NG Advantage Virtual Pipe Hearing in Fenton an Eye-Opener for MDN

Last night MDN editor Jim Willis attended a Zoning Appeals Board hearing in the Town of Fenton (near Binghamton) where board members held a public hearing on a proposed virtual pipeline (i.e. compressor station) application by NG Advantage. It was, for Jim, a real eye-opener–causing him to reassess previous comments he made about the people opposing the project. Let’s begin with a brief background and the purpose of the hearing. NG previously filed an application with the Town of Fenton to build a natural gas compressor station/trucking facility in the very corner of the township, where it borders other towns/communities (bedroom communities). The people in those adjoining communities, when they learned of the plan, were upset that they had not been notified of the plan. In short order lawsuits were filed, and a county judge ruled that the Town of Fenton Planning Board did not take a hard enough look at environmental and traffic issues related to their approval of NG’s plan (see Judge Rules Against Broome Virtual Pipe, NG Advantage to Try Again). That forced NG to reapply for permits to build the facility. The area is zoned light industrial, allowing certain uses. Among the uses in that area are freight/trucking facilities. Not on the list are compressor stations. A Fenton building inspector researched the issue and agreed (with NG) that the facility fits the definition of a freight/trucking facility. That determination was immediately appealed by a number of people and organizations, including the local Chenango Valley School District. The meeting last night was to hear arguments for and against the finding that the facility is a freight/trucking facility and qualifies as an acceptable use in that zone. There were about 200 or so present for the hearing. Passions ran high. We’d say about three-fourths present were against and one-fourth in favor, judging from applause following various speakers. We will outline the evening and the testimony given below, but right up front we want to apologize to those opposing the project. In previous posts we used strong language to describe them, including the phrase “selfish antis” and the word “bullies.” That was wrong and we retract those statements. While we still disagree with those opposing this facility, we listened closely to their arguments and to their hearts. We found the vast majority speaking against the NG facility were not your typical anti-fossil fuel protesters (although there were a few of those there too). Instead, we found they are simply everyday folks who fervently do not want this facility in their neighborhood for a variety of reasons, including (yes) protection of their children. We heard and appreciate their arguments, and we want to acknowledge their position and attempt to fairly and dispassionately state what that position is…
Continue reading

UTOPIA has Arrived! KM OH Pipe Flowing Ethane to Canadian Cracker

UTOPIA Pipeline route – click for larger version

In January 2016, Kinder Morgan (KM) committed to building the UTOPIA (Utica To Ontario Pipeline Access) pipeline, a 12-inch ethane pipeline that will run ~240 miles across the state of Ohio where it will connect with another pipeline and flow ethane all the way to a cracker plant in Canada (see Kinder Morgan Ready to Move Forward with UTOPIA East Pipeline). However, all was not utopia with UTOPIA–some Ohio landowners got a bumble bee in their bonnet and refused to deal. KM first sued them using eminent domain, then decided to alter the route instead and signed leases with more reasonable landowners (see UTOPIA East Pipe Re-Routes Around OH Antis, Drops Eminent Domain). Last June, KM’s vice president of public affairs, Allen Fore, said UTOPIA was under construction and due to go online in January 2018 (see UTOPIA NGL Pipeline Under Construction, Should be Online Jan 2018). And so it has! Yesterday KM announced UTOPIA is up and running and flowing ethane from the Utica/Marcellus all the way to a cracker plant in Canada…
Continue reading

Mountain Valley Pipe Gets FERC Approval to Begin WV Construction

MVP Map – click for larger version

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, has just received permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to begin tree clearing and construction of access roads and construction yards in five West Virginia counties–Wetzel, Harrison, Doddridge, Lewis and Braxton counties. The work will be allowed only where MVP has already obtained leases from landowners. This is the first actual construction to be authorized for the project, a milestone! MVP was approved last October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). However, five national anti-fossil fuel groups filed a lawsuit two weeks ago to try and stop the project (see 5 Radical Green Groups Sue to Stop Mountain Valley Pipeline). Let ’em try! Here’s the great news that even as you read this, it’s quite likely the chainsaws are up and running…
Continue reading

Recap from First Hearings Held on Proposed DRBC Frack Ban

Yesterday saw the first two of six public hearings held by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) on their plan to permanently ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin. The hearings were held in Waymart (Wayne County), PA. The DRBC frack ban would essentially ban shale drilling in two northeastern PA counties: Wayne and Pike. Landowners there have been battling the DRBC going on 10 years. At first it was a temporary ban (like New York’s). Now it has metastasized into a full blow permanent ban–if DRBC gets its way. Below we have two reports–one from mainstream media, the other from MDN friend Tom Shepstone, who hilariously was called “Crapstone” by an anti addressing one of the hearings. You know you’re being effective when they start calling you silly names! Tom said it was landowners versus special interest group groupies at both hearings. Here’s an update on what happened…
Continue reading

Big Green Files Lawsuit Against VA Regulators for Approving Pipe

In December members of Virginia’s Water Control Board voted 4-3 to approve issuing a water permit/certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline Delayed in Virginia by Water Board Vote). ACP is a $5 billion natural gas pipeline project from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina being built by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy. The Water Board’s approval was conditional, the condition being that approval “is dependent on a final review of several environmental studies.” Those studies won’t be done until March or April of this year, meaning in all likelihood the project will be delayed. You would think Big Green groups would have rejoiced at the Water Control Board’s decision, effectively delaying the project. But they didn’t. Instead, a coalition of groups filed a lawsuit late last week against the Water Control Board–for doing their jobs. The groups claim the Water Control Board and the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have not done a good enough job of protecting Virginia’s water resources with respect to the ACP project…
Continue reading

PA Supremes to Consider EQT Request to Drill Well in Jefferson Hills

In December 2015 MDN told you about EQT’s application to drill a single shale well in Jefferson Hills (Allegheny County), PA (see Jefferson Hills, PA Antis Oppose EQT Well Near Future School Site). The well would be drilled “near” where a new school is due to be built, which generated vigorous local opposition. As part of the a conditional use permit, EQT agreed to (a) not use Borough roads during construction, (b) use a pipeline from a local water company instead of trucks for the water needed to drill and frack, greatly reducing the amount of truck traffic, (c) pledged the project would not impact local streams and wetlands, (d) comply with local lighting regulations, and (e) install sound walls if needed. In other words, EQT bent backwards, forwards, sideways, jumped through numerous hoops and turned itself inside out to comply with requests from the town. The Borough Planning Commission unanimously approved the conditional use permit request. But then the town, bowing to pressure from residents, rejected the request in December 2015, saying the proposed project would endanger local health and the environment. EQT sued and won in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in June 2016. Jefferson Hills appealed and in May 2017, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld the EQT verdict saying the town arbitrarily rejected the permit and EQT should be allowed to drill (see PA Appeals Court Clears Way for EQT to Drill Jefferson Hills Well). Jefferson Hills appealed it all the way the PA Supreme Court and on Monday the court agreed to hear the case…
Continue reading

Illegal Russian LNG Tanker Delayed, but Still Coming to Boston

Gaselys tanker on the way to Boston

We previously told you about an illegal shipment of Russian LNG coming to Boston, for use in New England to alleviate a natural gas shortage (see Confirmed: LNG Coming to Boston on Jan 22 is Illegal Russian Gas). The U.S. slapped the Russian Yamal LNG plant, located in the Arctic, with sanctions following Russia’s moves against the Ukraine several years ago. Those sanctions make it illegal to receive gas produced from that plant. So shippers “whitewashed” the gas by unloading it in the UK, and a few days later, reloading it on a different ship–the Gaselys. The Gaselys was, at last check, heading at full speed for Boston. Then the ship suddenly stopped and turned around in the middle of ocean, with new instructions to go to Spain. Then it turned around again, to head back to Boston. The people who own the shipment said the U-turn was to avoid foul weather–that the shipment will still go on to Boston. As near as we can tell, the Gaselys has not yet landed. We just wanted to keep this story alive because it is so outrageous. Vladimir Putin is laughing at us right now. We have enormous amounts of fracked Marcellus Shale gas that could/should be going to New England, instead of buying LNG from a sanctioned Russian facility located in the Arctic…
Continue reading

Marcellus Methane Emissions Study has Fatal Errors; Retracted

Last year a peer reviewed study published by researchers from the University of Maryland in the American Geological Union’s (AGU) Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres claimed methane was leaking from the Marcellus Shale at a rate of 3.9% based on three flight measurements in September and August 2015. That’s a lot. Using that rate of 3.9%, the authors boldly concluded that shale gas development is a “climate detriment.” They actually said, “the use of natural gas rather than coal for combustion will result in a relatively greater climate impact over the next few decades.” Yeah, burning natgas is worse than burning coal for the environment. Just one teeny, tiny problem. The research is wrong. In a huge “oops we screwed up”–the study has now been retracted. Why? Due to an “error in wind measurements” that led to wildly wrong emissions estimates. And will you read about that in mainstream news–the same news that carried the original “shale gas is worse for the environmental than coal” stories? Nope. Crickets. Silence. Here’s the news from our friends at Energy in Depth about the yet another so-called research study exposed as fraudulent…
Continue reading

U.S. Supreme Court Changes Jurisdiction for WOTUS Challenges

WOTUS is, unfortunately, far from dead. In May 2015 the Obama rogue Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with the Obama U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released a finalized rule clarifying what “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) means vis a vis what can be regulated under the federal Clean Water Act (see EPA Power Grab: Redefines Waters of the U.S. to Include Everything). Essentially the rule change redefined everything down to mud puddles (no, we’re not exaggerating) as being subject to the federal Clean Water Act. It was yet another attempt to bring oil and gas regulation under the purview of the federal government, a violation of the U.S. Constitution. In October 2015, a federal judge stopped WOTUS from going into effect while it’s litigated (see Sixth Circuit Court Stops EPA from Implementing WOTUS Anywhere). Eventually 31 states along with other entities filed briefs with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opposing the rule (see 31 States Ask Court to Dump Obama WOTUS Rule as Unconstitutional). A number of Senators and Congressmen joined the lawsuit. When President Trump took office and nominated Scott Pruitt (who had fought against WOTUS as Oklahoma Attorney General) to head the EPA, we thought that was the end of WOTUS. Pruitt pledged to roll back the onerous, hideous overreach of the Obama EPA (see Free at Last! EPA, US Army Corps Rescind Obama WOTUS Rule). Except that has not (so far) happened. Because of legal wrangling, Pruitt must take two years to develop a replacement for the destructive version of WOTUS–and in the meantime, the Obama version of WOTUS (sadly) remains in effect. Lawsuits against it continue to be litigated. It was into that fray the U.S. Supreme Court entered and recently ruled, unanimously, that the proper courts to review WOTUS are the District Courts and not the Courts of Appeal. Which is an important change. Here’s why…
Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Jan 24, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye over the break that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Lower Burrell to be “thumped” to test for natgas fracking sites; Rex Energy appoints new CFO; January cold weather affects electric generation mix in Northeast; Oklahoma drilling accident deadliest since start of shale boom; water supply shortage limits Sabine Pass LNG export operation; private equity investment going up for o&g; the rigs no one is watching; Singapore’s rising natgas ambitions; and more!
Continue reading