Cuomo-Corrupted DEC Denies Permit for Williams NESE Pipe Project

A new fight is shaping up in the (crumbling) Empire State. Once again Andrew Cuomo, at the prompting of Big Green groups (corrupted by their big donations to his campaign war chest) has instructed his lackeys who run the Dept. of Environment Conservation (DEC) to reject a modest pipeline expansion proposal by Williams’ Transco Pipeline subsidiary. The project, which we’ve previously written about and are actively promoting, is called the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project (see Time to Support Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project). The project is meant to increase pipeline capacity and flows heading into northeastern markets. Transco wants to provide more Marcellus natural gas to utility giant National Grid beginning with the 2019-2020 heating season. National Grid operates in New York City, Long Island, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There are a number of components to the project, but the key component, the heart of the project, is a new 23-mile pipeline from the shore of New Jersey into (on the bottom of) the Raritan Bay–running parallel to the existing Transco pipeline–before connecting to the Transco offshore. In a pattern we’ve seen before, the DEC claims, falsely, that an application for a state water crossing permit is “incomplete.” The DEC, like Lucy with her football in the old Charlie Brown cartoons, offers the promise that “if only” the pipeline company will submit a “complete” application THEN they will approve it. But just like Lucy with the football, when the company gets close, the DEC pulls it away yet again. Fool me once… The DEC used this same tactic to defeat the Constitution Pipeline project. It sure feels to us like “here we go again”…
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Stolen Dynamite from Atlantic Sunrise Site Discovered in Creek

Stolen dynamite looked like this

As we’ve reported daily since the news broke, someone stole a bunch of dynamite and the blasting caps (used to ignite the dynamite) from a locked storage trailer sitting at an Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline construction site in Lancaster County, PA (see Dynamite Stolen from Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Site in Lancaster County, PA). As of last Thursday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had doubled the reward money to $20,000 and upped the estimated amount of explosives and blasting caps stolen (see ATF Doubles Reward re Stolen Dynamite; 40 Agents in Lancaster Co.). Someone walking across a bridge in Riverfront Park (East Donegal Township) last Friday peered into the creek and noticed a lot of something that didn’t look like it belonged–the missing dynamite and blasting caps. Except the amount recovered is only half of the amount the ATF previously said was stolen. A day after the discovery the ATF changed its story and now says it is “increasingly confident” that all of the stolen dynamite has been recovered. The ATF says the contractor botched the paperwork recording how much dynamite was actually in inventory. The ATF has still not awarded the $20,000 reward money–because a suspect has not yet been apprehended. The investigation is ongoing. So has the ATF recovered all of the dynamite, or not?…
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ATF Doubles Reward re Stolen Dynamite; 40 Agents in Lancaster Co.

The stolen dynamite looks similar to this picture – click image for larger version

We don’t want to belabor this issue too much, but once again we have more/new information about a serious situation in Lancaster County, PA. As we reported earlier this week, someone(s) has stolen a bunch of dynamite and the blasting caps (needed to detonate the dynamite) from a construction site for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline (see Dynamite Stolen from Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Site in Lancaster County, PA and More Dynamite Stolen from PA Pipe Site than Originally Reported). Investigators with the federal ATF–Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives–are “moving with a sense of urgency” to locate the thieves. How urgent? ATF has just doubled the reward money, from $10,000 to $20,000 for information leading to an arrest. They also have “30-40 agents” swarming through Lancaster County working on the case. Make no mistake, they will find out who did it. The ATF also says it appears the contractor storing the dynamite violated federal storage standards, making it easier for someone to steal it…
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More Dynamite Stolen from PA Pipe Site than Originally Reported

We have an update to a story we first brought you yesterday, that someone(s) has stolen a bunch of dynamite and the blasting caps needed to detonate it from a construction site for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in Lancaster County, PA (see Dynamite Stolen from Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Site in Lancaster County, PA). Investigators with the federal ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) are “moving with a sense of urgency” to locate the thieves. Two new bits of information. First, even more dynamite was stolen than previously reported–some 704 pounds (instead of 640) and 450 blasting caps (instead of 400). The second bit of information is that the contractor who was storing the dynamite is being investigated to see if the material was stored properly, according to strict federal guidelines. You don’t leave dynamite in a trailer without the wheels being removed from the trailer and industrial strength locks and lock shields. Here’s the latest on this developing situation…
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Time to Support Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project

In March the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a favorable draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Williams Transco Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline project (see Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement Pipe Gets Favorable DEIS). The project is meant to increase pipeline capacity and flows heading into northeastern markets. In particular, Transco wants to provide more Marcellus natural gas to utility giant National Grid beginning with the 2019-2020 heating season. National Grid operates in New York City, Long Island, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There are a number of components to the project, but the key component, the heart of the project, is a new 23-mile pipeline from the shore of New Jersey into (on the bottom of) the Raritan Bay–running parallel to the existing Transco pipeline–before connecting to the Transco offshore. This project needs *your* help. Please join MDN in supporting the project by signing this online petition to FERC. A second way you can support the project is by attending and speaking at one of four regional FERC hearings, which begin next week…
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Dynamite Stolen from Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Site in Lancaster County, PA

Approximately 640 pounds of dynamite and 400 blasting caps were stolen from a locked trailer at a construction site for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in Marietta (Lancaster County), PA this past weekend. Because the theft involved explosives, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been called in to investigate. The ATF is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction. We sincerely hope the perp(s) are caught and go to jail–for a long time. If you know anything, call the ATF hotline at 888-ATF-BOMB (888-283-2662). Not sure who thought up that phone number for the ATF, but it’s certainly memorable! Here’s the details…
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Williams Seeks OK to Expand Transco to Move Marcellus Gas South

The hits keep comin’ from Williams. Yesterday Williams announced it has filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to expand capacity along the mighty Transco Pipeline to increase the amount of gas the pipeline can flow to the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S by 296,375 dekatherms (296 million cubic feet) per day. The Southeastern Trail expansion project (SET), as it is called, includes building 7.7 miles of 42-inch pipeline looping (pipeline laid next to existing pipeline) in Virginia, adding extra horsepower at existing compressor stations in Virginia, and making some pipe and valve modifications on other existing facilities in South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana to allow for bi-directional flow. The project aims to bring more gas to utilities, including PSNC Energy, South Carolina Electric & Gas, Virginia Natural Gas, the City of Buford, Ga., and the City of LaGrange, Ga. Note that Mountain Valley Pipeline recently announced they want to expand the MVP project an extra 70 miles to serve PSNC Energy (in North Carolina) too. Williams is currently working to finish up the Atlantic Sunrise project, which includes new pipeline to feed Marcellus gas from northeastern PA into the Transco mainline. Bottom line: This new Southeastern Trail expansion project will bring Marcellus gas to more customers in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S. And that’s a good thing!…
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Constitution Pipe Files Brief with Supreme Court, Exposes Cuomo/DEC

In January, the Constitution Pipeline–a $683 million, 124-mile pipeline from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY to move Marcellus gas into NY and New England–filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to overrule a lower court decision and allow the pipeline to get built in New York State (see Constitution Pipeline Appeals NY Fight Directly to U.S. Supreme Court). The Andrew Cuomo-corrupted Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) suckered Constitution into refiling an application for a state-issued (but federal) water crossing permit a second time, restarting a one-year clock under which NY could render a decision about the pipeline. Constitution fully cooperated with the DEC, changing plans at the DEC’s request. With four days left on the clock in the second one-year period, DEC, in bad faith, issued a denial of Constitution’s request for the permit (see NY Gov. Cuomo Refuses to Grant Permits for Constitution Pipeline). In January Constitution filed the lawsuit with the Supreme Court, but earlier this week Constitution filed a “reply brief” in the case. In the brief, Constitution exposes the DEC’s actions as nothing more than a political move orchestrated by Andrew Cuomo himself. It is a devastating brief, laying bare the naked corruption of Cuomo and those who run the DEC…
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Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement Pipe Gets Favorable DEIS

In March 2017 (one year ago), Williams filed a full, official application for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project (see Williams Files with FERC to Expand Transco Pipeline to NYC, NE). The project is meant to increase pipeline capacity and flows heading into northeastern markets. In particular, Transco wants to provide more Marcellus natural gas to utility giant National Grid beginning with the 2019-2020 heating season. National Grid operates in New York City, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There are a number of components to the project, but the key component, the heart of the project, is a new 23-mile pipeline from the shore of New Jersey into (on the bottom of) the Raritan Bay–running parallel to the existing Transco pipeline–before connecting to the Transco offshore. While the project is sure to encounter issues with the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (much of the Raritan Bay pipeline is located in New York territorial waters), the good news is that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has just issued a favorable draft environment impact statement (DEIS). A favorable DEIS almost always means the project will receive a final approval from FERC…
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Lancaster Nuns Continue to Agitate Against Already-Installed Pipeline

The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a group of nuns in Lancaster County, PA, simply can’t stay away from sacrificing Christ on the alter of politics. The Sisters didn’t want the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project passing through their property. They own several buildings (one of them an old folks home heated with natural gas) on the very same property. The pipeline was due to run through a nearby field owned by the Sisters that they lease to a local farmer who grows corn on it. The Sisters took up with radical anti-fossil fuelers from Lancaster Against Pipelines to protest the project, putting a few wooden park benches and a flower tressle in the middle of the corn field, calling it a “chapel” (see Catholic Nuns Use Radicals to Build Chapel in Path of PA Pipeline), which is why we refer to them as Sisters of the Corn. They’ve tried a couple of different lawsuits, trying to spin the pipeline crossing their property as a religious freedom issue (see Lancaster Nuns Demand “Religious Freedom” Trial re Pipeline). Fast forward to Palm Sunday. The pipeline is now in the ground and covered up, and the farmer can plant his corn over top of it this spring. Yet the Sisters held a political protest service on Palm Sunday at the site of the pipeline. How enormously sad to sully the name of Christ in that way…
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FERC OKs Transco Garden State Expansion Phase 2 for Startup

In April 2016, three Obama-appointed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners approved the $116 million Williams Transco Garden State Expansion pipeline project (see FERC Approves NJ Pipeline – More Marcellus Gas on the Way!). The project was created to address supply disruptions following Superstorm Sandy in 2012. By upgrading compressor stations and adding a new meter station, the Garden State Expansion project will supply an extra 180 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas to a new delivery point on Transco’s existing Trenton Woodbury Lateral pipeline. However, two towns in Burlington County, NJ (Bordentown and Chesterfield), where some of the work would be done for Phase 2 of the project, filed a lawsuit last year asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to overturn FERC’s previous decision to allow the project (see FERC Fights NJ Town Effort to Decertify Garden State Expansion). We’re happy to report the lawsuit was unsuccessful. We’re even happier to report that both compressors are built and as of Friday, FERC granted permission for both stations to come online and begin pumping extra Marcellus gas through the system…
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FERC Grants Limited Rehearing Request for Constitution Pipeline

There’s a number of threads to the ongoing saga of Constitution Pipeline, a $683 million, 124-mile pipeline from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY to move Marcellus gas into New York State and from there, into New England. The Andrew Cuomo-corrupted NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) refused to grant the pipeline necessary federal stream crossing permits, blocking construction, in April 2016 (see NY Gov. Cuomo Refuses to Grant Permits for Constitution Pipeline). There have been a number of court cases and regulatory actions since that time. Williams, the builder of Constitution, asked the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) to overrule the DEC and allow construction to begin. In January of this year, FERC denied that request (see Death of the Constitution Pipeline? FERC Refuses to Overrule NY DEC). In February of this year, Williams asked FERC to reconsider their decision (see Constitution Pipe Files for FERC Rehearing, Then Back to Court). FERC has 30 days to rule on the rehearing request. If they don’t do anything, it’s considered an automatic rejection. However, on Wednesday (just under the wire), FERC granted a “limited” rehearing request–meaning FERC wants more time to consider the request before making a final decision. It’s not a “yes” that they will reconsider and perhaps overrule the DEC–but it’s also not a “no.” Which is a good thing…
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5 Old Hippies Arrested for Blocking Pipeline in Lancaster County

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from the so-called “more than 1,000” protesters willing to get themselves arrested in Lancaster County in their holy mission to stop the Williams Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. As of last November, the unofficial tally we could determine is that 45 people who belong to Lancaster Against Pipelines (LAP) have gotten themselves arrested for illegal actions in attempting to stop the pipeline (see 5 More Protesters Arrested in Lancaster Co. Blocking Pipeline Work). LAP is a small but committed group. It’s hard to stick to your so-called principles when there’s a foot of snow on the ground–so all winter long there hasn’t been much in the way of protests. But spring is beginning to break in Amish country. On Saturday, a busload of around 50 protesters visited Williams’ Lancaster County headquarters in an attempt to terrorize the workers by entering the building, walking the halls singing and plastering “Do Not Cross” police tape on the doors (and leaving behind a fake pipeline). The protesters then visited a construction site where five of the nuttier nutjobs, ranging in age from 55-72 (most of them from Philly), climbed onto a piece of equipment and refused to come down, delaying construction by three hours, forcing state troopers to arrest them…
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Williams 17/18 Update: Full Atlantic Sunrise Startup Slightly Delayed

Last week Williams, the largest pipeline/midstream company operating in the Marcellus/Utica region, released its fourth quarter and full year 2017 update. While the company lost $342 million in 4Q17 due to “non-cash charges related to Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017,” the company made a profit of $871 million for the year, up 100% from making $431 million in 2016. The company brought five big projects online in 2017–Gulf Trace, Hillabee Phase 1, Dalton, New York Bay and Virginia Southside II–which added an extra 2.8 billion cubic feet per day of capacity and led to record-breaking volumes of gas flowing along the Transco pipeline (see Williams Marcellus Buildout Leads to Record Transco Pipe Volumes). However, it was the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project that stole most of the limelight in last week’s update. Atlantic Sunrise is a $3 billion, 198-mile pipeline project running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeastern PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County, PA. The pipeline will be ready in July, on schedule. However, an associated compressor station will take “a few months longer” than July, meaning the pipeline won’t be online until early fall sometime (not on schedule). Below is last week’s Williams update, a copy of the latest PowerPoint presentation, and excerpts from the analyst phone call…

2/22/18 Update: Our original thought was that with a delay in the compressor station starting up, the entire pipeline would be delayed in starting up. Not true! We reached out to Williams for an explanation for how the pipeline could stay on schedule without the compressor going online initially. We got this statement back: “The gas that is placed into the system by producers enters the pipeline at very high pressures. In addition, we have existing Transco compression near the terminus of the line that is pulling the gas through the line. This push/pull dynamic is what allows gas to flow through the pipe prior to the full commissioning of the project’s compression.” So there you have it. While the full startup will be slightly delayed, the pipeline will still flow much of the volume intended–on schedule in July.
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Constitution Pipe Files for FERC Rehearing, Then Back to Court

Contrary to stories begin spun by anti-fossil fuel groups, Williams has not given up the fight to build the Constitution Pipeline–a $683 million, 124-mile pipeline from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY to move Marcellus gas into New York State and from there, into New England. The pipeline faces stiff odds. In 2016, the Andrew Cuomo-corrupted NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) abrogated their fiduciary duty by denying the project a federal stream crossing permit (see NY Gov. Cuomo Refuses to Grant Permits for Constitution Pipeline). Williams sued the state in federal court–and lost (see Court Rejects Constitution Pipe’s Case Against NY DEC; Now What?). Williams then asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to overrule DEC’s rejection. Sadly, last month FERC denied that request (see Death of the Constitution Pipeline? FERC Refuses to Overrule NY DEC). Williams has since launched a multi-pronged legal attack with three potential paths to victory. First, Williams appealed the case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court (see Constitution Pipeline Appeals NY Fight Directly to U.S. Supreme Court). The case to the Supremes takes up the issue of whether or not one state, like New York, can deny a federal project that benefits other states, like the New England states. We await word from the Supremes on whether or not they will hear the case. Yesterday Williams launched another legal attack by asking FERC to reconsider their denial from last month. If FERC says yes and overrules the DEC, we have victory. If FERC says no, Williams will then (we are assuming) use the denial as the basis to take the case back to federal court–this time to the D.C. Court of Appeals. The first federal court to consider the matter (ruling against Williams) was the Second Court of Appeals (in NY). Moving the case to the D.C. court stands a better chance. So, three potential paths to victory: U.S. Supreme Court, FERC changes its mind, or the D.C. Court of Appeals. This fight is far from over…
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