OEPA & Rover at Odds Over Storm Water Runoff, “Fine” Now $714K

More trouble for Energy Transfer and the Rover Pipeline project as the company is working against a tight deadline to get the $3.7 billion, 711-mile Marcellus/Utica natural gas pipeline that traverses Ohio up and running this year. It appears as if the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) is hellbent on picking a fight with the project. Perhaps some of OEPA’s criticisms are justified–perhaps some are not. We’ll give you the “lay of the land” (pun intended) as we see it. Early on Rover appeared to rush too much, resulting in numerous drilling mud spills in locations where Rover was drilling underground to avoid creeks and rivers and other structures. One of those spills dumped 2 million gallons of drilling mud (i.e. bentonite) in a wetland next to the Tuscarawas River (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). Following that accident and other accidents where mud was spilled, the OEPA announced it had fined Rover $431,000. As it turns out, that OEPA claim, made by OEPA spokesman James Lee, was a little white lie (see Turns Out OEPA & Columbus Dispatch Were Lying – Rover NOT Fined). Apparently the OEPA has “suggested” such a fine, but a long process now ensues where such a fine (and the alleged infraction) are negotiated. So no, no fine has actually been assessed, yet. The James Lee from the OEPA is back, partnering up his favorite mainstream mouthpiece–the Columbus Dispatch–to claim that Rover did not plan storm water management properly and that Rover’s poor planning has resulted in heavy storm water runoff into farmers’ fields where Rover is digging trenches. So OEPA is upping their $431,000 “fine” (that’s not actually a fine, yet) to $714,000! Here we go again…Continue reading

WV EDA Approves $10M Loan for Methanol Plant in Institute

Last year MDN was the first to share the news that the California-based US Methanol is building at least two, rumored up to five, methanol plants in the Mountain State (see Rumor: US Methanol Building 5 Methanol Plants in WV). MDN shared a rumor (based on a source) that until we disclosed it, was not public knowledge: The first methanol plant they will build will be in Institute, WV, and the second in Belle, WV–both in the Charleston region. We also told MDN readers that both plants were being disassembled in other countries and brought here. Our rumor/news was later verified by several other news sources, including new details that both Brazil and Slovenia were the countries losing plants. The plant in Brazil was/is being disassembled and moved to Institute (see US Methanol Confirms MDN Rumor – 2 (or More) Plants Coming to WV). We have an update. The West Virginia Economic Development Authority has approved a $10 million loan to US Methanol to purchase machinery and equipment for the Institute plant. US Methanol says progress is being made on moving the plant from Brazil to WV, and that the plant should be up and running by late this year/early next year…Continue reading

PA Appeals Court Clears Way for EQT to Drill Jefferson Hills Well

In December 2015 MDN told you about EQT’s application to drill a single shale well in Jefferson Hills (Allegheny County), PA (see Jefferson Hills, PA Antis Oppose EQT Well Near Future School Site). The well would be drilled “near” where a new school is due to be built, which provided anti-fossil fuelers with an excuse to oppose the project. As part of the a conditional use permit, EQT agreed to (a) not use Borough roads during construction, (b) use a pipeline from a local water company instead of trucks for the water needed to drill and frack, greatly reducing the amount of truck traffic, (c) pledged the project would not impact local streams and wetlands, (d) comply with local lighting regulations, and (e) install sound walls if needed. In other words, EQT bent backwards, forwards, sideways, jump through numerous hoops and turned itself inside out to comply with requests from the town. The Borough Planning Commission unanimously approved the conditional use permit request. But then the town, bowing to pressure from local antis, rejected the request in December 2015, saying the proposed project would endanger local health and the environment. In other words, they had no basis for rejecting the permit. EQT sued and won in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in June 2016. Jefferson Hills appealed and last week, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld the EQT verdict saying the town arbitrarily rejected the permit and EQT should be allowed to drill…
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Energy Cos. Hedge Bets in WV Senate Race, Donate to Both Sides

Something we find distasteful, but a fact of political life, is that the energy industry is playing both sides of the isle when it comes to making campaign contributions in West Virginia’s U.S. Senate race. Up for reelection next year (2018) is Sen. Joe Manchin, a former WV governor. Manchin, a so-called moderate Democrat, ran to fill the seat of Robert Byrd when he passed away while in office, in 2010. Manchin ran again two years later for a full term, in 2012. When it came down to voting based on principle or party regarding the issue of overturning a midnight-before-he-left-office-Obama-onerous-methane-regulation, Manchin chose party (see Methane Repeal Fails in Senate as McConnell Falls a Vote Shy). To be fair, three traitorous Republicans abandoned us too–John “crazy” McCain, Lindsey “Grahamnesty” Graham (disgusting man), and Susan “spineless” Collins. However, Manchin could have changed the vote–and he chose to sell out. He’s not on our favorite list. But, the oil and gas industry can’t seem to give him money fast enough in his reelection bid. On the other hand, some in the industry are also giving money to his main Republican rival (Evan Jenkins) in what will be a hotly contested seat. Some are giving money to both candidates, presumably to curry favor with the winner. We find the practice revolting. Choose a candidate and back him (or her). Let the chips fall where they may…Continue reading

NY’s Grotesque Energy Double Standard re “Home Rule”

Here’s one that really gets us hot and bothered. MDN is written from Upstate New York (near Binghamton). We covered, extensively, the battle to allow fracking (and now, natural gas pipelines) in our beloved home state. We won’t plow up old ground again except to say that one of the battles fought, and lost, was over whether or not local municipalities can ban fracking for everyone. Two backwater towns in New York–Dryden (Tompkins County) and Middlefield (Otsego County) passed town bans that were challenged in court. The case eventually went to NY’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. We (pro-drillers) lost. Local towns now have the right to outright ban fracking–if and when it ever becomes legal to frack in New York. Some call it the “home rule” law. This was all done at the prompting and urging of a very corrupt governor–Andrew Cuomo. The judges on NY’s high court are appointed by the governor. It’s the worst kind of incest and miscarriage of justice. So along comes a wind power project that a corporation wants to build in Western NY. Some of the locals don’t want it. If they convince their towns to pass a ban on wind projects for the town, guess what? In that case NY state law will overrule the town and allow the wind project to get built anyway. How, on God’s green earth, is that in any sense fair? Here’s what we hope: We hope at least one of the towns involved passes a ban and it goes to court and they throw the high court’s decision on frack bans right back in their face. It’s time to expose the energy double standard in NY…
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Williams Gets a New Chairman of the Board

Stephen W. Bergstrom

Midstream giant Williams has just appointed a new chairman of the board, Stephen W. Bergstrom, to replace current chairwoman, Dr. Kathleen B. Cooper. Cooper will remain on the board. Williams is the premier midstream (i.e. pipeline) operator in the Marcellus/Utica. The company’s assets are broad and deep, across the entire country. As we pointed out earlier this month, Williams has had quite a ride over the past five years (see Williams is Done Buying & Selling Assets – For Now). The company, according to CEO Alan Armstrong, has retooled itself to focus on natural gas. And perhaps that’s why there has been a change on board. By all accounts Dr. Cooper has done a great job. But she’s an economist, working at various energy companies and for the government. Bergstrom, on the other hand, is former CEO of American Midstream and Dynegy. He’s been in the trenches (pun intended) at other pipeline companies. At least, that’s our observation. The happy thing is that the change does not appear to be from undue influence by corporate raiders, like Keith “Mini-Me” Meister (protege of Carl Ichan)…Continue reading

Time to Boycott US Bancorp for Anti-Pipeline Discrimination

U.S. Bancorp (aka U.S. Bank) is the fifth largest bank in the United States. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. Bancorp has over 3,000 branches, mostly in the Midwest. The bank recently released an “Environmental Responsibility Policy” (full copy below). In it, the bank says this with respect to financing pipeline projects: “The company does not provide project financing for the construction of oil or natural gas pipelines. Relationships with clients in the oil and gas pipeline industries are subject to the Bank’s enhanced due diligence processes that are outlined further below.” This is TOTALLY unacceptable. The Energy Equipment & Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA) sent an open letter (copy below) to all officers, directors and shareholders calling on the institution to reverse its discriminatory anti-pipeline policy. MDN is a little more impolitic. We’re calling for anyone with a U.S. Bancorp checking, savings, commercial, or any kind of account, to close it. It’s time businesses like U.S. Bancorp are made to pay for this kind of wrongheaded activism…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, May 22, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Enormous economic potential with Appalachian storage hub; Marcellus/Utica pipelines to the Southeast; energy strategy demands tri-state accord; drilling boost property taxes in Columbiana County; PA GOP gov candidate pledges no severance tax; CNG poisted to become more readily available; NGL ‘inflection point’ in WV; Senate hearing for FERC nominees this week; BH rig count climbs for 18th straight week; the great US oil export boom; EPA sets aside $12M for employee buyout scheme; Netherlands gets first US LNG cargo; OPEC net oil revenues lowest since 2004.Continue reading