Court Rejects Constitution Pipe’s Case Against NY DEC; Now What?

In a disappointing, but perhaps not all that unexpected decision (full copy below), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Friday ruled against the Constitution Pipeline and their lawsuit against the Cuomo-corrupted New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC dithered, for years, on a decision about whether or not to grant stream-crossing permits (Section 401 permits, a federal Clean Water Act thing) to the Constitution Pipeline, a $683 million, 124-mile pipeline from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY carrying Marcellus gas. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authorized the project in 2014. Since that time the DEC delayed, and eventually denied permits for the project (see NY Gov. Cuomo Refuses to Grant Permits for Constitution Pipeline). So the Constitution (being built by Williams) sued the DEC in federal court (see Constitution Pipeline Case Goes to Court in 2 Weeks, Briefs Filed). We had hoped that the court would grant Constitution the right to commence building. But they didn’t. So now what? There are three options left for Constitution: (1) appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, (2) file a new case with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (a different court), or (3) request FERC take matters into its own hands by deciding the DEC took too long (which would probably be challenged at the D.C. Circuit). The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is a different court than the Second Circuit that just ruled. Our best guess? Williams will take option #3 and ask FERC to overrule NY DEC and grant the permit themselves…
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Rover Pipe Ready to Flow! Seeks FERC Permission for Aug 31 Start

Click for larger version of Rover map

While the Rover Pipeline remains in regulatory limbo with some of its construction, the vast majority of the pipeline as it snakes across Ohio is already done, or will be within the next few days. On Friday, Rover made an official request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to begin flowing natural gas through Phase 1A of the pipeline by August 31st. Phase 1A is three primary areas in Ohio: (1) the Cadiz Lateral, which is 3.5 miles of 30-inch diameter natural gas pipeline in Harrison County; (2) Supply Connector Line A, which is 18.6 miles of single, 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline from the Cadiz tie-in in Harrison County extending north to Mainline Compressor Station 1 and the interconnection with Mainline A in Carroll County; and (3) Mainline A, which is the bulk of the new pipeline through OH–190.9 miles of single, 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline originating at the Mainline Compressor Station 1 in Carroll County and terminating at the Defiance Compressor Station in Defiance County. In addition, Rover asked that the Panhandle-Rover Interconnect be turned on a few days ahead of the 31st so the gas will be ready to flow through the new Rover pipeline. This is (a) great news, and (b) something of a miracle, given the stiff headwinds Rover has faced with the Ohio EPA and FERC over several construction problems in recent months…
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WV Legislature Panel on NatGas Dev Meets Tuesday, Forced Pooling?

The West Virginia Legislature has appointed a new Joint Committee on Natural Gas Development, composed of Senators and Delegates, to put their collective heads together to see how they can encourage more oil and gas development in the Mountain State. The committee will meet tomorrow for the first time. The effort is being supported by the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA). In general, it certainly seems like a good idea–WV needs more drilling. However, WVONGA plans to use the committee as a platform to push its “modernized mineral efficiency laws”–i.e. forced pooling lite. As we reported last week, WVONGA is making an all-out push for new forced pooling laws in 2018 (see WVONGA Makes Plans to Push Forced Pooling Lite in 2018). There are two components to WVONG’s agenda: (1) Co-tenancy. The concept of co-tenancy means if a majority of mineral rights owners of a property (75%) want to lease the property for drilling, they can–even if a small 25% minority doesn’t want to lease. This helps overcome an urgent problem in WV where sometimes not all mineral rights owners can be found–or where someone with a sliver of the rights wants to blackmail (our word) the other rights owners for a larger share of the profits. (2) Joint development. This is the one we have a problem with. Currently there are a number of existing old leases, signed before shale drilling began, that prevents drillers from drilling a horizontal well across an individual property boundary line–until a new lease is signed. Joint development says if the driller already owns the leases on all adjoining properties that they want to combine into a drilling unit, they can do so without signing a new lease. WVONGA says it corrects a loophole that prevents more drilling from happening. Rights owners say joint development legislation lets drillers have a freebie–instead of signing a new lease (for more money), the driller gets something never envisioned when the original lease was signed. Although the topics of co-tenancy and joint development are sure to be raised tomorrow, the committee will look at more than just those issues. They will also consider how to attract more downstream (petrochemical) investment in the state…
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Carroll County Says Forget dlhBowles, Utica Will Replace Them

We always find it sad when a company builds a manufacturing plant in another country, closing one here at home (and firing the people who worked there). Such is the case in Carroll County, OH. Automotive supplier dlhBowles recently opened a 280,000-square-foot assembly plant in Reynosa, Mexico–and closed a plant in Carroll County. The company manufactures things like hoses and nozzles for windshield washer systems. Reynosa says closing the Carroll plant and laying off the 94 people who worked there is not “directly related” to opening the Mexico plant. Right. But officials in Carroll aren’t bitter. They believe the Utica Shale and various pipelines running through the area will result in new plastics companies (and other types of companies in the downstream) locating in Carroll. Buh bye Reynosa. Hello new manufacturers with the foresight and intelligence to set up shop in red-hot eastern Ohio…
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PA Gov. Wolf’s Non-Response Response on Atlantic Sunrise Delays

Over the past year or more MDN editor Jim Willis has signed numerous petitions supporting the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project–but it wasn’t until he signed one at a recent Williams event that the got a response from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. Atlantic Sunrise is a $3 billion, 198-mile natural gas pipeline project, most of which will get built in northeast Pennsylvania. The project is ready to begin construction, NOW, but still needs a few permits from the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). In an attempt to get the DEP (and Gov. Wolf) moving, Williams co-hosted an event in July to pressure the DEP and Wolf into granting final permits (see Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Rally: ‘Time to Kick Politicians in the Ass’). As guests entered the event, held at the Shadowbrook Golf Course in Wyoming County, PA, they were asked to sign a petition supporting the project. The petitions were delivered to Gov. Wolf and the DEP. Perhaps signing a paper petition, instead of an online/electronic petition, did the trick. MDN received a form letter email response from Gov. Wolf (below). In his response, Gov. Wolf says he supports pipeline development, but that he also supports “strong regulations” to protect people’s health, water, air, blah-biddy blah blah. It is a masterful example of saying nothing at all, while trying to appear you’re saying something. Here’s what we “heard” in Wolf’s response: Screw you–the project will get approved when it gets approved and I don’t care when that is”…
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Shale’s Next Battle: Fair Treatment Under the Tax Code

Politicians are once again demagoguing and attempting to demonize “Big Oil & Gas” over the taxation issue. No, we’re not talking about severance taxes. We’re talking about accounting deductions that oil and gas companies take to reflect depletion of assets. Flying under the banner of “eliminating tax loopholes,” some politicians want to strip away deductions from oil and gas companies–while leaving the same deductions in place for other industries. It is the worst kind of sleazy attack on the o&g industry. William Shughart, professor at Utah State University, brings us up to speed on the latest under-the-radar attack on the shale industry…
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New Group Aims to Counteract Big Green’s Paid Protesters

The Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA) announced last week they have launched “Energy Builders,” a new community-based coalition of workers, families and businesses dedicated to educating friends, neighbors and elected officials about the importance and benefits of energy infrastructure and its ongoing development. Energy Builders came together in reaction to paid Big Green protesters being dropped into local communities spreading fear, misinformation and untruths about new energy delivery projects. Americans deserve the best, safest, most modern and secure energy delivery systems in our communities. Energy Builders promotes that. America is enjoying an energy revolution, where innovation and new discoveries of clean and affordable fuels like natural gas are cutting consumer prices, utility bills, and air pollution. We need to modernize and expand our energy infrastructure and delivery systems to ensure that all families, workers and businesses get their fair share of the rewards. We say, it’s about time to fight back against the paid protesters with a radical (WAY outside the mainstream) agenda…
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Babst Calland Adds 6 New Lawyers in Pittsburgh O&G Practice

Babst Calland is one of the biggest and best energy law firms in the northeast, with its headquarters in Pittsburgh. MDN is a long-time fan and reader of the company’s Shale Energy Law Blog. One of the ways you know whether the shale industry is getting busier, or less busy, is to watch the law firms that practice in the shale space. Here’s a bit of good news to share. Babst Calland has, in one fell swoop, added six new members to its energy practice–all of them with experience and expertise in oil and gas. Yes, the firm already has some 130 attorneys on staff. Adding another 6 energy lawyers boosts the size of the firm’s headcount another 5%. That’s pretty significant–and evidence that the Marcellus/Utica shale space is heating up. Here’s BC’s announcement of who just joined up…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Aug 21, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Did Gov. Wolf’s natgas tax scare away a huge manufacturer from Taiwan; fracking jobs for coal miners ‘elusive’; NC ninny nannies come out to dis Atlantic Coast Pipeline; FERC chairman wants to “properly” compensate coal & nuclear; history of US shale oil/gas began in 1825; Citi says oil prices likely $40-$60 for next 5 years; solving the GOR problem; when will Mexico begin fracking; Mideast oil pricier than US oil for India; and more!
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