OldArchive / The Way I See It

Chesapeake Marshaling Landowners In War with Army Corps of Engineers


Here’s a perfect example of an old expression that makes us shudder: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

In this case, the government comes in the form of the Army Corps of Engineers, and the way they’re “helping” is by throwing a huge hurdle into the process of getting the region’s gas well pipelines permitted.

People generally don’t know much about the Army Corps of Engineers, but there are a few things we all should know. They’re experts at wasting money and creating boondoggles.

 It was the Army Corps, you see, that was responsible for the death and destruction that came when Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans. It was the Army Corps’ faulty design of the city's levee system, its refusal to heed decades-old warnings that the levees would not hold and its shoddy construction practices that caused the levees to collapse and drown the city. See what a great help they can be?

There are dozens of instances where the Army Corp of Engineers has set out to solve a problem and ended up making it worse. And along the way they’ve squandered millions of tax dollars.

The Army Corp of Engineers’ latest boondoggle is dramatically increasing the time it takes to get a gas well pipeline permitted—from 45 to 300 days. According to Chesapeake Energy, the Army Corps’ helping hand could adversely affect its drilling operations and also result in local landowners facing long delays before they start seeing the gas royalties they’ve been looking forward to.

In a letter sent out to landowners this week, Chesapeake pointed out that over the last several years it has invested $3 billion in development of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, which has included drilling more than 300 wells in the Northern Tier, where 95 of these wells have been put in production. In many cases, however, wells not in production have been prevented from getting gas to market thanks to those helpful people at the Army Corps of Engineers.

Currently, Chesapeake has 128 wells that have been drilled and completed but are waiting on pipeline permits from the Army Corps of Engineers before the gas can be delivered to market. And without being able to get the gas to market, Chesapeake isn’t making royalty payments to landowners.  So if you’re a landowner waiting for the royalty payment to show up, you can thank those helpful folks at the Army Corps of Engineers and their red tape for keeping it from happening.

It’s odd how things work in America these days. The nation is scrambling to find sources of energy that will help reduce our dependence on imports. But here in Northeast PA, where one of the world’s largest sources of clean burning natural gas is located, the Army Corps of Engineers has introduced regulations that aren’t imposed in other parts of the nation where natural gas collection lines are being constructed. Give them a free hand and the Army Corps of Engineers will turn the region’s economic windfall into another Katrina.

Chesapeake’s letter to property owners asks that they write to their US Senator and Congressman telling them of the Army Corps of Engineers latest boondoggle, explaining how at a time of great economic uncertainty in America, limiting the ability of landowners to benefit from natural gas production is absurd.  The company has included a pre-written letter to make it quick and easy to make elected officials aware of how we’re under attack by the Army Corp of Engineers. Just sign it and send it.

If you’re a property owner and aren’t sure of where to send your letter, here are the addresses:

Senator Robert Casey

417 Lackawanna Avenue, Suite 303?

Scranton, PA 18503

Congressman Thomas Marino

181 W. Tioga St. Suite 2

Tunkhannock, PA 18657

Bottom line is we all want safe, responsible monitoring and regulation of the region’s gas wells and pipelines, but do we want this job put in the hands of the people responsible for the catastrophic flooding in New Orleans? 

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