Category Archives: Fracking

FERC rubberstamps four rehearing denials and a new pipeline on a Friday 2018-08-10

Scurrying to use its rubberstamp before a Commissioner departing leaves it tied 2:2, FERC once again rubberstamped multiple pipelines, this time three on a Friday plus an LNG export project, while neither its main online library nor its backup library yielded copies of the orders.

I found these four by googling:

  • 164 FERC ¶ 61,099 Florida Southeast Connection, LLC Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, Sabal Trail Transmission, Docket Nos. CP14-554-003, LLC CP15-16-004, LLC CP15-17-003, ORDER DENYING REHEARING, Issued August 10, 2018
  • 164 FERC ¶ 61,098, PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC, Docket No. CP15-558-001, ORDER ON REHEARING, August 10, 2018.
  • 164 FERC ¶ 61,100, Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, Dominion Transmission, Inc., Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc., Docket Nos. CP15-554-002, CP15-555-001, CP15-556-001, Order on Rehearing, August 10 2018.
  • 164 FERC ¶ 61,102, Dominion Energy Cove Point LNG, LP, Docket No. CP17-15-001, ORDER DENYING REHEARING, August 10, 2018.

Oh, wait, a mention of a docket number in a FERC agenda leads me to one more Friday rubberstamp, of a new Transco pipeline in New Jersey:

FERC rubberstamp

  • 164 FERC ¶ 61,101, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC, Docket No. CP17-490-000, ORDER ISSUING CERTIFICATE, August 10, 2018.

Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur dissented from all five of these Orders, on Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) even noting FERC should have considered both it and the Mountain Valley Pipeline together for environmental aspects. Commissioner Richard Glick from all except the ACP one, in which he instead summed up what is going on. Richard Glick, FERC, August 10, 2018, Statement of Commissioner Richard Glick on Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, Docket Nos.: CP15-554-002; CP15-555-001; and CP15-556-001,

I chose not to participate in today’s order denying rehearing of the Commission’s October 13, 2017 order issuing a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) Project (CP15-554-002; CP15-555-001; and CP15-556-001) solely to enable those parties challenging the Certificate to have their day in court. If I had voted, the rehearing order would have failed on a 2-2 vote (Chairman McIntyre also is not participating in this proceeding), and pursuant to the requirements of section 19 of the Natural Gas, the appellate courts would not have had jurisdiction to review the Commission’s decision to grant the Certificate.

I share many of the concerns articulated in Commissioner LaFleur’s dissenting opinion and I do not believe that the ACP Project has been shown to be in the public interest. Accordingly, if I had voted today, I would have voted to grant rehearing. Further, I do not believe there would have been the opportunity to vote on this rehearing order after Commissioner Powelson departs leaving only three commissioners to participate in this proceeding for the foreseeable future.

This situation highlights the need for Congress to enact legislation amending the judicial review provisions of the Natural Gas Act and the Federal Power Act to account for the ability of an aggrieved party to seek redress in the courts of appeal. It is fundamentally unfair to deprive parties of an opportunity to pursue their claims in court, especially while pipeline construction is ongoing. Alternatively, the Commission could revise its practices so that a rehearing tolling order is withdrawn when the participating Commissioners are evenly divided on a rehearing order and there is no immediate prospect of a resolution. I have heard some suggest that action is unnecessary because the Commission rarely evenly splits on a matter. But, as today’s order demonstrates, a tie vote is certainly possible even when all five commissioner seats are filled.

Commissioner Glick did not vote on the ACP rehearing because he wants an appeal to be possible through the courts on FERC’s decision to grant a certificate. Apparently a 2:2 tie would prevent that, I’m guessing by keeping the ACP in a FERC rehearing. With Commissioner Robert F. Powelson leaving at the end of this month, 2:2 split votes are to be expected, since Commissioners LaFleur and Glick have been dissenting on just about everything since FERC lost Sierra Club v. FERC (Sabal Trail).

Yet these rehearing denials are not what has been in the news. This has: Lauren K. Ohnesorge, Triangle Business Journal, August 10, 2018, ‘Stop Work Order’ issued for Atlantic Coast Pipeline,

Days after a federal appeals court invalidated a pair of permits, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a “Stop Work Order,” halting Dominion and Duke Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline in its tracks.

In its order, FERC writes that, allowing continued construction in the meantime “poses the risk of expending substantial resources and substantially disturbing the environment by constructing facilities that ultimately might have to be relocated or abandoned.”

That sounds more like FERC being concerned for the pipeline company’s bottom line than anything else.

Somebody else carried the full FERC statement and quoted “the operative paragraph”. lowkell, Blue Virginia, August 10, 2018, BREAKING: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Issues “Stop Work Order” on “All Portions” of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline [UPDATED: FERC Partially Approves MVP Stabilization Plan],

“Atlantic and Dominion Energy Transmission, Inc. (DETI) are hereby notified that construction activity along all portions of the ACP and Supply Header Project and in all work areas must cease immediately, with the exception of any measures deemed necessary by appropriate agencies such as NPS and the U.S. Forest Service, or by FERC staff to ensure the stabilization of the right-of-way and work areas.”

However, the rest of the FERC stop work letter says this is because there may be route changes. It gives no indication of actually wanting to stop eventual construction of the pipeline.

FERC’s intention to go ahead with ACP is further evidenced by FERC that same day rejecting a rehearing on ACP. In that rejection (and the other rehearing denials), FERC threw out any objections that did not cite specific EIS or previous Order passages. About Penneast, FERC even refused to consider complaints from two New Jersey state Senators and one Aseemblyman because they had not timely filed to intervene. Yet FERC itself continued to refuse to quantify or interpret greenhouse gas emissions, despite the court order in Sierra Club v. FERC.

The only rehearing requests FERC did not deny, reject, or dismiss as moot were:

(B) Atlantic’s November 14, 2017 request for rehearing is granted in part and denied in part, and we direct Atlantic to file actual tariff records setting forth its pro-rata allocation of pack capability provisions available to all firm transportation shippers and the applicable rate associated with the pack account service, at least 30 days but no more than 60 days prior to the date the project facilities go into service.

So FERC wants to know who ACP is getting its gas from when (not if, as far as FERC is concerned), ACP goes into service.

An industry story about FERC’s Stop Work Order a week earlier for the Mountain Valley Pipeline already arrived at the same conclusion. Nick Snow, Oil & Gas Journal, August 6, 2018, FERC’s Mountain Valley Pipeline stop-work order may be temporary,

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a stop-work order for the proposed Mountain Valley interstate natural gas pipeline. Opponents immediately said the Aug. 3 action was a major setback for the planned 303-mile system from West Virginia to southern Virginia, but the project’s sponsors noted on Aug. 6 the order itself indicated that it could be temporary.

The wording of that MVP Order was very similar to the ACP Order:

“There is no reason to believe that the Forest Service or the Army Corps of Engineers, as the land-managing agencies, or the BLM, as the federal rights-of-way grantor, will not be able to comply with the court’s instructions and to ultimately issue new right-of-way grants that satisfy the court’s requirements,” FERC Energy Projects Office Director Terry L. Turpin said in the order.

“However, [FERC] staff cannot predict when these agencies may act or whether these agencies will ultimately approve the same route,” Turpin said. “Should the agencies authorize alternative routes, [Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC (MVP)] may need to revise substantial portions of the project route across nonfederal lands, possibly requiring further authorizations and environmental review.”

Courts seem generally limited to ruling on specific aspects of pipelines. Actually stopping the fracking industry’s last-ditch cash-out through many new pipelines may require changes in federal law or new FERC Commissioners actually willing to enforce existing laws, either of which probably require changes in Congress. It’s an election year. This is an issue.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Fossil fuels are a far bigger threat than the Russians

Leaks of hazardous materials, explosions, land takings, sinkholes, frac-outs: these are far bigger threats than Texas Rep. Lamar Smith’s Committee report “that states Russian agents were attempting to disrupt U.S. energy markets and using social media to purportedly stir up protests against pipelines such as Sabal Trail,” as a reporter asked me about recently. Smith’s report doesn’t mention that solar and wind power are growing far faster than his favorite, fracked methane gas.

Energy source growth by sector
Business Council for Sustainable Energy by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, February 2018, 2018 Sustainable Energy in America.

Elsewhere I already looked behind Lamar Smith’s fossil fuel smoke and mirrors, and found I post more on social media than the tiny Russian numbers that horrify him.

His actual examples are seriously rolling-on-the-floor laughable, such as this: Continue reading

Push the Florida fracking ban through 2018-03-01

WWALS joins Florida Sierra Club in asking you to this link push the Florida Fracking ban through to a vote:

Senate Bill 462— Advanced Well Stimulation Treatment by Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa)—has passed two committees and has one to go — but there are no more scheduled meetings. Its companion House Bill 237 by Rep. Kathleen Peters (R-Treasure Island) has not even been heard in its first committee.

But there’s still time — leadership can schedule more meetings or bring the bills to the floor for a vote.

Follow this link for a convenient form to send email to your Florida statehouse member.

WWALS is a member of Floridians Against Fracking

Floridians Against Fracking logo

Fracking and drilling associated with fracking for oil and natural gas poses a direct and immediate threat to the drinking water, air, food, health, wildlife, climate, and economy of communities across Florida….

What are the tenets of the coalition?

Continue reading

Florida fracking ban passes Senate Committee, needs to move in House 2018-02-07

One of our goals Wednesday in Tallahassee was accomplished: the fracking ban is moving in the Florida statehouse! You can help: call your Florida state Representative or Senator and ask them to vote for the fracking bills. If you don’t know who they are, you can use Florida’s Find Your Legislators.

Gale Dickert, ban fracking, Sen. Montfords office
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Tallahassee, 2018-01-31. Do Gale Dickert and these people look like they’re going to give up easily?

Monday SB 462 was uananimously approved by the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, thank you Committee Chair Senator Rob Bradley, whom many people intensively lobbied last Wednesday to schedule a vote in that committee. The indefatigable Continue reading

Reclaiming Florida’s Future, Tallahassee 2018-01-31

We visited every Florida statehouse member who represents any part of the Suwannee River Basin, Wednesday in Tallahasse, we the people attending ReThink Energy Florida’s event.

Banner, thanks Kristin Rubin, Waller Park
Suwannee Riverkeeper Banner in Waller Park; thanks Kristin Rubin.

And a primary goal of that lobbying was achieved: the fracking ban bill is sheduled for a committee vote Monday.

When: 4:30 PM – 6PM, Monday, February 5, 2018

Where: Mallory Horne Committee Room, 37 Senate Office Building,
400 Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida

Event: facebook.

Stand with us and Continue reading

Nine Riverkeepers say FERC’s Sabal Trail SEIS unacceptable; request pipeline shutdown

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, November 21, 2017 — Factually incorrect, failing to account for LNG export or solar power, and irresponsible for not finding or creating a method for attributing environmental effects to greenhouse gases, as the DC Circuit Court had instructed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to do: that’s what nine Riverkeepers called FERC’s Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) yesterday; see their letter to FERC. The nine include all the Riverkeepers in the path of Sabal Trail and all parts of the Southeast Market Pipelines Project (SMPP) plus others in all three states invaded by those pipelines, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, plus Oklahoma, where the SMPP instigator, Florida Power & Light (FPL), owns a fracking field, The nine, who support fishable, swimmable, drinkable water, pointed out that all of FPL’s original excuses for Sabal Trail have been proven incorrect, and asked FERC to shut it down.

Green is Sabal Trail; Transco and FSC in black, SMPP
Sabal Trail in green, Transco and FSC in black, in Sierra Club interactive map of gas pipelines.

The Riverkeepers weren’t buying FERC’s ignorance: Continue reading

Hard data on lack of need for Sabal Trail –SeekingAlpha

An analyst on a leading stock blog confirms what we’ve been saying for years: there is no need for Sabal Trail’s fracked methane pipeline. Instead, Sabal Trail is taking gas away from FGT and Gulfstream. The article does not mention all those LNG export operations right where this pipeline chain goes. It does get to the heart of what even FPL admits:

“The challenge is natural gas in Florida faces growing competition from residential, commercial and utility scale solar resources as well as power forecasts that are revising lower despite a growing population and customer counts….”

You can help fight Sabal Trail even now that its gas is on, and reform FERC so we don’t get any more pipeline boondoggles.

Sabal Trail taking gas from FGT and Gulfstream

BTU Analytics, SeekingAlpha, 20 June 2017, Sabal Trail Adding Pipeline Capacity But Not Demand, Continue reading

U.S. Chamber wants FERC nominees approved 2017-05-31

The key phrase is actually exactly why FERC nominees should not be approved: 170531 FERCNominations-PowellChatterjee Murkowski Cantwell-0001

“…but of increasingly vital importance, also oversees the permitting and construction of natural gas pipelines, gas storage projects, and liquefied natural gas terminals.”

Funny how the Chamber didn’t mention fracking or LNG export. We don’t need more pipelines taking people’s property and risking our water and lives for the profit of a few fossil fuel executives cashing out before their industry goes belly-up.

WWALS recommends a swift vote to deny these FERC nominees and any others who do not vow to “to develop the new energy infrastructure necessary to ensure future domestic energy security” by rapidly deploying sun and wind power with no more new pipelines. Please call your Senators or members of that Committee to recommend they get on with real renewable energy, not 20th century fossil fuel stranded assets.

U.S. Chamber letter to U.S. Senate Energy Committee

Continue reading

Stop Sabal Trail pipeline –Harriet Heywood, Citrus County Chronicle 2017-02-03

Harriet Heywood, Op-ed, Citrus County Chronicle, 2017-02-03, Stop Sabal Trail pipeline

Harriet Heywood Today Sabal Trail Inc. is pounding a 36-inch pipe under the Withlacoochee River to force-feed us Marcellus Shale fracked gas. The powers who own decision-makers have made sure laws and regulations designed to protect the planet don’t apply to themselves. Twentieth century mindset — 21st century reality notwithstanding, they’ll offer a few hundred temporary jobs, conduct corporate social responsibility PR programs before moving on to other ventures, enabled by government agencies and politicians eager to board the fracked-gas crony capitalist bullet train, while the people, our waters and health are classified acceptable risks.

Mission accomplished while taking land through eminent domain with an unknown (by the public) quantity for export — unsurprising since there are Continue reading

What WWALS Does: watershed advocacy from outings and water trails to wastewater and pipelines

Water trails, wastewater, corporate agriculture, solar power, fracking, and pipelines: WWALS works with many issues in many ways, as part of our advocacy for conservation and stewardship through education, awareness, environmental monitoring and activities such as our monthly paddle outings. McIntyre Spring snorkel 30.6416626, -83.3660889

Here’s an introduction to WWALS for the many new members and even more people following WWALS on facebook and twitter.

WWALS Watershed Coalition, or WWALS for short, is an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation about everything related to water in the watersheds Continue reading