Tag Archives: Natural Gas Act

FERC Requests Comments on Rulemaking for small inland LNG export facilities

Hahira Georgia, July 26, 2022 — At the request of WWALS Watershed Coalition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has opened a process that could correct its mistakes of eight years ago when it disclaimed oversight of dangerous compressed methane export facilities as long as they did not load directly onto ocean-going ships. Those decisions produced environmental, safety, and economic problems. The request provides FERC with an opportunity to “revisit” and “revise” those old decisions, as FERC Chair Richard Glick has recommended.

LNG tanker truck, Southbound I-75, 2018-03-26; Photo John S. Quarterman
LNG tanker truck, Southbound I-75, 2018-03-26; Photo John S. Quarterman

Anyone can comment and organizations can intervene on this new FERC docket for potential Rulemaking on Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) export. The deadline is September 20, 2022. That’s Docket RM22-21 on ferc.gov. Detailed instructions are below.

Please also contact your state and national elected officials and ask them to ask FERC to resume its oversight.

The Introduction of the Petition lays out the problem we want to get solved: Continue reading

FERC requests comments on WWALS Petition for Rulemaking on FERC Oversight of Small-Scale Inland LNG Export Facilities 2022-07-22

Update 2022-07-26: Press release, FERC Requests Comments on Rulemaking for small inland LNG export facilities.

FERC has created a docket for our petition and has filed in it a notice requesting comments by September 20, 2022.

[Notice and map]
Notice and map

Interested parties can file in that docket RM22-21 to intervene and then file comments and motions.

Also on Friday, FERC asked if we wanted to file the cover letter in the docket, so I did. It feels very strange to have FERC politely asking us to file things.

Thanks again to Continue reading

Petition for Rulemaking on FERC Oversight of Small-Scale Inland LNG Export Facilities 2022-07-22

Update 2022-07-23: FERC requests comments on WWALS Petition for Rulemaking on FERC Oversight of Small-Scale Inland LNG Export Facilities 2022-07-22.

FERC has filed our petition in a new docket, RM22-21. We shall see what they do from there on this request to open a Rulemaking to revisit, as FERC Chair Richard Glick has suggested, FERC’s decisions of 2014 and 2015 that left small inland LNG export facilities without environmental oversight.

[What and by Whom]
What and by Whom

Many thanks to Cecile Scofield for keeping after this issue for years, and to the rest of the WWALS Issues Committee.

And thanks to each of our co-signers, Continue reading

Petition to Initiate a Rulemaking for Small-Scale Inland LNG Export Facilities –WWALS to FERC 2021-11-19

Update 2022-07-22: New method, now in a new FERC docket, Petition for Rulemaking on FERC Oversight of Small-Scale Inland LNG Export Facilities 2022-07-22.

Suwannee Riverkeeper asks FERC to oversee inland Liquid Natural Gas export facilities

Hahira, Georgia, November 26, 2021 (PDF)  —  After years of trying to get FERC to pay attention to an economic, health, and safety issue, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. has asked FERC to make a rule requiring inland LNG export facilities at least to ask FERC whether it has oversight.

Because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) half a decade ago disclaimed oversight of export facilities for explosive compressed Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) unless ships loaded right there for overseas shipping, such facilities are lacking FERC’s environmental, construction, and safety oversight, causing risk of “ loss of life and significant environmental and economic consequences,” according to FERC’s own strategic plan. Residents of densely populated neighborhoods where inland LNG export plants are being sited, constructed, and operated are in harm’s way. FERC has relegated the responsibility to citizens to police potential threats to public health, safety and welfare posed by these high-risk LNG operations. There are no official Dockets that provide the public an opportunity to participate in any approval process.

[LNG export facilities; WWALS Rulemaking petition to FERC]
LNG export facilities; WWALS Rulemaking petition to FERC

Even a competing inland LNG company complained of economic issues: “During its pendency, the Commission has determined that certain LNG projects are outside its jurisdiction, permitting those projects to compete free from the FERC regulatory burdens that FGS and other FERC-regulated projects bear in what has become an active, urgent and highly competitive small-scale LNG market."

WWALS views the FERC regulatory burdens as public goods of construction, environmental, and safety review, but the point remains that competition has been warped by FERC’s inland LNG export decisions.

“We filed this Petition under the same Federal law as three cases back in 2013-2015 when FERC abdicated oversight of inland LNG export operations,” said WWALS member Cecile Scofield, who opposed an ill-conceived huge 8 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per year LNG import terminal in Massachusetts in early 2000 .   She also noted that, “A Rulemaking is needed to determine FERC jurisdiction before a developer spends millions of dollars constructing an inland export facility only to have it shut down by FERC after it begins operation.”

“Last March, Continue reading

The illusion of pipeline invincibility is shattered –WWALS Brief to FERC in Sabal Trail Rehearing

Let’s cut to the chase in the letter we filed with FERC yesterday:

11. Historic new circumstances add up

The sun never set on the British Empire. Until it did.

No one circumstance ended that Empire, but it is easy to point at major events that accelerated its demise, such as the independence of India and the Suez Incident. Its fall started after the illusion of its invincibility was shattered by Gandhi’s campaign of civil disobedience and other events such as World War II.

The illusion of invincibility of the inland colonial empire of pipelines has been shattered by recent court orders about the ACP, DAPL, and others, and especially by the shut down of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the shuttering of the Constitution Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. All of those pipelines were expected to be built, and DAPL actually was built before being ordered to shut down and empty. Now the world knows that pipelines are not inevitable.

All these pipeline projects, like Sabal Trail, were opposed by nonviolent protests and political and legal actions. All those methods of opposition, combined with the sea-change in progress to renewable energy, eventually added up to a new and significantly different world than that in which Sabal Trail was permitted or re-permitted.

The shut down of DAPL and the abandonment of ACP as well as the court rejection of tolling orders make it a new world even since FERC’s June 19, 2020, Order granting a rehearing on Sierra Club’s motion.

FERC should initiate a new [Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] EIS that should take into account Sabal Trail’s own track record of leaks and sinkholes, as well as leaks and accidents from [Liquid Natural Gas] LNG export and LNG transport in rail cars, the speeding demise of fossil fuels as evidenced by record low LNG export prices and bankruptcies of frackers, the court rejections of DAPL, ACP, and tolling orders and how much of Sabal Trail could never have been built through environmental justice communities without tolling orders, the coronavirus pandemic, and the rapid rise of renewable solar, wind, and battery power as evidenced by FPL and Sabal Trail partners Duke and NextEra, as well as by FERC’s own numbers. All of those new and significant circumstances make pipelines such as Sabal Trail toxic stranded assets, dangerous to the bank accounts of their investors, as well as to the environment, justice, and human health.

Conclusion

For the reasons stated above, WWALS asks FERC to grant Sierra Club’s motion for stay of the Commission’s letter order of April 22, 2020, to halt Sabal Trail Phase II, and to commence a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) taking into account all of the above new and significant circumstances.

[Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS]
Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS

For those who are not familiar with tolling orders, they are basically how, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gives federal eminent domain to a private pipeline company, FERC lets that pipeline company take land before any payment to the landowner or even any agreement is reached. Without tolling orders, it’s not clear the FERC will ever get another pipeline built.

Here’s a longer explanation. Continue reading

How Florida can pick up slack from FERC shirking its LNG oversight duties –Cecile Scofield in TCPalm 2020-01-15

Longtime WWALS member Cecile Scofield in TCPalm, January 15, 2020, Liquified natural gas needs regulation in Florida,

You and a friend decide to go into business together. You draft your business plan and delineate each person’s responsibilities for the operation. But what happens if one of you decides to shirk your assigned duties? Your business venture will be doomed to failure.

[WWALS LNG Export Map]
WWALS LNG Export Map
PDF

This is exactly what has happened with regulating a new breed of inland Liquefied Natural Gas export facilities in Florida. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) outlines each agency’s role in exercising regulatory authority over the siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and expansion of LNG facilities. See https://tinyurl.com/tdhxazn.

LNG facilities are regulated, in part, by Continue reading

Rights to Clean Water, Air, and Land

Update 2021-06-15: Right to Clean Water, and four more Florida ballot initiatives 2021-05-20.

Update 2021-02: New York State Environmental Rights Amendment for November 2021 ballot: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”

See also the 1972 Montana precedent.

Update 2021-02-24: The regulatory trap at SRWMD: 30 speakers, yet unanimous Nestlé permit 2021-02-23.

Update 2021-01-31: Green Amendment Passes in the New York State Legislature.

Update 2021-01-22: Orange County, Florida (home of Orlando) passed a Bill of Rights for Nature, becoming the most populous local government area in the U.S. to do so; see below.

Does it seem most of the agencies, laws, and rules are rigged for big corporations and against local private property rights, against local fishing, swimming, boating, and hunting, and against organizations like Riverkeepers and Waterkeepers?

[Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, titanium mine too near Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River Basin]
Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, titanium mine too near Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River Basin.
See also WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

One approach to change that is a Bill of Rights for Nature (BOR), to change the legal structure so rivers, swamps, aquifers, lakes, etc. presumptively have rights that corporations have to prove they are not violating. There are at least three ways to do this: personhood for a waterbody, a Bill of Rights for Nature spelling out specific rights such as to exist and to flow unpolluted, or human rights to clean air and water, commonly known as a Green Amendment.

Examples

First, here are some examples of why rights of nature would be useful.

Example: a titanium strip mine proposed too near the Okefenokee Swamp

For example, Suwannee Riverkeeper is helping oppose a company that wants to mine titanium within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, and above the Floridan Aquifer, from which all of south Georgia and north Florida drinks.

[Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38, 30.5257540, -82.0411100]
Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38.
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

We shouldn’t have to get more than 20,000 60,000 comments sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pointing out that the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge contributes far more jobs (700+) and other economic benefits (more than $60 million/year) to the region and to Florida and Georgia than even the wildest promises of the miners (150-200 as in the application? 300? 350, as they told some reporters?), and the mine would risk all that, including boating, fishing, and birding in the Swamp and hunting around it. We should be able to point to the rights of the Swamp, Rivers, and Aquifer, and the miners should have to prove beyond a shadow a doubt that they would not violate them.

Update 2021-01-22: And then the Army Corps abdicated oversight in late 2020, leaving only the State of Georgia standing between the miners and Swamp with their five permit applications to the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection.

[Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds]
Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds, photographs by Southwings pilot Chris Carmel on a flight for Suwannee Riverkeeper, 2021-01-10.

You can help, by asking the Georgia Governor and other elected and appointed officials to reject or at least thoroughly review those permit applications.

Example: the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline

When the Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly refused to grant easements for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline to drill under Georgia rivers, Continue reading

Appeal against pipeline eminent domain to U.S. Supreme Court 2019-03-13

Ain’t that the truth: “The upshot of this is that the pipeline companies get everything they want, and the property owners get nothing.”

[Transco]
Transco

A lasting solution would be to remove private eminent domain from the Natural Gas Act (NGA), as proposed by the Georgia House of Representatives in 2017. Meanwhile, this Writ attempts at least to limit the damage.

[Question]
Question

This Pennsylvania case is about Transcontinental Pipeline Company (Transco), which is also behind the Hillabee Expansion Project in Alabama, the source of Sabal Trail’s fracked methane in the Continue reading

Jury awards 33 times what Sabal Trail offered to Levy Co., FL landowner 2018-11-09

If this isn’t what Sabal Trail was scared of back in September when they settled three jury trials in Valdosta, Georgia, it should have been.

Sabal Trail path digitized by WWALS, Maps

Andrew Caplan, Gainesville Sun, 12 November 2018, Sabal Trail must pay Levy landowners $1.3M

A 12-member jury in Gainesville awarded Levy County residents Lee Thomas and his son, Ryan, more than $1.3 million for land that Sabal Trail built its pipeline on.

Sabal Trail Transmission was back in federal court in Friday to defend its controversial $3 billion project and the offers it made to a pair of landowners for uprooting and burying a natural gas pipeline on their property.

That didn’t go over so well.

Continue reading

Spectra responds in pipeline certificate rulemaking 2018-08-24

As we’ve seen so often in the Sabal Trail docket, Spectra seems to be acting in place of FERC, responding yesterday to thousands of comments on FERC’s certificate rulemaking.

Spectra’s bottom line: a pipeline company’s bottom line matters more than the Fifth Amendment due process, or water, air, or safety. See page 25:

Contrary to some commenters’ arguments, the Commission’s public interest determinations are not rendered insufficient under the Fifth Amendment public use requirement because the Commission considers precedent agreements among applicants and affiliates to be evidence of public benefits.

Spectra repeatedly argues that FERC does not have authority to consider hardly anything other than whether the pipeline company has customers, yet FERC has authority to give eminent domain to private corporations and to let them gouge through our lands and under our rivers without local agreement or payment first.

Page 9: Tolling Orders, Pages

In this election year, you can ask every candidate for statehouse or Congress whether they support Continue reading