Franklin, Dimock, Leroy, Lenox, Butler – a few of the Pennsylvania towns where clean and safe water has become an issue in the past year. Families who once thought they would find their American Dream in Pennsylvania are now living an American Nightmare.
But, this is not a story about those towns and those families. This is a story about another town and other families who are being forced from their homes – not because their water is bad, but rather because of the good water.
Earlier this month, 32 residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Village in Piatt Township received notification the park had been sold to Aqua PVR LLC. They have until May 1, 2012 to vacate the park.
Why did Aqua PVR, LLC buy the park? Aqua PVR, LLC plans to eliminate the park and build a water withdrawal facility to be used by the natural gas industry. The company received permission from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission on March 15 to withdraw up to 3 million gallons of water per day from the site. The water will be transported via pipeline to gas drilling sites located to the north of the township.
Who is Aqua PVR, LLC? To understand this we must look back to September 2011. Two corporations – Aqua America and Penn-Virginia Resource Partners, LP formed a joint venture between certain of their operating subsidiaries. This joint venture became known as Aqua PVR LLC.
Its purpose is to construct and operate a PRIVATE pipeline system to supply fresh water to natural gas producers drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
PVR is constructing the fresh water pipeline and handling negotiation of water pipeline capacity contracts with producers. Aqua will operate the system when completed and handle water intake supply arrangements. Aqua and PVR each anticipate investing approximately $12 million for construction of the first segment of the project. The joint venture has entered into an agreement with Range Resources – Appalachia, LLC a wholly owned subsidiary of Range Resources Corporation (NYSE: RRC) to supply fresh water to three of Range’s water impoundments, and negotiations with other area producers for supply agreements are on-going.
The CEO of Aqua America is Nicholas DeBenedictis. Prior to becoming CEO, Mr. DeBenedictis served as DEP Secretary and Director of the Office of Economic Development under former Gov. Richard Lewis “Dick” Thornburgh (1979-1987). In 2005 he became a director for the Exelon Corporation.
Side note: After leaving his position of Homeland Security Secretary, former Gov Tom Ridge formed the Ridge Policy Group. Former Gov. Tom Ridge also joined the board of directors for the Exelon Corporation. The Ridge Policy Group became a lobbyist for the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
Aqua America and Penn Virginia are also members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
In 2010, Gov. Tom Corbett formed a Marcellus Advisory Panel. At that time Corbett said he wanted to develop the Marcellus Shale gas deposits as a long-term economic venture while maintaining environmental protections. So of course, he packed the panel with industry lobbyists.
The Marcellus lobbyists on the panel have other major businesses and organization clients too.
They include Peter Gleason of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Gates who represents Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. and Chesapeake Appalachia, two firms active in Northeast Pennsylvania, according to lobbyist disclosure reports with the Department of State. Cabot is at odds with DEP over whether the company’s natural gas drilling is responsible for water supply contamination in Dimock Twp.
Also lobbyist Stanley Rapp with Greenlee Partners who represents Range Resources-Appalachia, CNX Gas Corp. and NextEra Energy Resources. He represents PPL Corp. as well.
And lobbyist Pam Witmer with Bravo Group who represents Chief Oil and Gas, Chief Gathering LLC and RRI Energy.
The panel is chaired by David Kleppinger, an attorney with McNees Wallace and Nurick who lobbies for the Industrial Energy Consumers of Pennsylvania.
David Hess and Nicholas DeBenedictis, former DEP/DER secretaries under Govs. Mark Schweiker and Richard Thornburgh, are on the panel. So is John Oliver, a former DCNR secretary under Gov. Tom Ridge.
George Ellis, president of the Pennsylvania Coal Association, and Ellen Ferretti, Dallas, vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council who works on Pocono land issues, are on the panel. Patrick Solano, Pittson, a former DEP deputy secretary, and John Rich, owner of a coal waste power plant in Schuylkill County, are members.
Corbett is drawing on Ridge administration veterans, lobbyists and lawmakers to fill many spots on 17 transition committees, said Terry Madonna, Ph.D., pollster at Franklin and Marshall College.
William H. Shea Jr is the Director and Chief Executive Officer of Penn Virginia Resource Partners, L.P. Mr. Shea is also the majority owner of the Lexington Legends, the Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, and is managing partner of the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
William H. Shea, Jr. is on the Board of Trustees of the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Free Library. He is also a director of the Kayne Anderson MLP Income Fund (KYN), Kayne Anderson Total Energy Return Fund (KYE), Niska Gas Storage Partners (NKA) and Gibson Energy LLC. William H. Shea, Jr. currently lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA.
In January of this year, the Rail-Trail Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania has signed an option for a pipeline easement in nearly 30 miles of its right of way with Penn Virgina Resource Partners. “The optioned easement extends 28.8 miles north from the Tennessee pipeline in Union Dale through Ararat, Thompson, Lanesboro and other municipalities to the New York state line.”
The residents of Riverdale Mobile Home Village were told the developer would provide residents with a $2,500 incentive payment if they moved by April 1, a $1,500 payment if they moved by May 1. Quotes from mobile home movers have put the cost of moving the trailers at between $5,000 and $12,000.
People are being driven from their homes by the Natural Gas corporations. The Natural Gas corporate talking heads tell us to look at all the jobs. How many jobs? How many jobs are worth the destruction of someone’s home?
To my knowledge, no one has given Mr. Shea Jr. or Mr. DeBenedictis $2,500 to vacate their homes and make room for the gas drilling industry.