Revolution Pipeline Near Pittsburgh Explodes – Home & Barn Destroyed

Yesterday morning shortly before 5 am, a 24-inch gathering pipeline in Beaver County, PA (about 30 miles from Pittsburgh) caught fire and exploded. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, although a nearby home, barn and two garages were leveled by fire from the blast. The pipeline went online just last week, on Sept. 3. It wasn’t even officially/commercially online–it was still in testing phase. The exploded pipeline is part of Energy Transfer’s 100-mile Revolution Pipeline system. The pipe gathers dry and wet gas from local wells and delivers it to a cryogenic separating plant in Washington County, PA. From there, the separated methane goes into the Burgettstown Lateral of the Rover Pipeline (Burgettstown began service on Sept. 1). Following the explosion around 30 homes within a half mile were evacuated, but returned later in the day. Some 1,500 people in the area were without power for part of the day after six high-tension electric lines were toppled, either by the blast or the ensuring fire. A full investigation is now under way, but early indications are a “ground slip” (i.e. landslide) was the cause. That area has been pounded day after day with torrential rain, saturating the ground and causing multiple landslides in the area. Philadelphia antis (on the other side of the state) have already piled on, rubbing their hands with glee, pointing out Energy Transfer is the same company as Sunoco Logistics Partners–the company building the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. Antis are using a freak accident  and tragedy in the hills outside Pittsburgh to try and stop ME2 in the flat country of Greater Philadelphia…
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PA Court Upholds $1.1M Fine on EQT re Wastewater Impoundment

Yesterday Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court upheld a PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) fine levied on EQT for $1.1 million related to a leaky wastewater impoundment in 2012. The case dates back to 2014 when the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) slapped EQT with a $4.53 million fine for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County, something that happened two years earlier (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). EQT never said there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, but they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine was unreasonable and arbitrary. EQT appealed the fine and the case all the way to the PA Supreme Court, and in April of this year, the Supremes ruled in favor of EQT, saying that the DEP’s levied fine was excessive and that the DEP misinterpreted language in the 1937 Clean Streams Law (see PA Supreme Court Axes DEP $4.5M Fine in EQT Tioga Wastewater Leak). We thought that was the end of the case. But it wasn’t. The Supremes ruled on “water to water” contamination in the case, but not on “ground to water” contamination. PA law allows for companies to be on the hook for each day a contaminant enters the water table. In May the court heard oral arguments over how to prove whether contaminants in the soil have moved into groundwater (see EQT Continues to Fight PA DEP Fine re Wastewater Impoundment). What lawyers argued was whether or not, and how, the DEP can prove contaminants in the ground, there because of EQT’s leak, can be proven to have leached into the water on any given day. DEP claimed to have a formula and calculated a revised $1.1 million fine based on assumptions about how many days the contaminants leaked out of the ground. Yesterday, Commonwealth Court agreed with DEP and upheld the fine…
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Lancaster Nuns Appeal Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Case to US Supreme Court

The Sisters of the Corn (our name for the a group of nuns in Lancaster County, PA) are not giving up their wildly hypocritical lawsuit against Williams for building the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline across their property. The good sisters are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, claiming infringement of religious freedom. The nuns use natural gas to heat an old folks home they operate, yet are trying to block the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline from traversing that very same property. We don’t know how they justify using natural gas yet actively try to block a pipeline that delivers it. The nuns, with the help of local anti group Lancaster Against Pipelines, stuck a garden trellis and a few wooden park benches in the middle of a corn field owned by the nuns (leased to a local farmer) directly in the path of the pipeline, declaring the site a “chapel.” Hence our attempt at humor, calling them “Sisters of the Corn.” The sisters then sued to block the pipeline based on religious grounds (see Lancaster Nuns Demand “Religious Freedom” Trial re Pipeline). It was a flimflam lawsuit from the beginning and the courts saw through it. The case was thrown out by a lower court, and appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District. In July, the Third District tossed the case too (see Fed Court Tosses Lancaster Nuns’ Lawsuit re Atlantic Sunrise Pipe). The only legal option left to the sisters is to pray for a miracle–that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case, and find in their favor…
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Risberg Pipe from NW PA to NE OH Plans Construction in October

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RH energytrans, which plans to build a 60-mile, $86 million pipeline from Crawford County, PA through Erie County and into Ashtabula County, OH, says they expect to begin digging for the new pipeline soon. RH officials told North Kingsville officials (Ashtabula County) last week that “construction could begin soon.” How soon? Early October, provided they get a final OK from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Last October MDN brought you details about the proposed Risberg Line pipeline project (see New 60-Mile Pipeline Proposed from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). The project will use approximately 32 miles of existing pipeline in an established Right of Way originating in the Meadville, PA area. Approximately 16 miles of new pipeline will be built in Pennsylvania and approximately 12 miles of new pipeline will be built in Ohio–meaning 28 miles of brand new “greenfield” pipeline needs to get built. In late June, FERC issued a favorable environmental assessment for the project (see 60-Mile Pipeline from NW PA to NE OH Gets Favorable FERC Review). A favorable EA is the penultimate step before FERC gives a final OK. That final OK is due no later than Sept. 27. Clearly RH believes they will get a final OK within the next two weeks, and they’re communicating with communities, alerting them construction is about to begin…
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Penn Virginia Hires New Board Member to Help Sell the Company

Penn Virginia issued what may appear to most to be a low-key, innocuous press release yesterday, announcing the company has added a new board member. Penn Virginia said that V. Frank Pottow has joined the Board of Directors as a new independent member, effective September 10, 2018. Pottow is the co-founder of GCP Capital and has been a managing director and member of the investment committee of Greenhill Capital Partners since July 2002. Why is that significant? Because Penn Virginia, as of July, is trying to sell itself (see Penn Virginia Puts Itself Up for Sale – Again). They’ve just hired a venture capitalist with 25 years of experience to (we’re guessing) find a buyer for the company. Penn Virginia is an oil and gas driller headquartered in Radnor, PA (near Philadelphia). Although it’s based in the Keystone State, Penn Virginia has only a small presence in the Marcellus Shale–21,700 net acres with no drilled wells (at last check). They concentrate on oil drilling the Texas Eagle Ford Shale play. Penn Virginia is one of the Philly area’s oldest companies, started in 1882 by Philadelphia coal barons. It later transitioned into an oil company. Here’s yesterday’s announcement about their newest board member, come to help sell the company…
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Jessup Town Board Grills Invenergy re Tiny Emissions Releases

Antis on the Jessup (near Scranton, PA) Town Council delight in grilling officials from the Lackawanna Energy Center (LEC) at each monthly board meeting. LEC is a 1,480 megawatt, $1 billion Marcellus gas-fired electric plant still under construction, now 97% complete. When the plant is done it will be Pennsylvania’s largest natural gas-fired electric generating plant. The plant is being built in three trains or units. The first train/unit was done and online producing electricity since June–despite the efforts of a local group of antis who seized power of the local town board last November (see Jessup Town Board Continues Effort to Stop Gas-Fired Elec Plant). The second train went online in late July/early August. The third train will go online this month–in September. Cabot Oil & Gas is supplying all of the gas for the plant from neighboring Susquehanna County. At the monthly Jessup Council meeting last night, anti board members needled and smeared an LEC rep, implying LEC is hiding problems at the plant. Since May, when the plant began testing, there have been six releases of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions that exceeded state standards. On July 31, the plant exceeded the NOx standard of 2.0 parts-per-million (ppm) by a razor thin 0.1 ppm–for a whole 10 minutes. Which is a nothingburger. And yet the anti board members jumped all over LEC for not phoning up the neighbors the minute it happened…
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Center for Responsible Shale Development has NOT Folded Its Tent

Correction: MDN received the following statement on 9/11/18 from CRSD board member Chevron Appalachia to let us know that the organization is still alive and exploring a path forward for the future: “CRSD remains focused on its core mission of collaborating with a diverse group of stakeholders to drive continuous environmental performance improvement in shale gas operations throughout the Appalachian Basin. As was announced in a statement earlier this year, CRSD retained the services of the Meridian Institute to help it develop a long-range strategic plan that would enable the organization to build on the successes achieved in its first five years. The Board of CRSD is continuing its work with Meridian to finalize its long-term plan and will have more to announce once that effort is complete.” – Trip Oliver, Chevron Appalachia

It appears that the Center for Responsible Shale Development (CRSD) is, for all intents and purposes, no more. CRSD began life as the CSSD, the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, back in March 2013 (see Important: Drillers & Enviros Form New Group, Launch Cert Program). The original CSSD was a closely guarded secret until it was unveiled. The organization was the creation of a few hand-picked people from both industry and the environmental movement working together to see if there is any common ground on which both sides can agree that shale development would be safe, sustainable AND affordable. The members worked hard for over a year and finally hammered out a set of 15 standards that if a driller (or midstream company or contractor) would meet, they would get a stamp of approval from both the industry and environmental groups as being a good goobie–a safe and “responsible” driller. We were somewhat skeptical from the start, but later relaxed our skepticism. One of the participants helping to birth the group was Bobby Vagt, at that time president of the Heniz Endowments. Because of his involvement, Mamma Teresa Heinz Kerry fired him (see Bobby Vagt Out as Pres of Heinz Endowments – Fracking Connection?). There’s zero tolerance for reaching across the isle for Big Green radicals like Mamma Teresa. Other enviros who dared to participate were blackballed by the radical environmental movement. The CSSD soldiered on, despite several enviros leaving the fold, and awarded its first-ever certification in September 2014 to Chevron (see CSSD Bestows First Certification for Sustainable Drilling: Chevron). In the end, another three companies sought and received certification: Shell, CONSOL Energy (now CNX Resources) and EQT. It looks like you can’t fund a certification program with just four applicants. In April of this year, the renamed CRSD lost its executive director, Susan LeGros. The CRSD website has since removed the staff page and according to an industry source, the organization has folded its tent and is no longer in operation. Which we think is a shame…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Tue, Sep 11, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Ashland County, Ohio, anti-fracking activists looking to Pa. for playbook advice; Bringing the forest back after shale gas; A call for more oversight on Algonquin pipeline expansion rallies legislators; Does a report on the shale boom give a glimpse at the benefits of energy dominance?; Coal is the most-used electricity generation source in 18 states; natural gas in 16; Natural gas will overtake oil to become North America’s ‘single largest energy source’ this year; When bad weather has struck, natural gas has been completely reliable; Next wave of U.S. LNG projects lurks but market fistfight is inevitable; The biggest challenge facing shale oil could be overcoming its own success; Qatar agrees to supply China with natural gas for next 22 years; US agrees to work with India on Iran oil imports ahead of sanctions; Trump’s energy secretary heading to Moscow to discuss more energy sanctions.
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