Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25

You don’t often think of the safety of the pipeline network that delivers natural gas to your home or business because it’s so rare there are any problems with it. When’s the last time you heard about a local delivery pipeline exploding? Last Thursday a major incident occurred 25 miles northwest of Boston when delivery pipelines owned by Columbia Gas (NiSource) in three communities–Andover, North Andover and Lawrence–exploded and caught fire at “more than 60 locations.” The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured some 25 others. Local officials ordered over 8,000 residents and businesses in the three communities to evacuate, turning off electric and gas. Each house and business was then tested before turning electricity back on (gas is still off). Residents were finally able to return to their homes on Sunday. It’s a huge incident, a big, fat, stinking mess. Folks waited in lines for hours at claims centers to file requests for reimbursement for hotels and expenses after being displaced from their homes–only to have the claims centers close because Columbia couldn’t handle the numbers. On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in the three communities. Later in the day on Friday, he invoked a little-used (and little-known) provision in the state constitution that allowed him to take management of the crisis away from Columbia/NiSource, giving management of the crisis to a competitor, Eversource. Although it’s still early in the investigation process, the cause of the explosions appears to be a combination of old/decaying pipes with too much pressure flowing through them. Attention has turned to pressure sensors along the pipelines. Yesterday Columbia/NiSource announced it will replace all 48 miles of the cast iron and bare steel pipeline system in that area. Meanwhile, the affected 8,000+ residents and businesses will not have gas service restored “for weeks” at a minimum…
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Moxie Freedom Marcellus-Fired Plant Near Wilkes-Barre Online

Moxie Freedom

The 1,000-megawatt Moxie Freedom Marcellus-fired power plant located near Wilkes-Barre, PA is now “transitioning to commercial operation.” The plant is up and running and soon will be feeding the electricity it produces into the local power grid. In June 2014, MDN broke the news that Moxie Energy was in the hunt to begin a third new Marcellus gas-powered electric plant project in Pennsylvania, near Wilkes-Barre (see Moxie Energy in Hunt for Third Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant?). In November 2015, Moxie selected Gemma Power to build the plant, and construction began a month later (see Moxie Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant Breaks Ground in NEPA). In June 2017, Caithness Energy (the owner) issued an update to say the plant will go online in May of this year (see NEPA Moxie Freedom Power Plant on Track for May 2018 Launch). That didn’t happen. However, we spotted a local newspaper article that quotes plant officials as saying they are right now in the process of transitioning to commercial operation…
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EdgeMarc Energy Sued for Failing to Pay Overtime – Class Action

Last Wednesday a single person employed by EdgeMarc Energy in Ohio filed a lawsuit against the company in federal court claiming he was “misclassified” as an independent contractor when in reality he was functioning as a full-blown employee. Why does it make a difference? Because independent contractors (1099s) are paid a straight, per-hour rate no matter how many hours they work, whereas employees must, under federal (and state) law, be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40. The worker alleges the company intentionally uses independent contractor status to wiggle out of paying overtime, and that he’s not the only one. Normally one disgruntled employee suing an employer is not newsworthy–but in this case the law firm is attempting to get the lawsuit certified as a class action, potentially covering hundreds of workers. And that IS a big deal…
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7 Green Groups Attack Shell Ethane Pipeline “Exemptions”

Seven radical green groups–Sierra Club, Clean Air Council (CAC), FracTracker Alliance, Earthworks, PennFuture, Breathe Project, Environmental Integrity Project–sent a protest letter last week to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection objecting to a request by Shell that its 97-mile Falcon Ethane Pipeline be granted certain air permit exemptions. Shell is asking the DEP to determine whether or not (hopefully not) any emissions coming from the pipeline would be “minor sources,” exempting the pipeline from certain permits. The rads are telling the DEP to deny that request, in an attempt to slow or even stop the project. With no ethane, Shell’s $6 billion cracker plant, currently under construction, can’t begin operation. Will the DEP do the right thing and ignore these nutters?…
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Antis Convince Libertarian Group to Oppose Mountain Valley Pipe

We have to confess we have a lot in common, philosophically, with Libertarians. We like the philosophy of live and let live–as long as what you do (or what I do) doesn’t hurt the other person, nobody has a right to stop you (or me) from doing it. But the Libertarian philosophy does have its quirks–things we don’t agree with. Sometimes wacky. Like support for legalizing pot smoking. Can you imagine a bunch of potheads driving down our roads? We don’t care if they want to stone themselves into oblivion in the privacy of their own homes–but we do have public safety concerns. A fine line/balance between the public good and private freedom. Here’s another case of public good vs. private freedom: pipelines. We’ve always had a tough time with the use of eminent domain for pipelines. But in the end, the greater public good is served by running pipelines, and if there’s one or two landowners here and there who refuse to deal, eminent domain is regrettably, sometimes necessary. As a last resort. The Niskanen Center, a “right-leaning” Libertarian think tank, has just entered the pipeline debate by filing a “friend of the court” brief with U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, siding with radical anti-fossil fuelers against the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The Niskanen Center is understandably concerned about landowners’ property rights being infringed. Unfortunately, they’ve allowed themselves to be used by antis, people whose political philosophy is closer to Mao Tse Tung (Communist) than it is to freedom for everyone. How could the Niskanen Center be so easily duped? We think we know. They believe in the fairy tale of man-made global warming, which appears to color their view of freedom. If they can fall for that one, they’ll fall for anything…
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Corrupt: Dem Govs, AGs Sell Their Offices & Power to Big Green

Warning: Knowledge of what’s happening in the offices of governors like Jerry Brown (California) and Andrew Cuomo (New York), and their attorney generals, will make you want to throw up–at the overt corruption. A pair of research reports from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) shines a very bright light on what is major corruption at the highest levels of our state governments. One report, titled “Law Enforcement for Rent: How Special Interests Fund Climate Policy through State Attorneys General” (full copy below) details how Democrat Attorney Generals in various states, including New York and Maryland, are selling access to their offices to Big Green groups. AGs can only make so much mischief. They have budgets that control how many staffers they can hire. In order to circumvent those hiring limits, Big Green groups are funding lawyers and assistants to help AGs sue fossil fuel companies–they work right in the AG’s office! If it’s not outright illegal, it’s certainly unethical. State legislatures need to pass laws now to prevent this kind of abuse of our legal system to favor one side over another. The law is supposed to be blind and impartial, not weighted against one side or the other. If that weren’t bad enough, CEI published a second study titled “Government for Rent: How Special Interests Finance Governors to Pursue Their Climate Policy Agenda” (full copy below) showing how some Democrat governors are doing the same thing–allowing outside, paid-by-Big-Green staffers to be added to their operations in an attempt to slander and smear fossil fuel companies. Andrew Cuomo’s office is one of the offenders. THIS MUST STOP…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Mon, Sep 17, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Congressman tours drilling site in Guernsey County; Ohio oil, gas official emphasizing ‘demand opportunities’; Tellurian gets draft EIS for Driftwood LNG; Cheniere in 15-year LNG supply deal with Vitol; As protesters call for frack ban at global climate action summit, America leads world in CO2 reductions – thanks to fracking; America’s oldest operating nuclear power plant to retire on Monday; Far-reaching impact of the unprecedented shortfall in NGL fractionation capacity; Asia to drive natural gas growth over long term, according to BNEF; Shell to lay out targets to manage methane emissions; Catholic institutions unite for fossil fuel divestment.
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