Eminent Domain Begins for Landowners in Path of Atlantic Sunrise

You beg and plead and beg and plead. You come with your hat in your hand. You try to explain that no, the pipeline isn’t going to avoid your property, Mr. or Ms. Landowner. But some landowners refuse to negotiate. So the last resort option must be exercised. That’s the situation with Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in several counties in Pennsylvania–including Lancaster, Lebanon, Columbia, Northumberland and Schuylkill. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final certificate for Atlantic Sunrise, allowing construction to begin, just two weeks ago today (see Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Gets Final Approval by FERC). Although the project is still waiting on an approvals from the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State Historic Preservation Office, Williams expects to begin construction soon. Very soon. Landowners who either oppose the pipeline because they hate fossil fuels, or because they thought they might get a higher offer, or because they thought they could just make it go away by singing, “La la la la, I don’t hear you!”–are now out of time. Atlantic Sunrise is taking recalcitrant landowners to court and will soon have a court order allowing them to proceed with construction…
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Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Gets Final Approval by FERC

Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline map – click for larger version

Friday saw a flurry of activity at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)–the federal agency in charge of evaluating and authorizing interstate pipeline projects. Today is FERC-day on MDN, because there was so much news from Friday! Perhaps the most important news coming out of a list of approvals was FERC’s final blessing on Williams’ $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project–a 198-mile pipeline project running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. In addition to the pipeline, two new compressor stations will get built, and when the whole thing is done, an extra 1.7 billion cubic feet per day of northeast PA Marcellus Shale gas (from Cabot Oil & Gas and Seneca Resources) will flow south. On Friday, FERC issued a final certificate for the project, allowing Williams to build it. We can’t wait until Williams goes through and knocks down the magic tree house built by environmental wackos in an attempt to stop the project (see PA Antis Build 2nd Magic Tree House to Stop Atlantic Sunrise Pipe). That’ll make for some great headlines when it happens. However, Williams isn’t starting up the bulldozers just yet. Before they can begin, Williams still needs permits from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. However, permits from PA & the Army Corps is perfunctory. It’s now over. The antis have lost and the good guys have finally scored a victory! Construction will begin on the main portion of the pipeline in mid-2017…
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FERC Approves Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline! Cabot Grabs More Capacity

1/4/17 Update: Williams finally issued its own press release about this, which we’ve included below.

On the last business day of 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a favorable final environmental impact statement (EIS) for one of the major pipeline projects in the Marcellus/Utica: the $3 billion Williams Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project. The FERC EIS for Atlantic Sunrise (full copy embedded below) said that although there may be some adverse environmental effects from the project, those effects can be “reduced to less-than-significant levels” by Williams via the plans submitted. FERC considered five alternative routes and chose to stick with the preferred route proposed by Williams. However, FERC did ask Williams two make minor tweaks to four locations along the route of the pipeline. Cabot Oil & Gas, the main customer for the 1.7 billion cubic feet of capacity, was positively giddy with the announcement. Cabot released their own press release to say that although they previously gobbled up 850 million cubic feet (MMcf) of capacity along the new pipeline, they are adding another 150 MMcf to that number, giving the company a grand total of 1 billion cubic feet (out of 1.7 Bcf) of capacity along the pipe when it’s built. Holy moly! That will be 1 Bcf per day of Cabot’s gas going from Susquehanna County, PA to other states, outside the region. VERY smart move by Cabot. Below we have the news and feedback/analysis about the announcement…
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PA County Judge Attacks Mariner East 2 Status as Public Utility

court-gavel.jpgSunoco Logistics Partners, the builder of the Mariner pipeline projects, has fought a long and hard legal battle to be recognized as a public utility in Pennsylvania–especially with regard to the next big project in the lineup, the Mariner East 2 pipeline. ME2, as it’s called, is a $2.5 billion, 350-mile natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline that will run from eastern Ohio through the state of Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia. From the beginning anti-pipeline fanatics have tried to derail the project by claiming it is not a public utility (with the right of eminent domain) as defined by PA’s statutes. In July 2014 two administrative law judges working for the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) said ME2 is not a public utility (see Setback for Mariner East NGL Pipe – Judges Say Not Public Utility). But a few months later, the Commissioners of the PUC overruled them and said yes, it is a public utility–always has been, always will be (see Major Milestone: PA PUC Rules Mariner East IS a Public Utility). However, the antis continued to challenge it in court. Finally, in July 2016, PA’s Commonwealth Court in hearing an appealed case ruled in favor of Sunoco, saying that ME2 is regulated by both the PUC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and it therefore has the right to use eminent domain (see Sunoco LP Wins Major Court Decision for Mariner East 2 Pipeline). However, a county judge in Lebanon, PA has just rendered a decision that once again attempts to question ME2’s classification as a public utility. The decision, and how it impacts ME2, is complicated…
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PA Game Commission Cuts ROW Deal with Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline map
Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline map – click for larger version

More progress for the Williams Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project. Atlantic Sunrise is a $3 billion, 198-mile project running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. It is a much-needed pipeline to move more Marcellus gas south, to new markets. The progress is this: the Pennsylvania Game Commission has cut a right-of-way deal to allow the pipeline to traverse game lands in northern Lebanon County–including a crossing of the Appalachian Trail. But have no fear, Williams plans to drill under the Trail and not disturb the surface. In return for the right to cross a few acres of certain state-owned game lands in Lebanon County, the state is picking up a whopping 285 acres owned by Williams in Monroe and Lackawanna counties…
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Media Downplays Sunoco’s Huge Court Victory re Mariner East 2

Sunoco LogisticsLast Friday MDN brought you the really big news that Sunoco Logistics Partners had won a major appeals court case that recognizes them as a public utility in Pennsylvania with the right to use eminent domain to build the Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline (see Sunoco LP Wins Major Court Decision for Mariner East 2 Pipeline). Although Big Green groups like the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council are attempting to spin the decision as no big deal–it is a big deal, and they know it. So how does the Associated Press, in bed with Big Green, report the decision? This is their headline: “Sunoco clears 1 legal hurdle after pipeline project ruling.” Laughable! It’s more than one hurdle. Sunoco essentially put another 7 points on the board with 5 seconds left to play…
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Interior Dept Chides FERC re Atlantic Sunrise Pipe, Bogus Concerns

DOIThe Obamadroids are once again ganging up on the semi-independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Last week the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed comments with FERC critical of the Williams/Transco Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project (see Federal EPA Continues to Fuss over Atlantic Sunrise Route in PA). This week it’s the Obama Dept. of Interior (DOI). The DOI has filed comments with FERC saying Atlantic Sunrise maybe/may/might cause a 2.5 second eyesore for people paddling down the Susquehanna River–they might see a nice grassy knoll where the pipeline runs instead of overgrown, spindly, dying trees instead. Because it’s an official “historic” stretch of river that Captain John Smith may have once traveled, that apparently means not a single tree branch can ever be pruned along the river bank. What a load…
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Federal EPA Continues to Fuss over Atlantic Sunrise Route in PA

EPA-logo.jpgThe federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a lengthy comment with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week regarding the Williams Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project (full copy below). The EPA said, in a nutshell, that more studies should be done. The EPA said the pipeline could have “significant adverse environmental impacts.” They also said alternate routes should be considered. A few things to know about the EPA’s filing: First and foremost, the EPA is treated like any other individual or organization who files comments on a project with FERC. That is, the EPA’s comments will receive no special treatment or consideration. Second, the only value in EPA’s comments is publicity for anti-pipeline nutters. Third, the “alternate routes” the EPA professes to prefer have already been considered, thoroughly, and discarded by FERC. So this is a lot of smoke and noise and mirrors–and nothing else…
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Supporters Dominate 2nd FERC Hearing for Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

Atlantic SunriseThe silent pipeline-supporting majority became more vocal last night at a second hearing in as many days for the Williams Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. Monday night’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) public hearing was a circus-like freak show, complete with one crazy wearing a cape like he’s Superman (see Lancaster Antis Try to Bully Pipeline Supporters, FERC Reps). In contrast, last night’s FERC hearing at Lebanon Valley College in Annville was dominated by solid, clear-thinking residents who support the pipeline and the benefits it will bring to the community. Oh there were a few crazies present, but nothing like the night before…
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Lancaster Antis Try to Bully Pipeline Supporters, FERC Reps

Atlantic SunriseMDN has attended several Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) “scoping hearings” in the past (see Vicariously Attend FERC Scoping Hearing on Constitution Pipeline). So we’ve seen first-hand the kind of antics that virulent anti-fossil fuelers engage in at such hearings. Which has led us to comment these hearings are often freak shows–a forum for these people to vent and verbally vomit all over FERC representatives. Such was the case last night in Lancaster, PA at a public hearing held by FERC for the much needed, largely noncontroversial Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, to be built by Williams. A group of 250-350 (depending on the media source) showed up to listen, with some speaking, at last night’s hearing. Not all in the audience were antis–but many were. People who support the pipeline have better things to do with their time than listen to nutters bleat and blat and carry on. Let’s put the numbers in perspective. Lancaster and Lebanon counties have a combined total population of 653,000 residents. Of that, 350 showed up for the hearing. If all 350 were against the pipeline (which wasn’t the case, but bear with us), that would be .05% of the population–statistically zero. And yet this very small group with very big mouths get all of the media coverage from the event…
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Pipes Stacked & Ready to Go in Lebanon, PA for Atlantic Sunrise

Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline map
Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline map – click for larger version

Anti-drillers in Lebanon County, PA–virulently opposed to any new pipeline construction in the county–have their noses bent out of joint. Williams and their Transco pipeline have had the temerity to stack a bunch of pipe they intend to use when construction begins. This can’t stand!! It means (gasp) construction will soon begin. The pretend bubble these kooks live in has just been burst and they frankly don’t know how to handle it. They are “surprised and dismayed” by seeing the stacked pipes. It’s kind of amusing…
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Lebanon Cnty Commissioners Forwarding Anti’s 1K-Page Tome to FERC

Nattering NabobsWe wonder if the anti-pipeline/anti-fossil fuel zealots in Lebanon County, PA are trying to kill members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by boring them to death. The local antis–a small yet vociferous group of nattering nabobs–have hounded the Lebanon County Board of Commissioners into sending along a 1,000-page tome to FERC listing their concerns with two pipeline projects. Along with the bore-you-to-death document, the Commissioners have included a letter requesting FERC extend the comment period on the Atlantic Sunrise Project by an extra 30 days. Which sounds reasonable–except at the end of that 30 days the antis will ask for another extension, then another, and another. That’s the strategy. If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with, well, you know what…
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Lebanon County Judge Says Mariner East 2 Can Use Eminent Domain

The last refuge of the desperate in Lebanon County, PA to stop new pipelines from being built is to use the courts to try and delay or stop both the Williams Transco Atlantic Sunrise or the Sunoco Logistics Partners Mariner East 2 pipelines. That refuge is now gone–at least for Mariner East 2. Last Thursday Lebanon County Judge Robert Eby ruled that yes, Mariner East 2 is an intrastate as well as interstate pipeline–giving it authority under PA state law to use eminent domain for those (very) few holdout landowners who refuse to bargain in good faith and simply want to stop the pipeline…
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Pipeline Opposition in Lebanon, PA Fading Away to Nothing

Here’s what MDN notices about pipeline supporters and detractors. Not that long ago MDN editor Jim Willis attended a meeting in Afton, NY supporting the delayed Constitution Pipeline (see Cuomo Needs to “Snap on a Pair” and Approve the Constitution Pipe). Reports say there were over 300 people jammed into that meeting. Then we read about two anti-pipeline groups in Lebanon County, PA holding a meeting to oppose two different pipelines coming through their area–and they can barely scrape together 50 people. What does that tell you about opposition to pipelines? It’s nearly non-existent, except for a few loud mouths that are endlessly interviewed by mainstream media…
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Township in Lebanon County, PA Welcomes Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

One township in Lebanon County, PA hasn’t caved to the very loud (and very small in number) anti-pipeline ninny nannies–and that has them spinning and sputtering. South Annville Township supervisors decided last Wednesday night that they would NOT pass a resolution expressing opposition to Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. Why not? Because (a) its a meaningless gesture–FERC won’t consider it in their decision-making, and (b) there are a lot of people in the town who WANT the pipeline. So kudos to the supervisors of South Annville Twp for doing the right thing…
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Lebanon County Antis Want Public (Spectacle) Mtg or No Mtg at All

The demands of anti-drillers in Lebanon County, PA are illustrative of their true motivations. Two different anti groups–Lebanon Pipeline Awareness and Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County–are demanding Lebanon County commissioners have an open public meeting with two pipeline companies. The two pipeline companies are Williams (Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline) and Sunoco Logistics Partners (Mariner East 1 & 2 pipelines). If the meeting is not open and public, so these nutters can pummel representatives of the companies in public and have it broadcast everywhere–they want no meeting at all. Williams and Sunoco had agreed to non-public meetings that INCLUDE members of these two groups–to answer their questions. But the pipeline companies, and the county commissioners, don’t want a circus. That means no cameras/media, and the meeting is not open so it can be packed by large numbers of antis. The companies are willing to sit down and talk like adults and answer questions and address concerns–like adults. But that’s not what Lebanon Pipeline Awareness nor Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County really want. They want to behave like petulant children throwing a temper tantrum for everyone to witness. Evidence: Instead of taking the private meeting, they (the antis) want no meeting at all…
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