Williams: Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Going Online in August

Atlantic Sunrise – click for larger version

The sun is rising on Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, 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. When first announced, radical anti-drillers claimed they had a thousand people ready to protest and block work on the pipeline. In the end, something under 50 people were arrested for illegal activities in blocking work on the project. The most recent kerfuffle, from earlier this month, included one of the original founders of Lancaster Against Pipelines, Mark Clatterbuck, who used a “sleeping dragon” technique to block work for a few hours (see 2 Lancaster Radicals Arrested Stopping Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Work). Along the journey to building Atlantic Sunrise we’ve faced down radicalized nuns (“Sisters of the Corn”) who tried to block the pipeline from passing across their property–a property with an old folks home that uses natural gas–using a faux “chapel” in a corn field and by filing federal lawsuits (see Lancaster Nuns Demand “Religious Freedom” Trial re Pipeline). Antis tried building a couple of sheds on stilts, hoping to block construction (see PA Antis Build 2nd Magic Tree House to Stop Atlantic Sunrise Pipe). Antis protested at Williams’ regional office, showed up at various construction sites, got a local tribe of Indians involved–and in the end, all of their machinations were for nothing. Williams issued a press release yesterday to say the pipeline is almost done and will go online–flowing 1.7 billion cubic feet per day of mostly Cabot Oil & Gas Marcellus Shale gas extracted in Susquehanna County–sometime in August…
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OH Antis Attack Loudonville for Selling Water to Cabot for Drilling

Little red dot indicates where Loudonville, OH is located

At the Loudonville Village Council meeting on Monday, a dozen anti-drilling kooks “assailed” Mayor Steve Stricklen and council members over selling water to Cabot Oil & Gas to use in drilling (not fracking) several test wells in the area. Cabot is exploring north central Ohio as a potential spot for “what’s next” after their wildly successful Marcellus drilling program in Susquehanna County, PA. In typical fashion, lies and fearmongering were used in an attempt to shame Loudonville officials over water sales to Cabot. Loudonville sits on the border of Ashland and Homles counties. The village sells water to anyone who wants to buy, for 0.65 cents per gallon (a little over half a cent per gallon). So far Cabot has purchased 650,000 gallons from the village ($4,358). One of the antis said she’s fearful Cabot will dump the used fracking wastewater “contaminated by chemicals” in nearby Charles Mill Lake. It’s an outrageous and scurrilous allegation. We’ve personally seen Cabot’s first-rate wastewater recycling center in Susquehanna County. They recycle 100% of the wastewater coming out of the ground. But antis don’t bother to check on the facts–not when any old lying allegation will do…
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PHMSA Says Leach XPress Still in Danger, Issues 13-Pt To-do List

Earlier this week MDN told you that TransCanada’s Leach XPress, a 160-mile natural gas pipeline (and compression facilities) located in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle, was back online after experiencing an explosion in early June in Marshall County, WV (see Leach XPress Pipe 100% Back Online Following June Explosion). The investigation into why it exploded found the reason to be a “land slip” (i.e. landslide). Disturbingly, Columbia (the division of TransCanada that built and operates Leach XPress) told the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which investigates these kinds of incidents, there are six other spots along the pipeline that are “areas of concern” based on soil conditions, steep slopes or indications of slips. Not good. Just coming to light now–on July 9, PHMSA issued a list of 13 to-dos or “corrective actions” that Columbia must perform if it wants to keep Leach XPress up and running. We have the to-do list below…
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Marcellus/Utica Pipe Maker BENEFITS from Trump Tariffs

Contrary to the doom and gloom predictions that the hothead and dangerous Donald Trump, by imposing tariffs on Europe and China, is creating a “trade war” that is going to sink the U.S. and world economies–the facts show otherwise. Even the mighty American Petroleum Institute has been lobbying and complaining loudly that Trump’s tariffs will hurt the oil and gas industry. Except, it isn’t happening. At least not in the Marcellus/Utica. In fact, the opposite is happening! Dura-Bond, a company that manufactures steel welded pipes in McKeesport, PA, is *benefiting* from the tariffs. M-U pipeline companies are now buying Dura-Bond’s pipes instead of foreign imports. Dura-Bond is investing, like crazy, in the McKeesport facility in order to use the plant to manufacture smaller, midstream pipe. That ain’t supposed to happen! These words are sure to grate on a lot of people’s nerves (and we LOVE saying them): THANK YOU President Trump!…
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Otsego2000 Snobs Appeal FERC Approval of New Market Pipe Project

There’s a small group of rich snobs who have created a mini-swamp in Cooperstown, NY. They go to each other’s wine tasting parties and pretend they’re Important People. Gentry class. Folks with lots of money who want to keep Upstate as their own private playground. You know…keep the poor folks away from your property, unless they’re mowing the lawn or weeding the garden. God forbid people like disgusting farmers should actually make money on drilling or pipelines. These are the type of people behind a group called Otsego2000. They just can’t accept the reality that their will is not being obeyed in blocking a VERY modest upgrade to an existing pipeline that runs through Upstate–called the New Market Project. Dominion’s New Market Project (currently under construction) consists of building two new compressor plants and upgrading another to help flow more abundant, cheap and clean-burning Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania into the northeast (see Dominion Asks FERC for New Compressors in Upstate NY, WV). The project costs $159 million and will provide 112,000 dekatherms per day (Dth/d) of extra natural gas capacity along ~200 miles of existing Dominion pipeline across Upstate. The pipeline runs through the Horseheads, Ithaca, Syracuse and Albany areas. The snobs of Otsego2000 have just sued the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in federal court to try and stop the project–even though not one of the compressor stations is located in Otsego County! Otsego2000 is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1981 “to protect the environmental, agricultural, scenic, cultural and historic resources of the Otsego Lake region and northern Otsego County.” As near as we can tell, the New Market Project doesn’t impact Otsego County at all. Yet Otsego2000 is fighting the project, with no legal standing to do so. Go figure…
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Philly Antis Commission Faux “Risk Study” Targeting ME2 Pipeline

Unhappy that local and state political leaders refuse to shut down the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project, a small group of anti-fossil fuelers from the Philadelphia area are coughing up $50,000 of Big Green (likely Tom Steyer’s) money to fund a biased “study” that will say ME2 is too risky. Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, working with East Goshen Safety and Environmental Advocates, has hired Quest Consultants–a company that sells itself to the highest bidder. The funny thing is, the same company (Quest Consultants) did virtually the same report for the same region last year, charging the Middletown Coalition $45,000 (see Report by Philly Antis Proves Mariner East 2 Pipeline is Safe). Why even bother with the pretense? The end result is already written (just look at last year’s report). You always get what you pay for, and this is paid for by antis. This new “report” is not about hard science but about political science. It’s about scientific hucksterism. It’s about paying $50K so you can wave a report around and make a baseless claim to new “facts” (that aren’t facts at all). It’s just more of the same from the same people…
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Westmoreland Gas-Fired Plant Stabilizes County Water Rates

In August 2016, energy giant Tenaska (headquartered in Omaha, NE) broke ground to build a 925-megawatt natural gas-fueled power plant in South Huntingdon (Westmoreland County), PA (see Groundbreaking for Tenaska Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant in SWPA). The Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station is costing ~$780 million to build and will be online by the end of this year (see Tenaska Gas-Fired SWPA Elec Plant Fully Staffed, Online in Dec). Some of the money spent, $25 million, was spent to upgrade the local Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County water treatment plant. Upgrades included 13 miles of new pipeline from the Tenaska site to a new pumping station in Bullskin, Fayette County. Upgrades also included a device that removes moisture from sludge left over after river water is treated. The Tenaska plant will use 8-10 million gallons of water per day. The upgrades to the municipal water authority benefit everyone who uses the system, not just Tenaska. How does it benefit everyone? The Municipal Authority said there are “no plans for a rate increase for a substantial period of time.” For years to come, Westmoreland water rates will not go up, thanks to this Marcellus gas-fired electric plant…
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Dominion Looking to Sell Gas-Fired Power Plants in PA, RI

Dominion Energy, headquartered in Richmond, VA, is a large utility and pipeline company providing ~6 million customers in 19 states with natural gas and electricity. Dominion not only flows energy to customers, it also generates it. In 2016, Dominion brought online a brand new, 1,358 megawatt, natural gas-fired generating plant in Brunswick County, VA (see Dominion Brunswick NatGas-Fired Plant Begins Electric Generation). Dominion built and now operates the Cove Point LNG export facility, which began exporting Marcellus gas in April of this year (see First-Ever Shipment of Marcellus LNG Leaves Cove Point, Maryland). In other words, Dominion really digs natural gas. Yet the company is rumored to be shopping two of its natgas-fired generating plants, looking to make $1-$1.5 billion. One plant, the Fairless Power Station, is located in Bucks County, PA near Philadelphia. The other, Manchester Street Power Station, is located in the People’s Republic of Rhode Island. So why on earth would Dominion, a company that really digs natgas, want to dump two of its power generating plants situated in large, urban areas? It all has to do with regulation…
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Long Island Town Votes to Allow New Gas-Fired Elec Plant

Artist’s rendering of the proposed Caithness II gas-fired power plant. Photo Credit: TRC Environmental Corp. Click for larger version.

Caithness Energy is a privately held company that specializes in buying or building (and operating) renewable energy and natural gas-fired power plants. We’ve written about a number of gas-fired generating projects they own or are involved with, over the years (see our Caithness stories here). Caithness owns a 350 megawatt natgas-fired power plant in Yaphank, NY–on Long Island. For more than four years Caithness has had a plan to build a second natgas-fired plant next to the first. The original plan was for a 750 MW plant, later scaled back to 600 MW. Local leaders in Brookhaven Town in which the existing and proposed power plant projects sit has been against the plan for a new power plant. The town passed restrictions in 2015 that tied the hands of Caithness, making the project impossible to build. As recently as May of this year, members of the town board expressed their doubts about the new project. But then, all of a sudden, the board reversed course and last Thursday voted to repeal the 2015 restriction that limits the type of equipment Caithness can use in building the plant. No, it’s not a ringing endorsement and it’s not full approval of the plan (many more local and state hoops will have to be jumped through). But it certainly signals a change of heart by town leaders…
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Stark County, OH Farmer Sues NEXUS Pipeline for Erosion Damage

The NEXUS Pipeline project, owned by DTE Energy and Spectra Energy (Enbridge), is being sued by a farmer in Stark County, OH. NEXUS is a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that runs from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. The Stark County farmer signed an easement with NEXUS in 2016. Construction began earlier this year. In late March, a lawyer hired by the farmer sent NEXUS a letter telling the company of erosion at the farm, due to their digging activities. The farmer estimated about $23,000 of damage at the time. But, according to the lawsuit, NEXUS didn’t fix the problem and that led to more damage–now up to $55,000 worth. The problem is that topsoil on the farm has been washed away. The farmer wants it replaced. If true, it certainly seems like a reasonable request to us. The farmer isn’t demanding millions of dollars, just the cost to replace soil swept away by NEXUS-related digging…
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NextEra Energy Says New England Doesn’t Need New NatGas Pipelines

Joe Kelliher, executive vice president of NextEra Energy, is also the former Republican chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under George W. Bush. Testifying before a Senate committee last week, Kelliher said New England doesn’t need new interstate natural gas pipelines to be built. Kelliher parrots language we’ve heard antis use–that New England’s pipeline system is adequate for “all but 12 days of the year.” For years pipeline companies (and grid operators) have been warning that without new pipelines to the region, New England is heading for rolling blackouts when temps get severe. So why would Kelliher take the opposite view at the hearing? Because his company, NextEra Energy, profits from lack of pipelines in the region! Kelliher is not a disinterested party in these matters. In 2016 we told you about NextEra and two other companies that were actively lobbying against new pipelines (see Spectra Energy Pushes Back Against New England Pipeline Naysayers). In the case of NextEra, they own regulated electric generating plants in the region–namely the Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire, and the Bellingham Energy Center (natgas-fired) in Massachusetts. New pipelines to New England would feed unregulated electric generating plants that would compete with NextEra’s plants. NextEra’s position is unfair suppression of competition by attempting to get the government to collude in and endorse that suppression by blocking pipelines. Shame on Kelliher and NextEra for their continued campaign to lock in place electric rates in New England that are on average 4X higher than the rest of the country–for their own selfish gain…
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M-U Companies Collaborate with Eco Group on Pipeline Report

Over the years the Nature Conservancy, whose mission is “to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends,” has put its support behind restrictive, anti-drilling measures. However, they’re not typically one of the Big Green groups that actively goes out of its way to block all fossil fuel extraction. They’re not as bad as the Sierra Club, or NRDC, or Earthworks. In what is perhaps a new chapter in cooperation with the industry (sure to get them tossed off the Christmas card list by other Big Green groups), the Nature Conservancy worked with eight of the largest pipeline companies in the U.S. (all but one with operations in the Marcellus/Utica) to produce a report titled, “Improving Steep-Slope Pipeline Construction to Reduce Impacts to Natural Resources” (full copy below). The report’s aim is to provide a list of best practice aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of natural gas pipeline construction. Particularly in areas prone to landslides. Working with Nature Conservancy on the report was Dominion Energy, Enbridge, EQT Midstream Partners, Kinder Morgan, NiSource, Southern Company Gas, UGI Energy Services and Williams–all of which have committed to adopting the guidelines put forth in the report. Notice that Nature Conservancy’s approach is not “never build another pipeline again”–as it is for most Big Green groups (including the ones we listed above). Instead, Nature Conservancy worked with pipeline companies to develop standards and practices that will protect the environment, while still allowing for pipeline construction. That is, they are being reasonable. Hats off to the Nature Conservancy for their efforts and reasonableness. Unfortunately for them, they are now sure to be ostracized by their Big Green brethren…
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FERC Approves Dominion Energy/SCANA Merger – Deal Still Alive

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 principally engaged, through subsidiaries, in electric and natural gas utility operations and other energy-related businesses. In other words, the local electric and gas company for much of South Carolina. Dominion is a big company with many operations–they are a pipeline company, an electric generating company, and a utility company (like SCANA). The merger makes sense. Dominion gets to grow and add more customers to its utility business, especially if they expand their now-under-construction Atlantic Coast Pipeline–flowing Marcellus/Utica gas–into South Carolina (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s Future Plans: Expand in NC & SC). But there was recently a big bump in the road. SCANA had started, and later abandoned, building a nuclear plant, costing ratepayers boatloads of money. In June, the SC legislature passed a bill (vetoed by the governor but overridden) lowering SCANA’s electric rates by 15%. Dominion threatened to cancel the merger (see Dominion Bid to Buy SCANA in Trouble Following Passage of SC Bill). But then the sun came out. Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission officially blessed the merger plan, and in announcing FERC’s approval, Dominion didn’t say a word about the 15% reduction or pulling out of the deal. All of that seems to now be forgotten. In fact, Dominion’s CEO told SC Gov. Henry McMaster that Dominion is not canceling buyout/merger plans, even with the bill…
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Interim EPA Chief Tries to Make Peace with DC Swamp Dwellers

Andrew Wheeler

MDN is not a fan of Andrew Wheeler, acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler assumed the role following the departure of Scott Pruitt, which (despite what Big Green liberals like the Athens News think), was railroaded out of town for his political and policy views, not for breaking any laws or corruption. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist (and a former EPA employee from years ago), believes “we can find common ground with Democrats.” He is sadly mistaken. In various articles Wheeler is called a Washington, DC insider. That’s code for swamp dweller. Wheeler doesn’t want to make waves by draining the EPA swamp. Which is exactly the wrong philosophy. You don’t make peace with your enemies. You CLEAN HOUSE. Get the swamp dwelling, overregulating Democrats out of the agency! Sadly, Wheeler is also a believer in the fairy tale of man-made catastrophic global warming. Our suspicions of Wheeler were, unfortunately, justified. We hope Trump wakes up and gets rid of him, pronto…
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Fracking Acid Leaks from Truck in Ohio, Forces Brief Evacuation

A spill of hydrochloric acid on Monday in Weathersfield (Trumbull County), Ohio caused a brief evacuation of three hours for 23 homes and several businesses in the area. Nobody was hurt. The acid was stored in a tanker truck. The trucking company, Predator Trucking, is headquartered in Texas but maintains a regional operation in Weathersfield. Predator is a shale subcontractor hauling various liquids, including hydrochloric acid, used in fracking. The truck in question has two chambers that hold 2,500 gallons each. A valve became corroded on one of the chambers and while the truck was parked at the company’s facility, all 2,500 gallons leaked out. It created a vapor cloud and the concern was that it may shift, hence the evacuations, out of “an abundance of caution.” This accident points out one of the negatives of fracking. Oil and gas extraction is an industrial process that uses industrial chemicals hauled by trucks to drill sites. If a truck gets in an accident, or there is equipment failure, bad things can happen. But we hasten to add, in having observed and written about the Marcellus/Utica for nearly 10 years now, this is the first such incident we can recall of hydrochloric acid leaking. In other words, this type of accident is extremely rare. And thanks to the fast action of local first responders, there were no injuries. The acid was contained inside temporary dams, and soaked up with sand. The dirt the acid leaked into has been dug up and removed. Predator is now on the hook to pick up the cost–which no doubt will be considerable…
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Leach XPress Pipe 100% Back Online Following June Explosion

TransCanada’s Leach XPress is a 160-mile natural gas pipeline (and compression facilities) located in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Leach XPress flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky–hence the name. The pipeline went online January 1st, and a section of it exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). What caused the explosion? TransCanada (aka Columbia Pipeline) said it was a “slip”–what we call a landslide (see Columbia Says Landslide Caused Leach XPress Explosion/Fire in WV). The good news is that the 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline is now fully fixed and back online, as of Sunday, although it’s not yet flowing at full capacity. According to Genscape, pipeline “nominations” (reservations to move gas) were at 1.15 Bcf yesterday. That will likely increase in the coming days, back to full capacity. One comment about this story caught our eye–something we’d not seen or heard before: Columbia told the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) there are six other spots along the pipeline that are “areas of concern” based on soil conditions, steep slopes or indications of slips (i.e. landslides)…
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