4th Circuit Rejects Sierra Club Request to Block Atlantic Coast Pipe

In something of a twist, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals elected NOT to officially shut down all construction of the 600+ mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project. You may recall the Sierra Club and several other anti-American Big Green groups convinced the Fourth Circuit to overturn permits granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) granted to ACP to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway (see Federal Court Stops Works on Some (All?) of Atlantic Coast Pipe). The rolled-back permits affect some 100 miles of work. Shortly after the Fourth Circuit decision, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) told Atlantic Coast to shut down all construction everywhere (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Atlantic Coast Pipeline). FERC’s shut-down is expected to be temporary. Meanwhile, back at the litigation ranch, the Big Green groups asked the Fourth Circuit to shut down all construction on ACP until the lawsuit plays out–over a period of years. It was to that request the court said no…
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Black Baptists Join Yoga Cult to Oppose Atlantic Coast Pipe

Although the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, being built by Dominion Energy, is currently idled with no construction due to a directive from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), some communities along the route of the pipeline are still agitating and protesting against it. In one of the more bizarre cases, a black Baptist pastor is whipping up his congregation against the project in rural Buckingham County, VA. But that’s not all. The black pastor is joining forces with a nearby commune (cult?) in Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville. The Baptist pastor had himself a religious experience when he visited Yogaville, pronouncing their views on religion (opposite of his own) just fine with him–because they both hate the pipeline. Looks like politics comes before God for the good pastor and his congregation…
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Eco-Nuts File FERC Rehearing Request for Pipe Under Potomac

Anti-fossil fuel nutters are on a holy mission to stop a 3.5-mile, 8-inch pipeline from being built under the Potomac River by Columbia Gas, from Maryland to West Virginia (see Maryland Antis Oppose 13th Pipeline Under Potomac as “Dangerous”). The pipeline will be built to feed a larger pipeline project from Mountaineer Gas called the Eastern Panhandle Expansion–a pipeline to deliver Marcellus/Utica natural gas via local distribution channels to a new industrial facility in Berkeley County, WV, and to provide gas to other local businesses and residents in the Tri-State area. Mountaineer began building their project in March (see Mountaineer Gas Begins Work on Morgan County, WV Pipeline). Phase one of the Mountaineer project is done and they’re now working phase two. In July, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Columbia’s pipeline-under-the-Potomac project to feed the Mountaineer project (see FERC Approves Pipeline Under the Potomac River from Md. to WV). Antis were enraged. Here’s the inconvenient truth that mainstream news organizations fail to report: This tiny 3.5-mile pipeline will be Columbia’s 13th pipeline under the Potomac! Yet antis insist THIS is the one pipeline that will explode and contaminate the Potomac and make the water flowing down the muddy Potomac undrinkable for millions. Total BS. Antis have just filed a request with FERC to “rehear” (i.e. reconsider) the decision to approve the pipeline under the river. Once FERC officially denies that request (as they surely will), antis are then free to file a lawsuit challenging the project with the U.S. Court of Appeals…
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FERC Lets MVP Restart Work on 25% of Pipe; MVP Lays off ‘Thousands’

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has had a change of heart–sort of–with respect to their stop-work order issued to Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). We previously told you that on August 3, FERC told MVP to stop all construction prompted by an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacating permits issued for the project as it crosses 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). In a letter to FERC this past Tuesday, MVP asked FERC to reconsider and allow them to restart construction for at least part of the pipeline. FERC agreed and partially lifted the stop-work order a day later, on Wednesday. The new order allows MVP to work on the project for 77 of its 303 miles–about 25%. However, in a sad announcement, MVP said because so much of the project remains (for now) idled, it is laying off 50% of the workers who had been working on it. It’s estimated that around 6,000 people are employed directly or indirectly on the project, which means “thousands” (perhaps as many as 3,000 people) are now out of work–thanks to the Sierra Club and their lawsuit. Hey, how many jobs has the Sierra Club created? What’s that? NONE?! And how many jobs has the Sierra Club destroyed? We’d estimate it to be in the tens of thousands. MVP also announced that due to the ongoing work stoppage and delays, the project completion and in-service date has now slipped to the end of next year–an additional nine months. It’s a sad day indeed…
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PA DEP Gives ME2 Pipe OK to Restart Construction Near Philly

Work on the Mariner East 2 and 2x pipelines in West Whiteland Township, Chester County (near Philadelphia) stopped in May following a Public Utility Commission (PUC) administrative law judge’s highly questionable ruling (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). The PUC overruled the judge in early August, allowing most work to restart in West Whiteland–in all but four locations (see PA PUC Allows ME2 Pipeline Work to Restart Near Philly). The remaining four locations involve underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work that has led to sinkholes. Yesterday the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection announced they have reviewed two of the four remaining locations and say revised plans submitted by Sunoco Logistics Partners (the builder) look good to them. That is, Sunoco can restart construction in those two locations as soon as the PUC gives them the go-ahead. The DEP is now reviewing the final two locations. Seems as if we’re fighting for every single inch to finish this project…
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Cuomo Pipe Policies Put Thousands of Union Members Out of Work

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing yesterday to consider the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018 (S. 3303). Two weeks ago we told you about S. 3303, a bill that will “fix” the issue of states like New York using Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which allows states to have a say in where interstate pipeline routes can pass through a state, from abusing that authority to block pipeline projects (see US Senate Bill Fixes States Blocking Pipelines via Water Permits). One of the people testifying at yesterday’s hearing was Brent Booker, the secretary-treasurer of North America’s Building Trades Unions. Brent represents some 3 million (!) union workers. He spoke passionately about the damage that has been done by NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo in blocking new pipeline projects. Because of Cuomo’s actions, literally thousands of union workers (Democrat voters) are now out of work–people who could have been working all along but aren’t because Cuomo is abusing the federal Clean Water Act’s Section 401 to politically block new fossil fuel pipelines…
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Irrational Fossil Fuel Hatred in Bristol, VT re Local Gas Line

It took Vermont Gas Systems three years to build a 41-mile, $165 million natural gas transmission pipeline from Colchester to Middlebury. The pipeline went into service in April. Vermont Gas is now working to complete several local distribution spurs–short, small pipelines to deliver the gas to homes and businesses. One of those spurs goes to Bristol, VT. A handful of Bristol residents are suing the town board for approving the local distribution pipeline without first holding a townwide vote. When you read the objections of those against the project, they don’t talk about exploding pipelines and safety issues, or running pipelines through pristine areas. How can they object on that basis? There are literally tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of miles of this very same kind of pipeline in every major and most minor cities and towns across the country. When you read the comments of those in Bristol objecting, they talk about natural gas as “a big, dirty fossil fuel” and fracking as an abject evil, contaminating water, filled with chemicals, yada yada yada. In other words, they are clinically insane. They irrationally hate fossil fuels, even though their very lives and existence depend on those fossil fuels every minute of every day. We’ve run out of words to describe such lunacy…
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Atlantic Coast Pipeline Asks FERC to Lift Stop-Work Order

Borrowing a chapter from EQT and their Mountain Valley Pipeline project, Dominion Energy has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to lift a stop-work order for its 600+ mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project. On Tuesday MVP sent a letter to FERC requesting the agency lift it’s stop-work order for them (see Mountain Valley Pipe Asks FERC to Lift Stop Work Order). A day later, yesterday, ACP did the same thing. Last week a federal court pulled permits for approximately 100 miles (of 600 miles) for ACP in response to a frivolous lawsuit filed by the anti-American Sierra Club (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Atlantic Coast Pipeline). The Clubbers convinced the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn permits granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Park Service, granted to ACP to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway. The court, in rolling back ACP’s permits, told FERC they should shut down work on the entire project until this matter is resolved. Last Friday FERC did just that. Yesterday Dominion politely asked FERC to ignore the court and lift the ban for those portions not part of the actual court order. Dominion got some moral support from West Virginia’s congressional delegation in their effort. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, along with Rep. David McKinley wrote a letter to FERC asking the agency to lift the stop-work order for both ACP and MVP…
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Mountain Valley Pipe Asks FERC to Lift Stop Work Order

EQT Midstream and its partners in the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project are trying to convince the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to lighten up and reconsider lifting most of a stop-work order for the entire 303-mile pipeline project. In a 7-page letter to FERC yesterday, Matthew Eggerding, EQT Midstream’s top lawyer, outlined his company’s case for allowing them to restart work on most of the pipeline. Two weeks ago FERC ordered MVP to shut down all construction for the entire project following a court case that overturned permits for a tiny, 3.5-mile section of the project as it runs through the Jefferson National Forest (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). In delivering its stop-work order, FERC said while it expects the two federal agencies involved (U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management) to quickly rework and reissue the permits overturned by the court, they (FERC) don’t know when that will happen and so in the meantime, just shut it all down. MVP is asking them to reconsider. What happens if FERC doesn’t reconsider and MVP stays shut down until the court gives the OK for reissued permits? According to EQT’s incoming CEO Rob McNally, “that would certainly put the first-quarter [2019] timing in jeopardy.” Meaning all bets are off…
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Cabot, Seneca, Chief Ramp Up Production for Atlantic Sunrise

According to a report from BTU Analytics, the top three shippers who will soon flow natural gas along Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline (ASP)–Cabot Oil & Gas, Seneca Resources and Chief Oil & Gas–have “nearly doubled” their rig counts over the past few months leading up to the imminent startup of ASP. The pipeline is due to go online any day now–by the end of August (see Genscape Confirms Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Ready to Flow in August). Cabot has reserved 1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of the 1.7 Bcf/d capacity of the new ASP. One third of Cabot’s 1 Bcf/d (350 million cubic feet per day, MMcf/d) will flow to Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export plant in Maryland–heading for Japan. Another 500 MMcf/d of Cabot’s gas will go to Washington Gas via ASP–meaning northeast PA Marcellus molecules will help heat, cool and power D.C. swamp dwellers. Joy. Here’s the great news that a single pipeline is stirring up a lot more drilling in northeastern PA…
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Shell to Remediate PA Swamp in Return for Falcon Pipe Permit

Shell is proposing to remediate a swamp in Mercer County as a way to “offset” the “impacts” of building an ethane pipeline to feed it’s mighty cracker plant under construction in Beaver County. Oops. Sorry. Instead of calling it a swamp, the PC term is “wetland.” Shell will make a swampy portion of Neshannock Creek in Mercer County swampier, in return for permission to build the Falcon ethane pipeline elsewhere. Apparently it’s not the first time Shell has proposed such a swap. Shell is in the middle of remediating a swamp in Washington County in return for “local impacts” (i.e. “damage” to the environment) they’re causing by building the cracker plant itself. This is not an uncommon practice–across the country. We happen to think it’s silly. Either a project is worthwhile–worth “damaging” some of our precious environment, because of the greater good it will bring–or not. Playing this game of “I’ll spoil this area here, so I’ll un-spoil that area over there” is senseless, in our humble opinion. But hey, if that’s the game we must play to get it built…
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Antis Still Can’t Come to Terms They Lost NY AIM Pipe Case

Big Green antis thought they could stop the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline project–an expansion of the existing Algonquin pipeline system designed to carry 342 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to New England states that badly need the gas. On March 3, 2015 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final approval for the project. Construction began in 2015 and, following extreme opposition from New York State over a small portion of the project near the Indian Point nuclear plant (which will shut down in a few years anyway), AIM finally went online in late 2016. In what has become a typical pattern, Big Green groups asked FERC to rehear their decision to approve AIM, FERC refused, and Big Green then filed a lawsuit in federal court. But two weeks ago the federal court told the antis “no,” crushing their efforts to roll back the expanded pipeline (see DC Circuit Court Denies Anti Request to Rehear AIM Pipe Approval). That should be the end of the matter. There’s no place left to go, court-wise, except maybe (one in a million odds) to the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet the antis, still disbelieving they’ve lost, are threatening to pursue it legally. Some unstable people just can’t let go…
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FERC Approves Transco Pipeline Expansion in New Jersey

Click for larger version

Last Friday, before Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Rob Powelson left the building for the last time, FERC approved a small but important expansion of the Williams Transco Pipeline in New Jersey, called the Rivervale to South Market project. We first told you about the Rivervale project last year when Williams filed an application for it with FERC (see New Project Seeks to “Uprate” Transco Pipeline in Northern NJ). The Rivervale project will expand the mighty Transco pipeline in northern New Jersey to deliver an extra 190 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of low-carbon, clean-burning Marcellus Shale gas to markets in northern NJ and New York City. The project calls for “uprating” a little over 10 miles of pipeline (same pipeline with more pressure and more gas), and adding a half mile of new looping pipeline–which is more than enough to set off the whackadoodles at the NJ Sierra Club. One of two Democrat FERC commissioners, Richard “Dick” Glick, voted in part against approving the project because he says it will lead to more global warming. Typical lib Dem. Here’s Williams’ good news announcement, and a copy of FERC’s 46-page approval…
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FERC Rejects PennEast Pipe Rehearing Request – Antis Sue

Elvis – song & dance

Last Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied a rehearing request by radical enviro groups with respect to the PennEast Pipeline project. That is, FERC said “we’re sticking with our original decision to approve the project.” In January, FERC voted 4-1 to approve the $1 billion, 120-mile natgas pipeline that will stretch from northeast PA to the Trenton area of New Jersey (see FERC Grants Final Approval for PennEast Pipe – Real Battle Begins). FERC Commissioner Richard “Dick” Glick voted against the project claiming it will lead to more man-made global warming. But the other Dem FERC Commissioner, Cheyl LaFleur, voted to approve it–at least in January. In Friday’s “order on rehearing” LaFleur flipped and said she’s had second thoughts about the project. She voted “in part” to rehear the original decision. Glick voted to rehear. Bottom line: both LaFleur and Glick want to kill the PennEast project. That’s the upshot of Friday’s FERC communication. Unfortunately FERC Commissioner Rob Powelson has abandoned us and we will now face a 2-2 deadlock on key decisions like this one for the foreseeable future–because Senate Democrats will block a vote on a new, third, Republican member of the Commission until after the November election. Thanks Rob. The radical anti groups that filed the rehearing request–THE Delaware Riverkeeper (aka Maya van Rossum) and the NJ Sierra Club (aka Jeff Tittel)–immediately filed lawsuits with the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The antis could only take their case to court once FERC had denied a rehearing request. That’s the song and dance routine we must go through on the way to fighting to build every square inch of any new pipeline project in the northeast. Pipeline company files application, FERC approves, radical groups request a rehearing, rehearing denied, lawsuit filed. That’s the formula that plays out over and over again. Below is a copy of FERC’s approval along with details about antis filing their lawsuits…
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Is MVP Still Under Construction Following FERC Stop-Work Order?

We spotted something that seemed a bit odd to us. In a story about pipelines in WV and the challenges they face, EQT said they continue to engage in some construction activities for Mountain Valley Pipeline, even though the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently ordered them to stop all construction on the project until further notice (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). At least, that’s what EQT appears to be saying. Background: The radical Sierra Club convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to overturn permits issued by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that allows EQT Midstream’s 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia (see Court Cancels Permits for Mountain Valley Pipe on Fed Land). Even though 3.5 miles is like 1% of the entire MVP project, FERC told MVP to “cease immediately” *all* construction activities along the *entire length* of the pipeline, until the permit issue for Jefferson National Forest is resolved. And yet, an EQT spokesperson told a WV reporter, “Various construction activities have been happening along the route, include construction of compression facilities, tree felling, trenching, welding, stringing of pipe.” Did she mean those things happened *until* FERC told them to stop? Or they’ve continued to happen *after* FERC told them to stop? We report, you decide…
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PA PUC Wants to Expand 811 to Include Stripper Wells

In just about every state in the country, before you start digging a hole in the ground for some reason (water well, septic system, laying an underground electric line, etc.)–the first thing you do is call 811 or some similar phone number. The “one call” or “first call” reaches a state-authorized (not necessarily state-run) office where they have, on file, maps detailing any kind of underground cables, pipelines and other infrastructure. If such underground structures exist, a representative of the owner for the underground line will, if necessary, stop by and mark the areas so when you do begin digging, you don’t hit it. Makes sense. A bill introduced in 2016 in the Pennsylvania legislature “enhances” the existing 811 law in PA. One of the “enhancements” is that it removes an exclusion for low-pressure natural gas gathering pipelines from being required to be part of the 811 system, mainly lines run to conventional gas wells. The bill was opposed by the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (see PIOGA Opposes Bill to Regulate Unregulated PA Gathering Pipelines). The bill was reintroduced in March 2017 (see PA State Senator Introduces Bill to Regulate Gathering Pipelines). Once again PIOGA pushed back. In June 2017, a compromise was reached to exclude pipelines running to “stripper wells”–i.e. low-producing conventional wells. With that compromise in place, both the PA Senate and House voted to adopt the plan and it was signed into law (see Shale + Large Conventional Gathering Pipes Added to PA One Call). The PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) is the state agency charged with oversight of the enhanced 811 system. They have been staffing up and rolling out the changes. We spotted a story that talks about the PUC’s efforts. It mentions (bemoans) the fact that stripper wells are still exempt, and seeks to apply pressure to the owners of those wells to “voluntarily” join the 811 system. We all know what comes next after “voluntarily” joining any government-run program…
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