CNX Resources Fined $250K for PA Pipe Construction Violation

CNX Resources was installing a pipeline in Indiana County, PA and apparently didn’t, according to the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), properly construct erosion barriers for the project. It rained, hard, and sediment-laden water went over the erosion barriers and got into an unnamed stream, which empties into Mudlick Run, a “high quality water” creek. In other words, a tiny creek got muddy, and some of that muddy water *may have* entered a slightly bigger creek. And for that violation, CNX is going to pay a whopping $250,000 fine. The DEP says following an inspection in March, the DEP ordered CNX to fix the problem by April 3, but as of May 16 the problem had still not been fixed. CNX disputes that they violated their permits and has told the DEP they’ve quit building that particular pipeline. In order to make it all go away, CNX is paying the DEP a $250K negotiated shakedown, PLUS pay to fix the “problem”…
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Seneca Lake LPG Storage Project is Now Officially Dead

Basil Seggos, Commissioner of the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (and tool of Andrew Cuomo and Big Green radicals) has officially killed the Seneca Lake LPG storage project planned near Seneca Lake. In May, Crestwood, the project’s sponsor, said the depleted salt cavern that would house the LPG (propane) underground may leak in one small area (see Crestwood Testing Proposed LPG Storage Site @ Seneca Lake for Leaks). That was all the Big Green radicals, including Seggos, needed as an excuse to kill the project. Seggos saw his opening and took it. Last Thursday Seggos issued a 31-page ruling denying the project (copy below). It’s obvious from the length of the report and the stated reasons that he uses, that Seggos had already, long ago, decided to deny the project. He talks about cockamamie, airy fairy things like the project is “inconsistent with the character of the local and regional Finger Lakes community.” Really? As if the salt mining operation that used to be there was consistent with the character of the region? It’s all nonsense. This report was written months ago, before the “leak” issue was known. The fact that one small part of the underground storage caverns (plural) is not airtight was the magic bullet Seggos needed to pull the trigger. And he did. While Crestwood has not yet responded and admitted that the project is dead, we see no way it can now move forward. Hey Schuyler County, how does it feel to kiss a $30 million addition to your tax base goodbye? What’s that? Nobody is left who lives in Schuyler County any more? Guess we know why…
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Crestwood’s Seneca Lake, NY LPG Storage Facility Effectively Dead

How LPG storage works – click for larger version

One by one the nails have been driven into the coffin of a much-needed project in Upstate New York to store LPG–liquefied petroleum gas (i.e. propane). In 2009 Inergy filed a request to convert a depleted salt cavern along the shore of Seneca Lake (in Schuyler County, NY, near Watkins Glen) into a propane/natural gas storage facility. Inergy was later bought by and merged into Crestwood Midstream, and Crestwood Midstream later renamed to Crestwood Equity Partners. The New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has been sitting on its hands from the beginning, refusing to grant the necessary permits to allow the facility to open. We won’t recount all of the ins and outs, ups and downs, of this project (most of them legal). You can read our previous stories here. The one thing the Seneca Lake LGP project has always had going for it, the spark and glimmer of hope, is strong local support from the Schuyler County Legislature. That is, until now. In a unanimous vote Monday night, the legislature voted to rescind its support for the project. It’s not the final nail in the coffin, but we’d call it the next-to-final nail…
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Columbus Radical Admits Frack Ban Ballot Measure Not Legal

Just a few days ago we told you about a group of anti-fossil fuel nutters, backed by the Big Green group CELDF, making yet another run at an illegal frack ban in Columbus, OH (see CELDF Finds New Group of Suckers in Columbus for Utica Frack Ban). Columbus, with a population of 2,078,725 people, found 12,134 suckers (1/2 of 1% of the entire population) to sign a petition to get a so-called Community Bill of Rights on the ballot in November. As we previously pointed out, this initiative is illegal. State law specifically reserves the right to regulate oil and gas activity at the state level–local towns, cities, etc. don’t have the staff or expertise to regulate such activities. In a new article, one of the main agitators behind the ballot measure admits the so-called Community Bill of Rights is likely illegal. But that doesn’t matter to him: “[T]he initiative is still worth pursuing because it brings attention to what he believes is the unfairness of cities not having a say in oil and gas drilling.” So the antis know it’s illegal, it will never stand, but they want taxpayers to have to burn money and time to challenge it anyway. Just because they don’t like fossil fuels and activities to extract them. How do you even have a conversation with someone who is totally irrational?…
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Big Green Pressures Gov. Wolf to Expand Onerous Methane Regs

This one was easy to predict, because it follows a tried-and-true pattern used by leftists for decades. PA Gov. Wolf’s Administration has been fiddling with proposed regulations to cut down on fugitive methane emissions from drilling and pipelines for years. The regulations are known as General Permit 5 (GP-5) and General Permit 5A (GP-5A). GP-5 applies to pipelines and compressor stations, while GP-5A applies to well pads and drilling. In June, the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, author of the revised regs, floated its final final final final version of the regs (see PA DEP Releasing Onerous New GP-5 & 5A Methane Regs June 8). The new regs will go into effect in August. But here’s the thing. These onerous regulations apply only to *new* and not *existing* sources of methane emissions. Now that the revised regs are about to go into effect for new sources, right on cue Big Green groups are pressuring Wolf to apply them to existing sources too. That was, of course, the intention all along–to hamstring (and shut down) the Marcellus industry by saddling it with insanely high costs to comply with regulations that won’t do a thing to “save the planet” from methane poisoning. A classic “bait and switch” routine…
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Millennium Lateral Pipe to NY Gas-Fired Elec Plant Begins Service

This is a red-letter day indeed! We have waited so long for this day to arrive. Andrew Cuomo (ignominious governor of NY) has lost his battle to stop a short, 7.8 mile pipeline, a lateral/offshoot of the main Millennial Pipeline, to flow Marcellus gas to a newly completed gas-fired electric generating plant in Wawayanda (Orange County), NY. Yesterday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted permission for Millennium’s Valley Lateral pipeline to begin operation. As we previously reported, once the gas is flowing to the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) Valley Energy Center, the plant itself will begin operation (see Orange County, NY Electric Plant to Start Up in June). We’re a little delayed. It’s not June, as originally forecast, but hey, early July is A.O.K. As you read this, gas is flowing through the Valley Lateral to the CPV plant. Following yesterday’s announcement, CPV said it will begin final testing of the plant this week, and the plant will go operational in August. Woo hoo!…
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PA DEP Appoints New Director of So-Called “Environmental Justice”

Allison Acevedo

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has a department within its department called Environmental Justice. In March 2017, then-Acting (now full) Secretary of the DEP Patrick McDonnell went on an environmental justice “listening tour” (see PA DEP Conducting “Listening Tour” for “Environmental Justice”). So what is so-called environmental justice? As near as we can tell, “environmental justice” means asking poor people or minorities (African Americans and Hispanics) if they feel like they’ve been abused by the oil and gas industry in any way–and if they have a beef, the DEP will “do” something about it. The reason we bring all this up is because the DEP has just appointed a new Director of Environmental Justice–Allison Acevedo. She’s a former tax and labor attorney from Philadelphia. We hope her appointment is largely ceremonial–a do-nothing job. We fear the opposite…
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Surprise! NJ Issues Permits for Meadowlands Marcellus-Fired Plant

MDN reported in April that a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi wants to build a huge, new $1.5 billion natural gas-fired electric generating plant in the Meadowlands (New Jersey), just outside of New York City (see Marcellus Electric Plant Proposed for Meadowlands to Power NYC). The North Bergen Liberty Generating Project, at 1,200 megawatts, will help replace some of the electricity lost when the Indian Point Nuclear plant located in New York along the Hudson River closes down in 2021. We suspect that since the mighty Transco pipeline, which flows mostly Marcellus molecules in the northeast, will feed the Meadowlands project, this plant will become an important new market for PA Marcellus production. The town where the plant will be located, North Bergen, is jazzed about the plant (see NJ Town Ready to Approve Meadowlands Marcellus-Fired Power Plant). Of course the plant is opposed by radicals in the nutty Sierra Club and other Big Green groups who despise all fossil fuels and demand that you and I end our use of fossil fuels to make them feel better about themselves. The Sierra Clubbers, namely Jeff Tittel, thought he could tell NJ’s newly elected leftist Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy to block the project. After all, they’re best buds. Tittel strongly supported Murphy’s campaign. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. In a surprise move, the Murphy Administration has just approved the first in a series of required permits, indicating ole Phil is in favor of the project after all and wants it built. Which has Jeff Tittel hopping mad…
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PA State Sen. Wants to Drill on State Land to Fund School Safety

Since taking office nearly four years ago, Pennsylvania’s left-leaning Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf has rigidly blocked any new shale leasing of state forest land. Leases and drilling prior to Wolf brought a bountiful harvest of revenue to state coffers. But Wolf, bowing to pressure from radical environmentalists, refuses any new drilling. In February the state Senate, controlled by Republicans, passed a resolution calling on Wolf to restart drilling in state parks (see PA Senate Ctte Passes Resolution to Restore Drilling in State Parks). No dice. Resolutions aren’t laws and can’t be enforced. At the end of February, Republican Sen. Gene Yaw (Williamsport) told Cindy Dunn, Secretary of the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources at a hearing, that if the state were to open up another 25,000 acres of state forest land for Marcellus drilling, it would generate $100 million that could be used for the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund (see PA DCNR Secretary Chilly to Suggestion of More State Forest Drilling). Dunn brushed Yaw off with a chilly response. However, PA Senate Republicans are persistent. State Sen. Dan Laughlin has just announced he will introduce a bill to restart leasing and drilling under state-owned land, and that the revenue will be used for “school safety.” Laughlin figures the new leasing could raise $250-$400 million. Question: Will Dems vote to oppose school safety?…
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Small Victory for the Swamp – EPA Admin Scott Pruitt Resigns

Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator, has been given the heave-ho by President Trump. We doubt Pruitt has done anything that merits his dismissal. He’s certainly done nothing worse than hundreds (thousands?) of Democrats that infested the Obama Administration. Gina McCarthy, as EPA Administrator, committed crimes while in office that were totally ignored by the media. The difference between McCarthy and Pruitt is a biased and partisan mainstream media that’s hounded Pruitt from Day One–because he’s draining the swamp. Swamp Things fight back. And this time, they won a small victory by hounding Pruitt out of office (including physical threats to Pruitt and his family). D.C. these days kind of has the feel of a third world dictatorship. Not because of Trump, but because of the Swamp Things that infest it. Cross them, and they’ll gang up on you like members of the Medellín Drug Cartel fighting to protect their turf. D.C. belongs to Swamp Dwellers–and they don’t let outsiders like Pruitt, or Trump, forget it. Not for a single day. Pruitt’s Deputy Administrator, Andy Wheeler, will take over as Acting Administrator. What do we know about Andy? He’s certainly less controversial and combative than Pruitt. Andy used to work for Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe (good conservative). Andy doesn’t believe in the fairy tale of catastrophic global warming, just as Pruitt didn’t. Big Green Swamp Dwellers like the NRDC are voicing their concerns that Wheeler may be *more* effective than Pruitt at dismantling Lord Obama’s numerous, onerous regulations. All good signs. However, our concern about Wheeler is that he has lived in and around D.C. most of his adult life. You can’t live in that region for that long and not be somewhat tainted by Swamp Fever. That an the fact that Wheeler didn’t support Trump and wrote some derogatory things about him during the campaign…
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Rover Pipe Tells FERC: The Weather Ate My Restoration Homework

Earlier this week MDN told you that Rover Pipeline has not fulfilled its promise to restore (grading, replanting, etc.) certain locations it said it would restore no later than June 30, and because of their failure to perform, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is (so far) refusing to authorize for go-live two of Rover’s lateral pipeline segments (see FERC Plays Hardball with Rover – Refuses to Certify 4 Laterals). Treading on thin ice, Rover responded to FERC with a letter (full copy below) stating it is “deeply disappointed by several inaccurate statements made by FERC Staff in the letter and writes now to correct the record.” Very thin ice. In the letter, Rover tells FERC they (Rover) had kept FERC staffers informed at every point along the way about what they are doing, and not doing, and why. Specifically, they blamed the weather, heavy rains, for the delay. And Rover said that for FERC to imply Rover may not live up to its obligations is just bupkis. Question: Will telling someone “You’re wrong!”–especially if they’re your boss with the power to make your life miserable–make them more amenable to your position? We don’t think so…
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Army Corps Engrs Reinstates MVP Permits for 4 WV River Crossings

In May, the radical Sierra Club claimed a victory in temporarily stopping construction work of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) at four river crossings in West Virginia (see Army Corps Engineers Suspends MVP Permit for River Crossings). The Sierra Club and a mishmash of other radicalized green groups filed a motion asking the Fourth District U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to suspend a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that allows MVP to construct the pipeline across streams and rivers in the Mountain State. The Clubbers’ tortured logic was this: When constructing the pipeline across a river, the stated standard (according to the permit) is that construction can take no longer than 72 hours. MVP says it will need longer when constructing the pipeline across four rivers–Elk, Gauley, Greenbrier and Meadow. Therefore (say the Clubbers), MVP is in violation of the general permit issued by the Corps and that means ALL (not just those four rivers) construction should be stopped, immediately. The Corps said they had reviewed the standards and at that point (in May) rescinded the permit as it applies ONLY to those four rivers, NOT to any locations. The Corps has just reissued the permit in question, tweaked to allow MVP more time. That’s the new news and the good news. However, in June the Fourth District Court agreed with the Clubbers and for now, has stopped construction at all 591 stream crossings the pipeline traverses in WV (see Sierra Club Succeeds in Delaying MVP Project in WV via Court Order). So even though the underlying reason the case was brought in the first place, that construction will take longer at four crossings (out of 591) is now resolved, the court order is still in place preventing work at any of the crossings in WV…
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Major Federal Court Decision Opens Door to Stop DRBC Frack Ban

A lawsuit that began in 2016 is finally bearing fruit, and may lead to blocking efforts by the rogue Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to block fracking in Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania. In May 2016, a landowner in Wayne County filed a lawsuit against the DRBC asking a judge to declare that the DRBC does not have jurisdiction to prevent construction of a natural gas well (see Wayne County, PA Landowner Sues DRBC Over Fracking Ban). The Wayne landowner argued in U.S. District Court that oil and gas wells, under the DRBC’s charter, do not constitute a “project” that is regulated by the DRBC and therefore are exempt from oversight from the DRBC. The way the DRBC so broadly reinterprets the word “project” in the original charter, it allows them to regulate anything and everything. In March 2016, MDN reported that U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani ruled against the landowner (see Judge Tosses Wayne County, PA Landowner Lawsuit Against DRBC). At first blush it seemed like a setback for landowners in Wayne and Pike counties. But looks can be deceiving. As we pointed out, when you read the judge’s decision, he harpoons all of the DRBC’s legal arguments, but in the end rules against the landowner. Why? Because the judge wanted to send the case to a higher court for an ultimate decision–the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Which is precisely where the case ended up. Last November oral arguments were heard in the appealed case. The DRBC’s lawyer conveniently had a couple of fainting spells that delayed the proceedings when tough questioning didn’t go his way (see DRBC Lawyer Nearly Faints 2nd Time When Questioned by Fed Judges). On Tuesday, July 3rd, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, sending the case back down to U.S. District Court with orders to more fully consider what is, and what is not, meant by the word “project” in the original DRBC charter. Interpretation: This is a MAJOR victory for the landowner, and a MAJOR defeat of the DRBC. No, the case isn’t over yet, but now the full case will get heard. The legal arguments in the case clearly support the landowner. The rogue DRBC is very nervous, as evidenced by reaction from their proxy mouthpiece, THE Delaware Riverkeeper…
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Sunoco Seeks to Use Alternate Pipe Near Philly to Get ME2 Flowing

Years ago when Sunoco Logistics Partners (aka Energy Transfer Partners) originally proposed and planned the Mariner East 2 twin pipelines from the edge of eastern Ohio through the entire length of Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia, the completion date promised was the end of 2016. Little could Sunoco foresee the multiple lawsuits, regulatory hearings and illegal protest actions that would conspire to throw the project off schedule for more than a year and half. When pipeline companies plan such multi-billion dollar projects, they first get customers (drillers) to sign on the dotted line, guaranteeing there will be enough product (and revenue) to make the project worthwhile. Drillers *did* sign on the dotted line, and they’re still waiting. Waiting and now pressuring Sunoco to get the darned thing up and running. The pipeline itself is 98% complete–in the ground and connected. But an all-important 2% is still not complete, most of it in the Philly suburbs–Delaware and Chester counties. Sunoco continues to have problems with underground horizontal directional drilling and with ongoing litigation by towns in the Philly area. What to do, with customers breathing down your back? Sunoco has come up with an ingenious solution that is sure to send the crazies into orbit. Sunoco is asking the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for permission to use part of an existing 12-inch pipeline in that area that previously carried refined petroleum products (things like gasoline, heating oil, and jet fuel), repurposing the pipeline to carry NGLs (ethane, propane, butane, etc.). This is only a short-term fix until the last bits of the full ME2 is up and running…
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EPA Advances Effort to Overturn Obama Waters of the U.S. Rule

In May 2015, the Obama rogue Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with the Obama U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released a finalized rule clarifying what “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) means vis a vis what can be regulated under the federal Clean Water Act (see EPA Power Grab: Redefines Waters of the U.S. to Include Everything). Essentially the rule change redefined everything down to mud puddles (no, we’re not exaggerating) as being subject to the Clean Water Act. It was yet another attempt to bring oil and gas regulation under the purview of the federal government, a violation of the U.S. Constitution. We won’t recount the history of lawsuits and counter lawsuits that have ensued. We’ll only tell you that in January the U.S. Supreme Court entered the fray by determining which courts can here lawsuits regarding WOTUS (see U.S. Supreme Court Changes Jurisdiction for WOTUS Challenges). At the end of January, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued an order to suspend/delay the Obama version of WOTUS until a new version is ready, in two years (see EPA Director Scott Pruitt Suspends Obama WOTUS Rule). Pruitt’s action has (so far) held, much to the consternation of radical environmentalists. Pruitt has just architected another masterstroke, issuing a “Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” for WOTUS. The notice does two things: It states unequivocally that the EPA and Army Corps want to completely overturn the 2015 Obama WOTUS rule; and it inoculates the process of overturning WOTUS so that future lawsuits can’t bring it back from the dead…
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PA DEP Grants Williams NE Supply Enhancement Pipe Key Permit

NESE map – click for larger version

The Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) is a Williams Transco Pipeline project meant to increase pipeline capacity and flows heading into northeastern markets (see Time to Support Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project). 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. After an initial rejection by the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Williams refiled an application for the project in May with the DEC (see Williams Refiles Application with NY DEC for Transco NESE Project). Meanwhile, there are portions of the project in Pennsylvania that have already been approved by the PA’s Dept. of Environmental Protection. In a notice published in the June 16 Pennsylvania Bulletin, the DEP issued the project a Section 401 Water Quality Certification for work being done in Lancaster and Chester counties. According to the PA Environment Digest Blog: “The Project facilities consist of approximately 10.17 miles of new 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline in Drumore, East Drumore, and Eden Townships, Lancaster County and the addition of one 21,902 horsepower motor-driven compressor at the existing Compressor Station 200 in East Whiteland Twp., Chester County.” Too bad the dysfunctional NY DEC couldn’t be more like the mostly-functional PA DEP…
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