Army Corps Engineers Suspends MVP Permit for River Crossings

The radical Sierra Club is claiming a victory in temporarily stopping construction work of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) at four river crossings in West Virginia. On Tuesday the Sierra Club and a mishmash of other radicalized 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 is this: When construction of the pipeline across a river, the stated standard 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 Fourth Circuit has not yet rendered a decision, however, the Corps itself said they had reviewed the standards and have (for now) rescinded the permit as it applies ONLY to those four rivers, NOT to any locations. So it’s a partial, and temporary, victory for the Clubbers…
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Clearfield County Still Looking for Way to Stop Injection Well

It’s been seven long years since Windfall Oil and Gas first floated a plan to drill a shale wastewater injection well near Dubois, in Brady Township (Clearfield County), PA. After all that time, the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally approved the project in March of this year (see PA DEP Approves Wastewater Injection Well in Clearfield Count). Residents who live near the proposed injection well have opposed the plan from the beginning. The Clearfield County Board of Commissioners is also opposed. In April, several residents filed an appeal of the DEP decision to approve the project to the Environmental Hearing Board, a special court set up to hear appeals of DEP decisions (see Clearfield County, PA Residents to Appeal Injection Well Approval). The appeal may take up to two years. In the meantime, the well is likely to get built anyway. Recognizing the well is coming, Clearfield Commissioners held a public hearing yesterday to strategize how they might still block the project, and barring that, how they will live with it if the project becomes reality…
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PA Senate Passes Bill Making Pipeline Trespass a Felony

It’s about time! One of the favorite tactics of antis to fall back on when they don’t win in court is to simply take the law into their own hands (i.e. anarchy). If the courts or a regulatory body (like FERC, or the PA DEP) refuse to stop a critical energy infrastructure project, like a pipeline, antis take it upon themselves to trespass, illegally, in an attempt to block work on the project. They call it “free speech.” It’s nothing of the sort. To trespass is, by definition, breaking the law. Antis know this. However, such a violation of the law is currently only a misdemeanor–a lessor penalty. The PA Senate has just approved a bill that would make infrastructure trespass for pipelines and other key energy infrastructure a felony, giving antis more incentive to behave themselves. Most Republican Senators (except a few Philly RINOs) voted for the bill. Most Democrat Senators (who prefer to be lawless), voted against it. We can only hope the bill gets adopted–it now goes to the House–although with Wolf as governor, we’re not confident it will get signed into law…
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Only 10 Miles of Atlantic Coast Pipeline Affected by Court Ruling

Last week MDN told you that the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had invalidated (vacated) a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allows Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to accidentally kill a few bats and bumble bees (classified as endangered) as it builds the massive $6.5 billion, 600-mile project from West Virginia to North Carolina (see U.S. Fourth Circuit Court Vacates Key Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipe). The Sierra Club and several other radical, far-left groups were behind the court case that led to the decision. However, as it turns out, the decision doesn’t really hurt the project all that much. The vacated permit isn’t so “key” after all. Of the 600 or so miles of pipeline getting built, the vacated permit from Fish and Wildlife only affects about 10 miles of pipeline. A nothingburger. Dominion continues to build ACP and the 10 miles of affected construction will get done after Fish and Wildlife redoes the paperwork to the court’s liking. Antis are furious (as they always are), claiming the court ruling shuts down all construction. Not so. Construction continues, despite antis’ moaning and groaning…
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New Yorkers Pay 44% More for Electric than Neighboring States

On average, New York residents pay 44% more for electricity than neighboring states, like Pennsylvania. In January of this year, New Yorkers (and NY utility companies) were briefly forced to pay a record high of $140.25 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) for natural gas, as opposed to what everyone else was paying (an average of $3.08/Mcf)–which is 46 times as much! Both stats are rooted in the same issue: NY pays WAY MORE for energy than it has to, because Andrew Cuomo is blocking natural gas pipelines into the state from PA. So says a new report titled “Pipelines and their Benefits to New York” (full copy below). The report, published by the Consumer Energy Alliance, examines the benefits of pipelines to New York, highlighting the need for affordable energy supplies to keep the daily lives of families and businesses across New York moving. Without those pipelines, we’re toast. You can’t build windmills and solar farms fast enough to meet the growing demand for electricity–and natgas. Cuomo’s dysfunctional energy policies are blocking all New Yorkers, upstate and downstate, from living even moderately prosperous lives…
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Crestwood Testing Proposed LPG Storage Site @ Seneca Lake for Leaks

Lately we’ve wondered what’s been going on in the years-long struggle by Crestwood to create an LPG (liquefied petroleum gas, or propane) storage facility in a depleted salt cavern along the shoreline of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. Last December we brought you the news that Crestwood had won a victory when a chief administrative law judge, part of the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), ruled against antis who are demanding ongoing, never-ending hearings about the project–a transparent tactic to continue the years-long delay in perpetuity (see Crestwood Scores Big Victory in Seneca Lake LPG Storage Project). The judge said the DEC has all the evidence it needs to make a decision. Of course, the decision will get made by a radical anti who heads up the DEC–Basil Seggos (part of the National Resources Defense Council cabal that opposes all fossil fuel projects). So the project still has miles to go before it becomes reality. But now, a new setback, not that the project hasn’t been “setback” from the beginning by radicals. This time the setback comes from within. An attorney representing the project sent a letter to the DEC on May 17 asking them to delay (?!) a decision while Crestwood runs more tests on well pressure to “determine its suitability as a gas storage unit.” That is, the depleted salt cavern may leak. Radicalized antis have pounced, demanding the DEC cancel the project forthwith–even before the test results are in…
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FERC Becomes Political as Seen in Rehearing Vote on NY Project

Has someone “gotten” to FERC Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick–told them, “You vote against these pipeline projects or you don’t have a future in the Democrat Party”? That’s the thought we increasingly have as we watch the two sitting Democrats on FERC repeatedly vote against projects that in some cases they previously voted to approve. What makes someone like LaFleur flip and change her vote on something that two years ago she was 100% on board with? Something has to explain it! Two and a half years ago LaFleur, then a member of FERC, voted to approve Dominion Energy’s $165 million New Market Project, a project that expands Dominion’s transmission pipeline from western New York across the state to the Capital Region of the state, near Albany (see FERC Approves Expansion of Dominion Pipeline in Upstate NY). The radical leftist group Otsego 2000 challenged the project, asking FERC to reconsider its approval, using mythical man-made global warming as a new criteria to reject the project. Last Friday the three Republicans FERC commissioners voted “no” to reconsider the New Market Project, but LaFleur and Chuck Schumer-appointed Richard Glick (both Dems) voted to reconsider, citing global warming concerns. Again, we wonder if someone has gotten to them. A sad day that FERC is longer a non-partisan group…
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DEP Continues to Block Use of Shale Brine on PA Dirt Roads

Correction: PIOGA contacted MDN to let us know it is only brine from conventional (non-shale) wells that has been allowed to be spread on PA roadways–NOT brine from shale wells. Thanks to PIOGA for letting us know! We have tweaked the story below to reflect the change.

One more way the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is hassling both the PA conventional industry and local towns is via an ongoing embargo against the use of brine–water from the depths that comes out of drilled wells for months and years as the well is producing natural gas. Drillers need to dispose of the brine–it’s an expense. Brine is nothing more than very minerally water. It’s called brine because it’s “salty.” An ongoing beneficial deal was struck by drillers and local towns in years gone by. Towns need a source of water to spread on dirt roads during summer. Drillers have an overabundance of brine. So drillers have been giving their brine to towns, for free. The towns don’t have to pay to buy water, and drillers don’t have to pay to dispose of it. A real win/win. Except a rabid anti from Warren County (no doubt prompted and sponsored by Big Green groups) challenged the arrangement last summer. The challenge was against a DEP policy that allows shale brine to be used by towns. The matter went to the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), a special court set up to hear appeals of DEP decisions. Out of the blue, the DEP slammed the door on allowing towns to use brine, supposedly waiting to see what the EHB decides. The EHB just decided–that the DEP was well within its rights to allow towns to use brine for road spreading. However, the DEP still refuses to lift the ban, using the excuse they’re reviewing the policy even though the EHB says it’s OK. Towns did not budget money to buy water for dirt roads, which they will now have to do. Thanks DEP! You’ve just hosed (pun intended) a number of towns in rural locations with your bureaucratic, rear-end covering excuses…
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U.S. Fourth Circuit Court Vacates Key Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipe

Disgusting and frustrating. That’s our reaction to a decision by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that invalidates (vacates) a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allows Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to accidentally kill a few bats and bumble bees (classified as endangered) as it builds the massive $6.5 billion, 600-mile project from West Virginia to North Carolina. The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and Virginia Wilderness Committee (all radical left organizations) previously sued in federal court asking the court to stop work on ACP until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission makes a decision on whether or not to “rehear” their decision to approve the project in the first place. In March, the court declined to stop work on ACP (see Fed Court Dismisses Anti Lawsuit to Stop Atlantic Coast Pipeline). However, as part of the effort to stop ACP, Sierra Club, et al also asked the court to invalidate a key permit by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which the court did do on Tuesday. Sierra Club is now demanding that the court revisit its decision about whether to stop all work on the pipeline. In the meantime, work does continue. Dominion says while it’s disappointed in the decision and will have to get a new, more specific permit from Fish and Wildlife, in the meantime they’ll continue construction in those (many) places not under the now-invalid permit. That is, most construction will continue. This does not really hamper the project. Not yet anyway. As long as the Fourth Circuit doesn’t shut it all down…
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Williams Refiles Application with NY DEC for Transco NESE Project

In April MDN told you that the New York Dept. of Environment Conservation (DEC) had rejected a modest pipeline expansion proposal by Williams’ Transco Pipeline subsidiary (see Cuomo-Corrupted DEC Denies Permit for Williams NESE Pipe Project). The project, which we’ve previously written about and are actively promoting, is called the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project (see Time to Support Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project). NESE is meant to increase pipeline capacity and flows heading into northeastern markets. 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. The DEC warned Williams that they would reject the application as incomplete unless/until FERC itself provides an environmental assessment of the project. That happened in March, but the DEC said it didn’t have enough time to review it and requested Williams refile (we’ve heard that one before). Given Cuomo is refusing to approve any new natural gas pipeline projects (see him say it point blank in this video), we’re not optimistic that the DEC will actually approve it this time either…
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FERC OKs Start of Bidirectional Flow on Transco/Atlantic Sunrise

On Tuesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Williams’ Transco Pipeline permission to reverse the flow along part of the pipeline to begin sending more Marcellus gas south. The order allows Transco to start up modified compressor stations in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, and to begin flowing an extra 150 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of yummy Marcellus gas southward. Most of the time when we report on Atlantic Sunrise, we talk about the greenfield (brand new pipeline) being installed in 10 Pennsylvania counties. What’s often overlooked are other aspects of the project, like this one, that will kit out the Transco to flow 1.7 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus gas to the south and to the Gulf Coast. The greenfield portion of the pipeline is due to be completed sometime soon–by “mid-2018.” This latest order allowing the startup of bidirectional flow along certain portions is an important part of the project…
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DOE Sec. Perry Hints Trump May Overrule States Blocking Pipelines

Is there a white knight that can ride in and save the day for pipelines being blocked by radicals like Andrew Cuomo in New York State? There may just be! Last week while testifying at a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing, Dept. of Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that he believes states do not have the right to block interstate pipelines. Perry stopped short of saying that President Trump would consider issuing an Executive Order to approve projects like the Constitution Pipeline and Northern Access Pipeline projects in New York. But he did appear to hint at the possibility…
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Dela. Riverkeeper Suffers Major Defeat in Martian Well Case

Nearly a year ago MDN reported that Big Green group THE Delaware Riverkeeper (aka Maya van Rossum) and the odious Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council (CAC) had suffered a crushing legal defeat in their attempt to interfere with shale drilling on the opposite side of the state from where the Delaware River and Philly is located (see Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Martian Case to Stop Rex Energy Drilling). A small group of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (whom we affectionately call “Martians”) in Butler County, PA, backed by money and legal help from Riverkeeper and CAC, filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. Even amid the back and forth lawsuits, at least two of the wells were permitted and drilled by Rex Energy, despite the bleatings of the Martians (see Martian Victory! 2 Wells Near Mars School Nearly Done Drilling). Following last year’s final word by PA Commonwealth Court, we thought that was the end of it. However, Riverkeeper and CAC tried one last, desperate attempt–by filing an appeal with the Environmental Hearing Board. The EHB is a special court set up to hear appeals of decisions made by the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Riverkeeper and CAC argued that the DEP abrogated their responsibilities under the PA Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA) to protect PA’s environment by issuing permits for Rex’s Martian wells. Last Friday the EHB ruled that DEP was well within its rights and did not, in fact, violate the ERA by allowing the Rex wells…
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Penn Twp About to Adopt Meaningless (?) Injection Well Ban

Last November we updated you on a lawsuit filed by a group of anti-fossil fuelers in Penn Township (Westmoreland County), PA (see Penn Twp Ninny Nannies File Lawsuit to Block Apex, H&H Wells). A group calling themselves Protect PT, backed with money and legal help from Big Green group PennFuture, filed a lawsuit to try and stop Apex Energy and Huntley & Huntley (H&H) from drilling wells in the township. The lawsuit finally made it to a county judge who heard testimony in April (see Penn Twp Antis Try to Use PA ERA to Block Shale Drilling). The peril with Protect PT’s lawsuit is that it uses Pennsylvania’s so-called Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA), which liberal PA judges have, in recent years, breathed new life into. The argument is that fracking denies those who live near this temporary activity their “right” to enjoy Mom Nature, therefore it should be banished forever. Protect PT is attempting to pull off a total frack ban in the Penn Township. Meanwhile, Protect PT is working on a parallel effort. They’ve convinced (pressured, bullied) the town board to adopt an injection well ordinance that essentially bans injection wells in the town. Here’s the thing: Nobody has even whispered the hint of wanting to locate a wastewater injection well in Penn Township–ever. It is a meaningless gesture–unless you consider that Protect PT calls the injection well ordinance a “victory” and (our inference) if they can get this injection well ordinance passed, then maybe they can get a more restrictive drilling ordinance passed too. That is, the injection well ordinance is the back door to getting a wider frack ban enacted by a now-susceptible and weakened town board…
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Short Pipeline from NW Pa. to NE Ohio May Not Get Done This Year

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Last October MDN brought you details about the proposed $86 million Risberg Line pipeline project (see New 60-Mile Pipeline Proposed from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). The project will use approximately 32 miles of existing pipeline in an established Right of Way originating in the Meadville, PA area. Approximately 16 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Pennsylvania and approximately 12 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Ohio–meaning 28 miles of brand new “greenfield” pipeline needs to get built. In early May, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said it will issue an environmental assessment (EA) for the project on or by June 29th (see FERC Review of Risberg Pipeline in NE OH/NW PA Coming June 29). Both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the PA Fish and Boat Commission are “cooperating agencies” and part of the EA review process. Following the EA, the clock will begin ticking and FERC will have until Sept. 27th to make a final decision about the project. The original timeline for the project, from the beginning, has been to have it all built and operating by the end of this year. The builder, RH energytrans, is now cautioning that may not happen. Why? Because one never knows with regulatory agencies like FERC and the Army Corps and the Boat Commission. Deadlines come and go and get extended. FERC says the dates they given are targets and not carved in stone. If everything happened as FERC laid out, RH says it would be a challenge, but they can probably get the job done this year. But if the deadline slips, all bets are off…
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Atlantic Coast Actual Pipeline Construction Begins in WV

On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Dominion Energy permission to begin construction of the actual pipeline for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project–in West Virginia. ACP is a (now) $6.5 billion project, up from a projected $5 billion due to delays from regulatory agencies and frivolous lawsuits filed by Big Green groups, that will run from WV through Virginia and into North Carolina–almost to the border with South Carolina. Until now FERC had allowed prep work, like tree cutting. But now actual pipeline construction can begin, which is a momentous occasion, worthy of celebration!…
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