Ohio EPA Asks Ohio AG to Force Rover to “Comply” and Pay $914,000

Sounding eerily like a Borg drone from Star Trek (“YOU WILL COMPLY, RESISTANCE IS FUTILE”), the Ohio EPA (OEPA) has asked Ohio’s Attorney General, Mike DeWine, to force Rover to pay the Ohio EPA $914,000 in so-called fines it has unilaterally levied (with no apparent authority to do so) to punish Rover for a series of accidents while constructing the pipeline. Rover has not agreed to the fines and is challenging the OEPA’s authority to levy them. So the OEPA is asking DeWine to use the full weight and force of his office to force Rover to comply. Rover has had the pedal to the metal since receiving a go-ahead from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in March to begin construction to build a 711-mile natural gas pipeline from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and eventually into Canada (see FERC Green Lights Rover Pipeline Construction). Perhaps by going a little too fast, Rover experienced some problems along the way, the biggest being a 2 million gallon leak of drilling mud into a swamp (i.e. “wetland”) near the Tuscarawas River in April (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). Since that time, the OEPA and Rover have been on the outs, with the OEPA attempting to assert itself in a role that frankly, it doesn’t legally possess. The Rover project has federal, not state, oversight. This latest move by OEPA is an escalation in the ongoing disagreement over OEPA’s role, and their demands for money from Rover. It almost seems as if Craig Butler, head of the OEPA, is on a personal mission to stop this pipeline from getting built…
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PA Pipeline Investment Program Up & Running, $2.4M in Grants So Far

Last November MDN brought you the delicious news that Pennsylvania would shift $24 million away from a boondoggle program called the PA Alternative Energy Investment Act and into a new program called the Pipeline Investment Program, or PIPE (see PA Gov Wolf Launches (Gasp) Pipeline Investment Program). The PIPE program helps fund construction of natural gas pipelines to manufacturers, hospitals and schools to provide clean-burning, abundant, cheap and home-grown Marcellus Shale gas to those organizations. Antis had a cow, but it’s a done deed. However, since last year, we have not heard anything about the program–until now. We spotted a blog post by the Fox Rothschild law firm that says the PIPE program is up and running and has awarded $2,442,274 via three grants so far this year…
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WV Fight Over Simple Expansion of Local Gas Delivery Pipeline

Eastern Panhandle of WV

In April, MDN brought you the news that Columbia Pipeline (now owned by TransCanada) has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a 3.5 mile, 8-inch pipeline that will carry natural gas from Pennsylvania to connect the Mountaineer Gas system in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia with the Columbia Gas Pipeline in Pennsylvania (see New 3.5 Mile Pipeline Project to Drill Under the Potomac River). The purpose of the Eastern Panhandle Expansion project is to deliver natural gas via local distribution channels (local utility Mountaineer Gas) to a new industrial facility in Berkeley County, WV, scheduled to open in Fall 2017, and to provide gas to other local businesses and residents in the Tri-State area. Most of the proposed pipeline crosses through a tiny sliver of Washington County, Maryland. The main “issue” with the project is that the pipeline will be drilled underneath the Potomac River, which serves as the border between WV and MD. That has radical anti-fossil fuelers in an uproar. They spit and spout about “fracked gas from Pennsylvania,” among other reasons to oppose the project. At its core, this is a project to bring Marcellus/Utica natural gas to more businesses and residents that want access to that gas–primarily in West Virginia. And yet there is a full court press by antis to defeat the project. Their aim these days is to prevent building a single inch of new pipelines that flow “evil fossil fuels.” And so this project, which would connect new customers to clean-burning natgas, is in a fight for its life…
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Westmoreland Zoning Challenge re H&H Wells Closer to Resolution

Huntley & Huntley has plans to drill shale wells in Upper Burrell Township (Westmoreland County), PA. As MDN reported in June, a landowner in Upper Burrell filed an appeal against Upper Burrell’s zoning ordinance that allows drilling in rural, agricultural districts (see Westmoreland Zoning Challenge Heads to Court, Delays H&H Drilling). H&H plans to drill a well near where this woman lives, and she’s arguing such drilling will violate the state’s environmental rights clause and (more importantly), “devalue her property.” The case was supposed to go to township’s Zoning Hearing Board, but all of the (many) lawyers involved agreed to instead move it to county court, making the process faster and less expensive. The only potential problem with that is the judge may decide to hold off on a decision until two similar cases are heard and decided by the PA Supreme Court. However, the judge is not waiting. A recent media report states the judge will make a decision in the case “next month” (meaning in August) about whether or not the town can issue conditional use in agricultural-residential zoning districts…
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Ohio Gov Kasich About to Lose Power to Stop Drilling on State Land

Thumbing their collective noses at Ohio RINO Gov. John Kasich, in May Republican legislators in the House added a “little-noticed provision” in the state budget deal that will give the legislature, and not the governor, the power to select members of the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission (see Ohio Legislators Push to Allow Fracking in State Parks, Forests). That small change would have huge consequences. How? the Oil and Gas Commission is charged with approving potential drillers on state land. Five years ago, Kasich flip-flopped on the issue and since then has not allowed shale drilling in state-owned forests and state-owned parks–by refusing to add any new members to the Commission, which is his state constitutional duty. It is a de facto moratorium from the governor that prevents fracking on state-owned land. Enough is enough. Republicans intend to change it this year, so they added the change to the state budget bill. Kasich vetoed the measure, and the House, last week, voted to override the veto. The only thing left now is for the Senate to adopt the budget and when that happens, the fat lady will be singing–an aria for Utica Shale drilling…
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Athens OH Rejects Anti-Fracking Ballot Measure 3rd Year in a Row

Once again, the radicals behind the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), operating in Ohio, have suffered a humiliating defeat. This time in liberal Athens, Ohio. For three years running, the CELDF and their local useful idiots have been pedaling a so-called Community Bill of Rights ballot measure–which is nothing more than an anti-fracking law. No, there is no drilling in or under Athens, but such a law would send a loud and clear signal that Athens is closed for business when it comes to the oil and gas industry–an industry that pumps millions into the local economy (even without drilling in the area). For the third year running the CELDF drones filed a petition to include the “Bill of Rights” measure on the November ballot–and for the third year in a row, the County Board of Elections voted NOT to allow it–unanimously…
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NJ Antis Spew Fossil Fuel Hate Speech Against Pipelines, Trains

A small group of Indian wannabes (old hippies with nothing better to do) gathered at Lake Henry in Mahwah, NJ over the weekend to spout irrational hate speech aimed at oil and gas. Hoping to invoke the Standing Rock spirits, the small group of 75 (which claimed to be twice that size) “performed” (we’re trying hard not to laugh) and gave speeches about how evil oil and gas is. They were there to oppose the Pilgrim Pipeline project (Indians hate the Pilgrims, dontcha know), to oppose barges carrying oil down the Hudson River, and to oppose oil shipments by railroad (which they call “bomb trains”). The group even had the Ramapough Lenape Chief speak to the audience. Even though this was billed as some sort of Native American thing, the disgusting radicals from Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club and 350.org were behind this faux media event. Of course mainstream media showed up and either an obtuse (or sycophantic) reporter lapped it up and dutifully regurgitated the lies spewed at the event…
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Mich. Rover Protesters Illustrate Irrational Anti-Fossil Fuel Psychosis

A young, brainwashed 17-year old woman was one of the headline speakers at a recent anti-Rover Pipeline rally in Michigan–apparently because she’s an Indian (i.e. Native American). However, her heritage really has nothing to do with her opposition to the Rover Pipeline. Her opposition is rooted in what we would call a break with reality–a psychosis. At a rally held in Dexter Township, MI near where Rover is scheduled to be built, the teenager said this to the “about 100” assembled: “‘We’re fighting extraction industries all across the country. It’s not just here. It’s not just Standing Rock,’ said…an Ypsilanti resident, urging other protesters to divest from fossil fuel companies and take their money out of big banks and put it in local banks and credit unions so they’re not supporting the extraction industry.” We hate to burst the young protester’s bubble, but “extraction industries” are the reason she even exists. “Extraction industries” not only provide energy (oil, gas coal), but “extraction industries” mine the metals that make up the innards of her expensive cell phone. “Extraction industries” provide the raw materials to produce plastics, which is in just about everything everyone touches these days–including the clothes on her back and the sneakers on her feet. To call for divestment, and to oppose “extraction industries” is a call to crawl back into a cave and die a very young death. It is, in a word, insane…
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Free Training Program for NatGas Jobs in SW PA, Eastern OH

The Gas Technology Institute (GTI), based in Illinois, is doing the Marcellus/Utica region a huge favor. GTI has launched a pre-employment training program to introduce folks to natural gas pipeline operations. The four-week program provides a basic understanding of natural gas, the utility and pipeline industry, and different equipment, procedures and operations used. The program is aimed at students, veterans, displaced coal workers and others with an interest in getting a job with utilities, midstream (i.e. pipeline) companies and their contractors. Here’s the best part: The program is fully funded, so there is no tuition cost for those who qualify. The program is delivered via classroom at three participating colleges: Westmoreland County Community College and Butler County Community College (both in PA), and Washington State Community College (in OH). Here’s the lowdown..
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Jul 11, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: M-U rig count unchanged; PTT Global has spent $130M so far on Ohio cracker project; trade unions working overtime to recruit new apprentices; mineral rights can make you rich; Russian hackers target US energy networks, maybe; shale drillers go back to work; frack sand swings from shortage to oversupply; UK vandals damage shale rig; China going full steam ahead with shale drilling; Saudi prince warns of coming oil shortage that “US shale can’t fix”; and more!
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