FERC Defends Pipeline Tolling Orders, Pledges to Use Less Often

Big Green continues its fight to strip away the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) right to use tolling orders when considering requests to “rehear” decisions to approve pipelines (see PA Big Green Supports Lawsuit to Gut FERC re Pipe Approvals). In an update on a court case Big Green is using to challenge FERC, a case involving Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline (in the PA Marcellus), FERC has told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that (a) it properly used a tolling order in the case of Atlantic Sunrise, but (b) it promises not to use them so much in the future. Big Green is not, of course, is not happy (they never are).
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MVP Update: USFWS Needs More Time; Antis Pester DEQ

Last Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFSW) filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asking for an extra 45 days to revise an Endangered Species Act (ESA) review of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project. Also from last week: anti-fossil fuelers (Big Green groups) virulently opposed to MVP (which is 90% built) continued to hound the project by pestering the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) over minor violations the DEQ found in construction activities from September to December. Big Green wants to know what the DEQ is going to “do” about the violations.
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Fed Court Nixes Landowner Compensation Claims re UGI PA Pipeline

UGI Corp. has just won a case on appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that overturns an order by a lower court ordering UGI to pay more than $380,000 combined to two sets of property owners for taking their land as part of the Sunbury Pipeline in Snyder County, PA. The landowners who sued used a so-called expert whose testimony was, according to the judges, “speculation and conjecture” and “not good science.” Therefore the lower court award was overturned.

2/14/20 Update: We spotted a second article that does a good job of reviewing this case and the rebuke the Third Circuit handed a lower court judge. Click to read it below.
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Time to Finish Mariner East 2 Pipeline Says SEPA Former Senator

In January the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally, after more than a year, agreed to lift a moratorium on new construction work for several Energy Transfer pipeline projects in the state, including the Mariner East 2 and 2X projects (see PA DEP Clears Way for ET to Complete Mariner East Pipelines). A few weeks later the DEP assessed a $1.95 million fine on the Mariner East 2 project (see PA DEP Slaps Energy Transfer Again – $2M Fine re Mariner East 2). Fine paid, permission granted…At least ET can restart work on ME2 now, right? Wrong.
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OH Supreme Court Rules REX Pipe Owes $2M in Excise Tax

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Ohio tax commissioner correctly charged Tallgrass Energy’s Rockie Express (REX) pipeline $2 million in excise tax (based on $699 million of income), for gas transported from and to (within) Ohio. REX claimed it did not owe the tax because the same law that exempts gas transported out of state applies to gas sales in-state. But the tax commission, and now the Supremes, say that the portion of gas transported through REX that stays in Ohio is not exempt and can be taxed. So pay up.
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Milford, CT Approves Iroquois Cooling Upgrade at Compressor Stn

Last week MDN told you that because of Andrew Cuomo’s blockade of new pipelines from Pennsylvania, the Iroquois Gas Transmission pipeline which crosses the state continues to import much of the gas flowing through it from Canada (see Due to Cuomo Pipeline Ban, Iroquois Imports Canadian Gas for NY). We spotted another article about Iroquois that caught our attention. The Milford, Connecticut Planning and Zoning Board has unanimously approved a plan by Iroquois to upgrade the Milford compressor station with a new cooling system. Who knew *any* New England municipality would allow *any* new “fossil fuel” work to get done?!
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Dominion Buys Out Atlantic Coast Pipe Partner; Going Green by ’50

Yesterday Dominion Energy issued its fourth quarter and full-year 2019 update. As part of the update, Dominion’s top brass talked about 2020 and beyond. Of particular interest for us was a bunch of news about the company’s stalled Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project. In particular, Dominion has purchased a small stake in the pipeline from partner Southern Co. for $175 million. The new price tag for the project has now gone to $8 billion. Even with the delays and setbacks in court, Dominion remains 100% committed to building ACP.
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New Fortress Energy Signs Long-Term LNG Export Agreement

New Fortress Energy, which funds and builds LNG (liquefied natural gas) infrastructure to “help accelerate the world’s transition to clean energy,” yesterday announced it has signed a 10-year supply agreement for the purchase of 27.5 million MMBtu per annum of LNG (approximately 8 cargoes a year) to an unnamed buyer at a price indexed to Henry Hub–through January 2030. The announcement does not contain details about who the buyer may be, or what the actual price is they will receive–but we have some speculation about all that.
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PTT Voices Concerns re Plastics; Still No Decision to Build OH Cracker

It amazes us that we now have to defend perhaps the greatest advancement to the longevity of not only humankind but all species on planet earth. That advancement is PLASTICS. Yes, plastics. The invention of plastic and its uses on Mom Earth has made our lives better. Plastics, contrary to the current popular mythology, have extended human and animal life. And yet, even the companies that build giant cracker plants to create raw plastic pellets (for further use in thousands of plastic products) must now bow down before environmental crackpots to declare their concern (even dislike) of the very thing they produce: plastic. It’s bizarre.
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Ohio Invests Another $20M in PTT Cracker Site, $70M Total So Far

We’re now a couple of months shy of the fifth anniversary for when PTT first announced they would consider building an ethane cracker plant in Ohio (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). Since that time, PTT has purchased land for the plant, and last fall was seen moving dirt around at the property (see Dirt Being Moved at PTT Ohio Ethane Cracker Site – Still no FID). Even without a final investment decision (FID) to build, the State of Ohio continues to invest money in the project–another $20 million last week.
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Dela. Riverkeeper Tries to Scare Neighbors of NJ LNG Loading Dock

New Fortress Energy plans to build a $96 million, 1,600-foot-long pier and storage facility on the Delaware River (Gloucester County, NJ) to be used for docking and loading two ships at a time with LNG. The LNG will be manufactured at a plant in landlocked Bradford County, PA and shipped to the NJ facility via rail (see U.S. Gov’t Grants New Fortress Permit to Ship NEPA LNG by Rail!). From the start when the project was announced, THE Delaware Riverkeeper has tried to whip up opposition to the project, without much success (see Enviro Leftists Keep Up Attack on LNG Export Dock on Dela. River).
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Due to Cuomo Pipeline Ban, Iroquois Imports Canadian Gas for NY

Andrew Cuomo’s blockade of important pipeline projects like the Williams Constitution Pipeline (from northeast PA into NY) continues to keep the price of natural gas high in the Empire State. The Constitution, which was supposed to be built years ago, is supposed to connect to two other interstate pipelines, one of them the Iroquois (see Iroquois Announces Interconnect for Constitution Pipeline in NY). That never happened, and because of it, the Iroquois must import Canadian natural gas *every single day* in order to meet demand–gas that costs much more than the cheap, abundant and clean-burning gas from a few miles away in the PA Marcellus.
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FERC Favorable EA for Columbia Louisiana XPress, M-U Gas to Gulf

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has taken the first, very big and important step of approving an environmental assessment (EA) for TC Energy/Columbia Transmission’s Louisiana XPress Project. TC/Columbia filed an application with FERC last July for the project (see Columbia Asks FERC to OK Louisiana XPress, M-U Gas to Gulf). Yes, there’s a direct tie-in to the Marcellus/Utica…
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MarkWest Says “Difficult to Forecast” Marcellus/Utica for 2020

Last week MPLX (i.e. MarkWest Energy) issued its 4Q and full-year 2019 financial and operating update, along with guidance on what to expect in 2020. MarkWest (as we call them, old habits die hard) has major operations in the Utica and Marcellus–via gathering pipelines and processing plants. MarkWest reports “significant year-over-year growth” in the M-U region, but predicts a slowdown in that growth in 2020.
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Legal Effort to Overturn FirstEnergy $1B Ohio Nuke Bailout Dead

The Ohio Supreme Court, on Christmas Eve, threw a lifeline to an effort to overturn an Ohio law that provides corporate welfare in the form of $1 billion of ratepayer (taxpayer) money to FirstEnergy, which recently changed its name to Energy Harbor (see OH Supreme Court Keeps Door Open to Reverse $1B Nuke Bailout). Last week the Supremes snatched the lifeline away and the current effort to block the $1 billion bailout is officially dead.
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