Showdown: Millennium Asks FERC for Permission to Ignore NY DEC

This is it folks. This is the case that will crush New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s blockade of important pipeline projects in the Empire State. For 19 months the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has dithered around, at the prompting of Andrew Cuomo, and has refused to grant federal Section 401 Water Quality Certification stream crossing permits for a tiny 7.8 mile pipeline spur off the Millennium Pipeline in Orange County, NY, called the Valley Lateral Project, to feed a gas-fired electric generating plant that is now under construction. Statutorily NY has 12 months (1 year) to review such an application and act on it. NY has refused to act on it. So Millennium took the NY DEC to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In June the court dismissed the lawsuit by Millennium, which at first blush may seem like a blow. But it was the reasoning and opinion of the judges in dismissing the case that will change everything in New York. The judges said there is no case because if, as Millennium says, the DEC is denying the water permits, FERC itself has the power to jump back in and simply override NY DEC and issue the permits (see DC Court Tells Millennium FERC Can Override NY DEC Pipeline Delay). Last Friday Millennium pulled the trigger and did it–they sent an official request to FERC (copy below) that outlines their Herculean efforts to work with NY DEC over the past 19 months, and asks FERC to move forward with permission to build the pipeline anyway–IGNORING THE DEC. If FERC agrees (and we think they will), NY DEC is about to become irrelevant in ALL FERC-approved pipeline projects they are blocking, including the Williams Constitution and National Fuel Gas Northern Access projects…
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PA Enviro Judge Puts 2-Week Pause on ME2 Pipeline Drilling

Anti-fossil fuelers who irrationally hate anything to do with natural gas, including the super-safe pipelines that flow it, have found a sympathetic judge inside the Dept. of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Hearing Board to side with them in a campaign to stop the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. At least temporarily. Yesterday Environmental Hearing Board Judge Bernard Labuskes, Jr. issued an order stopping all underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) across PA related to the ME2 project. The order affects some 55 different locations where HDD is being used. Headlines in left-leaning anti pubs like StateImpact Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mislead people into thinking ALL construction of ME2 has stopped. That is manifestly untrue. The only thing stopped, for the next two weeks, is HDD. The other 90% (or more) of the project, which is digging trenches for the twin pipelines, continues. Only in locations where ME2 must drill underground–say under a stream or roadway–are affected by the judge’s order. The order is in response to an appeal by radical Big Green groups, including the anti-fossil fuel Clean Air Council (of Philly), THE Delaware Riverkeeper (Maya van Rossum), and Mountain Watershed Association (see Antis’ Fake Outrage at ME2 Construction “Spills,” Demand Stop Work). Although temporary, this two-week pause is troublesome and problematic because Big Green groups have convinced a DEP judge to hear a case that ultimately aims to stop the ME2 project…
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UGI Marcellus-fed LNG Plant in NEPA Now Online

In May 2015, MDN brought you news that UGI Energy Services, a subsidiary of northeast PA utility giant UGI Corporation, announced they will spend $60 million to build a new LNG production plant in Wyoming County, PA (see UGI Building LNG Plant in NEPA, Local Marcellus Gas to Feed It). The facility will liquefy locally produced Marcellus Shale gas–with a capacity of up to 120,000 gallons of LNG per day. There will also be a storage facility on site. UGI said the market for LNG is rapidly growing. Not only do trucking fleets, like UPS, use it, but drillers use it to power rigs and industrial plants use it in locations where there are no natural gas pipelines. Some good news to report: The plant is built and now in operation…
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Teacher’s Unions to PA: We Want Drillers’ Money – for Us!

The lengths to which the leadership of the Democrat Party in Pennsylvania is willing to go to tax Marcellus Shale drillers is amazing. And alarming. As we have pointed out, repeatedly, PA does not have a revenue shortfall problem–it has a spending problem. Like an alcoholic you can’t reason with and convince to stop drinking, PA Dems are taxaholics–addicted to sticking their fingers in other people’s pockets to transfer money to voters who will keep them in office. That’s the sleazy, disgusting mess in Harrisburg going on right now. Republicans stupidly voted to pass a $32 billion state budget with only $30 billion of it covered by current revenue sources. So now the pressure is on to cover the “gap” between expected revenue and overspending. From the very beginning of Gov. Tom Wolf’s tenure as the most failed governor of PA in our lifetime, we pointed out Wolf’s desire and plan to pass a new tax on a single industry, the Marcellus industry, as nothing more than political payback for teacher’s unions. The unions supported and voted for Wolf, and he dearly wants to give them money via a new severance tax, as payback. The interesting/jaw-dropping thing is, the teacher’s unions admit it! They admit, openly via a recent op-ed article penned by Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, that a severance tax is needed for union members. Do Pennsylvanians not see this for what it is–theft and political graft? Jordan wants PA legislators to aim the gun of the government at the heads of drillers (and landowners), take their money, and hand it over to union members…
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WV Trade Groups Defend Antero’s Wastewater Recycling Facility

The heads of both WVONGA (West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association) and IOGA WV (Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia) teamed up to write a column in the Charleston Gazette-Mail by touting (defending?) Antero Resources’ Clearwater Facility–a $275 million frack wastewater recycling facility due to go online later this year. WVONGA and IOGA WV use the Clearwater Facility as evidence of the industry’s efforts at becoming more “green” (environmentally friendly) year in and year out. They point out that our air is getting cleaner, and our water is getting cleaner too. Last fall Antero responded to so-called environmentalists who were criticizing the facility (see Antero Responds to Critics of New WV Wastewater Facility). You would think “environmentalists” would be in favor of recycling and reusing frack wastewater, rather than pumping it down a hole into the ground. But no, they continue to harp on the facility–which points out their own hypocrisy. Here’s what WVONGA and IOGA WV had to say about the soon-opening Clearwater Facility…
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Youngstown Frack Ban Vote on November Ballot – for 7th Time

In May, MDN told you that virulent anti-drillers in Youngstown, OH, puppets of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), have once again circulated a petition to put a so-called Community Bill of Rights ballot measure on the ballot this November (see Youngstown Antis Seek to Legalize Anarchy with 7th CELDF Petition). The same people have tried six times before–and the ballot measure failed every single time. However, as we pointed out, this time is different. In addition to the usual no fracking, no pipelines pablum, this 7th petition has language that makes it legal to break the law. You read that right. If the ballot measure were to pass, and if an anti got it into her head to sit in front of a bulldozer that was about to clear ground for a wellpad, or dig a trench for a pipeline, the police would not be able to arrest and remove the anti. It would be within her rights to sit there and block legal, legitimate activity–all in the name of saving the planet. It would create mob rule. The sad (and new) news is that the petition has garnered enough signatures and officially will appear on the ballot this November…
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WV Senators Ask Trump to Create NGL Storage Hub Commission

West Virginia’s U.S. Senators, Shelley Moore Capito (Republican) and Joe Manchin (Democrat), continue to be a driving force in advocating for a $10 billion NGL storage hub to be located in WV, PA or OH. Back in May, Capito and Manchin introduced a bill to study such a project (see WV/OH Senators Intro Bill to Study Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub). In June, they introduced another pair of bills, aimed at making the storage hub project eligible for federal loan guarantees (see WV Sens. Capito & Manchin Introduce 2 More Ethane Storage Hub Bills). The effort continues. Last week Capito, Manchin and other lawmakers sent a letter to President Trump requesting he create a blue ribbon commission to support the project…
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UPenn Discovers Cheap Alternative to Steam Cracking Ethane

When huge ethane crackers like the proposed Shell cracker in Beaver County, PA use steam to “split” or “crack” ethane to form ethylene (the raw material used to make plastics), it takes a lot of energy, and there’s a lot of “leftover” energy and leftover carbon dioxide (CO2). As the mythology goes, more CO2 in the atmosphere leads to global warming (if you believe in that sort of thing). Scientists have long known of other ways to convert “heavier” hydrocarbons, like ethane, into “lighter” hydrocarbons, like ethylene, using metals via a chemical process. But the metals used are rare and expensive–things like rhodium, ruthenium and iridium. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say they have found a way to use cheaper, more abundant metals, like titanium, to transform natural gas, ethane and other hydrocarbons into more useful chemicals like ethylene. The big bonus? No leftover CO2 to worry about…
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Oil & Gas DUCs Now Flying in Different Directions

A quick oil & gas lesson, for new MDN readers. A DUC is a Drilled but UnCompleted well. Many times drillers will drill the initial hole in the ground, but then not “complete” (or frack) the well. Why do that? For a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is usually because the commodity price of gas (or oil, depending on the well) is not favorable. Rather than lose the lease a company paid good money for, they will begin the process by drilling, and then leaving, the well–only to return later to complete it when prices go up again. Keeping an eye on DUC inventories tells you a lot about the economics of a commodity–what drillers believe will happen in the near-term with the price for that commodity. Once upon a time both the oil and natural gas industries tracked together. When there was more drilling (and production) for oil, there was also more drilling and production for gas. The prices for both oil and gas tracked along the same path. What is now obvious–has been obvious for some time–is that “tracking together” is no longer the case. Each commodity, oil and gas, now have their own economics, driven by different factors. What makes it evident that oil and gas economics have now separated are DUCs. Right now oil drillers are drilling but not completing wells like crazy, piling up a high DUC inventory, saving wells for later, when prices improve. However, DUCs for natural gas are going down, especially in the Marcellus/Utica region, which means drillers believe prices will soon go higher for natgas. The fewer DUCs there are, the more new drilling there will be…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Jul 26, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: World’s first ‘transparent’ shale well operating in Morgantown, WV; natgas production up 13th straight year in WV; can Millstone nuke plant survive natgas; shortage of fracking crews slows the shale boom; frac sand demand breaking records; 2 important signs that shale growth is slowing; coming squeeze for shale oil drillers; #ExxonKnew fakers have a new hashtag: #UtilitiesKnew; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review fail in publishing “fracking kills” letter; Russian collusion with ecofascists; and more!
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