Columbia Gas Appoints Ret. Navy Captain to Oversee Disaster Recovery

More coverage in our ongoing coverage of the aftermath resulting from a chain-reaction of explosions in local natural gas delivery pipelines about 25 miles north of Boston (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured 25 others. It left some 8,600 households and businesses without natural gas–for up to two months. Can you imagine not being able to cook meals, or heat your home, because of no natural gas? What will those people do in the meantime? Columbia Gas (part of NiSource), whose pipelines are the ones that exploded, began distributing some 7,000 electric hot plates over the weekend. Gov. Charlie Baker mobilized the Massachusetts National Guard to help. Since Gov. Baker also requested an “outside contractor” to take charge of the situation, Columbia announced they have appointed retired Navy Captain Joe Albanese, founder and CEO of Commodore Builders (a construction management firm) to become the Chief Recovery Officer in attempting to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Assisting Captain Albanese will be retired Rear Admiral Richard Cellon, president of Cellon and Associates. Cellon has loads of experience in construction in the Middle East–helping war-torn areas recover. It’s already getting cold in New England, so beginning this week Columbia has a hoard of electricians, plumbers, and “assessors” working to assess and install some 24,000 space heaters in homes. It’s no small feat. Local fire departments are involved to ensure the space heaters don’t create a fire hazard…
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Did Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Contribute to Mobile Home Park Flood?

Sometime this week we expect to blow the trumpets and wave the flags that finally (finally!) the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in Pennsylvania has begun flowing Marcellus gas south. Typically pipelines like Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise do a good job of working with landowners and municipalities to address concerns and tweak the route. We’ve heard some legitimate complaints over the past few years when a pipeline company seemed to turn a deaf ear to concerns by landowners. But usually those complaints were from other builders, not Williams. This time we have a story to share that (for us) is atypical. When building Atlantic Sunrise in Lancaster County, Williams said it was necessary to “temporarily” remove a stormwater basin (small pond to catch runoff) near two dozen mobile homes in Rapho Township. Over the objections of the local town, Williams went ahead (with state Dept. of Environmental Protection blessing) and completely removed the stormwater basin. Then a series of unfortunate events happened. Some 10 inches of rain fell–quite unheard of, supposedly a 1,000-year event. And the mobile home park got flooded. Would the nearby stormwater basin have helped prevent the flood if it were still there? Maybe, but (according to town officials), probably not. Not with 10 inches of rain. Still, it does raise a question. Was the flooding of the park made worse because the basin was gone? And if so, how much worse?…
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3 PA Senators Seek to Join Lawsuit Against DRBC Frack Ban

A bit of encouraging news to share with respect to a lawsuit against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and their attempt to ban fracking and shale drilling in the basin. In May 2016, a landowner in Wayne County, PA filed a lawsuit against the DRBC asking a judge to declare that the DRBC does not have jurisdiction to prevent construction of a natural gas well (see Wayne County, PA Landowner Sues DRBC Over Fracking Ban). The Wayne landowner argued in U.S. District Court that oil and gas wells, under the DRBC’s charter, do not constitute a “project” that is regulated by the DRBC and therefore are exempt from oversight from the DRBC. The way the DRBC so broadly reinterprets the word “project” in the original charter, it allows them to regulate anything and everything. The case was eventually appealed to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. In July that court sent the case back down to U.S. District Court with orders to more fully consider what is, and what is not, meant by the word “project” in the original DRBC charter (see Major Federal Court Decision Opens Door to Stop DRBC Frack Ban). It was a MAJOR victory for the landowner, and a MAJOR defeat of the DRBC. No, the case isn’t over yet, but now the full case will get heard. The legal arguments in the case clearly support the landowner. The new news is that three prominent Pennsylvania State Senators, Lisa Baker, Gene Yaw and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, have all filed to join the lawsuit as “intervenors” on behalf of the Wayne landowner. They want to add their two cents, on behalf of the Commonwealth of PA, to influence the court to rule in favor of the landowner (overruling the DRBC). What’s noteworthy about this development is that long-time senators typically don’t make risky political moves. The senators are either confident that the landowner will win the case, or if he loses, that public sentiment is with the landowner (a political win). The senators’ participation has the DRBC even more nervous, as evidenced by statements from their mouthpiece THE Delaware Riverkeeper’s Maya van Rossum…
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XNG Virtual Pipe Facility in NH Hits Roadblock re Town Zoning

NG Advantage, a pioneer in “virtual pipeline” trucked CNG service, tried to build a compressor station/trucking hub in a Binghamton, NY suburb, but that effort failed earlier this year due to local opposition (see NG Advantage Virtual Pipeline Project Near Binghamton is Dead). Let’s be honest. Nobody wants an endless stream of trucks driving through their neighborhood, especially a populated neighborhood. That was the issue in Fenton (and neighboring Hillcrest) where NG planned to build their facility. A similar situation has sprouted up in New Hampshire. Different company, XNG (Xpress Natural Gas), but similar in that a local town, Chesterfield, NH, is opposing a plan by XNG to locate a truck terminal in the town. The town zoning board refused to grant a special exemption for the “short-term-parking” terminal. XNG sued in county court and the judge ordered the zoning board to rehear the matter. The board issued a second rejection and the matter is back in court, which you can read about below. The point of our post is to tackle the “not-in-my-back-yard” (NIMBY) issue. These types of CNG/trucking facilities are still relatively new. They are needed and no doubt more will get built. And, these types of facilities face increasing NIMBYism. It’s a real concern. The philosophy of no pipelines, and now a philosophy of no natural gas deliveries via truck, is a societal issue we must deal with. Eliminating natural gas in a geography spells loss of companies and loss of jobs. It also spells super-high prices for electricity. Somehow, for the good of society, we must negotiate through these issues. Can reasonable people reach a reasonable compromise? Are there any reasonable people left?…
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Murray Energy Continues to Block Gas-Fired Plants in WV

In July MDN said it’s time to reveal who is blocking new gas-fired electric plants in West Virginia (see OVJA Exposed as Front for Murray Energy Blocking Gas-Fired Plants). WV has a long, proud history as a coal producer. According to West Virginia Coal Association, some 95% of the electricity produced and used in the Mountain State comes from coal-fired plants. However, natural gas burns cleaner than coal, and frankly, natgas is now cheaper than coal. Yet WV still has not permitted or allowed a single new gas-fired plant to be constructed. Last year then-WV Sec. of Commerce Woody Thrasher observed that Ohio has built 19 new gas-fired power plants, and Pennsylvania has built 22 new gas-fired power plants, while WV has built NONE. Why not? Because of Robert Murray, CEO and founder of Murray Energy, one of the largest independent coal mine operators in the U.S. Bob Murray is using a front organization called Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance (OVJA) to file a blizzard of frivolous lawsuits that have kept all new gas-fired plant projects from being built in WV. Three such plants have been on the books, planned, for years. The first plant may begin construction this year (see WV Close to Starting Construction on First Natgas-Fired Plant). That is, it will start construction if the project sponsors can beat back yet another challenge by the Murray-backed OVJA to the issuance of an air permit. The thing that frosts us is that Murray Energy continues to deny that it is the one funding/behind OVJA…
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Virginia Tech Radical Prof Gets Light Sentence for Pipeline Crime

It doesn’t help the cause of justice to let a repeat offender who breaks the law in order to protest pipeline projects, off easy. That’s what happened last week in Virginia when a U.S. Magistrate Judge essentially slapped the wrist of Virginia Tech radical professor Emily Satterwhite following yet another violation in her protest of Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Police had taped a “no trespass” area and Satterwhite brazenly violated it, using the excuse she was taking pictures of other nutjob protesters who intentionally ran into the construction zone. OK, so she crossed a taped line. That’s no big deal is it? Thing is, she previously chained herself to a bulldozer, delaying construction of MVP for a whole day. The tape is up for a reason–to protect bystanders and workers. She violated it. She got off easy. The charge will be dropped if she doesn’t repeat offend yet again (fat chance of that happening)…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Mon, Sep 24, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Northeast gas takeaway expansions reshape regional price relationships; Southwestern Energy thriving in a sub-$3 natural gas world; Six permits issued in Ohio’s Utica; United settles tax value fight over shale gas site; North Carolina flooding damages natural gas plant, causes shutdown; California’s new 100% green energy target may do more harm than good; Feds won’t rule out theory that pipeline was target of Wisconsin bomb blasts; The US natural gas pipeline system needs to be expanded and upgraded; Partisan politics at FERC draws bipartisan rebuke; Shell to supply LNG to Chinese power plant in Panama; EU gets less green by pushing wood burning over natural gas; Canadian shale oil is hitting the wall.
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