Federal Court in NJ Grants PennEast Pipeline Eminent Domain

Just last week MDN told you the first domino had fallen, when a federal judge in Pennsylvania granted the PennEast Pipeline project the right to survey and construct pipeline on a property in Carbon County, PA, the last landowner holdout in PA (see First Domino Falls: Judge Grants PennEast Pipe Eminent Domain). And now, not even a week later, the second domino has fallen. A federal judge in New Jersey on Friday upheld eminent domain power for PennEast for ALL of NJ, where there are 136 holdout landowners who have refused to allow PennEast surveyors on their property. PennEast still isn’t totally out of the woods. The project goes to court in D.C. on Dec. 21 to try and turn back a challenge by a radical environmental group that says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission erred when it approved the project. Still, work will now begin, first to complete the surveys, then construction. The pipeline is on track to be built and running in 2019.
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SC PSC Votes to Approve Dominion Buyout of SCANA

In January Dominion Energy announced a deal to buy out and merge in South Carolina-based SCANA Corporation (see Dominion Buys SCANA, Mulls Atlantic Coast Pipe Expansion into SC). SCANA is an energy-based holding company that through its subsidiaries is essentially the local gas and electric company for much of South Carolina. When Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline gets built and expanded into South Carolina, it will flow Marcellus/Utica gas to SCANA customers–an important and huge new market for our molecules. In November North Carolina regulators signed off on the merger (see Dominion One Step Away from Closing on SCANA Merger). Last Friday, the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (SCPSC) voted to approve it as well–the last major regulatory hurdle before the merger can happen.
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MarkWest Plant Explosion in Washington Co. Injures 4; 1 Critical

An explosion and fire last night around 6 pm at the MarkWest Energy natural gas processing plant in Chartiers (Washington County), PA sent four people to the hospital–carried there by helicopter. All of them remain hospitalized, and one of them is, sadly, in critical condition. The explosion happened near “two temporary tanks that were onsite for routine maintenance,” according to a MarkWest statement. The tanks hold, “liquid ethylene glycol plus hydrocarbons”–used to clean incoming raw natural gas. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection is on location today to determine what happened and why–and to ensure there have been no negative impacts to the environment.
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Shocker: Mountain Valley Pipeline Now 70% Built, Online by 4Q19

There’s nothing like some cold, hard facts to shock the public (in particular anti-fossil fuelers) back into reality. Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) provided just such a bucket of cold, hard facts yesterday by issuing an update on the project. Mainstream media (MSM) would have you believe that MVP, a 300-mile pipeline from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA, is on its last legs. About to be canceled for good. No hope of completing it. Yet, the facts say otherwise.
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4th Circus Pulls Forest Service Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipe

The U.S. Fourth Circuit (i.e. Circus) Court of Appeals has bungled another decision regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Yesterday the court vacated a permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) that allows ACP to cross beneath the Appalachian Trail and 21 miles of national forest land in Virginia and West Virginia. You think we’re kidding when we refer to the judges of the Fourth Circuit as clowns? How else do you explain the judge quoting from The Lorax, a fictional children’s book written by Dr. Seuss, as part of the decision issued yesterday. The so-called decision is straight out of Alice in Wonderland. Bizarre. What’s next? Will we be treated to Youtube clips from the Captain Planet cartoon in future decisions? This faulty decision is already being appealed by Dominion Energy. It’s pretty easy to predict the decision will get overturned on appeal–by adult, non-clown judges in the next court up.
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FERC (Barely) Approves Transco Northeast Gateway Expansion

By a vote of 2-1, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) yesterday issued a final approval for Williams’ $85 million project called the Transco “Gateway Expansion Project,” which will flow an extra 65,000 dekatherms per day (65 million cubic feet) of natural gas to a couple of utility companies in New Jersey that have already signed on the dotted line as customers. 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. PSEG Power and UGI Energy Services have signed up to receive the extra gas–to be distributed to their customers in the region. Once again the two Democrat FERC commissioners, Cheryl LaFleur and Dick Glick, expressed overpowering, debilitating concern over how the project will “contribute” to mythical man-made global warming.
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Sunoco Fined $225K for Small Leak on ME1 Pipeline in 2017

The Mariner East 1 pipeline sprung a small leak and spilled 20 barrels (~840 gallons) of ethane and propane in Berks County, near Philadelphia, on April 1 (see Mariner East 1 Sprang a Small NGL Leak Near Philly, on Apr 1). Sunoco Logistics Partners (i.e. Energy Transfer), builder and maintainer of the pipeline, shut it down and fixed it over the next several days. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), which oversees regulation of the pipeline, has just (a year and a half later) “requested” Sunoco pay $225,000 for violating various state and federal regulations. It was an $11,250 per barrel spill.
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Dominion Slaps Sierra Club, SELC for False Statements re ACP

It’s about we fight back against radical, insane people like those at the Sierra Club and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC). They are so far outside of the mainstream, and they are such pathological liars, it’s time to take the gloves off and fight back. Dominion Energy is doing exactly that! Dominion released a statement yesterday that directly and strongly (with fighting language) refutes recent false statements (i.e. lies) made by the Sierra Club and SELC about Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). We’re standing up and cheering!
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Battle Over Weymouth, MA Compressor Stn Continues in Fed Court

Credit: YouTube

In January 2017 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted final approval for the $452 million Atlantic Bridge expansion project (see FERC Approves Atlantic Bridge Project for New England/Canada). The Spectra Energy/Enbridge project beefs up capacity along the Algonquin Pipeline, along with more capacity for Spectra Energy’s Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, to carry more Marcellus/Utica gas into New England and (eventually) all the way to Nova Scotia, Canada. Most of the project is now done–except in Massachusetts where a critical compressor station planned for Weymouth is stalled.
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Colluding Big Green Groups File FERC Motion to Block MVP Southgate

Every square inch of every new (even every repurposed/existing) pipeline will be opposed in court. You can bet your life on it. Radical environmentalists have made pipelines the new evil incarnate in the modern world. Never mind without pipelines we’d all live in the Stone Age again. The point, on the part of Big Green, is not to actually stop these projects–but make them pay big money. And make them a poster child for fundraising campaigns. Even though some of the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is on hold due to court delays over stream crossing permits (see 4th Circuit Court Cancels Mountain Valley Pipe Nationwide Permit), some work does continue on the project. And although the project is far from built, EQT Midstream, the builder, has filed plans with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to extend the pipeline another 70 miles south into North Carolina, called the MVP Southgate project (see EQT Makes it Official, Files with FERC to Extend MVP into NC). On Monday, a group of six Big Green groups filed with FERC to “intervene” and stop the MVP Southgate project.
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FERC Approves Birdsboro Pipe Near Philly to Begin Service

Birdsboro Pipeline route (click for larger version)

That was fast! Construction began on a new 14-mile pipeline from the Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) mainline in Rockland Township, to a natural gas-fired power plant under construction in Birdsboro in Berks County, near Philadelphia, in June (see Construction Begins for 14-Mile Pipe to Feed Berks Gas-Fired Plant). DTE Midstream is building the pipeline to feed Marcellus gas to the new, under-construction gas-fired Birdsboro Power plant being built by EmberClear. The pipeline itself was done in November and DTE asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to start it up on Nov. 19. That permission was finally granted on Monday, Dec. 10. But wait! The power plant won’t be done and online until the middle of 2019…so why start up the pipeline now?
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Big Loss for Big Green – PUC Judge Won’t Shut Down ME1 & 2 Pipes

Big Green forces who pinned their hopes of stopping the Mariner East 1 and 2 pipelines on a rogue PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) administrative law judge had those hopes dashed yesterday. In May of this year, Elizabeth Barnes, PUC administration law judge, unilaterally ordered Sunoco Logistics Partners to “cease and desist all current operation, construction, including drilling activities on the Mariner East 1, 2 and Mariner East 2X pipeline” in West Whiteland Township in Chester County, PA (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). The judge also shut down all operations of the currently operating Mariner East 1 across the entire state. Barnes’ closure of ME1 and ME2 was later overturned by the full PUC (see PA PUC Overrules Lib Judge – Mariner East 1 Returns to Service and PA PUC Allows ME2 Pipeline Work to Restart Near Philly). In early December, a ginned up “emergency relief petition” was aired before Barnes. Same deal. Antis want to shut down ALL of the Mariner East projects–permanently. Barnes was the judge hearing the “testimony” of the antis, along with a vigorous defense by Sunoco. Apparently she learned her lesson. Yesterday Barnes rejected the emergency petition.
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More Lowball Western Canadian Natgas Coming East to M-U

TransCanada, one of Canada’s leading midstream/pipeline companies, cooked up a deal in 2016 to pipe natural gas from Canada’s West Coast to the East Coast in order to fend off cheap supplies of Marcellus/Utica gas that will flow into Canada from the NEXUS and Rover pipelines (see TransCanada Pipe Drops Price 42% to Compete with Marcellus/Utica). TransCanada dropped their pipeline price to lure drillers by (theoretically) making it less expensive to get gas from Western Canada, some 2,400 miles away, than from the Marcellus, just 400 miles away. Following a couple of open seasons and stiff regulatory hurdles, the plan was adopted and went into service in November 2017 (see TransCanada Pipe Begins Lowball Shipping to Compete with Marc/Utica).
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FERC Approves PA to OH Risberg Pipeline to Begin Construction

Click for larger version

FERC has finally come out of its funk. At least with respect to the RH energytrans Risberg Line project. We have been waiting and waiting and waiting to bring you this exciting news: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given final approval for the Risberg Line project to begin construction! Risberg is a 60-mile, $86 million pipeline from Crawford County, PA through Erie County and into Ashtabula County, OH. According to FERC’s own schedule, an OK for the project was due no later than Sept. 27, which didn’t happen. In October, RH energytrans was diplomatic and said, “It may take a little longer than we might hope” (see FERC Stuck in Slow Mo – Late Approving PA to OH Risberg Project). The folks at RH are far more patient than we are. Their patience has paid off. On Friday, FERC pulled the trigger and sent final approval. RH says construction will begin “by the end of this year,” which is now just over two weeks away.
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2 Workers Injured Working on Mariner East 2 Pipe Near Pittsburgh

Pipeline Inspection Gauge

Two workers were injured, one seriously, when a “pig” they were operating at a section of the nearly completed Mariner East 2 pipeline (near Pittsburgh, in Westmoreland County) accelerated and hit them late Sunday. What’s a pig? It stands for Pipeline Inspection Gauge–a device used inside a pipeline for cleaning, inspection and maintenance, and fluid batching. A pig is pushed along the inside of the pipeline by the flow of liquid or gas or (in this case), air. A pig launching station is used to insert the pig into a pipeline using a series of valves and hatches. The pig is pushed through the pipeline by the fluid/gas/air to the pig receiving station. We don’t have all the details for how this accident happened. What we know is that two workers, a man and a woman, were operating the pig when it hit them. Both were taken to the hospital. The woman was later released, but the man sustained a broken arm and is still hospitalized.
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First Domino Falls: Judge Grants PennEast Pipe Eminent Domain

It certainly seems as if the deck has been stacked against the PennEast Pipeline project, a $1 billion, 120-mile natgas pipeline that will stretch from northeast PA to the Trenton area of New Jersey. As we pointed out in November, DTE Energy’s NEXUS Pipeline, a 255-mile pipeline from Columbia County in Ohio to Southern Michigan, received its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval around the same time PennEast did, about a year ago. NEXUS is already built and flowing, PennEast hasn’t turned the first shovelful of dirt yet. It’s been a real battle for PennEast (see The War to Build PennEast Pipeline Continues). However, things are finally beginning to look up. Last week a federal judge granted PennEast its first approval in a string of eminent domain cases, giving PennEast the right to enter and survey a property in Carbon County, PA. Mixing our metaphors, last week’s decision is the first domino falling, with the rest sure to follow.
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