WV Judge Refuses to Eject Tree Sitters Blocking Pipeline Work

If the so-called “tree sitters” in Jefferson National Forest who are trying to block tree cutting for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) get themselves hurt, Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Robert Irons will be the one to blame. Well actually, the protesters can blame themselves (they’re idiots), but Irons is certainly complicit. On Tuesday Judge Irons refused to grant MVP a court order to remove the radical protesters. Apparently they are 7 feet outside of the right of way zone for tree felling. Have you ever cut a big tree down? Trees don’t care if they fall 7 feet this way or 7 feet that way when they fall. MVP wants to ensure the protesters don’t get hurt, and wants them gone before they cut trees near them. But because the radicals technically, according to the judge, are not in the actual right of way, they can stay up the trees where they’ve been for the past 25+ days. There are two suspended tree houses (platforms), held in the trees with ropes. Up to seven people have been living in the two magic tree houses, eating, breathing and defecating up in the trees (harming the environment they profess to be protecting). MVP technically has a deadline of March 31 to fell trees along the path of the pipeline. We suspect MVP has a Plan B for this segment where the loons have perched themselves up a tree. We predict sitting up a tree will get old sooner or later–and MVP can wait them out…
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New Video of Burning XTO Well in Belmont County; EPA’s Wild Claim

XTO well in Belmont County, OH

As we reported on Tuesday, it has now been over a month since a Utica Shale well being drilled by XTO Energy Belmont County, OH exploded and caught fire (see XTO Well Explosion in Ohio Still Under Investigation Month Later). A variety state and federal agencies are investigating to see what went wrong. Still no guesses or theories. However, lack of hard data isn’t stopping the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from making a wild, off-the-cuff claim that the well leaked 100 million cubic feet of methane into the atmosphere per day until it was capped (see Exploded XTO Well in Belmont County Finally Capped After 20 Days). What does the EPA base that claim on? Nothing. It’s a guess. EPA officials were at the scene of the exploded well shortly after it exploded–but they never took any measurements. Why measure when you can guess? XTO is pushing back against the EPA’s wild guess. Below we have more on the EPA’s guesswork, and a just-released video of the burning well, taken from the air on the day the well exploded…
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PA Senate Pipeline Hearing Turns into Bash ME2 Pipe; Antis Act Up

Two Pennsylvania Senate committees–the Environmental Resources and Energy and the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure committees–held a joint hearing on Tuesday supposedly on the topic of “pipeline safety”–but instead the hearing turned into a bash Sunoco Logisitcs and the Mariner East 2 (ME2) Pipeline hearing. A variety of witnesses testified. Unfortunately, State Sen. Gene Yaw (RINO from Lycoming County), chairman of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, didn’t invite Sunoco to testify, so it was a one-way bash fest. Sunoco was not allowed to respond. Thanks Gene. It wasn’t a court hearing, so we can’t call it a kangaroo court. Perhaps we can call it a kangaroo Senate hearing? While the discourse in the hearing was mostly civil (although it was nonstop bashing of Sunoco), a group of rabble rousers nearby was not. A group of 10-15 (depending on the news source) marched on Gov. Tom Wolf’s office. They were there to serve Wolf with a mock “Notice of Probable Violation and Summons,” which the malcontents say requires Wolf to appear in Chester County before families impacted by construction of ME2. The small mob was met with locked doors and Capitol Police who turned them away…
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Philly Suburbanites Launch Class Action Lawsuit Against ME2 Pipe

Sunoco Logistics Partners (aka Energy Transfer Parnters) has had its challenges in constructing the twin Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipelines across Pennsylvania. Earlier this month MDN told you that underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work in Chester County had led to a third sinkhole developing in that area (see 3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA). For most of its length, ME2 is being built right next to ME1 (Mariner East 1), a liquids pipeline originally built in 1931. The third sinkhole in Chester County exposed a portion of ME1, leading to the state Public Utility Commission temporarily shutting down ME1 (see PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole). Now added to Sunoco’s complications, two residents living near the sinkholes in Chester County have filed a class action lawsuit against Sunoco, saying the company was negligent for using a drilling technique (HDD) not suitable for the geology in the area…
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PA Extends Tri-State Shale Coalition Agreement with OH & WV

Let’s be honest. Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia compete against each other, fiercely, to attract business to their respective states. However, in 2015 the three states agreed to lay aside their competitive natures when it comes to shale and cooperate (pool resources) for things like marketing and promotion, workforce development, transportation/infrastructure and research (see PA/OH/WV Agree to Stop Competing, Begin Cooperating on Shale). The governors of the three states signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2015 to cooperate on shale issues. Two of the three governors are now different (in OH and WV). However, the three states have just re-signed the original statement from 2015, extending another three years to Dec. 31, 2021. Which is a good thing…
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Youngstown Antis “Tilting at Windmills” with Frack Ban Ballot Measure

Tilting at windmills by Gustave Doré

In July 2017 MDN told you that puppets of the PA-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) had once again gotten enough signatures to put a so-called Community Bill of Rights (i.e. frack ban) ballot measure on the ballot last November in Youngstown, Ohio–for a 7th time (see Youngstown Frack Ban Vote on November Ballot – for 7th Time). The same people had tried six times before–and the ballot measure failed every single time. However, as we pointed out, the 7th time was different. In addition to the usual no fracking, no pipelines pablum, the 7th petition had language that makes it legal to break the law. If the ballot measure had passed, and if an anti got it into her head to sit in front of a bulldozer that was about to clear ground for a wellpad, or dig a trench for a pipeline, the police would not be able to arrest and remove the anti. It would be within her rights to sit there and block legal, legitimate activity–all in the name of saving the planet. It would, in essence, legalize mob rule. Fortunately the Ohio Supreme Court had the good sense to block the 7th ballot initiative from appearing on the ballet last November (see OH Supreme Court Blocks Youngstown Frack Ban Ballot Measure). However, some antis in Youngstown just won’t give up. They’re heading back to the Ohio Supremes to ask them to reconsider and allow the ballot measure, since the court was split in its decision last year (4-3). What’s interesting is that even the local newspaper, the Youngstown Vindicator, has had enough of these these puppets of the CELDF. The Vindicator calls the ring leaders out by name in a scathing editorial…
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Virginia Governor Moves to Bypass FERC in Regulating Pipe Projects

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

Not until a few years ago when the corrupt Andrew Cuomo decided to block federally approved pipeline projects like the Constitution, and then Northern Access, did the issue of states rights verses the rights of the federal government come into sharp focus with respect to pipeline projects. At its core, it is an age-old issue. During the founding of our country the early leaders wrestled with how much control a federal government should have. We have a Bill of Rights (and a Constitution) specifically to LIMIT how much control the federal government exercises over the individual states. We support a very limited federal government. However, the founders recognized there will be times when the interests and “rights” of states clash with the federal government, and with other states. How to break a tie when deciding competing interests? Perhaps not in their wildest dreams would the founders have foreseen things like interstate highways, high tension electric lines, and yes, natural gas pipelines. Through the years our country has innovated a system based on the original founders’ vision, using agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to oversee the permitting and permissioning of infrastructure projects like pipelines. What happens if several states want and need gas from a pipeline, but a single state stands in the way and blocks it, denying the citizens of other states the benefit of that gas? That’s why FERC was created–to referee such “wisdom of Solomon” situations. New York plunged us down the slippery slope of overturning long-established law with their lawless action in blocking FERC-permitted pipelines. Other states noticed and are now trying it themselves (like Massachusetts). The latest state to take a stab at assuming powers it doesn’t legally possess is Virginia, under a Democrat governor who plans to pass legislation that can willy nilly stop construction of federally approved pipelines like Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline…
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Thu, Mar 22, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Kucinich a no-show at fake Ohio leasing forum; Atlantic Coast Pipeline cited for tree-cutting violations in Virginia; new o&g regulations coming to Hampton Twp; natgas rates going down in Altoona; Pivotal completes 1st LNG delivery to NASA; New Haven, CT goes out of its fracking mind; U.S. exported more natgas in 2017 than it imported (1st time since 1957); electricity from fossil fuels declined in 2017; asset sales in o&g accelerate; Germany’s pivot from Russian gas will be costly; and more!
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