NY DEC Files Response re Constitution Pipe Case @ Supreme Court

There’s a number of threads to the ongoing saga of Constitution Pipeline, a $683 million, 124-mile pipeline from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY to move Marcellus gas into New York State and from there, into New England. The Andrew Cuomo-corrupted NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) refused to grant the pipeline necessary federal stream crossing permits, blocking construction, in April 2016 (see NY Gov. Cuomo Refuses to Grant Permits for Constitution Pipeline). Constitution filed an appeal of the DEC’s arbitrary and capricious decision with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, asking the court to overturn DEC’s decision. Unfortunately the Second Circuit refused (see Court Rejects Constitution Pipe’s Case Against NY DEC; Now What?). So Constitution appealed the Second Circuit’s rejection to the U.S. Supreme Court in January (see Constitution Pipeline Appeals NY Fight Directly to U.S. Supreme Court). The Supremes have not yet agreed to accept the case. Hoping to head off a decision to hear the case, the DEC filed a brief last week with the Supreme Court to say Constitution Pipeline has “misread” the Second Circuit’s decision,  claiming the DEC was well within their rights to issue the rejection…
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Antis Mad at DEP re Yellow Smoke at Gas-Fired Plant Near Scranton

Antis in the Scranton suburb of Jessup just won’t leave it alone. They’re mad they can’t stop what will be the state’s largest natural gas-fired electric plant (fed by Marcellus gas) from coming online–and they’ve turned their anger on the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). As we reported two weeks ago, a puff of yellow “smoke” (more like vapor) was seen coming from the plant for a brief period of time and it sent antis into an apoplectic shock (see Gas-Fired Power Plant Near Scranton Nears Startup; Yellow Smoke and More on Yellow Smoke Coming from Gas-Fired Plant Near Scranton). According to Invenergy, the builder of the 1,480-megawatt Lackawanna Energy Center in Jessup, there were “no chemicals” involved in the yellow smoke. The only people reporting ill health affects from the yellow smoke were antis. Nobody else seems to have been affected by it. Maybe Invenergy secretly put something in the smoke that only affects antis? Inquiring minds want to know. Apparently the DEP isn’t inquiring fast enough nor deep enough for Jessup antis, who have their knickers in a twist…
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Antis Use Corruption Trial Verdict to Challenge NY Gas Power Plant

In September 2016, MDN brought you the sad news that the former head of external affairs and government relations for Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), Peter Kelly, was indicted for bribing New York Gov. Cuomo’s long-time top aide Joseph Percoco to get state approvals for CPV’s $900 million Valley Energy Center natural gas-fired electric generating plant in Orange County, NY (see NY NatGas-Fired Electric Plant an Inside Job for Corrupt Cuomo Aide). Both Kelly and Percoco, along with a third person, Todd Howe (lobbyist who used to work for Cuomo) were indicted. The trial was recently held and a few weeks ago the verdicts came in: Both Percoco and Howe, the people close to Cuomo, were convicted. The jury could not decide on CPV’s Kelly–so Kelly skated. While the entire sordid affair is interesting for those of us who smell the foul stench of corruption that surrounds Andrew Cuomo, and while the trial and its result is interesting to MDN because of the gas-fired CPV project in Orange County, the reason we’re bringing it to your attention is because antis are using the Percoco/Howe convictions in the case to try and shut down the now-completed CPV Valley Energy Center project, claiming the plant would have never been approved without bribes and corruption…
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Praying Against the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia

When was the last time you read a news story about 50 people gathering to pray…*against* an infrastructure project? Ever see or read a news story about people gathered to pray against a new highway being built? What about people who pray against construction of a new bridge? Or maybe those who pray against a new high-tension electric line coming through the area? We’ve never heard of or read any of those kinds of stories. Ever. So why does Virginia Public Radio feel compelled to publish a story about 50 people gathering to pray against the Mountain Valley Pipeline? What about the 5,000 people who live in the same area who are just fine with the pipeline? Do you think they might deserve a story too?…
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New Study Says Petchem Investment in M-U Better than Gulf Coast

This week representatives from Shale Crescent USA are in Houston, TX attending the 33rd Annual World Petrochemical Conference–and they have in hand a dynamite study that shows it’s more cost effective to build a petrochemical plant in the Marcellus/Utica region than it is along the Gulf Coast. Which is heresy if you live along the Gulf Coast. “Benefits, Risks, and Estimated Project Cash Flows: Ethylene Project Located in the Shale Crescent USA versus the US Gulf Coast” is an independent report by IHS Markit commissioned by Shale Crescent USA to evaluate and compare the financial returns and risks of a major petrochemical and plastics investment in the region with an identical investment in the US Gulf Coast. The numbers don’t lie. Here’s one juicy statistic from the newly released study: ethane (the feedstock used to make raw plastics) in our region costs 32% less than it does in the Gulf Coast region. One more factoid from the report: If the Marcellus/Utica were its own country, it would be the #3 natural gas producing country, IN THE WORLD! Our region produces more natural gas than the countries of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar. Last year the Shale Crescent folks were the new kids at the World Petrochemical Conference. They were just about laughed out of the event. We have a feeling this year is going to be a lot different…
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Massachusetts Blocking Atlantic Bridge Pipeline from Completion

In January 2017 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted final approval for the $452 million Atlantic Bridge expansion project (see FERC Approves Atlantic Bridge Project for New England/Canada). The Spectra Energy/Enbridge project beefs up capacity along the Algonquin Pipeline, along with more capacity for Spectra Energy’s Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, to carry more Marcellus/Utica gas into New England and (eventually) all the way to Nova Scotia, Canada. Much of the project is now done–except in Massachusetts where a critical compressor station planned for Weymouth is stalled. The delay is causing hardships in both Maine and in Canada, due to declining offshore gas supplies. Maine needs the gas for electric generating plants. Actually, Massachusetts itself needs the gas as much as Maine–but the obtuse idiots that pretend to run the state are resisting the project because it flows an evil fossil fuel. The Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) technically has until January 2019 to complete a health impact assessment (HIA) and make a decision on whether or not to issue an air quality permit. By all appearances the DEP is taking its sweet time. If the permit is granted by DEP, Weymouth then has until June 2019 to complete an appeals process. Meanwhile, folks across the border in Maine will begin to experience rolling blackouts if they can’t find a new source of natural gas…
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FERC Takes Aim at Adjusting Pipe Rates in Light of Trump Tax Cut

Last Thursday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held an open meeting during which the commissioners “took significant action” to address the Trump tax cut legislation enacted last December. FERC wants to be sure the tax cuts coming to electric companies and pipeline companies are passed on to consumers and pipeline shippers. We are still trying to make sense of it all and frankly, we still don’t fully understand it. What we can tell you about what FERC did last week is this: The agency proposed new solutions to eliminate “tax loopholes” for natural gas pipelines. Closing these so-called loopholes will eliminate certain tax benefits for MLPs–master limited partnerships. A good many pipeline companies (most) are organized as MLPs, which allows tax advantages to flow to investors. With certain tax benefits for MLP unitholders on the chopping block, all of a sudden some (most?) MLPs don’t look like such a hot investment anymore, at least on paper. Which has caused pipeline companies, many of them with operations in the Marcellus/Utica, to issue a flurry of public announcements to say “FERC’s actions won’t impact us all that much.” The stock market certainly didn’t share that sentiment with shares (called “units”) in MLPs taking a hit since FERC’s announcement. Below is a collection of stories–bits of stories–that we’ve pieced together in an attempt to shed light on what is happening, and how it may change the pipeline business in the future…
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Wed, Mar 21, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Indiana company buys Pittsburgh pipe company; OH Democrat lawmaker proposes frack ban in state parks; Appalachian Storage Hub is WV’s foundation for future investment; feds lighten up on bird & bat rules, extend tree-cutting windows; oil drillers look to Oklahoma for cheaper prices; Wisconsin frac sand industry roars back; FERC’s Powleson lectures New England to learn from PA; big data in big oil is big business; and more!
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