Fed Court Grants Green, OH Request to Stop NEXUS Pipe Construction

Who says you can’t buy a court decision–at least a temporary one? Back in May MDN told you about the antis running the City of Green, Ohio hellbent on stopping the NEXUS Pipeline, all of it (see Green, OH Paying Lawyers $100K to Fund Stop NEXUS Crusade). Green City Council voted to use $100,000 of taxpayer money to hire a Cleveland law firm to file a lawsuit “aimed at stopping the pipeline from being built or stopping the project altogether.” NEXUS, a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that will run from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada, was the first major pipeline project to get approved after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) once again had a quorum (see New FERC Quorum Votes Final Approval for NEXUS Pipeline). Green’s high-priced lawyers filed their lawsuit in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting an emergency stay blocking construction. Late last week a three-judge panel voted 2-1 in favor of Green’s request for an emergency stay, which temporarily blocks further construction of an 8-mile segment of the NEXUS Pipeline in the vicinity of Green (but not anywhere else). The judges believe Green’s lawsuit is likely to prevail in court–hence stop any construction for now around Green. The big problem, from our limited legal understanding, is that the underlying lawsuit filed by Green challenges the Ohio EPA’s decision to grant water crossing permits for the ENTIRE 257-mile pipeline through Ohio. If Green prevails in that case, construction on the entire pipeline (as it passes through Ohio) is stopped–not just an 8-mile segment around the pipeline-phobic Green…
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Ohio EPA Continues Vendetta Against Rover Pipe, Demands HDD Stop

In September MDN told you about Craig Butler, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), that Bulter had gone off the rails on a power trip, claiming OEPA has the power to regulate the federally regulated Rover Pipeline project (see Ohio EPA’s Craig Butler Goes Nuts, Demands $2.3M from Rover Pipe). Butler is fining Rover for a string of some major, mostly minor drilling mud spills related to underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD). Earlier this month Butler fleeced the Ohio Attorney General into suing Rover (see OH EPA Director Manipulates Atty General to Sue Rover Pipeline). Like Captain Ahab obsessed with Moby-Dick, Butler continues his quest to stop Rover. Butler’s latest attempt is to “request” (i.e. demand) Rover stop all HDD work now under way because another drilling mud spill happened on November 16th. The latest spill (called an “inadvertent return”) was 200 gallons and ended up in the Black Fork Mohican River in Ashland County. For new MDN readers: drilling mud is bentonite clay–the same stuff used to make kitty litter, toothpaste and cosmetics. It’s nontoxic and perfect safe for the environment–unless there’s a lot of it, and then it can smother critters like salamanders and fish. But honestly, 200 gallons of it is NOTHING. Butler sent a letter to Rover and has also sent it to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in yet another attempt to get FERC to halt all Rover HDD work…
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FBI Investigates EnerVest for Ohio Utica Lease Fraud

The FBI has been drawn into what was once a civil case in Ohio. EnerVest once owned nearly one million acres in the Ohio Utica Shale. It was unintentional. Most of the acreage came from owning old conventional/vertical oil and gas wells in the state. Belmont County, OH landowner, Matt Crislip, says EnerVest perpetrated a fraud on him by pretending his long inactive/dead conventional well was once again producing. The practice is known as “back-fed”–running gas from a pipeline back to the well, so it appears the well is still producing gas. Why do something crazy like that? So the driller can claim the well is producing and is “held by production”–allowing that driller to turn around and sell the lease to someone else (Ascent Resources, in this case) for “millions” according to Crislip. The result is Crislip didn’t see a penny in new lease-signing bonuses, and he didn’t get the opportunity to negotiate a new royalty rate. EnerVest flatly denies the back-fed charge and said they will defend themselves “vigorously.” So far the FBI has only investigated Crislip’s claim, and no charges have been filed. Yet. Here’s a look at Crislip’s claim and the FBI’s ongoing investigation, which may expand beyond Belmont County…
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New Gas-Fired Power Plant Announced for Tioga County, PA

Energy Solutions Consortium, based in Buffalo, NY, has been trying to build a number of gas-fired electric plant projects in West Virginia for years (see Big News: 3 More Marcellus-Powered Electric Plants Coming to WV and WV Builder Tells PSC Power Plant Can Burn Methane AND Ethane). However, the regulatory environment in WV creeps along, like molasses, and none of the projects are even under construction–yet. WV’s own Secretary of Commerce, Woody Thrasher, recently said WV is downright unfriendly to electric plant projects (see WV Sec Commerce Says State Unfriendly to Gas-Fired Power Plants). Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is building new Marcellus-fired electric plants left and right. Perhaps noticing the difference in regulatory climates, Energy Solutions has decided to try a project in PA–in Tioga County (about 2.5 hours from Buffalo). The $500 million project will be called Tioga County Power–a 680 megawatt plant capable of powering 430,000 homes, fed by yummy Marcellus Shale gas produced in PA…
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Tenaska Westmoreland Power Stn Construction Milestone: 1M Hours

Artist’s rendering of what Tenaska Westmoreland will look like

In August 2016, energy giant Tenaska (headquartered in Omaha, NE) broke ground to build a 925-megawatt natural gas-fueled power plant in Westmoreland County, PA (see Groundbreaking for Tenaska Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant in SWPA). The Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station is costing $780 million to build. Some of that money, $22 million so far, is being spent to upgrade the local Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County water treatment plant (see Tenaska Spends $22M in Water Plant Upgrades Ahead of Elec Project). The plant is on track to be completed by late 2018 when it will go online, providing power for 925,000 homes. Some 600 workers are active on the project. Tenaska recently announced a major milestone in the construction of the plant: Those 600 workers have now logged 1 million hours of work in building the plant, and there’s still plenty of hours to go. That’s 600 workers being paid with private money–money that circulates and recirculates in the local and regional economy, into the pockets of other businesses, into the pockets of labor unions (via dues), and into the pockets of local municipalities (and the state) via tax revenue. Westmoreland County and PA owe Tenaska a huge “thank you” for building the Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station…
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Converted Oil Pipeline Near Philly Extends Open Season for NatGas

Earlier this month we shared the exciting news that an old oil pipeline stretching from Northampton County, PA through Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties, terminating in Delaware County at Marcus Hook had been purchased by a subsidiary of New Jersey Resources will get converted to flow more Marcellus natural gas to the greater Philadelphia region (see Oil Pipeline Near Philly to be Converted to Flow Fracked NatGas). The project/pipeline has been named the Adelphia Gateway. On Nov. 2nd the project began an “open season”–a period of time when shippers can reserve capacity along the pipeline. Such contracts typically run for 10-20 years and guarantee the pipeline (which will invest millions) can recoup its investment and make a profit. The open season was scheduled to expire on Nov. 20th, but Adelphia has extended the open season to Dec. 8th. Adelphia says the extension was to allow for the Thanksgiving holiday. Typically such an extension means the project hasn’t secured enough business to be profitable. We don’t have a feel one way or the other for this project. Perhaps a number of people did take off for the Thanksgiving holiday and this will give Adelphia a chance to button up previously expressed interest. Signing on the dotted line means an office full of lawyers will need to review it first–and lawyers like their vacations…
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Final Push to Tax PA Drillers & Give Money to Philly Teachers

The tax-and-spend liberals in Pennsylvania and those who oppose fossil fuels (almost always one-and-the-same) are still pushing a dreadful, devastating severance tax bill proffered by RINOsaur (i.e. ancient RINO) State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo known as House Bill (HB) 1401. The bill, if passed into law, would tack a 3.2% severance tax on top of the existing ~5% impact tax (called a “fee”) already levied on Marcellus drillers, thereby effectively killing any new Marcellus drilling in the state (see PA Frankenstein House Bill Merges Severance Tax & Minimum Royalty). Last week, just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the House debated the bill for two days–then left town “abruptly” without taking any further action (see Update on PA Severance Tax Bill – More Progress, House Leaves Town). What happens now? The House doesn’t return for voting work until next Monday, Dec. 4th. In the meantime, the bill’s lib supporters in mainstream media are trying to create the impression the bill will get adopted when the House returns from break…
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“Environmental Justice” Lunacy in Allegheny County, PA

In Pennsylvania, the “Office of Environmental Justice” (sounds like a comic book thing) is nothing more than a way for po’ folk and minorities to sue the Marcellus industry over non-existent transgressions. In 2015, then-Secretary of the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), John Quigley, “reactivated” the Office of Environmental Justice (see Environmental “Justice” for Some, Not for All, Courtesy PA DEP). If you live in a PA community where at least 20% of the people are below the poverty line, or if the community is composed of at least 30% minorities (defined as “non-whites”), the so-called Office of Environmental Justice will give you special treatment if you claim to have been harmed somehow by the Marcellus industry. Everyone else gets ordinary/regular environmental “justice”–no special treatment if you’re white or middle class. In Allegheny County local officials are miffed that the municipality of McCandless got labeled as an environmental justice community, but Etna didn’t. McCandless is too white and too rich, whereas Etna is not. We would find it all rather comical–if the Environmental Justice Leaguers didn’t have such a potent weapon to oppose the shale industry…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Nov 27, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Utica rig count stands at 23; Shell signs another 10 landowners for Falcon ethane pipeline; Burrell School District OKs seismic testing on school property; RIL closes on Marcellus shale asset sale for $126M; PA Girl Scouts get PennEast Pipeline STEM grant; Keystone XL Pipeline lawsuit advances; evil corporate raider Carl Icahn sinks claws into SandRidge Energy; Michigan O&G industry “looking up”; weather jitters send natgas prices down; using multilaterals in shale plays; first Canadian LNG shipment heads to China; big oil pledges to cut down on methane emissions; OPEC/Russia showdown over US shale; and more!
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