U.S. Army Corps Pulls Significant Permit for Mountain Valley NatGas Pipeline

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week pulled a significant permit for the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia in order to determine if it is at odds with West Virginia environmental rules.

The permit, called the Nationwide Permit 12, gives developers of the pipeline the authority to discharge  and fill materials into several rivers at 591 locations along the route.

Reconciling the Nationwide Permit is a difficult task and could significantly delay the project, according to Katie Bays, an energy analyst in D.C.

The project is also dealing with a lawsuit that was filed by the Sierra Club who argues the project violates West Virginia rules.

If Mountain Valley regains the Nationwide Permit but still loses the Sierra Club lawsuit, the 303-mile pipeline may be required to reroute around three rivers in West Virginia, which could delay the project by a year.

The $3.5 billion project is being headed by EQT Midstream along with several other partners.


Lawsuit Claims Anadarko Cut Safety Budget, Staff Before Fatal Colorado Explosion

A shareholder lawsuit claims Anadarko Petroleum cut its safety budget and staff just months before a fatal house explosion in Colorado that was linked to an Anadarko well.

The lawsuit alleges that Anadarko was staying focused on keeping oil and gas flowing from older wells and was not focused on fixing any potential safety problems.

Anadarko's actions caused stock prices to fall, which hurt investors, according to the lawsuit that is being lead by the pension fund for the Philadelphia Iron Workers union. The pension fund owns Anadarko stock.

The fatal explosion killed two people and injured one in April 2017 in Firestone, Colorado. The explosion was caused by odorless, unrefined natural gas that seeped into the home's basement from a severed gathering line.

The lawsuit cites one former employee who claims Anadarko was aware that there was something unusual about the well because it should have been emitting methane but was not. The company kept the well in operation anyway, according to the former employee.

The lawsuit was filed last year in Texas, which is where Anadarko is based. The company said it does not comment on pending lawsuits.

Fuel Fix

Court Rules Federal Government Must Reveal Documents Related to Keystone XL Approval

The U.S. government must provide to the public all documents related to the approval of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, according to a Wednesday court ruling after opponents of the pipeline argued that the Trump administration was withholding details on the project's approval.

The ruling concluded that federal officials must provide all relevant documents by March 21 or explain why they should be withheld.

The ruling came after environmentalists in Montana filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the 1,179-mile project and uncover the basis of President Donald Trump's decision to approve Keystone XL after it had been rejected by former President Barack Obama in 2015.

The U.S. Justice Department argued against the request to hand over documents to the public saying it would cost more than $6 million to review an estimated 5 million pages of documents.

Attorney Jackie Prange with the Natural Resources Defense Council said the government's estimates were "vastly overblown" and that the public has the right to know what went into consideration when approving the Keystone XL project.

The Keystone XL is proposed by TransCanada and is designed to carry oil from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, to Nebraska to connect to an existing pipeline that runs to the Gulf Coast.

Houston Chronicle

NEXUS Pipeline Builder Offers Ohio City $7.5 Million in Lawsuit Settlements

Green, Ohio voted Wednesday to accept $7.5 million in lawsuit settlements from NEXUS Transmission, who is building a natural gas pipeline through the city.

The Green City Council voted 4 to 3 to accept the settlement, saying it was best for the city.

NEXUS Transmission, a partnership between Enbridge and DTE Energy, is building a $2 billion, 255-mile natural gas pipeline that will carry gas from Appalachia across Ohio and into Michigan.

The eight-mile section of pipeline that would travel through Green, Ohio has faced heavy opposition from city residents and officials, but the City Council decided it would be better to receive something for the pipeline than nothing at all.

The city filed a lawsuit against the pipeline project in the summer of last year, saying it would exhaust all options to stop the line from traveling through the city.

The NEXUS Gas Transmission project gained FERC approval in August of last year.

Fox 8 Cleveland

Federal Judge Denies Request to Halt Construction of Pipeline through Louisiana Swamp

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick on Tuesday denied environmental groups' request to order a temporary halt to construction of a crude oil pipeline that Energy Transfer Partners is building through a river swamp in south Louisiana.

Environmental groups sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this month after the Corps approved a permit for the Bayou Bridge pipeline late last year, saying the Corps' review was inadequate and violated several environmental laws.

But Judge Dick wrote in her court finding that after reviewing the Corps' 92-page environmental assessment, she did not find that the Corps was "arbitrary and capricious" in its review.

The environmental groups have a hearing scheduled with Judge Dick on February 8 to request an injunction that would block construction of the pipeline until their lawsuit can be resolved.

In the meantime, the groups had asked for a short-term delay in construction located in the basin area, which Judge Dick denied.

Energy Transfer Partners' proposed 162-mile Bayou Bridge pipeline would run from Lake Charles to St. James Parish, through the Atchafalaya Basin. Construction activities for the pipeline have already begun, according to the pipeline company.

U.S. News

Nuns File Lawsuit Against Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Project on Religious Grounds

An order of nuns is fighting to stop the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline from being built through their cornfield in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on the grounds that it violates their religious freedom.

The Adorers of the Blood of Christ say the pipeline construction on their lands would also infringe on their duty to preserve the earth.

A lower court last year dismissed the nun's lawsuit because of insufficient evidence that the pipeline would infringe on the nuns' religious beliefs.

Both FERC and the pipeline developer said the lawsuit has no weight because the nuns did not bring their religious freedom argument to the federal agency in the first place.

Lawyer Elizabeth Witmer for Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company told the panel of appeals judges that the nuns "had the opportunity to present a defense, but they chose not to."

The Atlantic Sunrise project, which is more than 20 percent complete, is an expansion of Williams’ Transco transmission system and is designed to move 1.7 million cubic feet of natural gas a day from the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania to southern states.

Houston Chronicle

Environmental Groups File Lawsuit in Hopes to Stop Construction of 162-Mile Crude Pipeline in Louisiana

Environmental groups filed a lawsuit Thursday against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in an attempt to block construction of Energy Transfer Partner's 162-mile Bayou Bridge Pipeline project across southern Louisiana.

The lawsuit says the Corps violated the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws when it approved a permit for the crude oil pipeline in December of last year.

Groups like Sierra Club, Waterkeeper Alliance, and Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, among others, claim the Corps' environmental review on the project was inadequate and that the permit should be revoked.

Environmental groups are concerned about the possible significant environmental impacts the pipeline would have on Louisiana's streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, bayous, and human life.

Energy Transfer Partners assured the opposing groups that pipelines are heavily regulated for safety and reliability.

The Bayou Bridge Pipeline, which has been in development since 2015, is designed to have a maximum capacity of 480,000 barrels of crude per day and will be the final segment of a pipeline network that connects the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota with Louisiana refineries and export terminals.

Dallas News

Conservation Group Sues FERC Over Alleged Unconstitutional Granting of NatGas Pipeline Certificates

The New Jersey Conservation Foundation filed a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) arguing that the agency is unlawfully allowing companies to seize private property through eminent domain for pipeline construction.

The lawsuit involves the $1 billion, 120-mile PennEast pipeline, a natural gas pipeline project that runs from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and crosses the Delaware River.

The PennEast project has faced numerous delays and standoffs with opponents, which in turn have prevented the pipeline developer from submitting all the information it needs to obtain important permits from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Opponents of the project argue that FERC would be acting unconstitutionally to take away land from landowners, organizations, and local governments for the PennEast route because the project is unneeded and therefore would not be for public use.

PennEast claims the project is needed to provide gas to a region where demand is outstripping supplies. It would help save costs and create thousands of jobs.

PennEast is still awaiting final approval from FERC to obtain access to properties.

Pennsylvania State Impact

Ohio Files Lawsuit Against Rover Pipeline Developer Over Pollution Violations

The state of Ohio filed a lawsuit Friday against Rover Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners over what the state says are several water pollution violations during construction.

Ohio states in the lawsuit that construction on the $4.2 billion natural gas pipeline caused flooding in a protected wetland and damaged more than 10 of the 18 Ohio counties where the pipeline is being built.

The Rover Pipeline twin pipeline is being built to carry natural gas across Ohio from West Virginia to Michigan in order to deliver to Canada and states in the midwest and south.

Energy Transfer Partners said it has tried to work with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for the past six months to resolve the matter in a way that satisfies all parties involved.

The lawsuit seeks to require Energy Transfer Partners to pay civil penalties of $10,000 per day for each violation.

Houston Chronicle

Plains All American Pipeline, Valero Energy Corp Terminate Proposed Acquisition by Valero of Certain Plains Assets

Plains All American Pipeline and Valero Energy Corporation announced Monday its plan to terminate a proposed acquisition by Valero of certain Plains assets after a California Attorney General filed suit seeking to block the transaction.

In the proposed acquisition, Valero was to acquire two of Plains' petroleum storage and distribution terminals located in Martinez and Richmond, California.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that the transaction would have put all three Northern California petroleum-shipping hubs in the hands of refineries, which would have stifled competition and possibly raise gas prices.

Both Plains and Valero said in a statement that it was in their best interest to terminate the deal rather than "endure the continued uncertainty that a lengthy trial would create for the California-based employees and customers of the terminals, as well as the considerable expense associated with defending a taxpayer-funded lawsuit," according to a statement posted on Plains' website.

Houston Chronicle
Plains All American Pipeline

DAPL Developer Energy Transfer Partners Sues Greenpeace, Other Environmental Groups

Dakota Access Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace and other environmental groups Tuesday, claiming the groups spread misleading information about the DAPL project, interfered with its construction, and cost the company millions of dollars.

In its lawsuit, which requests damages that could reach up to $1 billion, Energy Transfer Partners alleges that the groups interfered with its business, facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism, incited violence, targeted financial institutions that backed DAPL, and violated racketeering and defamation laws.

Defendants claim the lawsuit is "meritless" and not meant to seek justice but to silence free speech through litigation.

The lawsuit states that "the scheme of dissemination of negative information devastated the market reputation of Energy Transfer as well as the business relationships vital to its operation and growth."

The approximately 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline began operations in June this year after months of delays due to arduous protests in North Dakota as well as all around the nation. Four Sioux tribes in North and South Dakota are continuing to fight the operational pipeline in federal court in hopes that a judge will shut it down.


Portland Pipe Line Aims to Reverse Pipeline Flow Amid City Ban

The Portland Pipe Line Corp is trying to reverse a 75-year-old underground pipeline to receive crude oil from Canada to South Portland, Maine but is working against South Portland's ban on loading crude into tankers on its waterfront.

The ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy subsidiary filed a lawsuit against South Portland back in 2015 challenging its Clear Skies ordinance which bans the loading of crude oil into tankers on the city's waterfront. This ban effectively blocks the company from reversing the pipeline's flow to bring oil from Canada into South Portland.

The underground pipeline has been largely decommissioned over the last year due to lack of demand because the Canadian refineries are drawing crude from western Canada and North Dakota.

President of Portland Pipe Line Corp Thomas Hardison claims that Canadian suppliers can make available more than 100,000 barrels per day in volume, concluding that there is sufficient volume available to support a successful flow reversal project.

The city questions Hardison's estimates saying he did not provide detailed supporting data.

South Portland has asked a judge to dismiss the case, but the case continues.

Portland Press Herald

Judge to Decide Later This Year Whether to Shut Down Dakota Access Pipeline

A federal judge will decide later this year whether to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline while the Army Corps conducts a more thorough environmental review on the route.

Both sides in a lawsuit over the pipeline will submit written arguments on the matter in July and August, and the parties will expect a decision from the U.S. District Judge James Boasberg most likely in September.

The parties involve the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Standing Rock filed a lawsuit last summer arguing that the pipeline threatens cultural sites and water supply.

Judge Boasberg ruled last week that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately consider how an oil spill could affect the tribe when it permitted the pipeline earlier this year. He ordered that the agency reconsider parts of its environmental review.

ABC News

Dakota Access Pipeline in Full Operation After Significant Delays

The Dakota Access Pipeline is now fully operational as of Thursday, after months of delay due to protests by Native American tribes and environmental groups.

The 1,172-mile, $3.8 billion pipeline developed by Energy Transfer Partners was scheduled for service by late last year, but protests led to delays in permitting the last section of the line under the Missouri River in North Dakota.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe still vows to stop the line despite its full operation, saying a possible leak could contaminate water supply and sacred lands.

A lawsuit from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is still pending in federal court as the tribe seeks to have the line shut down and given a more thorough environmental review.

Dakota Access Pipeline is expected to transport approximately 520,000 barrels of oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois.


Ohio City Plans Lawsuit Against Nexus Pipeline

The 225-mile Nexus natural gas pipeline is about to be hit with a lawsuit by an Ohio city mayor who is exhausting all options to stop the line from traveling through Green, Ohio.

Mayor Gerard Neugebauer of the Green City Council is aiming to stop the Nexus pipeline, owned by Enbridge and DTE Energy, from traveling through Green, Ohio, saying the pipeline would cost the city millions of dollars annually in tax revenues from lost economic development opportunities as well as lead to city park abandonment and wetland contamination.

The Nexus pipeline would travel 255 miles and carry as much as 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of gas from Ohio into Michigan. Some of that gas will be shipped into a trading hub and storage facility that Enbridge owns in Ontario, Canada, according to the company.

Opponents of the pipeline argue that Canadian-based Enbridge should not be able to take property from U.S. landowners. Several landowners have refused to allow surveyors onto their property.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission already submitted its environmental impact statement on the line, which served as a huge regulatory hurdle for Nexus pipeline. Construction can start once FERC approves a "certificate of convenience and public necessity," which the commission won't approve until President Trump nominates a new FERC commissioner.

Opponents of the line, including Mayor Neugebauer, are hoping for a continued delay as they believe more delays will better the chances that the pipeline will be canceled.

Houston Chronicle

Several Groups Sue Trump Administration for Approving Keystone XL Permit

Environmental groups on Thursday filed lawsuits against President Donald Trump's administration after its approval of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline project that will move tar sands from Canada to U.S. refineries.

Groups such as the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Northern Plains Resource Council filed suits to a federal court in Montana arguing that the U.S. State Department that approved the permit needed for Keystone XL to cross the Canadian border into the U.S. based its decision on an outdated environmental impact statement done three years ago.

The groups argue that a new environmental impact statement should be completed and that public input should be required before a decision on the permit is made. By approving the permit without these two steps, the groups said the State Department is violating the National Environmental Policy Act.

President Trump announced the permit approval last week saying the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs, and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Opponents of Keystone XL argue that the project poses a threat to the climate, water, wildlife, and landowners along the route.


Energy Transfer Partners: Oil in Dakota Access Pipeline Under Missouri River Reservoir

Energy Transfer Partners announced in a court filing Monday that there is now oil in the Dakota Access Pipeline underneath the Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota. The company is preparing for full pipeline operation soon.

The roughly 1,170-mile oil pipeline is about three months behind schedule due to significant protests that have delayed construction over the last several months, but the pipeline should be carrying oil from North Dakota to Illinois within a few weeks, according to the company.

Although the pipeline is nearly in operation, a lawsuit sought by the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes to stop the pipeline is still unresolved. The tribes argue the pipeline would contaminate water supply and threaten their rights to practice their religion as it requires pure, clean water.

AP News


Federal Judge Denies Request by Sioux Tribe to Stop Oil Flow in Dakota Access Pipeline

Federal Judge James Boasberg on Tuesday denied a Native American tribe's request for an injunction to stop oil from flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline, rejecting yet another attempt by opponents to stop the pipeline that is nearly complete.

The Cheyenne River Sioux tribe had filed for an emergency injunction to stop oil from flowing through the pipeline that travels for about a mile under Lake Oahe due to concerns that oil from the pipeline, even if not spilled, would make the water impure and threaten the tribe's religious practices.

Judge Boasberg responded in his decision that the court understands the threat of oil would cause harm to the tribe's religious exercise but that blocking oil flow would also cause financial and logistical harm to the pipeline operator.

Both the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes lost a court battle against Judge Boasberg last week when they tried to stop construction of the section of the 1,172-mile pipeline that travels under a waterway just north of a tribal reservation in North Dakota.

Pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners is nearing completion on construction and should have the pipeline ready to carry oil by April 1.


NatGas Pipeline Still Leaking in Alaska Cook Inlet; Second Environmental Group to Sue

A natural gas pipeline is still leaking in the Alaskan Cook Inlet, and a second environmental group has said it would plan to sue the owner of the affected pipeline.

The underwater pipeline owned by Hilcorp Alaska has been leaking natural gas since at least February 7, and divers have not been able to reach the pipeline, which sits 80 feet below the water, due to the dangers of nearby floating ice.

Environmental groups are concerned about the safety of beluga whales in the Inlet, as well as the habitats of salmon and other fish.

Along with nonprofit organization Cook Inletkeeper, the Center for Biological Diversity is planning to sue Hilcorp Alaska for violating four federal laws: the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, the Endangered Species Act, and the Pipeline Safety Act.

The company says it cannot simply shut the pipeline off because, since the pipeline once transported crude oil, doing so would allow seawater to infiltrate and potentially move residual crude into the inlet.

The cause of the leak is currently unknown, and both the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and PHMSA are investigating.


Tribes Agree to Put Dakota Access Pipeline Lawsuit on Hold Amid Another Related Challenge

A lawsuit from the Standing Rock Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes against construction of the Dakota Access pipeline has been put on hold so that the court can focus on another battle lead by Energy Transfer Partners.

Dakota Access pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners is asking a district court judge in D.C. to approve construction of the pipeline underneath the Missouri River by ruling that the company had proper permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to do so.

The Army Corps is currently studying alternative routes for the pipeline after denying the permit needed for construction underneath Lake Oahe, a reservoir of the Missouri River near Standing Rock Sioux's reservation.

Both the Standing Rock Siox and the Cheyenne River Sioux agreed that their challenge against federal pipeline permits at numerous water crossings can be delayed so that the court can focus on the Missouri River dispute and close disputes between Energy Transfer Partners and the Corps.

The district court judge in D.C. said the government had until January 6 to file its opposition to Energy Transfer's request for a permit. Arguments over the dispute will not be heard until at least February.

Houston Chronicle