U.S. Senate Confirms McNamee to FERC with 50-49 Vote

We once again have a majority, three Republicans, as voting members at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Yesterday along a party line vote, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Bernard McNamee as the fifth Commissioner at FERC. McNamee is the former head of the Department of Energy’s Office of Policy–the guy who helped roll out a plan favored by Trump and DOE Secretary Rick Perry to artificially favor and boost nuclear and coal energy sources, at the expense of other sources like natural gas. Stupid idea, but there you go. By all accounts McNamee will be a friend to natural gas, regardless of his recent past in promoting coal and nukes.
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WV’s Speaker of the House is a Friend to Shale Gas

Roger Hanshaw

The Charleston Gazette-Mail, working with the libs of Propublica, have written a snarky article that implies Roger Hanshaw, the Speaker of West Virginia House of Delegates (a part-time job), is in the hip pocket of the oil and gas industry, someone with major conflicts of interest. Hanshaw is an attorney who works for a law firm with clients from the oil and gas industry. That makes him toxic. Tainted goods. Unworthy. At least in the mind of Dem libs. We take the opposite view. Hanshaw is a smart lawyer who knows the industry well and can help guide public policy to benefit the industry while at the same time protect the residents (landowners, surface owners, taxpayers) of the great state of West Virginia. He’s the PERFECT guy for the job, able to balance industry interests with those of constituents. Only in the liberal mind is it a disqualification that someone who knows and has worked in an industry should actually get a job regulating that industry.
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Philly OKs $60M Plan to Partner with Russian re LNG Export Plant

Russian native Boris Brevnov, a former Enron executive, and banker Charles Ryan, a Radnor native who was once chief country officer in Moscow for Deutsche Bank, have just landed themselves a sweetheart deal with Philadelphia Gas Works to build a small LNG plant that will export Marcellus gas. The Philadelphia Gas Commission voted to approve a deal yesterday with Liberty Energy Trust. We frankly have mixed emotions about the news. We’re glad to see another LNG export facility, this one in PA (albeit quite small), but unhappy that these particular people are the ones building and operating it. Yes, there’s a lot of history to cover in this story.
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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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PA DEP Releasing Expensive New O&G Emissions Reg

The liberal PA Gov. Tom Wolf administration continues to tinker with (i.e. destroy) the Marcellus miracle in the Keystone State. In August the Wolf Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally, after years of work, implemented onerous new regulations to cut down on so-called fugitive methane emissions from *new* drilling and pipelines (see PA Harms Drillers, Pipelines with Over-Strict Methane Rules). Don’t worry, *existing* well pads and pipelines are now in Wolf’s crosshairs. On a different but parallel track, the DEP has, for some time, considered requiring new regulations to further reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions at oil and gas sites (see PA DEP Considers Rule Reducing/Eliminating VOC Emissions for O&G). The DEP has just released a draft of those regs, and will hold a meeting to discuss the new proposed regulation on Dec. 13.
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Small but Determined Group Wants to Block Ohio Cracker Plant

Last week the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency held an information session (to give out info) along with a public hearing (to accept comments) on the draft air pollution permit for PTT Global Chemical’s proposed ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH (see Ohio EPA to Hold Air Permit Hearing for PTT Cracker Nov. 27). Some 100 or so people turned up for the hearing, according to media accounts. Perhaps 35 people spoke during the public comment period. There were both supporters and detractors. We suppose we knew there were folks opposed to the project, but this is really the first time we’ve read about an organized effort to stop the project. That effort comes from the usual (irrational) anti-fossil fuel suspects who oppose all drilling, pipelines, and anything else to do with fossil fuels.
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FERC Grants Portland XPress Project Environmental Approval

Map of Portland Natural Gas System (click for larger version)

TransCanada is attempting to do what so far, no one else has been able to accomplish: Increase flows of Marcellus/Utica gas into New England. The way they’re doing it is via the Portland Natural Gas Transmission System (PNGTS), a 295-mile pipeline that spans New England from the Canadian border to pipeline connections in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. No, TransCanada is not proposing to build any new pipelines as part of their plan. In fact, there is very little construction in what TransCanada is calling its Portland XPress Project (PXP). Phase I is now under construction and Phase II will soon be under construction. TransCanada filed for Phase III in June. Earlier this week FERC issued a favorable environmental assessment (EA) for Phase III of the project, which is prelude to issuing a final approval.
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4th Circuit Court Cancels Mountain Valley Pipe Nationwide Permit

In early October MDN reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit had “vacated” (canceled, overturned) a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in West Virginia that would allow Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) to use a more environmentally friendly form of crossing four rivers in the state than is technically allowed under federal Clean Water Act regulations (see Court Overturns MVP WV Permit; FERC Shutdown Coming Again?). The court said the Army Corps essentially allowed a substitution of methods under the law that’s not allowed, and so the entire permit, covering 591 streams, rivers and wetlands, is now vacated. The court issued it’s full decision/opinion on Tuesday. The good news is that the Army Corps and MVP are reworking the permit and hope to get it approved soon, and that completion of the project is still on track for the revised “end of 2019.”
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PA Supreme Court Gives Drillers Victory in Chapter 78a Regs Case

In August, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court handed PA drillers a partial victory in their quest to block onerous new drilling regulations, part of something called Chapter 78a (see Partial Victory for PA Drillers re DEP Chapter 78a Drilling Regs). This issue involves an effort by the liberal Gov. Tom Wolf administration to impose onerous new regulations on the Marcellus industry, costing lots of money with virtually no environmental benefits. The Marcellus Shale Coalition, on behalf of the industry, fought back and won in Commonwealth Court. The state Dept. of Environmental Protection appealed the case to the PA Supreme Court, and yesterday the Supremes quashed the appeal–said they refuse to hear it. Meaning the decision by the Commonwealth Court stands. The Marcellus industry won, and the DEP lost.
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NFG Asks FERC for Extra 3 Yrs to Build Northern Access Pipe in NY

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Four years ago National Fuel Gas Company (NFG) proposed and filed to build the Northern Access Pipeline project–a $500 million project that includes building 97 miles of new pipeline along a power line corridor from northwestern Pennsylvania up to Erie County, NY. The project also calls for 3 miles of new pipeline further up, in Niagara County, along with a new compressor station in the Town of Pendleton (also in Niagara County). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted final approval for the project in February of 2017 (see NFG’s Northern Access Pipe in NY/PA Gets FERC Approval). However, in April 2017, the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) ruled against granting the project stream crossing permits, effectively killing it, at least for now (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit).
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FERC Pulls the Plug on Rhode Island Gas-Fired Electric Plant

MDN previously told you about a natural gas-fired electric plant planned for the socialist paradise of Rhode Island, home to old money and people who oppose change of any kind (see New NatGas Powered Electric Plant Coming to…Rhode Island?!). The proposed plant would lower RI residents’ electric bills by a collective $280 million and replace aging coal and oil power plants–cleaning the air in the process. With the jobs created, the investment in the facility, and lower electric rates, it’s calculated this single plant will have a $1.3 billion impact on the economy of RI. And yet so-called environmentalists still opposed it. The plan was to begin construction in summer 2016 and have the plant up and running by 2019, which didn’t happen. The plan to build it is now effectively dead.
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Ohio EPA Floats Plan for New Air Emissions Rules on Shale

regulations

Director of Ohio EPA, Craig Butler, doesn’t intend to let another Rover Pipeline project slip by his heavy hand of regulatory oversight (see Ohio EPA’s Craig Butler Goes Nuts, Demands $2.3M from Rover Pipe). Nor does Butler intend to let Utica Shale drillers ignore him either–even though the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) is the agency responsible for regulating oil and gas in the state. Ohio EPA has zero regulatory oversight with respect to federally approved projects like Rover. It has some oversight of Utica Shale projects–as they impact certain aspects of the environment. Ohio EPA is now floating the idea of exceeding U.S. EPA air emissions standards for pipeline projects and for equipment used at drill pads, and they want feedback.
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Army Corps Temporarily Stops All Stream Crossing Work for ACP

In a pattern that has repeated itself with both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and (now) the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), a key permit that allows ACP to build under and through streams and rivers and wetlands has been, for now, revoked. The permit is called a Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 and was previously issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow ACP to build through streams, etc. in all three states where it runs–West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Earlier this month the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals put a temporary stop on constructing the pipeline across/under/through streams and rivers in WV (see 4th Circus Court Blocks Some Atlantic Coast Pipe Work in WV). So the Army Corps in all three states has just issued an order suspending NWP 12, for now. But here’s what mainstream media doesn’t tell you: ACP actually asked the Army Corps to do it!
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Desperation: 7 Philly Antis Ask PA PUC to Stop ME1, Block ME2

Seven antis from Greater Philadelphia, with money and lawyers from Big Green groups backing them, on Monday asked the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to shut down Mariner East 1 pipeline (which has operating for more than a year), and to block the startup of Mariner East 2 pipeline. The chutzpah of these people is breathtaking. To put it in perspective, Chester and Delaware Counties, which is where the seven antis hail from, has a combined population of 1,083,989 people (as of 2017). Seven people represents .0006% of the population. Meaning 99.999% of the population either don’t care, or are not against these pipeline projects. Both ME1 and ME2 carry natural gas liquids (NGLs)–meaning ethane and propane–from the western side of PA across the state to Delaware County and the Marcus Hook refinery. From the very beginning there have been a committed few (with the help of Big Green) fighting the ME2 project every inch of the way. They’ve thrown everything they have at it–multiple lawsuits, pleas to regulatory agencies, legislative hearings, illegal protests–you name it, they’ve done it. This latest action appears to be a last gasp, “Hail Mary” attempt at convincing a regulatory agency to stop both pipelines. Which isn’t going to happen.
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NC Republicans Hounding Dem Gov for Approving Atlantic Coast Pipe

There is a political mess brewing in North Carolina–a mess that has made for some strange bedfellows. Rabid anti-fossil fuelers are supporting Republicans in a bid to target NC’s Democrat governor because his administration granted a permit for Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in the state. We first reported on this developing situation back in September (see Weird: NC Republicans Target Dem Gov for Supporting M-U Pipeline). The situation revolves around a special fund set up by Gov. Roy Cooper, some $57.8 million paid by Dominion, to be used for environmental reclamation projects. Republicans say it’s a slush fund and, using the power of the state legislature, they wrested control of the fund away from Cooper and gave the money away to schools. But Republicans aren’t content to let the matter rest. They now want an investigation into Cooper and the fund and how it got set up. If they’re not careful, they may end up un-approving the permit for the pipeline.
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FERC Grants Favorable EIS to Jacksonville, FL LNG Export Facility

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Is there a connection between a new LNG export facility on the East Coast, all the way down in Jacksonville, Florida, and the Marcellus/Utica? Indeed there is! In January 2017, Eagle LNG filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a new LNG export facility at a site on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville. The LNG produced at the facility will be transported to markets in the Caribbean and Latin America for power generation, and also delivered to local and regional markets, including marine bunkering and high horsepower applications–LNG used right here at home. Last Friday FERC issued a favorable draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the project, which means FERC plans to grant final approval. Below we connect the dots for how Marcellus/Utica gas will be some of the gas feeding this new plant.
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