Federal Court Stops Works on Some (All?) of Atlantic Coast Pipe

In a pattern that has become obvious, and disturbing, the radicalized Sierra Club has once again prevailed in shutting down work on a second mammoth pipeline project–Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–by concentrating their legal arguments at one small, specific point of the project. This happened with Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). As we reported yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) told MVP to stop work on the entire project, at least for now (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). The Sierra Club convinced the without-experience-in-the-oil-and-gas-industry judges of the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn permits granted by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to build MVP across 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest, on the border of WV and VA. This time, with ACP, the Sierra Club convinced the Fourth Circuit to overturn permits granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) granted to ACP to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway. However, the rolled-back permits affect more of ACP than MVP–about 100 miles of work out of 600+ miles. The court, in rolling back ACP’s permits all but told FERC they need to shut down work on the entire project until this matter is resolved. The court can’t order FERC to do so, but they strongly cautioned FERC that they should do so. Since FERC stopped work on MVP, it stands to reason they will do it with ACP too. So lightening has now struck twice, and it’s not good. Dominion maintains they will continue to build ACP except for those areas where the Fourth Circuit has rolled back permits. In other words, they’ll keep building it in North Carolina and some locations in WV. All eyes are now on FERC. We hate to say this, but our guess is that FERC will shut down the entire ACP project, for now. It’s virtually the same scenario as MVP which FERC elected to shut down. Why would this project be any different?…
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Cuomo Strikes Again: Blocks Completed Gas-Fired Plant from Starting

Andrew Cuomo is a tinhorn dictator who must be stopped (politically). NOW. Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) Valley Energy Center is a $900 million, 680-megawatt natural gas-fired electric generating plant in Orange County, NY (near the Hudson River). The plant is fully built, and the Millennium pipeline now flows Marcellus gas to it (see Millennium Lateral Pipe to NY Gas-Fired Elec Plant Begins Service). Valley Energy Center is tested, vetted, and ready to start producing electricity. But at the last minute, Cuomo pulled strings with his lapdog head of the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Basil Seggos, and the DEC has rejected renewing an air permit for the facility. The DEC, using trickery and doublespeak, now says the project must file for a different kind of air permit, called a Title V Clean Air Act permit, which requires additional mountains of paperwork and (most importantly for Big Green radicals), more time for “public input”–including at least 45 days for review by the U.S. EPA. Why didn’t the DEC require that permit from the start? Why sandbag the project and wait until they’re ready to flip the switch, and then tell them “wrong permit”? This is an underhanded, dirty trick. It is corrupt. And it is Andrew Cuomo at the center of it…
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Change in Direction for One Leg of Mountaineer Gas Pipe in WV

In 2017, Mountaineer Gas launched the Eastern Panhandle Expansion pipeline project–a project to deliver natural gas via local distribution channels to a new industrial facility in Berkeley County, WV, and to provide gas to other local businesses and residents in the Tri-State area. Mountaineer’s pipeline expansion will be fed by a 3.5-mile Columbia Gas pipeline under the Potomac River. There are three phases to the Eastern Panhandle Expansion project: Phase One runs a 22.5-mile, 10-inch-diameter steel pipeline from Morgan County to Martinsburg; Phase Two includes a loop to Charles Town; and Phase Three will build a four mile segment of pipeline into Martinsburg. Phase One began construction in March (see Mountaineer Gas Begins Work on Morgan County, WV Pipeline). By all accounts, Phase One is close to being done. Phase Two is up next. There is some confusion (for us) over what was and was not filed by Mountaineer with respect to this project. It appears there was no official Phase Two request previously filed, that Mountaineer’s approach all along has been to run pipelines where the opportunities crop up, filing for permission as circumstances warrant. Since the project was first announced, there’s been a new opportunity. Although Phase Two was originally forecast to run to Charles Town (Jefferson County), that’s now changed–to run to Ranson (also Jefferson County) instead, to feed gas to a new $150 million manufacturing plant being built…
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PA Supremes Order Rehearing for Rex Permits Near Martian School

The Martians and their allies have attacked once again. Run for the hills! This is a long-running story that’s just taken another (unfortunate) twist. A handful of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (“Martians”) in Butler County, PA, backed by money and legal help from Philadelphia Big Green groups THE Delaware Riverkeeper and the Clean Air Council, have filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit (see Martians Use Riverkeeper to Continue Court Battle Against Rex). The effort is aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. The actions by these radicalized parents have cost the taxpayers of Middlesex Township over $100,000 in legal fees (we hope the taxpayers enjoying paying for this folly). Eventually most of the lawsuits were won by the good guys and at least two wells got drilled. However, in 2016 the Martians appealed a town ordinance that allows the wells to be drilled about 3/4 of a mile from the school. A panel of three western PA judges in Commonwealth Court heard arguments in the case, and in June 2017 the judges ruled against Riverkeeper and the Martians (see Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Martian Case to Stop Rex Energy Drilling). Riverkeeper, using funding from the William Penn Foundation and Heinz Endowments (among other Big Green funders) pressed on, all the way to the PA Supreme Court. Last Friday the Supremes proved they aren’t so supreme after all. In a ruling, the Supremes told Commonwealth Court to do it over again, this time considering PA’s so-called Environmental Rights Amendment as part of their thinking. In other words, do it over, and rule another way this time–that’s what the Supremes are telling the lower court to do…
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Antis Oppose Williams Plan to Beef Up Compressor in Essex, NJ

Gateway Expansion Project – click for larger version

Last November Williams filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to upgrade certain facilities in New Jersey along the Williams mighty Transco Pipeline, in order to flow an extra 65,000 dekatherms per day (or 65 million cubic feet) of natural gas to a couple of utility companies that have already signed on the dotted line as customers (see Williams Files FERC Appl for Transco “Gateway Expansion Project”). The project is called the Transco “Gateway Expansion Project” and will cost roughly $85 million. The upgrades include a new compressor unit at Transco’s existing Compressor Station 303 in Essex County, NJ, a new valve and electric transformer also in Essex County, and equipment upgrades at a metering station in Passaic County, NJ. Both PSEG Power and UGI Energy Services have signed up to receive the extra gas–to be distributed to their customers in the region. There is a public hearing tonight in Essex County concerning the compressor station. Big Green group Food & Water Watch (one of the worst of the worst) is planning to import protesters to try and disrupt the meeting, stirring up opposition by lying about the project and its safety. Meanwhile, Williams points out they’ve operated five compressor stations, including Station 303 in Essex, for “decades” with no accidents and a stellar safety record…
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Sunoco Fined $148K for ME2 Drilling that Fouled PA Water Wells

At various points over the past year or so, Sunoco Logistics, in using underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for the Mariner East 2 pipeline project, has negatively affected some private water wells. A dozen private wells were affected by ME2 work in West Whiteland Township, in Chester County, last summer (see Sunoco LP’s Generous Deal to Chester Co. Residents with Water Issues). Sunoco made the situation right in West Whiteland, paying to extend a local municipal water line to the affected homes. But West Whiteland wasn’t the only location. There were others, in Berks County and Lebanon County. To the best of our knowledge, all of the water well issues have been corrected. But as always happens with these incidents, companies like Sunoco must pay twice. They pay (handsomely) to fix the issue–as they should. But then they pay a fine to the state. The fine for fouling water wells in three counties related to ME2 work was handed down yesterday by the Dept. of Environmental Protection. Sunoco has to pay $148,000 for violating PA’s Clean Streams Law and Dam Safety and Encroachment Act…
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Riverkeeper Too Late to Challenge Penn East Pipe Water Certificate

In Feb. 2017, THE Delaware Riverkeeper filed a lawsuit challenging water permits issued by PA for the PennEast Pipeline (see PennEast Pipeline Gets 401 Water Quality Certificate from PA DEP). Riverkeeper filed their challenge late, arguing it was confused over where to file the challenge–in federal or state court. Commonwealth Court told Riverkeeper nice try, but no cigar. Last Wednesday Commonwealth Court told Riverkeeper, “you’re too late.” The court said Riverkeeper’s “confusion” over where they should file is not justification for filing WAY past the deadline to challenge the permit. We doubt Riverkeeper even thought this particular lawsuit (one of dozens they’ve launched against PennEast) would bear fruit. This is just one more instance of Riverkeeper’s “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” legal strategy. This particular handful fell to the ground…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Tue, Aug 7, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Chesapeake leaving OH, but not done drilling yet; IOGA WV chief says future natgas prices flat; Rochester, NY industrial park celebrates converting from coal to natgas; national rig count down by 4, 3 of them in WV; high paying Utica jobs for the taking; NC county considers voting against MVP pipeline; new national natgas coalition forms; what to expect in natgas usage by power plants in August; and more!
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