Ohio EPA Issues Wastewater Discharge Permit for PTT Ethane Cracker

We have some progress and movement to report about PTT Global’s proposed $6 billion ethane cracker project coming to Belmont County, OH. The rumor is that PTT will announce a final investment decision (FID) in March–just two short months away. We wait with eager anticipation! However, in the meantime, the project appears to be proceeding full speed ahead. The latest evidence of that comes from a recent permit issued for the project by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The permit allows the cracker plant to discharge wastewater (which is far different from drilling wastewater) into the Ohio River. The EPA notes, in granting the permit, that although the discharge may “result in changes from current water quality conditions” the discharge “cannot violate Ohio’s water quality standards that protect human health and the environment.” Next up is an air permit from the Ohio EPA, which the agency is currently working on. Here’s the deets on the wastewater permit just issued…
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IECA Comes Out Swinging: Urges FERC to Approve 10 M-U Pipes NOW

Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA) is the only national cross industry trade association dedicated to a broad array of energy/environment related issues. IECA is a 501(C)(6) nonprofit, member-led organization created to promote the interests of manufacturing companies for which the availability, use and cost of energy, power or feedstock play a significant role in their ability to compete in domestic and world markets. The IECA is using its considerable heft and going to bat for ten pipeline projects critical to manufacturers–projects that move Marcellus/Utica gas out of the northeast to other parts of the country. IECA’s “aggressive lobbying” is chiding FERC for moving too slowly in approving NEXUS Pipeline (DTE Energy & Spectra Energy), Mountaineer Xpress Pipeline (Columbia Gas Transmission), Leach Xpress Project (Columbia Gas Transmission), Eastern System Upgrade (Millennium Pipeline), Atlantic Coast Pipeline (Dominion), Atlantic Bridge Pipeline (Spectra Energy), Mountain Valley Pipeline (EQT & NextEra Energy), Susquehanna West Project (Kinder Morgan), Transco to Charleston Pipeline (Dominion), and VEPCO – Warren County Project (Columbia Gas Transmission). In each filing with FERC, the IECA asks FERC to ignore the shrill voices of “keep it in the ground” nincompoops. IECA says, “Manufacturing companies do not have an alternative for natural gas. Major manufacturing production processes and equipment are designed to specifically use natural gas. Nothing else can be substituted for natural gas. We cannot operate manufacturing facilities on electricity, especially solar or wind power. Coal and oil are also not an alternative for a variety of reasons, including EPA air regulations that limit their use.” Here is a brief description for each project, along with the IECA brief filed with FERC for each of those six projects…
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OH Power Cos. Try to Stop Gas-Fired Plants with “Re-Regulation”

As we have pointed out in past articles, the electricity industry is a complicated industry, with some some power producers operating as “regulated” and some operating as “unregulated.” Regulated power producers have their rates, and rate of profit, set by government regulators–which limits profits but also guarantees profits. Unregulated power producers, on the other hand, do not have the safety net of the government forcing ratepayers to pony up–they operate in the free market, taking all of the risks–and reaping the rewards if those risks prove worthwhile. Many (most?) of the new natural gas-fired electric plants getting built, like those we have focused on in Ohio over the past several days (see List of 10 Utica-Powered Electric Plant Projects Coming to Ohio), are of the unregulated kind. Three power companies in Ohio that are regulated want to keep their monopoly on power and shut out these impertinent upstarts–by calling for re-regulation of the power industry. So-called re-regulation would kill proposed new natgas power plants and keep Ohioans locked into higher prices using existing (and in some cases crumbling) plants to generate electricity. Let’s name names for the sleazy companies trying to pull a fast one…
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PA Antis Build 2nd Magic Tree House to Stop Atlantic Sunrise Pipe

Inspired by the criminal actions of eco-terrorists in North Dakota (see Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Turn Violent; Coming Here Next?), anti-pipeline zealots in Lancaster County, PA figured they would give some of the tactics from the Dakotas a try here. So last October they constructed a shed on stilts along the proposed path of the forthcoming Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline (see Antis Build Magic Tree House to Block Atlantic Sunrise Pipe). The shed on stilts looks like a big tree house (without the tree), which makes sense as the protesters are the equivalent of seven year-old, petulant, spoiled rotten children. Why not give themselves a magic tree house to hang out in and talk about the glory days of protesting Vietnam…er…ah…pipelines? The nutters have a Holy Cause–stop the use of all carbon-releasing fossil fuels. So, if one magic tree house was good, two would be even better! The nuts have done it again, building a second shed on stilts/tree house in the path of the pipeline. The nutters admit it will take about 15 minutes to rip them down, when the time comes. What they really hope is that thousands of people will swarm to the location of the tree houses and recreate the lawlessness of North Dakota here…
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Mariner East 2 Tells PA Town: You’re Flushing $100K Down Toilet

Rabidly anti-drilling organizations like the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council (CAC) have been using the deep pockets of their contributors to stir up dissent against Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline, particularly in towns in the Philly orbit (see Towns Near Philly Collude with CAC to Block Mariner East 2 Pipe?). CAC has towns like Middletown (Delaware County) so agitated, Middletown’s town council foolishly voted to allocate $100,000 out of $1.8 million the town received for leasing rights-of-way for the pipeline to assess risks and create an emergency response plan for the pipeline. Sunoco is politely telling Middletown–you’re flushing 100 grand down the toilet. Federal guidelines already provide most if not all of the information (and planning) required to protect the good citizens of Middletown. So why is the town council throwing good money away?…
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Proposed VA Law Would Protect Frack Chemical Trade Secrets

We have to chuckle. It was just two months ago, in November 2016, that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved changes to environmental regulations that requires “mandatory disclosure of fracking chemicals, baseline water testing and monitoring, and spill prevention and response planning” (see Virginia Adopts New Frack Chemical Regs – Fracking to Begin?). In other words, drillers would have to disclose all fracking chemicals. While leftie Big Green groups love the new rules, the drilling industry set about to ensure trade secrets (exact combinations of chemicals) can’t be discovered by using Freedom of Information Act laws. Two new bills have already been introduced in the Virginia legislature this year–House Bill (HB) 1678 HB 1679 (copies below)–that will ensure trade secrets are kept safe. Big Green groups like the Southern Environmental Law Center are having a cow, claiming death and destruction await if the bills are passed…
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Gulfport Issues $50K in Grants to Non-Profits in Ohio

For the past couple of years Gulfport Energy has made major investments in the local communities where it operates in Appalachia (see Gulfport Energy Gives $500K to Foundation for Appalachian Ohio). The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO), established by Gulfport, makes grants available to tax-exempt organizations. Projects that increase quality of life, create access to opportunities, or identify and implement a solution for a community need are considered. Gulfport recently dished out another $50,000 in grants from the fund to organizations in Eastern Ohio…
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What Do Kitty Litter and Shale Drilling Have in Common?

GN Shale Shaker – Mini Mud Recycling System

This is kind of an offbeat story for a Friday. What do kitty litter and fracking have in common? It’s not a trick question! They both use something called bentonite. Over 90% of all bentonite mined is mined in the U.S. Some half of all bentonite worldwide (found in volcanic ash) comes from one state: Wyoming. Bentonite, which is nontoxic, is called the mineral of 1,000 uses: “It clarifies wine and other alcoholic beverages, forms an impervious liner to keep landfills from leaking, removes ink during paper recycling, and goes into a slew of homeopathic remedies.” However, the two biggest uses for bentonite are (yep) kitty litter and drilling mud used to drill conventional and unconventional (shale) oil and gas wells. Bentonite keeps the drill bit cool and carries cuttings (dirt and rock chips) to the surface. You’ll find big tanks full of the stuff sitting on drill pads. Drilling mud gets recycled on location…
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Witch Hunt: Leading Climate Scientist Resigns from Georgia Tech

Regardless of what you think about so-called man-made global warming, you would think that scientists should be allowed to express their views on the topic without being hunted down and burned at the stake like a witch, reputationally speaking. Yet if a climate scientist dares to express misgivings about the actual data behind global warming, that is exactly what happens. Dr. Judith Curry, a highly respected climate scientist, recently resigned her tenured position at Georgia Tech–because of climate witch hunters. Dr. Curry started out as a man-made global warming true believer, but was shocked at the “Climategate” emails that show researchers with the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia were intentionally making up the numbers in an effort to prove their theories. False data. Lies. Distortions. Dr. Curry investigated and questioned climate orthodoxy, and for that, she has been hounded out of Georgia Tech. What is wrong with this picture? When did science become politics? When did simply asking tough questions become the basis for destroying someone’s reputation?…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Jan 13, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Surpise! Washington Post says Maryland should NOT ban fracking; AEP wants to upgrade electric line to help Utica industry; Shell closes on 2 remaining properties for cracker; the anti-pipeline, anti-enviros; global upstream outlook for 2017 is optimistic; from Russia with love, for American fractivists; drillers start hiring again; and more!
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