PA Shale Drilling Permits Become Most Expensive in the Nation

In Ohio, it costs drillers $5,500 to file for and receive a permit to drill a new shale well. In West Virginia, the cost is $10,150. In Pennsylvania, it has cost drillers $5,000 for a new shale well permit. Following a meeting yesterday of the PA Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC), PA’s permit fee is about to zoom to the top of the M-U list: $12,500 (2 1/2 times the previous fee). In fact, the cost of a shale permit in PA will become the highest in the country.
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Town Revokes Permit to Drill Shale Well at Pittsburgh Steel Mill

Edgar Thomson Steel Works (credit: Craig Sturge)

In early 2018 MDN told you that Pittsburgh’s oldest still-operating steel mill, U.S. Steel Corp.’s Edgar Thomson steel mill, is looking to drill shale wells on its property in order to supply natgas for the mill (see Marcellus Wells to be Drilled at Pittsburgh’s Oldest Working Steel Mill). Following delays from the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) in ironing out permit conditions, the local town zoning board has capriciously revoked a conditional use permit that allows the wells to be drilled.
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Atlantic Coast Pipeline Asks FERC for Extra 2 Years to Build

On Monday Dominion Energy’s 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) scored a major victory at the U.S. Supreme Court with a decision that allows the project to drill and install pipe underneath the Appalachian Trail (see Victory! Atlantic Coast Pipeline Wins US Supreme Court Case). Fighting the Appalachian Trail case plus other legal and regulatory battles have caused the project to be delayed–by years. On Monday ACP formally asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to extend the deadline to get the project done by an extra two years–until October 2022. We expect FERC will honor the request.
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NY PSC Must Decide by Jun 30 How to Handle Coming NYC Gas Shortage

Fossil fuel haters in New York successfully pressured New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reject the Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline in May (see Cuomo Rejects NESE Pipe Again, Williams Walks Away). And, as we reported two weeks ago, the same antis now insist Cuomo not allow *any* new quantities of natural gas get delivered to the Long Island and New York City vicinity by non-pipeline means (see NYC Green Wackadoodles Meet Online to Oppose New NatGas Supplies). So what happens when gas supplies run out?
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Mountain Valley Pipe Will be Done and In-Service Early 2021

Equitrans’ 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project from West Virginia to southern Virginia is now 92% in the ground and complete. That final 8% is frustratingly delayed because of lawsuits and regulatory actions brought on by Big Green groups. But have no fear. In an announcement released yesterday by the builder Equitrans Midstream, MVP will be 100% done and operational in “early 2021.” The end is in sight.
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FERC Voluntarily Ends the Use of Tolling Orders in Pipeline Cases

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has just released a new “instant final rule” that, from what we can tell, pretty much does away with a concept called tolling orders when approving new pipeline projects. A tolling order has been an important tool for FERC in combating frivolous lawsuits filed against every single new pipeline project. A tolling order allows FERC to delay deciding on what is called a rehearing request. Antis can’t trot off to find their favorite Obama judge until FERC either performs a rehearing or rejects a rehearing request. Tolling orders delay that process, allowing pipeline projects to actually get built.
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PA House Ctte Approves Bill Nixing Wolf Carbon Tax on Gas Plants

The Pennsylvania legislature has taken the next step in overturning a naked power-grab by Gov. Tom Wolf in his bid to force the state to join a carbon tax scheme called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Yesterday the PA House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee approved House Bill (HB) 2025 aimed at blocking RGGI without a proper vote by the legislature first. HB 2025 now goes to the full House for a vote.
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SRBC’s Big Success – 25B Gal of Water Used by Shale Last 11 Yrs

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), the quasi-governmental agency tasked with overseeing water usage within the Susquehanna River Basin, has been a huge success with respect to partnering with the Marcellus Shale drilling industry. The SRBC recently updated a report (summary below) reviewing shale water usage drawn from the basin from 2008 to 2018. The report finds shale water usage has risen to become the #3 source of water used in the river basin–although shale usage of basin water is still a small fraction of that by larger users, including municipalities and electric power generation.
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Trump Signs EO to Speed Up Pipe Construction, Bypass Obama Judge

Last Thursday President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) titled, “Accelerating the Nation’s Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Emergency by Expediting Infrastructure Investments and Other Activities.” The EO taps the President’s emergency powers to address and mitigate the economic and employment crises resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, by invoking emergency permitting procedures for infrastructure projects, including pipelines, that are otherwise delayed by regulatory roadblocks. This includes projects subject to Clean Water Act water quality permits, the Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide 12 (NP12) permit program, and the Endangered Species Act. This EO potentially has big implications for finishing up both the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) projects.
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Mountain Valley Pipe Gets FERC OK to Drill Under Roanoke River

Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), the 303-mile pipeline from West Virginia into southwestern Virginia, recently received permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to change the method it will use to cross over (actually under) the Roanoke River. Not that it makes much difference right now since the entire project, which is 90% complete, is stalled due to a federal lawsuit aimed at blocking an unrelated Midwest oil pipeline.
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Shrill DRBC Tells FERC it has Oversight of PennEast Pipeline Too

Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Executive Director Steve Tambini is such a disappointment. He has totally caved to the hard-left environmental lobby that has its hooks deeply embedded in the DRBC. On June 1 Tambini sent a letter that’s, well, embarrassing. He sent the letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), telling FERC that the DRBC does have a say in whether or not the PennEast Pipeline can get built–even though not one inch of Phase 1 of the project will traverse DRBC’s jurisdiction.
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Radicals Ask FERC to Redo Enviro Review for Atlantic Coast Pipe

A coalition of so-called environmental groups (leftist, very radical organizations) filed an official request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Saturday calling on FERC to conduct a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) for a project that’s already been studied to death: Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The once $5.5 billion project (now $8 billion because of delays caused by these nefarious groups) will run from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina.
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EPA Issues Final Rule to Prevent States from Blocking Pipelines

In April 2019, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to review Section 401 of the Clean Water Act–the section that grants states (and tribes) the right to have a say in pipeline projects (see Trump Signs Executive Order Making it Harder to Block Pipes). In keeping with the EO, the EPA issued a draft new rule in August 2019 tightening up standards used in Section 401, creating new boundaries so states like New York and Washington can’t continue to “color outside the lines” by rejecting pipelines for political reasons, as they have both done (see EPA Issues Proposed New Rule for Section 401 Water Permits). Yesterday the EPA released the final version of the new rule.
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Yet Another (Virtual) Hearing on Northeast Va. Pipeline Project

Header Improvement Project (click for larger version)

On May 12, over the objections of anti-fossil fuel nutters, the Virginia State Corporation Commission held a virtual hearing on Virginia Natural Gas’ (VNG) Header Improvement Project–a project to build 24 miles of new pipeline and two new compressor stations (expanding a third compressor), connecting to the mighty Transco pipeline system to flow Marcellus/Utica gas to the northeast Va. region (see Va. Turns Down Anti Request to Delay Hearing on VNG Pipe Project). Even though the hearing got held, the Corporation Commission has been pressured by antis to hold a second hearing–on June 8.
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PA House Passes Bill Separating Conventional from Shale Regs

Yesterday the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 790, a bill that restores sanity to regulations for conventional oil and gas drillers in the Keystone State. For years PA’s small, independent conventional oil and gas drillers have objected to the one-size-fits-all regulations concocted by the Gov. Tom Wolf Administration that applies the same regulations to them as to big shale drillers. The two types of drilling are apples and oranges. To make small conventional drillers jump through the same hoops as big shale drillers will bankrupt many of the smaller companies. SB 790 helps correct the situation.
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