia.
The member spotlight series features OOGA members making an impact with their membership. If you would like to recommend someone to be highlighted, please contact Lyndsey Kleven firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Manager,
Monday, September 24, 2018
The Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS), in collaboration with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) and the Ohio Gas Producers Underground Protection Service (OGPUPS), are announcing the consolidation of Ohio’s two utility protection services under the unified OHIO811 trademark. “Call Before You Dig” just became easier for Ohio’s excavators and homeowners, increasing public safety and the protection of the state’s critical underground utilities infrastructure.
Ohio’s Revised Code requires that ALL excavation contractors, property owners, or utility operators planning an excavation project must notify local utilities a minimum of 48 hours, but no more than 10 working days, prior to beginning any excavation. Now, a single call to 8-1-1 or a visit to OHIO811.org will insure that affected member utilities as well as those owning, operating and maintaining oil and gas production facilities are properly notified of planned excavations.
“This consolidation eases utility notification and legal compliance for Ohio’s 11.7 million citizens and anyone else involved in property excavation projects within our state,” said Roger Lipscomb, Executive Director of OHIO811. “Through this collaborative effort, we can more efficiently and effectively promote responsible digging, decreasing dangerous and costly damage to underground utilities.”
“For nearly 30 years OGPUPS has been enabling oil and gas producers to protect their underground systems in conjunction with OUPS,” said Matt Hammond, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “After much consideration we decided that it was in the best interest of all parties to consolidate and streamline the programs within a unified center managed by OUPS.”
Posted By Jackie Stewart, Energy In Depth Appalachian Basin,
Monday, September 17, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2018
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), a Tucson, Ariz.-based environmental activist group, has used the legal system for years to delay federal leasing of minerals. These delays are costly not only for federal and state government coffers, but for the local communities and forests CBD claims to be trying to protect. CBD’s latest target is Ohio’s Wayne National Forest – where CBD has claimed victory after victory over ongoing delays of federal permitting and, most recently, the cancellation of a federal auction lease sale.
CBD says its mission is “to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction.” But as EID has highlighted before, CBD is actually an extremist “multimillion dollar litigation factory” that brags about ignoring science and the law in pursuit of its agenda. What is CBD’s real agenda? To use “psychological warfare” to “mock” regulators and “destroy” and delay projects of every type – not to advocate more effective regulations or to protect the environment.
The Wayne National Forest provides a perfect case study illustrating CBD’s tactics. The group recently statedthat the “feds” are finally “listening to their concerns” with regard to its efforts to “stop all fracking in the Wayne.” In reality, of course, all of these delays can be traced to the CBD’s May 2017 lawsuit alleging, among other erroneous claims, that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Services violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing fracking in the Wayne.
EID will look at what the CBD claims to be, how the group articulates its real goals in rare moments of candor, its playbook of techniques designed to mislead reporters and frighten the public, and the disturbing business model that has evolved over the years to, among other things, fleece taxpayers through a technicality in the Endangered Species Act.
In a 2009 interview, CBD founder Kieran Suckling explained how the CBD playbook works – sue a federal government agency, attempt to “mock” and “destroy” regulator’s careers during litigation, and ultimately settle out of court.
Suckling has stated what CBD does in plain English, saying;
“The environmental movement spent a decade going to meetings and demanding action and getting nothing done. They were asking powerful people for something from a position of no power. We realized that we can bypass the officials and sue, and that we can get things done in court.”
“They are one tool in a larger campaign, but we use lawsuits to help shift the balance of power from industry and government agencies, toward protecting endangered species. That plays out on many levels. At its simplest, by obtaining an injunction to shut down logging or prevent the filling of a dam, the power shifts to our hands. The Forest Service needs our agreement to get back to work, and we are in the position of being able to powerfully negotiate the terms of releasing the injunction. They feel like their careers are being mocked and destroyed – and they are. So they become much more willing to play by our rules and at least get something done. Psychological warfare is a very underappreciated aspect of environmental campaigning.”
This exact strategy has been employed by CBD in its effort to stop development in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest, as you can clearly see in this National Association of Royalty Owner’s (NARO) infographic.
With “psychological warfare” and endless litigation as its admitted strategy, CBD has not had to trouble itself hiring scientific experts or those concerned primarily with the nuances of species protection. Instead it has decided to recruit from top law schools, not primarily to ensure that we have clean water and air, or that loggerhead sea turtles thrive, but to shut down, if possible, entire industries that humans rely upon for survival and, failing that, to reap financial windfalls through abuse of the law.
It is not “winning” that CBD is interested in – it is using the process itself to frustrate the aims of regulators, other NGOs and industries trying to create a safe and healthy environment for humans and other species. This strategy allows CBD to generate a lot of media attention and even more money, while never having to actually help find a solution to any environmental problem.
As former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Director Dan Ashe explained to the House Committee on Natural Resources in 2011, this litigation strategy actually takes away from pools of money federal agencies would otherwise spend on species and habitat recovery. Ashe said,
“We fully agree with the concern that our resources are better spent on implementing the ESA than on litigation. … [O]ur FY 2011 resource management allocation for listing and critical habitat was $20.9 million, of which we spent at least $15.8 million taking substantive actions required by court orders or settlement agreements resulting from litigation.”
If CBD existed to help advance environmental policy, it would work with regulators, industry and NGOs to advocate for and craft laws and regulations to suit its ends. Instead, it seeks to “cripple – and eliminate, if possible – industry.” It appears that’s precisely the case with the Wayne National Forest, as CBD’s efforts to “mock” regulators has led to a complete gridlock in allowing regulators to do their job to adjudicate requests for permits and mineral development.
Meanwhile, as the regulatory gears remain jammed, there’s no doubt that the CBD and its team of lawyers are working overtime to try and settle with the federal government, as they have done over and over again in cases all over the country.
The Sue & Settle Playbook
CBD is, first and foremost, a deep-pocketed law firm. The group’s 2016 Form 990 shows revenue in excess of $14 million. It’s hometown newspaper, the Tucson Citizen, has called it a “multimillion dollar environmental litigation factory.” Unfortunately, it is a “factory” that is willing to say or do, it seems, almost anything in pursuit of its ideological agenda, regardless of its relationship to the truth or its actual impact on the environment.
The Wayne National Forest lawsuit is just the latest example of CBD filing an Endangered Species Act lawsuitagainst the Department of the Interior (DOI), which the DOI inevitably is unable to comply with due to CBD’s intentionally impossible demands. CBD’s approach – really, its business model – has, according to self-described “environmental extremist” and outdoors writer Ted Williams, become an industry:
“You and I are a major source of revenue for that industry. The Interior Department must respond within 90 days to petitions to list species under the Endangered Species Act. Otherwise, petitioners like the Center for Biological Diversity get to sue and collect attorney fees from the Justice Department.
The Center also shakes down taxpayers directly from Interior Department funds under the Equal Access to Justice Act, and for missed deadlines when the agency can’t keep up with the broadside of Freedom-of-Information-Act requests.” [Emphasis added]
In the same article, environmental leader Amos Eno, who currently directs the Resources First Foundation, is even more blunt:
“The amount of money CBD makes suing is just obscene,” he told me. “They’re one of the reasons the Endangered Species Act has become so dysfunctional. They deserve the designation of eco-criminals.” [Emphasis added]
Eno, who formerly directed the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and who worked in the federal government’s Endangered Species Office, noted that CBD’s litigation strategy actually runs counter to its stated goal of protecting species – actually hurting endangered species instead:
“Eno figures the feds could ’recover and delist three dozen species‘ with the resources they spend responding to the Center for Biological Diversity’s litigation.
’The amount of money CBD makes suing is just obscene,’ he told me. ’They’re one of the reasons the Endangered Species Act has become so dysfunctional.’” [Emphasis added]
According to a former Obama Administration official:
“CBD has probably sued Interior more than all other groups combined. They’ve divested that agency of any control over Endangered Species Act priorities and caused a huge drain on resources. In April, for instance, CBD petitioned to list 404 species, knowing full well that biologists can’t make the required findings in 90 days.”
It is for that reason that CBD’s Taylor McKinnon’s claim that the group’s Wayne National Forest lawsuit was being filed to “stop this dangerous fracking plan because drinking water safety and public lands should come before corporate profits” was so disingenuous.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) found that CBD raked in over $2 million in taxpayer dollars paid to its attorneys and directly to CBD for cases open between 2009 to 2012 in Endangered Species Act-related litigation and settlements. Then-Chairman Hastings said:
“American taxpayers have a right to know how much of their money is going to pay attorneys and settlement costs for lawsuit-happy organizations that make a living off of suing the federal government. The numbers from the Justice Department speak for themselves.” [Emphasis added]
In response to investigations, CBD called for the chairman’s retirement, saying in the press release “good riddance” to then-Chairman Hastings. In addition, the NGO also put out a flurry of press releases slammingHastings in retaliation.
Fast forward to just a few months ago, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) opened another probe into CBD as part of an ongoing investigation into the organization and foreign influence on U.S. natural resources and environmental policy.
In other words, CBD has not only grown into a litigation factory, but a taxpayer-funded cash cow with clear ties to foreign influence that is simultaneously stalling America’s move toward energy dominance.
The Media Playbook: Adjectives, Not Facts
In addition to filing suits to frustrate the efforts of regulators, CBD brings legal action so that it can write press releases about … bringing legal action. This strategy has been relatively successful, especially in Ohio around the Wayne. The news media has too frequently “reported” on these legal filings without understanding the broader strategy behind many of them.
A visit to the group’s online “Newsroom” reveals a steady churn of adjective-laden press releases, often several a day, many of them regarding filed or ongoing litigation. In fact, as of this writing, CBD has issued 395 press releases in 2018 alone. By the time you read this, the number is sure to be higher.
CBD press releases follow a familiar pattern: amp-up the adjectives, seek to scare – rather than inform – the reader, repeat. There’s no “just the facts” for CBD.
The headline and subhead from CBD’s release about the Wayne National Forest lawsuit is a typical example: “Lawsuit Challenges Fracking Plan for Ohio’s Only National Forest; Feds Overlook Danger to Wildlife, Watersheds, Ohio River.”
This May 2017 press release is, as noted previously, an attempt to nullify the years of significant environmental reviews that went into the Environmental Assessment that concluded there would be “no significant impact” from the development of oil and natural gas in the area, allowing leasing in the Wayne National Forest. Energy In Depth has reported on this circumstance previously.
The press release and media talking points are a model of sophistry, wholly inaccurate and completely misleading substantively. Let’s unpack it:
Probably the most absurd allegation is the fact that CBD claims there was not a “hard look’ at how the Wayne National Forest’s many natural values would be impacted by fracking and horizontal drilling, in violation of NEPA’s requirement for federal agencies to disclose significant environmental effects of their proposed actions.” They also mention that there was not enough “public notice and comment” and the decision to lease was “rushed.” Federal agencies have been debating and conducting environmental reviews around this subject since 2011. The decision to lease federal minerals did not come until October 2016. During those years of review there were multiple public notices, meetings, and comment periods, as EID has covered extensively.
The entire premise of this typical CBD press release is an attempt to scare Ohioans into believing that the federal government did not include dangers to wildlife, watersheds, and the Ohio River, rushed to make its decision and rejected public opinion, which CBD knows to be false.
In this blog post, we have only scratched the surface of CBD’s radical ideology, its legal strategy premised on harassment and obstruction, its disinterest in science as an objective enterprise, and the techniques it uses to mislead the media and the public. And we have done so only in the context of the group’s anti-energy crusade, which Energy In Depth has reported on extensively.
From the story of its origin to its anti-regulatory activities, there is ample evidence that CBD has positioned itself so far to the fringe of the debate over oil and gas development that it borders on journalistic malpractice to trust any “analysis” or claim it makes without independent investigation.
Any entity – a government agency, an industry, an NGO – should have its claims investigated and held up to journalistic scrutiny. That is equally true for the activists of CBD. Citizens seeking facts and reliable information about environmental policy, and journalists seeking credible information on the science behind energy development, should be wary and should most likely look elsewhere.
Posted By Mike Chadsey, Director of Public Relations,
Monday, September 10, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2018
Ascent Resources and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association hosted U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson on a tour of a Utica shale drilling rig in Guernsey County.
After proceeding through security and watching a safety video, the tour commenced with a walk around the well pad to see the various pieces of equipment on site and how the pad is laid out to ensure safety and efficiency. Next the group checked in with the crew in what is known in the industry as the “doghouse” for a visit. It was there that the Congressman first commented on the impressive technology in place to protect Ohio’s precious water resources. Here, the driller showed the congressman how they take the pipe downhole, what precautions they use during the process and how intricate the equipment used really is.
While everyone was watching and listening to the crew explain what was happening the gentleman at the controls offered up he was from Ohio and he pointed to the group on the rig floor and shared that they were all from the tristate region. Hiring local is part of an industry wide effort in Ohio to ensure that qualified workers for the tristate area find meaningful employment in the industry that is working in their towns. According to the latest state data, over 200,000 are employed in shale related jobs in Ohio.
After a tour around the drilling floor it was back down to check out the various pumps, machines and equipment used to drill a horizontal well. All along the tour, it was pointed out the various measures in place to protect safety the workers, watershed and our shared environment.
According to Amanda Finn, Government Affairs Manager at Ascent Resources, “we host these kind of tours to ensure our elected officials at all levels understand what it is we do, how we do it and the incredible economic activity we create when we set up in a given area.”
At the conclusion of the official tour, the entire group gathered to answer questions that were posed by the Congressman about various aspects of the industry, the state of Ohio’s oil and gas industry and how things have been since coming out of the downturn.
Mike Chadsey, Director of Public Relations for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association shared that, “OOGA is grateful for the Congressman taking time out of his busy travel schedule to stop by an active well pad in Guernsey County to take a tour and ask intelligent questions about the industry and discuss current production from Ohio’s producers.”
Ascent owns 9 of the top 10 producing natural gas wells in Ohio per the latest report from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and they are a growing company with over 200 employees in Oklahoma City and over 100 here in Cambridge. They, like other producers, while coming out of a long downturn are reinvesting in Ohio by purchasing assets from other companies such as their recent acquisition of the Hess and CNX joint venture acreage. They are still a single play operator only drilling in the Utica in Ohio.