FREE Audio: MDN Top 5 Stories for Week of August 13, 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 Lets MVP Restart Work on 25% of Pipe; MVP Lays off ‘Thousands’

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has had a change of heart–sort of–with respect to their stop-work order issued to Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). We previously told you that on August 3, FERC told MVP to stop all construction prompted by an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacating permits issued for the project as it crosses 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). In a letter to FERC this past Tuesday, MVP asked FERC to reconsider and allow them to restart construction for at least part of the pipeline. FERC agreed and partially lifted the stop-work order a day later, on Wednesday. The new order allows MVP to work on the project for 77 of its 303 miles–about 25%. However, in a sad announcement, MVP said because so much of the project remains (for now) idled, it is laying off 50% of the workers who had been working on it. It’s estimated that around 6,000 people are employed directly or indirectly on the project, which means “thousands” (perhaps as many as 3,000 people) are now out of work–thanks to the Sierra Club and their lawsuit. Hey, how many jobs has the Sierra Club created? What’s that? NONE?! And how many jobs has the Sierra Club destroyed? We’d estimate it to be in the tens of thousands. MVP also announced that due to the ongoing work stoppage and delays, the project completion and in-service date has now slipped to the end of next year–an additional nine months. It’s a sad day indeed…
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Cabot Sets it Sights on Richland County, OH for 4th Test Well

Cabot Oil & Gas is drilling test wells in north central Ohio looking for “what’s next” after the Marcellus. So far Cabot, long known for its prolific production in the Marcellus Shale, has drilled two test wells and is in the process of permitting/drilling a third well, all in Ashland County, OH. Now Cabot is turning its sights on neighboring Richland County. Last Tuesday Cabot reps briefed Richland County commissioners on what they’re doing in Ashland County, and what they would like to do in Richland. Here’s the latest on Cabot’s effort to locate a new rock layer, hoping to spin straw into gold like they’ve done in Susquehanna County, PA…
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PA DEP Gives ME2 Pipe OK to Restart Construction Near Philly

Work on the Mariner East 2 and 2x pipelines in West Whiteland Township, Chester County (near Philadelphia) stopped in May following a Public Utility Commission (PUC) administrative law judge’s highly questionable ruling (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). The PUC overruled the judge in early August, allowing most work to restart in West Whiteland–in all but four locations (see PA PUC Allows ME2 Pipeline Work to Restart Near Philly). The remaining four locations involve underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work that has led to sinkholes. Yesterday the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection announced they have reviewed two of the four remaining locations and say revised plans submitted by Sunoco Logistics Partners (the builder) look good to them. That is, Sunoco can restart construction in those two locations as soon as the PUC gives them the go-ahead. The DEP is now reviewing the final two locations. Seems as if we’re fighting for every single inch to finish this project…
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Cuomo Pipe Policies Put Thousands of Union Members Out of Work

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing yesterday to consider the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018 (S. 3303). Two weeks ago we told you about S. 3303, a bill that will “fix” the issue of states like New York using Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which allows states to have a say in where interstate pipeline routes can pass through a state, from abusing that authority to block pipeline projects (see US Senate Bill Fixes States Blocking Pipelines via Water Permits). One of the people testifying at yesterday’s hearing was Brent Booker, the secretary-treasurer of North America’s Building Trades Unions. Brent represents some 3 million (!) union workers. He spoke passionately about the damage that has been done by NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo in blocking new pipeline projects. Because of Cuomo’s actions, literally thousands of union workers (Democrat voters) are now out of work–people who could have been working all along but aren’t because Cuomo is abusing the federal Clean Water Act’s Section 401 to politically block new fossil fuel pipelines…
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Caithness Energy Sues PSEG for Blocking Long Island Gas-Fired Plant

Caithness Energy, a privately held company that specializes in buying or building (and operating) renewable energy and natural gas-fired power plants, owns a 350 megawatt natgas-fired power plant in Yaphank, NY–on Long Island. For more than four years Caithness has had a plan to build a second natgas-fired plant next to their first plant. The original plan was for a 750 MW plant, later scaled back to 600 MW. Local leaders in Brookhaven Town in which the existing and proposed power plant projects sit have been against the plan for a new power plant, passing restrictions in 2015 that tied the hands of Caithness, making the project impossible to build. But in July, the board reversed course and voted to repeal the 2015 restriction that limits the type of equipment Caithness can use in building the plant, clearing the way for the project (see Long Island Town Votes to Allow New Gas-Fired Elec Plant). However, the path is still not cleared. Newark, NJ-based PSEG (Public Service Enterprise Group), which provides electricity to Long Island, told the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) that the Caithness plant is not needed. It’s a case of one competitor unfairly trying to block another–according to Caithness, which has just filed a lawsuit against PSEG saying it has suffered “hundreds of millions of dollars of harm” because of PSEG’s actions to block the project. Looks like this one is going to get NY nasty…
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Fed Judge Revives Obama Waters of US Tragedy in 26 States

U.S. District Judge David Norton

Just when you thought we were making progress in reversing some of the cancerous regulations imposed by Lord Obama, up pops a swamp-dwelling judge (appointed by George H.W. Bush, George the 1st) to reinstate the idiotic “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulation in 26 states. In May 2015, Obama’s radical Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with the Obama U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released a finalized rule clarifying what 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 (and no, we’re not exaggerating) as being subject to the federal 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 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). In February, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (we’re sorry he’s now gone) suspended the existing WOTUS until two years from now when a new WOTUS will be ready (see EPA Director Scott Pruitt Suspends Obama WOTUS Rule). The swamp-dwelling, Bushie U.S. District Judge David Norton threw that out and reinstated WOTUS. It’s OK for Obama and his droids to take the law into their own hands, but when another administration comes in and wants to wash away the stain of overregulation, that’s not OK. We call that protecting the swamp…
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Irrational Fossil Fuel Hatred in Bristol, VT re Local Gas Line

It took Vermont Gas Systems three years to build a 41-mile, $165 million natural gas transmission pipeline from Colchester to Middlebury. The pipeline went into service in April. Vermont Gas is now working to complete several local distribution spurs–short, small pipelines to deliver the gas to homes and businesses. One of those spurs goes to Bristol, VT. A handful of Bristol residents are suing the town board for approving the local distribution pipeline without first holding a townwide vote. When you read the objections of those against the project, they don’t talk about exploding pipelines and safety issues, or running pipelines through pristine areas. How can they object on that basis? There are literally tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of miles of this very same kind of pipeline in every major and most minor cities and towns across the country. When you read the comments of those in Bristol objecting, they talk about natural gas as “a big, dirty fossil fuel” and fracking as an abject evil, contaminating water, filled with chemicals, yada yada yada. In other words, they are clinically insane. They irrationally hate fossil fuels, even though their very lives and existence depend on those fossil fuels every minute of every day. We’ve run out of words to describe such lunacy…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Fri, Aug 17, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Dominion once again offering $1 million to local nonprofits; Allegheny County Health Dept. investigating frack sand terminal; Pennsylvanians have a clear choice for US Senator–Lou; wackos protest in Albany to ask Cuomo to stop coal plant from converting to natgas; there is a stable market for coal aside from electric generation; Mexico’s new president rolling back free market reforms in oil & gas; does OPEC really have the oil supplies it claims?; and more!
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