The pipeline industry is right to be spooked by what its calls a Great Major Victory that Sierra Club, Flint Riverkeeper, and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper won against FERC and Sabal Trail.
The very next week after that Great Major Victory involving greenhouse gases: Rob Friedman and Kimberly Ong, NRDC, 31 August 2017 , New York State Blocks the Valley Lateral Pipeline!
In a victory for all New Yorkers, the state has blocked a natural gas pipeline that would have threatened upstate residents’ health, water quality and communities, citing climate change concerns.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied the water quality certification to the Valley Lateral Pipeline today, a 7.9 mile, 16-inch diameter fracked gas pipeline that would have connected the existing Millennium Pipeline to the highly controversial 650-megawatt gas-powered CPV Valley Energy Center in Orange County, New York. To support its denial, DEC explained that the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) failed to consider climate change impacts in its environmental review of the pipeline. Without this key certification, the pipeline cannot move forward in New York State.
This decision comes just weeks after the DC Circuit ruled that FERC must consider a pipeline’s cumulative downstream greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of the natural gas transported by the pipeline as part of its environmental review. In its denial letter, DEC cites the decision as an impetus for its denial, stating that, pursuant to DEC regulations, DEC may deny a permit for failure to comply with any statute or regulation under which the permit is sought, including environmental review requirements. Because FERC failed to consider indirect effects of greenhouse gas emissions in its environmental review that will result from burning the gas that the Pipeline will transport to CPV Valley Energy Center, DEC has denied 401 certification to the pipeline.
That was one of 18 pipelines in FERC permitting, all now at risk of at least having to go back and revise their EIS. And that alone could cause some of them to be cancelled, because, as ETP admitted for DAPL, every delay costs big bucks.
Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) is calling on FERC to do the same for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Even worse for the pipeline industry, a pipeline approval has been rescinded by a state agency.
WDTV, 8 September 2017, West Virginia withdraws approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP)—West Virginia environmental regulators say they are rescinding approval for building the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would carry natural gas down the center of West Virginia for 195 miles.
In a letter Thursday, the Department of Environmental Protection says it’s vacating the water quality certification issued in March, which followed review of the projected impact on the state’s waters.
I don’t know whether that WVDEP decision is related to the recent DC District Court ruling. The actual WV DEP letter is one page with one effective paragraph. But that WV DEP decision comes after a different Sierra Club lawsuit. And it also involved a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 water quality certification.
Meanwhile in Canada, the day after the DC Circuit Court ruling, the Canadian National Energy Board decided on more stringent review of greenhouse gases, which has already resulted in delay of one pipeline, and possibility of its retraction.
Zacks Investment Research, Nasdaq, 11 September 2017, TransCanada’s (TRP) Pipeline Projects Take a Back Seat,
North American pipeline operator, TransCanada Corporation’s TRP mega project Energy East Pipeline as well as Eastern Mainline Project has hit a regulatory roadblock. The company recently filed an application with the National Energy Board (NEB) to suspend the federal review of the projects for 30 days due to the stringent regulatory policies issued by the NEB on Aug 23.
In a judgment, which was lauded by the environmentalists but condemned by the oil industry players, NEB decided to initiate a tougher review process for the Energy East Pipeline and Eastern Mainline Projects. The board announced that the approval process for the projects will involve the examination of greenhouse gas emissions at both upstream and downstream stages. The board feels that the expanded scope of the review is likely to provide more visibility in the assessment of risks related to causalities like oil spill, among others. Expanding the scope of the review has put increased pressure on a number of Canadian projects. Alberta’s energy minister criticized NEB’s amendment policies citing it as a major impediment to Canada’s future energy development.
A cloud of uncertainty is now hovering on the $15.7 billion Energy East Pipeline and $1.5 billion Eastern Mainline Project. Energy East Pipeline—expected to carry crude Alberta and Saskatchewan to eastern Canadian refineries—has a transportation capacity of 1.1 million barrels of oil per day. Eastern Mainline which is a 279 kilometer pipeline will connect Markham and Edwardsburgh. Post the declaration of the stringent regulatory process by the NEB, the company has stalled the funding allocations for the construction of the projects.
Those aren’t even natural gas pipelines.
TransCanada is now evaluating the new review guidelines to examine its effects on the cost and feasibility of the project in relation to Canada’s growing commitment toward the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The company also warned that it might scrap the project. This might negatively impact the carrying value of its investment as well as its ability to recover development costs incurred till date. Apart from affecting the company adversely, the termination of the project will also lead to potential loss of jobs and investment opportunities in Atlantic Canada.
How about stop investing in the past and get on with solar and wind jobs? Maybe even tidal power in the Bay of Fundy.
I really don’t know whether the Canadian NEB decision had anything to do with the DC Circuit court case. But that U.S. case also has ramifications for non-natural-gas projects, since it was based on general environmental law.
I do know industry press such as Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI) is running daily stories about all this, tying these and previous pipeline permit denials as all of a pattern of environmentalists winning.
No more pipelines. Let the sun rise on Florida, Georgia, Alabama, New York, West Virginia, and all of the U.S., Canada, and the world.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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