Fed Court Denies NY DEC Bid to Block Power Plant Pipe Construction

Yesterday the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s request to slap an ongoing block of construction for Millennium Pipeline’s Valley Lateral Project. As a quick reminder, Valley Lateral is a tiny, 7.8 mile pipeline that will connect the main Millennium line to the CPV Valley Energy Center gas-fired electric plant, currently under construction, due to be completed in the first quarter of next year. The DEC doesn’t like the power plant project (approved by the State of New York), and is using the pipeline as a political football to try and keep the plant from opening–no doubt at the direction of our corrupt governor, Andrew Cuomo. The DEC arbitrarily, after more than one year of review, ruled against issuing a federal water crossing permit for the pipeline. In an historic decision, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) overruled the DEC in September (see History Made! FERC Overrules NY DEC on Millennium Pipe Permit). The DEC, in a snit fit, demanded FERC not OK the beginning of construction until an army of DEC lawyers figures out a way to appeal, delay, obstruct and otherwise stop the project anyway (see NY DEC Appeals FERC Override of Millennium Pipe Decision). FERC didn’t listen to DEC, instead giving Millennium the go-ahead to begin construction (see FERC Humiliates NY DEC, Millennium Can Begin Construction on Pipe). NY sued FERC in federal court requesting an emergency stay of construction activities. The Second Circuit implemented a temporary stay. Yesterday the court dissolved that temporary stay and denied DEC’s request for a long-term stay until the full case against FERC is heard. Bottom line: Construction will likely begin TODAY…
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PA Severance Tax Bill Continues to be Blocked by Republicans

Did you know there is major news this week about the proposed Pennsylvania severance tax bill, House Bill (HB) 1401? No, you won’t read anything about what has happened with the bill this week, since the return of the PA House, in mainstream media. Why? Because mainstream media refuses to actually report news any more. They only pedal advocacy. HB 1401 continues to be blocked by courageous House Republicans, even though a variety of amendments have been raised and there was more floor debate on the bill–this week. The bill’s failure to garner a vote and the increasing likelihood it won’t, doesn’t fit mainstream media’s “this tax is inevitable” narrative. Go ahead–do a news search. Nothing in the Harrisburg Patriot-News (the “record” of what happens in the state legislature). Nothing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a reliable anti-drilling screed. Nothing in the Philadelphia Inquirer (is Andrew Maykuth on vacation?). And yet, there IS major news! The only source we could find to inform us of what’s happening is the leftist, Big Green former Secretary of the state Dept. of Environmental Protection, writing on a blog site. Our hat is off to David Hess for his willingness to do the job no one else will do, bringing us the blow by blow of what’s happening with HB 1401…
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Report: PA Natural Gas Production Hits All-Time High in 3Q17

It continues to be a banner year for natural gas production in Pennsylvania, going by the latest quarterly production report. Yesterday, the PA Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released their latest quarterly Natural Gas Production Report for Jul-Sep 2017 (full copy below). It shows natgas production rose 4.8% compared to the same period last year. It also shows the number of producing wells is up 9.3% from last year. Total natural gas production volume was 1,326.2 billion cubic feet (Bcf) and the number of producing wells in 3Q17 was 8,073. The biggest news is that 3Q17 saw the highest quarterly production of natural gas in the state–ever. The previous quarterly report had been the highest ever until this report came out (see PA 2Q NatGas Production Report – Another New Record). The #1 county for natgas production in 3Q17 was, as it was was in 2Q17, Susquehanna County. The #1 producing driller in Susquehanna County is Cabot. As we pointed out in our remarks with the last quarterly report, you might say–with some justification–that the success of Cabot’s drilling program in Susquehanna County has translated into huge success for all of Pennsylvania. Let’s dive into the full report…
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Ohio Approves 2nd Oregon Utica-Fired Elec Plant (Near Toledo)

In August, Ohio Gov. John Kasich officiated at a ceremony to launch a new Utica gas-fired electric generating plant in Oregon (Lucas County), near Toledo (see New 870 MW Gas-Fired Electric Plant in NW Ohio Begins Operation). CME Energy’s Oregon Clean Energy Center plant generates 870 megawatts of electricity. The plant cost $900 million to build. What we haven’t focused on, until now, is CME’s proposal to build a second Utica gas-fired electric plant next to the first one. The first plant is called Oregon Clean Energy Center. The second plant project is named Clean Energy Future – Oregon. The second plant is bigger than the first, targeted to generate 955 megawatts of power. Clean Energy Future – Oregon is currently in the permitting process. If all goes well, CME plans to begin commercial operation in 2020. Fluor Corporation is constructing this second project, as they did the first. Construction is scheduled to begin early next year. The reason the project appeared on our radar screen is because yesterday the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) gave Clean Energy Future – Oregon a big, fat, sloppy kiss of approval…
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Virginia Water Board Approves Mountain Valley Pipe – Antis Erupt

Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP)–a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA–scored an important approval yesterday. Virginia’s Water Control Board issued a water permit/certification for the project. MVP, when built, will run through six Virginia counties. Prior to voting to approve the permit yesterday, the Water Control Board held a public hearing on Wednesday, largely so antis could spout off and feel better about themselves. Following yesterday’s vote, antis did what they always do–behaved like petulant, spoiled rotten children. At least one anti “screamed profanities at the board members and vowed to visit them where they live.” Yeah, bullying. Threats of violence. That’s the anti crowd for you. In early November the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) waived their right to issue a permit for MVP, instead deferring to the just-as-strict version of the permit issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers (see WVDEP Reverses, Waives Water Permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline). Here’s what happened yesterday in nutty Virginia…
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Atlantic Coast Pipe Gets Key WV Approval; VA Approval Next Week?

On Wednesday the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) “waived” the state’s authority under the federal Clean Water Act to determine if Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) will harm rivers and streams, instead deferring to the US Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Nationwide permit. The USACE Nationwide permit has the same exact standards as found in the WV version–so there’s no need to duplicate the paperwork. This is not the first time WVDEP has deferred to the USACE’s permit. They did the same exact thing with a water crossing permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project in November (see WV DEP Secretary Issues Letter Explaining MV Pipeline Decision). It’s pretty easy for antis to demagogue the issue, saying WV has “given up it’s right to regulate the project.” That is manifestly untrue. As WVDEP pointed out in November with Mountain Valley, and again on Wednesday with Atlantic Coast, “Waiving the 401 individual certification does not indicate that there will be fewer environmental requirements to which the ACP must adhere. The special West Virginia conditions that exist in the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Nationwide permit are designed to mirror what would be in a 401 individual certification issued by West Virginia. Under the Nationwide permit, enforcement would be left to federal agencies and would be limited to stream crossings.” WV’s approval of ACP is a major milestone, but not the only one required…
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Rex Energy Stock Hits New Low in 2017 – $1.65 per Share

Yesterday was not a good day for our “little energy company that could,” Rex Energy. Their stock price sunk to a new low for the year–closing at $1.65 per share. Rex, focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA), has had its share of financial challenges. In the past it has swapped out old IOUs for new IOUs, converted debt (IOUs) into equity (shares of stock), sold off assets in other basins–a whole lotta stuff to keep on drilling (see our Rex Energy stories here). The company’s stock has taken a hit over the past five years. Rex’s stock (REXX) is traded on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange and last December Nasdaq threatened Rex with de-listing the stock (see Rex Energy Stock Threatened with De-Listing by Nasdaq). The company would remain listed if they could meet the minimum requirement of a per share price trading for at least $1/share for 10 consecutive trading days. Rex pulled a rabbit out of the hat and avoided de-listing (see Rex Energy’s Stock Out of Woods, NASDAQ Won’t De-List). But in November Rex was back in the doghouse with Nasdaq. This time the problem is not a low stock price, but that stockholder equity in the company is less than $2.5 million (see Rex Energy Once Again Threatened with NASDAQ De-listing). To add insult to injury, the company’s stock continues to trail down again–not a good sign…
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Antis Target PA Gov Wolf Aide as Payback, Husband Works for EQT

We find this particularly loathsome. A Big Green supporter and far-left radical environmentalist who lives in Chester County, PA, Caroline Hughes, has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission against PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s deputy chief of staff, Yesenia Bane. The complaint is a ginned up allegation that Bane “was regularly involved in meetings and travel related to her husband’s natural gas industry clients.” The so-called evidence comes from a copy of Bane’s travel schedule in 2016. She attended various shale meetings and conferences, on behalf of Gov. Wolf, and because she did so, Ms. Hughes would like to see Ms. Bane lose her job. Nice people those antis. Hughes makes the baseless charge that because Bane attended meetings where Bane’s husband, first a lobbyist for the shale industry and now an employee of EQT, had clients, her mere presence at such meetings constitutes a “conflict of interest.” Why? Because Bane’s presence somehow “benefits” her husband and his business. There’s no allegation of back room dealings or financial benefit from those meetings. No. Just a wild accusation, targeting someone because her husband has the gall to work for the shale industry. But that’s not all. Ms. Bane had the gall to remove a anti-pipeline radical from the Wolf Pipeline Task Force back in 2015. That little episode is mentioned in the same Big Green story as the charge that Bane had a conflict of interest. In other words, the conflict of interest charge is a ruse. This is payback for Bane’s action in removing the anti from the Task Force…
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Kevin McIntyre Sworn in as 5th FERC Commissioner, New Chairman

Kevin McIntyre

This is how it works in the swamp. President Trump first mentioned Kevin McIntyre, the co-head of the energy practice at the largest law firm in the country (Jones Day), back in March (see Breaking: Kevin McIntyre, Neil Chatterjee are Trump Picks for FERC). Due to whatever political machinations go on in Congress, Trump didn’t (couldn’t?) officially nominate McIntyre until July (see Pres. Trump Finally Nominates Kevin McIntyre to FERC, as Chairman). From the beginning McIntyre has been Trump’s pick to run FERC as its chairman. However, Neil Chatterjee as done a stellar job as Acting Chairman (see FERC’s Chatterjee to Actor James Cromwell: ‘Come at me bro!’). Yesterday, exactly nine months later, McIntyre was FINALLY sworn in–the fourth and final person appointed by Trump to the Commission. Perhaps the most contentious issue McIntyre will face initially is a request by Dept. of Energy Secretary Rick Perry to create a new regulation that allows coal and nuclear power generators to make more money than the free market allows for the electricity they produce–in a misguided attempt to save those industries. The so-called notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) for the Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule is supposed to be voted on by FERC commissioners next Monday. The first thing McIntyre did after putting a picture of his lovely wife on his desk was to send a letter to Perry asking for a 30-day extension, citing the fact that two new commissioners were added in the last two weeks. The newbies haven’t had the opportunity to debate the plans merits (or lack thereof) with their fellow FERC commissioners…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Dec 8, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Tellurian sells shares to fund Driftwood LNG project; Interior Dept delays Obama regulations on methane emissions; new data debunks claims that fracking lowers property values; billionaire investor sticks to investing in shale; Chesapeake is “self correcting”; Trump Administration investigates states delaying pipeline projects; the Panama Canal has become a “major problem” for shale exports; China’s November natgas imports hit new record; and more!
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