Pa. DEP Jumps the Gun with Proposed New Emissions Regs

We told you that yesterday the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) was meeting to unveil proposed new regulations to cut down on so-called fugitive methane emissions from existing well pads and pipelines (see Proposed New O&G Emissions Regs Will Disadvantage PA Drillers). They met and released a draft of onerous new regulations that focus more on reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions than they do fugitive methane–but the result is still the same: Force drillers and pipeline companies to spend bazillions of dollars to produce a teeny tiny improvement in emissions. The Marcellus Shale Coalition said, “Rather than creating more regulatory uncertainty [with these new regs at this time], it would be prudent for DEP to delay any regulatory proposals until federal rules are finalized,” pointing out the fact that federal rules are not yet finalized. In other words, Wolf’s DEP is jumping the gun.
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Illinois Court Grants St. Louis M-U Pipeline Eminent Domain Power

Spire STL Pipeline route (click for larger version)

In February 2016, MDN told you about an exciting new market for Marcellus and Utica Shale gas that may open up one day in the Midwest (see New Midwest Pipeline to Tap REX’s Marcellus/Utica Gas). Laclede Group, a St. Louis-based natural gas utility, said they want to build a ~65-mile pipeline from St. Louis through southwest Illinois and connect to the Rockies Express (REX) and Panhandle Eastern Pipeline. The new pipeline would bring low-cost Marcellus and Utica Shale gas from REX to the utility–not only for resale to gas customers, but also potentially for new natgas-powered electric plants planned to replace retiring coal-fired plants.
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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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Meeting Reveals Details re PGE’s Loyalsock Creek Pipe Project

Pennsylvania General Energy drills in several PA counties, including Lycoming County in the north central of the state. According to the Marcellus & Utica Shale Upstream Almanac 2018, PA General Energy is the fourth-largest driller in Lycoming County, with 103 producing wells and 42.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas production in 2017. PA General Energy wants to drill more wells in Lycoming. Those wells will need a gathering pipeline connected to them, and a water pipeline to provide water for drilling and fracking. Even though a water pipeline would save an estimated 126,000 truck trips on local roads, some residents are opposed (see Lycoming County Residents Oppose Loyalsock Creek Gathering Pipe). Last night residents got to hear more details about the project at a meeting organized by PA State Rep. Garth Everett.
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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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Proposed New O&G Emissions Regs Will Disadvantage PA Drillers

The liberal PA Gov. Tom Wolf administration continues to tinker with (i.e. destroy) the Marcellus miracle in the Keystone State. In August the Wolf Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally, after years of work, implemented onerous new regulations to cut down on so-called fugitive methane emissions from new drilling and pipelines (see PA Harms Drillers, Pipelines with Over-Strict Methane Rules). Existing well pads and pipelines are now in Wolf’s crosshairs. The DEP has, for some time, considered requiring new regulations to further reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions at existing oil and gas sites. The DEP recently released a draft of those regs, and is meeting TODAY to discuss the new proposed regulations (see PA DEP Releasing Expensive New O&G Emissions Reg). The question is, since the federal EPA is “relaxing” the standards on which these onerous new PA standards are based, will PA, by adopting these new standards, make itself uncompetitive against other shale drilling states? PA DEP Sec. Pat McDonnell seems to think so.
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Pitt Researchers Discover Cheaper Way to Convert NGLs to Plastics

Pitt research appears on cover of journal

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh may have just discovered a way to turn “light alkanes” (i.e. propane, butane) into raw plastics that is cheaper than cracking ethane. At least, that’s what we think they’ve discovered. It’s hard to tell. In a research paper recently published titled, “Structure–Activity Relationships in Alkane Dehydrogenation on ?-Al2O3: Site-Dependent Reactions,” Pitt researchers say they’ve discovered a way to produce olefins using “the nonoxidative dehydrogenation of alkanes on metal oxides, taking advantage of the Lewis acid?base surface functionalities of the oxides.” Er, right. What we do know is that the Pitt researchers are excited about their discovery, and say, “We now have a better tool to develop active catalysts for alkane-olefin conversion, which could be a game-changer in the petrochemical and polymer industries.” Below is a write-up from Pitt about the new research, in lay language, along with an abstract from the paper.
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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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EPA Proposes Revised, Common Sense “Waters of the U.S.” Rule

The days of radical, wild overregulation on the part of the federal Environmental Protection Agency are, thankfully, over. At least while Donald Trump is in office. One of the worst examples of regulatory abuse under the Obama Administration was the EPA’s redefinition of what is called Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The Obamadroids redefined WOTUS to mean everything down to mud puddles–and no, we’re not exaggerating (see EPA Power Grab: Redefines Waters of the U.S. to Include Everything). When Trump took office, his EPA tried to rescind the Obama WOTUS damage, but liberal judges in various courts have done their best to protect the swamp (see Fed Judge Revives Obama Waters of US Tragedy in 26 States). We now, finally, have a replacement for WOTUS–a replacement which the courts will have a much harder time blocking. Another brilliant move by Team Trump. Best of all, the new definition is common sense. It still protects the environment without micromanaging every farmer’s mud puddle, and without regulating every square foot of every drill pad.
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Paid Protesters Present DRB Frack Ban Petitions to NY, NJ Govs

A small group of paid protesters from Big Green groups colluded with sycophantic liberal reporters in Albany and Trenton to stage a fake rally where they “delivered” form-generated “petitions,” supposedly with 100,000 signatures (no doubt many of them faked), given to Govenors Cuomo and Murphy, respectively, demanding that the governors support a permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin. NY and NJ are two of five members of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), a rogue group that has pledged to permanently ban fracking in the Basin based on baseless fears fracking may contaminate New York City and Philadelphia drinking water supplies. Total bogus B.S.–but that’s the fearmongering used by people with no ethics. There’s one teeny tiny problem with the DRBC’s proposed ban: A U.S. District Court is currently considering whether or not the DRBC has the legal authority to ban fracking, even if it wants to (see Major Federal Court Decision Opens Door to Stop DRBC Frack Ban). The evidence strongly suggests the DRBC doesn’t have the legal power to block fracking, no matter what Cuomo and Murphy and the other voting members of the DRBC decide to do.
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PA Gov. Wolf Seriously Considers Marcellus-Killing Cap & Trade

On November 27, a variety of Big Green groups including the Clean Air Council, Widener University Environmental Law and Sustainability Center, eco(n)law LLC and 61 others submitted a “rulemaking petition” (407-page plan) to the Pennsylvania Environment Quality Board requesting the Board and PA Gov. Tom Wolf establish a cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emission reduction program to eliminate carbon emissions from major sources by 2052. It’s a bizarre plan, meant to eliminate fossil fuel production and use, including Marcellus Shale production. The kicker is that Wolf is actually thinking about doing it. Hey PA residents–still glad you reelected Wolf?
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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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