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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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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First Domino Falls: Judge Grants PennEast Pipe Eminent Domain

It certainly seems as if the deck has been stacked against the PennEast Pipeline project, a $1 billion, 120-mile natgas pipeline that will stretch from northeast PA to the Trenton area of New Jersey. As we pointed out in November, DTE Energy’s NEXUS Pipeline, a 255-mile pipeline from Columbia County in Ohio to Southern Michigan, received its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval around the same time PennEast did, about a year ago. NEXUS is already built and flowing, PennEast hasn’t turned the first shovelful of dirt yet. It’s been a real battle for PennEast (see The War to Build PennEast Pipeline Continues). However, things are finally beginning to look up. Last week a federal judge granted PennEast its first approval in a string of eminent domain cases, giving PennEast the right to enter and survey a property in Carbon County, PA. Mixing our metaphors, last week’s decision is the first domino falling, with the rest sure to follow.
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Virginia AG Sues Mountain Valley Pipeline re “300 Violations”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a liberal Democrat, has filed a lawsuit against Mountain Valley Pipeline alleging the project has violated Virginia environmental regulations some 300 times. You know, things like workers throwing candy wrappers and cigarette butts on the ground. The AG filed the lawsuit “on behalf of Department of Environmental Quality Director David Paylor and the State Water Control Board.” Since when does allegedly violating certain low-level regulatory standards become a matter of concern for a state attorney general? Apparently AG Herring doesn’t have enough to do. His action smacks of political persecution, no? Someone trying to curry favor with radical leftists in order to launch his own bid for governor some day? That’s exactly what’s going on. Yet another Democrat abusing his office to feather his own political nest. Disgusting.
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4th Circus Blocks Permit, Stops All Work on Atlantic Coast Pipe

The judges at the Fourth Circuit (i.e. Circus) Federal Court of Appeals are at it again, micromanaging and making life miserable for Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The clowns of the Fourth Circus on Friday put a hold on a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that allows the pipeline to get built through areas with so-called endangered and threatened species. FWS determined the impacts to such species would be minimal. Big Green groups, including the radical Sierra Club, filed a lawsuit and in response to that lawsuit, to give the lawsuit time to play out, the clown judges suspended the FWS permit–effectively shutting down all work along the 600-mile project, even though the so-called “sensitive” species (four of them) are found along just 100 miles of the project. It’s not the first time the clowns have interfered (see 4th Circus Court Blocks Some Atlantic Coast Pipe Work in WV).
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Contractor Sues EQT $1.9M for Refusing to Pay for Spill Cleanup

Yet more intra-industry snipping to report (o&g companies suing o&g companies), this time between EQT and a contractor the company hired to clean up a spill (for $1.9 million) who says EQT never paid. EQT Gathering hired InterCon Construction to drill and install replacement pipeline in Indiana County, PA. InterCon did the work. During construction, InterCon experienced an “inadvertent return” (drilling mud leaking out on the surface where it’s not supposed to). InterCon fixed the issue, finished their work, and left. Triad Engineering was also involved in the project. The leak later returned. EQT asked InterCon to return and clean it up, which they did (for a price). According to court documents, EQT sued Triad for not properly sealing a bore hole, leading to the “new” leak. Yet EQT is refusing to pay InterCon for the cleanup, inferring they were to blame.
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12 Landowner Lawsuits Filed Against NEXUS, Contractor in Ohio

A lawyer representing 12 Ohio landowners has filed separate lawsuits on behalf of each landowner against NEXUS Pipeline and a contractor NEXUS used to build the pipleline–Michels Corp. The lawyer says he plans to file more lawsuits in the coming weeks. According to the attorney, the lawsuits aim to hold NEXUS and Michels “accountable for specific damages they’ve caused,” and to prevent future pipeline builders from “trampling on the rights of property owners.” The charges vary, but include allegations of pumping water and silt onto farms without permission from the owners, destroying topsoil and crops (without compensation), failure to repair damaged drain tiles, and more.
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Liens Against ME2 Pipeline Landowners Near Philly Dismissed

That was fast. Last week we reported that lawyers for a Mariner East 2 (ME2) subcontractor, United Piping Inc., had filed liens against the property of three landowners near Philadelphia because the ME2 contractor they worked for, Welded Construction, had declared bankruptcy and couldn’t pay them. And since ME2 builder Sunoco Logistics (along with Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline builder Williams) withheld payments from Welded, forcing it into bankruptcy, United figured they would extract their pound of flesh from landowners. Which, as we said, is outrageous and wrong (see Bankrupt Pipeline Contractor Leads to Liens Against PA Landowners). A day after that story broke, the companies involved (namely Energy Transfer, on behalf of Sunoco Logistics) got it resolved.
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PA Residents Sound Off Against Adelphia Pipe at DEP Hearing

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection held a public hearing last week for the Adelphia Gateway project, a plan to convert an old oil pipeline stretching from Northampton County, PA through Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties, terminating in Delaware County at Marcus Hook, to instead pump natural gas (see Oil Pipeline Near Philly to be Converted to Flow Fracked NatGas). It was pretty easy to predict that the hearing would elicit negative feedback, based on previous stories of residents unhappy with the location of a planned compressor station (see Update on Adelphia Gateway – Converting Oil Pipeline to Flow NatGas). And sure enough, many who spoke at the hearing were not happy.
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Bankrupt Pipeline Contractor Leads to Liens Against PA Landowners

Ambulance-chasing lawyers for a Minnesota-based subcontractor (United Piping Inc.) have filed a lien against some of the landowners where Mariner East 2 (ME2) crosses, claiming the landowners may have to pay them because the contractor, Welded Construction, can’t. The lawyers are using a little-known law in Pennsylvania that dates to 1901 to make their claim. This is seriously screwed up. You may recall we previously told you that Williams, disputing work Welded Construction had done for them in building the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, refused to pay $23.5 million, causing Welded to declare bankruptcy (see Williams Withholds Payment Forcing Pipeline Builder into Bankruptcy). What we didn’t know, until now, is that Sunoco Logistics Partners, builder of the ME2 pipeline, also withheld payments to Welded. United Pipeline says because of Welded’s bankruptcy and failure to pay them (because Williams and Sunoco withheld payments), they (United) now have the right to go after landowners for that money. This is nuts!Continue reading

PA Supreme Court Upholds ME2 Right to Use Eminent Domain

One of the ways anti-fossil fuel groups have tried to stop the Mariner East 2 Pipeline project is by tying it up in court. Various lawsuits have been filed going back years. One litigant, a Big Green group headquartered in Philadelphia, the so-called Clean Air Council, has tried repeatedly to get the courts to deny ME2 the right to use eminent domain in cases where landowners refuse to cooperate (see Clean Air Council’s Strange War Against Mariner East Pipeline). CAC argued that ME2 is not a “public utility” and therefore not entitled to the use of eminent domain. That argument flamed out. In May, PA’s Commonwealth Court ruled that yes, ME2 is a public utility entitled to use eminent domain if it needs to (see PA Court Rules ME2 Pipe has Power of Eminent Domain, Period). CAC had one last card to play, taking the case to the PA Supreme Court. They played it, and lost.
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CNX Midstream Sues Contractor for Walking Away from Pipe Project

On Monday, CNX Midstream sued West Virginia contractor Ronald Lane Inc. claiming the contractor “without warning or justification ceased work on the Project and abandoned the Project,” the Project being a package of water and gas pipelines in Greene and Washington counties in PA. And that, “Lane informed [CNX] that Lane intended to redirect all of its forces and efforts to other projects that Lane considered to be more profitable than the Project. Lane made it clear to [CNX] that Lane had no intention to perform any more work on the Project.” Lane was the winning bidder for the Project in late 2017 at a total cost of $7.1 million. According to the lawsuit, CNX claims Lane began construction in March and abandoned the Project in June.
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NY, Other Lib States Try to Block Dominion New Market Pipe Project

New Market Project – click for larger version

Last July a small group of rich snobs from Cooperstown, NY calling themselves Otsego2000 sued the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in federal court to try and stop Dominion Energy’s New Market Project (currently under construction), a VERY modest upgrade to an existing pipeline that runs through Upstate (see Otsego2000 Snobs Appeal FERC Approval of New Market Pipe Project). The false premise of Otsego2000’s lawsuit is that FERC did not consider mythical man-made global warming when it decided to approve the New Market Project. Unfortunately, the wildly left/radical New York Attorney General’s office has just entered the case by filing a “friend of the court” brief, along with the wildly left/radical AGs in Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington State, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. But wait…the pipeline doesn’t run through any of those other states (other than NY) and has zero impact on those other states. Doesn’t matter. The point is they want to redefine how FERC does its job by bastardizing our laws, and this case conveniently provides them with a way to do it.
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Wilkes-Barre, PA Suburb Votes to Block Marcellus Industry

It’s kind of unusual, but we suppose not totally unheard of, for a township in the heart of the Pennsylvania Marcellus region in the northeast to essentially reject the Marcellus industry and tell the industry it isn’t wanted in their town. That’s the very loud and clear message just sent by Dallas Township (Luzerne County, near Wilkes-Barre) in adopting new zoning regulations that limit businesses related to the Marcellus industry from operating anywhere but in ~10% of the town. And we’re not talking about drilling–there is no Marcellus drilling in Dallas, in fact none in Luzerne County at all. We’re talking about things like “compressor stations, metering stations, processing facilities, hydraulic fracturing water withdrawal and treatment services.” And such restrictions do impact the industry, especially those related to pipeline infrastructure.
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