Weird: NC Republicans Target Dem Gov for Supporting M-U Pipeline

It doesn’t typically happen this way, which makes us feel like we’re Alice that’s just fallen through the looking glass. Normally (not always) Republicans support fracking and pipelines and fossil fuels in general, and Democrats (increasingly) do not. But in North Carolina, the roles are reversed. Republicans in the NC legislature have launched an investigation into Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper over his support of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. The lawmakers claim a $57.8 million discretionary fund set up by Cooper was, in fact, a “pay to play” slush fund, funded by ACP partners (including Dominion) to help them obtain a permit from the NC Department of Environmental Quality. The allegation is that Cooper got the companies to commit to giving the state $57.8 million, and a day later voila, they had their permit. Quid pro quo. Cooper says the money will be used to repair so-called environmental damage from constructing the pipeline. Republicans say it stinks to high heaven and he needs to “let go” of the money. Seems to us like this is just the latest skirmish in a long-running war between the two sides, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project is collateral damage, caught in the middle…
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FERC Greenlights Atlantic Coast Pipeline Construction in NC

Despite intense opposition from nutty so-called environmentalists (i.e. fossil fuel haters), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued permission on Tuesday to Dominion Energy to commence construction of the 600-mile, $6 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline as it passes through North Carolina. Antis like those from the Southern Environmental Law Center are up in arms. Their strategy to stop the project is to attack it in small, specific areas. There is a pending lawsuit against the project using the Endangered Species Act, potentially blocking construction in certain geographies. If that lawsuit goes against the pipeline, it only affects construction in a small area and for a limited time. Yet Southern Environmental Law Center claims that if a pipeline project is stopped at any point along its route, that should trigger stopping the entire project at all points along the route. FERC isn’t buying into the legal bull and has cleared Dominion to start up the bulldozers. This pipeline will get built, despite the best efforts of antis. In fact, Dominion says it will be built and online by late 2019…
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Duke Energy Plans 1 Bcf LNG Plant in NC Fed by Marc/Utica Gas

Robeson LNG facility location – click for larger version

Some exciting news from Piedmont Natural Gas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Duke Energy. The company recently announced it plans to spend $250 million to build a 1 billion cubic feet LNG storage facility in southern North Carolina, in Robeson County. Gas is liquefied and stored as backup for residential customers to use during periods of high demand–mainly wintertime. And guess which pipeline (now under construction) will terminate right there, in Robeson County? That’s right, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline–a joint venture between Dominion Energy and Duke Energy. The new LNG facility will also be able to use gas from a second pipeline in the county–Williams’ Transco. The Transco pipeline flows Marcellus gas all the way from northeastern PA. Translation: Marcellus/Utica gas will feed the 1 Bcf LNG plant, an important new (big) customer for our our natural gas…
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Antis Convince Chatham County, NC to Extend Frack Moratorium

In 2014, the North Carolina legislature passed a law that specifically says local municipalities can’t regulate oil and gas exploration–it is the sole responsibility of the state to do so. Some municipalities thought there were loopholes they could use. Stokes and Chatham counties enacted moratoriums instead of outright bans, hoping to game the system. In order to plug the loopholes, the NC General Assembly approved a 41-page “technical corrections” bill (literally passed in the middle of the night) in September 2015 (see NC Legislature Makes Local Frack Bans/Moratoria Illegal). The technical corrections bill, signed into law by then-Gov. Pat McCrory, introduced language which closes any perceived loopholes and makes any actions like the ones in Stokes and Chatham illegal. And yet the moratoriums in those counties persist, contravening NC law. On Monday night Chatham County commissioners voted (unanimously) to extend their illegal moratorium until Jan. 31, 2019. How do they get away with it? The obvious answer is that nobody cares about drilling in Chatham County, otherwise there would have been a lawsuit to challenge this blatant violation of the law…
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Mountain Valley Pipeline Launches Plan to Expand 70 Miles into NC

MVP Southgate proposed route – click for larger version

We love it! Even though Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) has only just begun to build along it’s 301-mile route from West Virginia to southern Virginia, and even though MVP faces opposition from extremists who sit in the tops of trees and on top of poles (see Radicals Go Up a Tree in Quest to Illegally Block MVP Construction and US Forest Service Gets Tough on Illegal MVP Pole Sitting Protester), MVP is now going on offense. Yesterday MVP announced a binding open season (time when customers can sign on the dotted line) to expand the not-yet-built MVP pipeline where it will terminate in southern Virginia by another 70 miles–into two northern North Carolina counties. The MVP Southgate project, as it’s called, will flow gas from the MVP mainline in Pittsylvania County, another ~70 miles south to new delivery points in Rockingham and Alamance counties in North Carolina. MVP Southgate will provide low-cost natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions for delivery to PSNC Energy customers as well as existing and new end-user markets in southern Virginia and central North Carolina…
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Atlantic Coast Pipe Wants 150 NC Workers, $25/Hr + Free Training

Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the $6.5 billion Dominion Energy/Duke Energy pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina has had a few setbacks, but that isn’t stopping construction on the pipeline–in all three states where it runs. On Monday we reported on the latest setback–news that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is refusing to extend tree cutting season for the pipeline (see FERC Won’t Extend Atlantic Coast Pipeline Tree Cutting Deadline). According to Dominion, FERC’s decision will not delay the late 2019 start date for the project. In the meantime, there’s work to be done! One of the places where work needs to get done is North Carolina. We spotted a story from NC that says Dominion and Duke are offering to train “more than 150 people” at Nash Community College, and then put them to work building the pipeline, for $19/hour plus $45/day, which we calculate to be a total compensation package of $24.63 per hour. Details below on how to apply for the jobs and get in on the free college training…
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FERC Won’t Extend Atlantic Coast Pipeline Tree Cutting Deadline

Two weeks ago Dominion Energy asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to extend tree cutting/felling season by an extra 45 days, from March 31 to May 15, in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina (see Atlantic Coast Pipe Asks FERC for More Time to Cut Trees). Due to restrictions for species like the threatened Indiana bat, tree cutting season is limited–from November 16 to March 31. ACP said it couldn’t meet the March 31 deadline due to a late start following state bureaucratic delays. In a presentation Dominion gave to North Carolina environmental officials a few months back, the company said if “we cannot start [pipeline construction] in time to ensure a full and efficient construction season and have to delay service by one year, the impact would be $1 billion.” Dominion maintains that worst case scenario has not yet happened. Following the FERC decision to deny extending the date for tree cutting, Dominion said they’ll shift things around and can still meet their contractual deadline of getting ACP up and running by the end of next year…
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Atlantic Coast Pipe Asks FERC for More Time to Cut Trees

Dominion Energy’s $6.5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (running from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina) is supposed to get built this year. ACP began to cut trees along the pipeline’s path in late January (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline Begins Cutting Trees in WV & VA (Not NC)). ACP chainsaws have been busy since that time. Due to restrictions for species like the threatened Indiana bat, tree cutting season is limited–from November 16 to March 31. ACP says it won’t be done by March 31 and is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to continue clearing trees in WV, VA and NC until May 15th. Antis are making loud noises that FERC should deny the request. What will FERC do? If they don’t grant permission, ACP will be delayed–perhaps by a year…
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NC Republicans Slam Democrat Gov. for Approving Atlantic Coast Pipe

We’re not quite sure what to make of this story. North Carolina has been, as we’ve long pointed out, nitpicking in an attempt to slow down (or stop) the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) from traversing the state (see NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe). Dominion Energy and Duke Energy are building the $5-$6.5 billion, 594-mile ACP–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina–reaching almost to the border with South Carolina. NC has a Democrat governor, Roy Cooper, whose administration has been hassling ACP for months. But then, all of a sudden, the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality issued permits approving the pipeline–which happened at the same time Dominion and Duke set up a $58 million fund “to protect the environment” in those counties where the pipeline will run. Sure sounds like a $58 million bribe to us, but hey, what do we know? If it gets the job done, it’s a cost of doing business, right? So now NC Republicans, who would normally be in favor of a project like ACP, are crying foul and launching an investigation into NC Gov. Roy Cooper’s $58 million “slush fund,” threatening to hold up work on ACP…
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After Months of Delay, Atlantic Coast Pipe Gets NC Water Permit

Atlantic Coast Pipeline path through North Carolina – click for larger version

On Friday, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a federal stream/water crossing permit for Dominion’s $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and slice through the midsection of North Carolina, almost to the border with South Carolina. The permit comes more than a year and a half after Dominion and their partners filed an application for it. It is the final “biggie” permit required to construct the project in NC. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved ACP last October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). West Virginia previously issued a water crossing permit for the project, and Virginia recently granted a conditional approval for its water crossing permit. NC was the last domino to fall, and now it has. However, the project is still not out of the woods in NC just yet. First, the DEQ attached all sorts of extra requirements to the water permit they issued. Second, even though a water/stream crossing permit is the biggest and most important permit, NC continues to delay the project by withholding other permits (see NC Continues to Delay Atlantic Coast Pipe, Rejects Part of Erosion Plan). Friday’s water permit issuance was, however, a very positive development–a signal that the rest of the permits although delayed, will be forthcoming. Dominion said it will begin construction in NC (and VA and WV) this year, and finish the project sometime in 2019…
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Atlantic Coast Pipeline Begins Cutting Trees in WV & VA (Not NC)

In December MDN told you that Dominion’s $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project had asked permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to begin clearing trees along the path of the pipeline in all three states where the pipeline will run: West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina (see Atlantic Coast Pipe Asks FERC to Begin Tree Cutting in WV, VA, NC). FERC approved the project last October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). However, two of the three states–Virginia and North Carolina–have not yet given final water crossing permits for the project (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline Delayed in Virginia by Water Board Vote and NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe). Lack of water crossing permits isn’t stopping ACP, nor FERC. Last Friday FERC granted ACP permission to begin felling trees, and the chainsaws have been busy over the weekend–at least in WV and VA (not yet in NC). The clock is ticking. Because of cockamamie Obama regulations, clearcutting of trees along the path for a pipeline (or roadway, or whatever) is banned from April 1st through October 31st, in an effort to protect the “endangered” northern long-eared bat (see Marcellus/Utica Drillers Ask for Special Permit to Kill Some Bats). ACP will be busy between now and March 31st cutting down trees to prepare for laying pipe…
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NC Continues to Delay Atlantic Coast Pipe, Rejects Part of Erosion Plan

North Carolina has a Democrat governor. The state Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is an executive branch agency. So it’s no surprise to learn that the DEQ is antagonistic toward Dominion Energy’s $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. In October the DEQ rejected a plan submitted by Dominion for the pipeline project, claiming the erosion and sediment control part of the plan is not up to snuff (see NC DEQ Rejects Plan for Atlantic Coast Pipeline – What’s Next?). What’s happened since that time? Dominion resubmitted the plan, and in early January DEQ approved part of the erosion/sediment control plan (for the southern part of the project) but rejected the other part (for the northern part of the project). As we previously pointed out, DEQ is currently playing death by 1,000 questions with Dominion, trying to tie the project up in knots (see NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe). DEQ’s poor behavior continues. Here’s an update on where things stand, and what Dominion will need to do to get ACP approved in the Tar Heel State…
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Atlantic Coast Pipe Asks FERC to Begin Tree Cutting in WV, VA, NC

Dominion’s $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project recently asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to begin clearing trees along the path of the pipeline in all three states where the pipeline will run: West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. FERC approved the project in October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). However, two of the three states–Virginia and North Carolina–have not yet given final water crossing permits for the project (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline Delayed in Virginia by Water Board Vote and NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe). ACP isn’t letting state agencies put a damper on the project. Just a few weeks ago ACP announced it had signed contracts with four labor unions to do the construction work, and had filed eminent domain lawsuits against holdout landowners who have refused to negotiate leases (see Atlantic Coast Pipe Gets Ready to Build: Union Help, Eminent Domain). And now ACP is asking FERC for permission to begin clearing trees, giving antis apoplexy…
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Atlantic Coast Pipe Gets Ready to Build: Union Help, Eminent Domain

We have a couple of important signs that Dominion and Duke Energy, the main sponsors of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, are getting ready to begin building the pipeline. Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a $5 billion, 594-mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. Years after the project filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), it was finally approved by FERC in October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). In November, the U.S. Forest Service granted its blessing for the pipeline to traverse small portions of two national forests (see USFS Approves Atlantic Coast Pipeline Thru 2 National Forests). Although some of the state water crossing permits are still an issue, it’s a pretty much foregone conclusion WV, VA and NC will not hold up construction of this important project. An announcement from Dominion on Friday to say the company has cut deals with four labor unions for workers, and a story in NC about the pipeline being forced to use eminent domain proceedings with some holdout landowners, combine to paint the picture that this project will soon begin construction…
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NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe

North Carolina has a Democrat governor. The state Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is an executive branch agency. So it’s no surprise to learn that the DEQ has turned antagonistic toward Dominion’s $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. In October the DEQ rejected the plan submitted by Dominion for the pipeline project, claiming the erosion and sediment control plan is not up to snuff (see NC DEQ Rejects Plan for Atlantic Coast Pipeline – What’s Next?). Since that time Dominion has been back and forth with the DEQ. On Wednesday the DEQ sent Dominion a fourth round of questions. Dominion has 30 days to respond, and the DEQ another 60 days after that to respond to the response. Bingo, another 90 days gone, just like that. What this appears to be is “death by a thousand cuts,” or in this case, “death by a thousand questions”…
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