Major Federal Court Decision Opens Door to Stop DRBC Frack Ban

A lawsuit that began in 2016 is finally bearing fruit, and may lead to blocking efforts by the rogue Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to block fracking in Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania. In May 2016, a landowner in Wayne County filed a lawsuit against the DRBC asking a judge to declare that the DRBC does not have jurisdiction to prevent construction of a natural gas well (see Wayne County, PA Landowner Sues DRBC Over Fracking Ban). The Wayne landowner argued in U.S. District Court that oil and gas wells, under the DRBC’s charter, do not constitute a “project” that is regulated by the DRBC and therefore are exempt from oversight from the DRBC. The way the DRBC so broadly reinterprets the word “project” in the original charter, it allows them to regulate anything and everything. In March 2016, MDN reported that U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani ruled against the landowner (see Judge Tosses Wayne County, PA Landowner Lawsuit Against DRBC). At first blush it seemed like a setback for landowners in Wayne and Pike counties. But looks can be deceiving. As we pointed out, when you read the judge’s decision, he harpoons all of the DRBC’s legal arguments, but in the end rules against the landowner. Why? Because the judge wanted to send the case to a higher court for an ultimate decision–the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Which is precisely where the case ended up. Last November oral arguments were heard in the appealed case. The DRBC’s lawyer conveniently had a couple of fainting spells that delayed the proceedings when tough questioning didn’t go his way (see DRBC Lawyer Nearly Faints 2nd Time When Questioned by Fed Judges). On Tuesday, July 3rd, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, sending the case back down to U.S. District Court with orders to more fully consider what is, and what is not, meant by the word “project” in the original DRBC charter. Interpretation: This is a MAJOR victory for the landowner, and a MAJOR defeat of the DRBC. No, the case isn’t over yet, but now the full case will get heard. The legal arguments in the case clearly support the landowner. The rogue DRBC is very nervous, as evidenced by reaction from their proxy mouthpiece, THE Delaware Riverkeeper…
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Sunoco Seeks to Use Alternate Pipe Near Philly to Get ME2 Flowing

Years ago when Sunoco Logistics Partners (aka Energy Transfer Partners) originally proposed and planned the Mariner East 2 twin pipelines from the edge of eastern Ohio through the entire length of Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia, the completion date promised was the end of 2016. Little could Sunoco foresee the multiple lawsuits, regulatory hearings and illegal protest actions that would conspire to throw the project off schedule for more than a year and half. When pipeline companies plan such multi-billion dollar projects, they first get customers (drillers) to sign on the dotted line, guaranteeing there will be enough product (and revenue) to make the project worthwhile. Drillers *did* sign on the dotted line, and they’re still waiting. Waiting and now pressuring Sunoco to get the darned thing up and running. The pipeline itself is 98% complete–in the ground and connected. But an all-important 2% is still not complete, most of it in the Philly suburbs–Delaware and Chester counties. Sunoco continues to have problems with underground horizontal directional drilling and with ongoing litigation by towns in the Philly area. What to do, with customers breathing down your back? Sunoco has come up with an ingenious solution that is sure to send the crazies into orbit. Sunoco is asking the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for permission to use part of an existing 12-inch pipeline in that area that previously carried refined petroleum products (things like gasoline, heating oil, and jet fuel), repurposing the pipeline to carry NGLs (ethane, propane, butane, etc.). This is only a short-term fix until the last bits of the full ME2 is up and running…
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2 Lancaster Radicals Arrested Stopping Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Work

The married couple who started Lancaster Against Pipelines (LAP), Mark and Malinda Clatterbuck, are far-left radicals who pretend to be mom and pop, salt-of-the-earth, neighbor-next-door, aw-shucks common folks who would never engage in “violent” protests. Mark Clatterbuck admits to traveling to North Dakota to participate in the mass action against the Dakota Access Pipeline–a “protest” that turned quite violent and destroyed millions of dollars of property. No, we’re not saying nor implying that Clatterbuck himself engaged in illegal actions while there. We are saying the Clatterbucks’ sympathies lie with protest movements that sometimes result in such actions. The Clatterbucks made some big boasts–that some 1,000 people had pledged to protest and get themselves arrested to stop Atlantic Sunrise, a $3 billion, 198-mile pipeline project running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeastern PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. Something under 50 people have actually been arrested for illegal actions in trying to stop construction. As the Atlantic Sunrise project nears completion in all locations, including Lancaster County, apparently LAP is feeling neglected. Nobody talks about them anymore. They didn’t/couldn’t stop the pipeline, as they had boasted they would. So in an attempt to grab one more headline, Mark and another LAP protester, Elliot Martin, connected themselves together at a pipeline construction site using a “sleeping dragon”…
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Blue Wolf Goes Hunting – Extreme Plastics Merging with Mustang

Extreme Plastics Plus (EPP) has been manufacturing and installing well pad liners since 2007. Pad liners protect the ground from accidental spills of frack wastewater and chemicals used during the drilling process. Located in Fairmont, WV, EPP’s customers are in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. In order to expand, EPP raised an undisclosed amount of investment money from Hastings Equity Partners in 2013 (see WV Well Pad Liner Company Gets Shot of Investment Money to Grow). However, a few years later the market turned down and EPP fell on hard times, eventually filing for bankruptcy (see WV Oilfield Services Co. Extreme Plastics Files for Bankruptcy). In late 2016, MDN told you that Blue Wolf Capital Partners was on the hunt for bargains and had offered a “stalking horse” bid to purchase EPP out of bankruptcy. Blue Wolf landed its prey, buying the company’s assets out of bankruptcy in December 2016 (see Blue Wolf Stalks and Rescues Extreme Plastics from Bankruptcy). According to Blue Wolf, EPP would exit bankruptcy with a debt-free balance sheet and in the pole position for an eventual oil and gas market recovery. Blue Wolf has gone hunting again and this time found Mustang Energy Services, another pad liner company. Blue Wolf announced earlier this week it has orchestrated a merger between EPP and Mustang. The combined companies (no word yet on which name, if either, they will use), have customers in eight states and counting. Here’s what happens when Blue Wolf goes hunting…
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Rolling Blackouts/Brownouts Coming to Upstate NY? Maybe

In May, MDN brought you a story of how New England was “this close” to rolling blackouts due to an extreme shortage of electricity during a cold snap (see When Neighbors Go Bad: NY Forcing New England into Blackouts). New York is blocking natural gas pipelines that are critically needed to flow gas to New England gas-fired electric plants. New England has a bunch of old 1960s oil-burning plants. It was reactivating those old plants and burning 2 million barrels of oil over a two-week period (belching out all sorts of pollution), that kept the lights on in New England this past winter. But what’s this? New York itself is now in a pickle. National Grid, a local electric utility operating in much of Upstate, is warning customers to “reduce unnecessary electricity usage for the remainder of the week.” Why? The company says that although, “Electricity supply to the area is adequate…heavy demand and high temperatures could potentially challenge regional networks.” Translation: Use less electricity or you may face a rolling blackout/brownout. They don’t use those words, but we do. It sure looks to us like NY (via Andrew Cuomo) is beginning to reap what it’s sown. Stop new pipelines, block new gas-fired electric plant projects, and this is what you get when the temps turn really hot, or really cold…
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Shale Support Buys 2 Frac Sand Mines in La. to Help Service M-U

Last September MDN told you that Shale Support Holdings, “a leading provider of frac sand and logistical solutions to the oil and gas proppant market” (headquartered in Texas, with an operations center in Mississippi), was stepping up its presence in the Marcellus/Utica region with a partnership with Tidewater Logistics (see Shale Support Holdings Expands M-U Frac Sand Business via Partnership). The partnership increases Shale Support’s operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Because Shale Support can ship sand direct from Mississippi, which is much closer than most other alternatives, the price for frac sand is cheaper for customers. Shale Support announced another important deal in May, to become the exclusive supplier for a major regional frac sand facility in Wysox (Bradford County), PA (see Shale Support Exclusive Frac Sand Supplier for NEPA Facility). Two weeks ago, in June, Shale Support made yet another announcement–they’ve just closed on a deal to buy two natural sand mines in Louisiana. The mines add another 2 million tons per year of frac sand (now totaling 5 million tons) that Shale Support will provide to plays like the Haynesville, Austin Chalk, Eagle Ford and (yes), to the Marcellus/Utica…
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EPA Advances Effort to Overturn Obama Waters of the U.S. Rule

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 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. We won’t recount the history of lawsuits and counter lawsuits that have ensued. We’ll only tell you that in January the U.S. Supreme Court entered the fray by determining which courts can hear lawsuits regarding WOTUS (see U.S. Supreme Court Changes Jurisdiction for WOTUS Challenges). At the end of January, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued an order to suspend/delay the Obama version of WOTUS until a new version is ready, in two years (see EPA Director Scott Pruitt Suspends Obama WOTUS Rule). Pruitt’s action has (so far) held, much to the consternation of radical environmentalists. Pruitt has just architected another masterstroke, issuing a “Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” for WOTUS. The notice does two things: It states unequivocally that the EPA and Army Corps want to completely overturn the 2015 Obama WOTUS rule; and it inoculates the process of overturning WOTUS so that future lawsuits can’t bring it back from the dead…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Thu, Jul 5, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Hilcorp gets 3 Utica permits for Columbiana County, first new permits there this year; de Blasio should be prepared for climate lawsuit to be tossed; administrative law judge in Minnesota recommends against building natgas-fired plant; folks are waking up to what it means that Powelson is leaving FERC–and it ain’t pretty; fossil fuels still dominate U.S. energy consumption, although renewables gain some ground; preserve farmland with fracking; University of Arizona about to be outed for climate fraud; a new oil “cartel” threatens OPEC; and more!
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