FREE Audio: MDN Top 5 Stories for Week of July 16, 2018

Below is an audio recording (“podcast”) featuring the Top 5 stories most read over the past week on MDN. Just click on the green button to listen. Below the recording is a list of the Top 5 with links to click to read the full stories (available only for subscribers). This list is meant as a way for folks to quickly catch up on the most essential news of the week–“essential” as determined by MDN’s audience of readers. Enjoy!


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FERC Declines to Overrule NY DEC re Constitution Pipe 2nd Time

One more thread has broken that holds together hope that Williams’ Constitution Pipeline will ever get built. Perhaps the final thread. Yesterday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a ruling denying a rehearing request on the project–the second time they have done so. The Andrew Cuomo-corrupted NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) refused to grant the pipeline project necessary federal stream crossing permits, blocking construction, in April 2016 (see NY Gov. Cuomo Refuses to Grant Permits for Constitution Pipeline). Williams asked the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) to overrule DEC and allow construction to begin. In January of this year, FERC denied that request (see Death of the Constitution Pipeline? FERC Refuses to Overrule NY DEC). In February of this year, Williams asked FERC to reconsider their denial. FERC’s response yesterday: No. Meanwhile, Williams had filed a lawsuit in federal court that eventually was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In April, the Supremes refused to hear the case, shutting down that avenue (see Supreme Court Rejects Constitution Pipe Request to Overrule NY). As we’ve previously written, we now see only two remaining threads of hope–and they are very thin threads at that: (1) NY elects Cuomo’s Republican rival as governor and he reverses course and permits the project (about a snowball’s chance in Hades that Republican Marc Molinaro will win), and (2) President Trump signs an executive order overruling NY. That second thread is about the best chance Constitution now has. And even if Trump were to issue an executive order, we expect NY would go to court to try and stop it, dragging it out for years. As sad as we are to say this, for all intents and purposes, Constitution is dead…
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ME2 Pipe Antis Politely & Completely Skewered at PA House Hearing

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania State Rep. Chris Quinn (R-Delaware) hosted a House Republican Policy Committee meeting at the Penn State Brandywine Campus (Delaware County) to discuss pipeline safety, construction and siting issues in Chester and Delaware counties. The real aim of the session was to focus on Sunoco Logistics Partners’ Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project–a state-regulated project not under the purview of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Eve Miari of the Clean Air Council and Virginia Marcille-Kerslake from West Whiteland Residents for Pipeline Safety were there to provide an overview of concerns by “the community” with siting and building ME2. MDN friend Garland Thompson, a contributing editor for US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine, attended the session and wrote a report (below). As usual, Garland does a terrific job in capturing the key points of what was discussed. Spoiler alert: While Garland found Miari and Marcille-Kerslake’s testimony heart-felt, their allegations that nobody was/is in charge of siting a project like ME2, and that Sunoco is not being “transparent” in their building of ME2, were skewered, point by point by point. Here is clear, honest, accurate reporting you won’t get anywhere else…
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Progress on US Methanol Plant in Institute, WV – Praxair Providing O2

US Methanol broke ground last September in Institute (Kanawha County), WV to build its very first methanol production plant (see US Methanol Breaks Ground on First Plant in West Virginia). Methanol plants convert natural gas into methanol, used as a chemical feedstock (raw material) to create other things, like gasoline, antifreeze, plastic bottles–even LED and LCD screens. Methanol plants use a LOT of natural gas, hence our interest. A number of dignitaries attended the groundbreaking in Institute, including colorful WV Governor Jim Justice. Factoid: the plant in Institute is being constructed/assembled from a deconstructed methanol plant from Brazil. The new plant, called Liberty One, was supposed to open in mid-2018. That’s now changed. It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed Liberty One and its progress. It popped up on our radar when we spotted a press release from Praxair, an industrial gas company, announcing they have been selected as a partner to provide Liberty One with oxygen–lots of oxygen–to be used in the plant as part of the chemical process of converting methane into methanol. When we checked the Liberty One project site, we noticed the timeline to complete the plant has changed–from the previously announced mid-2018 to fourth quarter of 2019…
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Elba Island, Ga. LNG Export Startup Delayed to 4Q18

Elba Express – click for larger version

Southern LNG, a unit of Kinder Morgan, filed a request in March with the Dept. of Energy asking the DOE for “blanket authorization” to export LNG from the Elba Island LNG plant in Georgia beginning in the third quarter of this year (see Elba Island LNG Wants to Start Up in Q3 This Year). Kinder has now changed its tune and says it will fourth quarter, not third, for initial startup. Elba Island will be the second East Coast LNG export plant to go online, following the now operational Cove Point LNG plant. Elba is quite a bit smaller than Cove Point. Whereas Cove Point can take in and liquefy up to 3.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas, Elba Island will be able to liquefy up to 350 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d)–just 10% of Cove Point’s capacity. Still, Elba Island is an important project, because it will almost certainly be Marcellus gas feeding it. How so?…
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Dunkirk, NY Desperate to Restart Shuttered Electric Plant

This is a truly sad story. Because of delays from lawsuits and regulators, power generator NRG said last week it has officially given up on restarting a shuttered coal-fired electric plant near Buffalo, in the Town of Dunkirk. There had been plans to convert the plant to burn natural gas, but due to delays, it didn’t happen. NRG closed the coal-fired plant in 2016, which was an economic nuclear bomb for Dunkirk–they get 40% of their tax revenue from that one plant. New York State “generously” shucked out $5.5 million so Dunkirk wouldn’t collapse economically. But doing that year after year will get old quick. Dunkirk needs that plant. Because of delays due to a lawsuit by a competitor (now dropped), NRG needs to restart the project from scratch, which means reconnecting the plant to the electricity grid. Estimated reconnect costs go as high as $115 million! The cost of “transmission upgrades,” according to the NY grid operator. The cost to reconnect would be almost as much as the project cost itself (see Looks Like WNY Coal-Fired Plant Will Never Convert to Gas/Reopen). As we predicted last month, NRG is walking away from the project. They said so, officially, last week. And that has Dunkirk leaders and residents in a panic, desperate to find someone else to take over the project and get it going. Don’t hold your breath. If NRG can’t make the numbers work, what makes Dunkirk think another company can?…
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Broome County, NY Substitutes Solar Crumbs for NatGas Feast

We have nothing against solar energy–honestly. Yes, in one sense solar competes with natural gas, but hey, let the best energy source win! Truth be told, we need all energy sources, not just one. So please understand this is not a “bash solar” story. However, we do have a problem when politicians and anti-fossil fuel zealots insist we MUST use one source of energy over another. That’s just not American. And it doesn’t make economic sense either. You may hear that solar is cheap and getting cheaper. Some claim solar now produces electricity at a lower cost than natural gas. Not true. Here’s a comparison. Earlier this week Broome County celebrated the startup of a “large” solar farm on 20 acres of county-owned land in Conklin, NY. The official ribbon cutting was a big affair with the county executive claiming the county will save $140,000 a year with the facility–a facility that’s a year-and-a-half late going online. Fair enough. Who doesn’t want to save $140K a year, right? Not that a single taxpayer in Broome County will notice the 10 cents per tax bill they end up saving. Meanwhile, over the past ten years in Susquehanna County, PA (just south of Broome County, shares a border with Broome), natural gas drilling has been going great guns. In Susquehanna County, a single driller, Cabot Oil & Gas, has put $1.5 billion into the pockets of private landowners through signing bonuses and royalties, and has spent another $3.5 billion on drilling (over $5 billion total spent)–all in Susquehanna County. It is an economic miracle. Tax revenues in the county have gone through the roof! Millions have poured into tax coffers because of the gas industry. Cabot, a single driller, is providing 2.5% of all the natural gas produced in the U.S.–from Susquehanna County. And that’s just one driller! There are more drillers in Susquehanna. We’d estimate that at least $7-$8 billion has flowed into the county over the past 10 years. Mind blowing. And yet, here in the Binghamton area, local media has a blackout and refuses to report on Susquehanna County’s economic miracle. Meanwhile, Broome residents are told to get all excited about saving $140K a year. We’re being asked to jump up and down and feel good about a few economic cracker crumbs when 15 miles away everyone eats economic filet mignon. And now a group of antis masquerading as a solar group is trying to snow even more Broome residents into thinking solar is our energy savior. They’re selling a bill of goods…
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Federal Judge Tosses NYC Climate Change Lawsuit Against Oil Cos.

New York City, in its attempt to (a) take every last dime out of the pockets of five big oil companies, and (b) shut down all fossil fuel extraction in the future–has struck out. Rather magnificently. In January, New York City’s insane mayor, Bill de Blasio, used city resources to sue five oil companies, blaming them for “climate change”–the hoax that mankind is causing the earth to warm at an apocalyptic rate (see NYC Commits Fossil Fuel Suicide – Sues Big Oil, Ending Investments). The theory behind global warming is that burning fossil fuels (extracted by the five companies) releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere where the CO2 then acts like a canopy over the earth, trapping in heat from the sun, causing the earth to warm. And, as the theory goes, Mom Earth is warming up to such a degree that it will “soon” (any year now) kill plants, animals, mankind–all living things. All sorts of ills are laid at the feet of so-called global warming, now called “climate change,” including earthquakes, major storms, hurricanes, pestilence, racism. No, we’re not exaggerating. EVERYTHING is blamed on global warming. Even the record cold temperatures that we experienced in the northeast last winter are blamed on global warming! Wait–how can that be? How can a canopy effect trapping heat cause COLDER temps? Obviously it can’t, but these people will believe anything. At its root, de Blasio’s move is not *really* about global warming and preserving the planet–it’s about an avowed socialist (de Blasio admits his perverse political leanings) attempting to steal money from those who earn it, in order to redistribute it to people who don’t earn it, people who will keep voting de Blasio into office in response to his political bribery. The gig is up. The judge in the case tossed it out yesterday, saying court is not the place for these kinds of charades…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Fri, Jul 20, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: We need a serious conversation about laws to control pipeline siting; Heinz Endowments funds radical fractivist attorneys; WV program offers students energy education; Massachusetts fracking ban in hypocritical–in the extreme; FERC’s natgas pipeline greenhouse gas analysis policy; oilfield services companies looking to other countries for new growth; FERC collaborating with other agencies on speedier LNG export permits; new tax rule adopted by FERC for pipelines; China sits on world’s biggest shale gas prize; sanctions for Russian pipeline colluders; and more!
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