Enbridge Supported by Wisconsin Supreme Court in Dane County Case

A ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court has allowed Enbridge Energy to continue on with their pipeline project in Dane County without any additional insurance, despite the local government putting a requirement on Enbridge’s permit for a $25 million environmental liability policy.

Wisconsin lawmakers stepped in and passed a provision blocking local municipalities from putting liability requirements on an operator if they already had sufficient insurance. After a couple back and forths of courts contesting Enbridge’s quality of insurance, the high court ruled that Enbridge does have comprehensive insurance. According to Enbridge, they have $860 million worth of general liability insurance, including coverage for ’sudden and accidental’ pollution.

Despite the ruling, several people within local government have been adamant that Enbridge has yet to provide proof of adequate insurance for ’sudden and accidental’ cases. Concerned about the decision, Patricia Hammel, a landowner’s attorney, stated that it “allows Enbridge to operate the largest tar sands pipeline in the U.S. across Wisconsin without adequate insurance and exposes our people, land and water to the consequences of a catastrophic spill.”

Enbridge’s oil spill in 2010, in southwest Michigan, polluted almost 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River and cost them $1.2. billion. In addition, the United States fined them for missing deadlines on pipeline inspections prior to the spill, costing them an extra $1.8 million. The cleanup lasted until 2014.

Meanwhile, Enbridge has finished their $1.5 billion pipeline make-over and built the Waterloo pump station, which, according to a spokeswoman of Enbridge, Jennifer Smith, is necessary in order to “ensure a reliable source of energy for decades to come.”


$10 Billion Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline Gains Key Federal Approval

Alaska Gasline Development Corp (AGDC) received the last major federal permit needed on March 4th for its proposed $10 billion Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline (ASAP) to supply natural gas to in-state consumers, the company said on Wednesday.

The ASAP is a 733-mile project designed to deliver gas from Alaska’s North Slope to customers in Fairbanks, Anchorage and other parts of the state.

ASAP is part of state-owned AGDC’s proposed $43.4 billion Alaska LNG project. It is designed to liquefy 3.5 billion cubic feet per day of gas for sale to customers in the Asia-Pacific region from a facility to be built in Nikiski on the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage, which includes an 807-mile pipeline.

“We see Alaska Stand Alone as a backup plan. We are mostly focused on Alaska LNG,” said AGDC spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick.

The company has planned to make a final investment decision to build the LNG project in early 2020 that would enable it to enter service in 2025, said AGDC in the past.


Dominion's Atlantic Coast Pipeline Delayed as Costs Rise $1.5 Billion From Original Estimates

Dominion Energy said on Friday that the estimated cost of its Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina will rise from $7 billion to $7.5 billion in addition to announcing that the expected completion date will be delayed to early 2021.

The project was originally said to be completed by late 2019 and cost an estimated $6.0 billion to $6.5 billion.

“We remain highly confident in the successful and timely resolution of all outstanding permit issues as well as the ultimate completion of the entire project,” Dominion Chief Executive Thomas Farrell said an earnings release, adding that the company was “actively pursuing multiple paths to resolve all outstanding permit issues..”

Dominion said it expects construction on the full 600-mile route to resume during the third quarter of 2019, with partial in-service in late 2020.


Atlantic Coast Pipeline Receives Final State Approval For Construction

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality has given the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s proposed erosion, sediment control and storm water management plan the final approval on Friday.

The approval gives Dominion Energy the key permit it needs to continue constructing the 600-mile pipeline that stretches from West Virginia, through Virginia, and into North Carolina. Construction on the other two states has already begun, and tree-cutting took place in Virginia earlier this year.

The Erosion and Sediment Control, Storm Water Management and Karst Protection plans specify engineering designs that will protect water quality during and after pipeline construction.

According to a release by Dominion, the approval allows the state’s water quality certification to take effect. The certification is the final state approval needed to begin pipeline construction in Virginia.

The ACP will now request a notice to proceed with full construction from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.


Regulators Decline Reconsidering MVP and Atlantic Coast Pipeline Water Permits

A regulatory panel declined a request to consider re-evaluating or revoking water-quality permits for two natural gas pipelines after environmental groups, landowners, and other critics argued the Corps’ review process being overly broad.

The Department of Environmental Quality defended the process, and both pipeline companies say the review has been rigorous.

Initially, the board weighted a motion to consider revoking the permits but voted it down.

The State Water Control Board met Tuesday in Richmond to consider the comments it solicited earlier this year regarding the permits granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.

Staff from the DEQ gave an overview of the thousands of comments received in addition to having the board hear from attendees of the hearing which was raucous and contentious at times.

The Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines have gathered many opponents because of their routes and have battled setbacks involving permits.

Radio IQ

Mountain Valley Pipeline Forced to Release 50 Percent of Workforce

The owners of the Mountain Valley Pipeline have been forced to release 50 percent of the project's workforce as the temporary stop-work order pushes back the expected completion date to late next year.

The company said in a statement posted to their website that the actions taken were “to address an idled workforce and protect the integrity of the project."

Around 2,100 workers were in charge of an approximately 100-mile stretch of the natural gas pipeline in Southwest Virginia earlier this summer. It is unclear how many workers have remained.

“Each of our three primary contractors are making individual decisions on how best to reallocate work or temporarily suspend work for their crews,” a Mountain Valley spokeswoman said in an email.

The $3.7 billion project was on track prior to running into problems with environmental regulators resulting in even more problems in courts.

The project was put on notice six times since April as muddy water flowed from work zones into nearby streams and measures to control erosion and sediment were failing.

Despite the stop work order, FERC is allowing construction to continue on about 70 miles of the pipeline in West Virginia as part of stabilization plan. Additional limited work was permitted in Virginia.

Mountain Valley said it was working with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to restore the permits and resume construction as quickly as possible.

“MVP remains committed to the earliest possible in-service date; however, under current circumstances a full in-service is now expected during the fourth quarter 2019,” the company statement read.

There are no updates on the project’s budget according to the spokeswoman’s email on Friday.

Richmond Times-Dispatch


ExxonMobil Requests Permit to Transport Crude Oil by Truck

ExxonMobil plans to resume production on three Santa Barbra Coast platforms by using up to 70 trucks a day via Central Coast Roads as a temporary measure to transport crude oil.

The decision comes after the onshore Plains All American pipeline ruptured in 2015 and 142,800 gallons of oil spilled out over the Refugio State Beach Coast.

Due to the pipeline rupture, ExxonMobil was unable to transport crude oil to U.S. markets, although the company has applied for a replacement transmission pipeline. Until then, permits from the Santa Barbara County will be needed to have permission to use alternative truck transportation.

If approved, ExxonMobil would transport crude oil from Las Flores Canyon facility to the Santa Maria Terminal via Hwy 101 or to Plains Pentland Terminal in Kern Country via Hwy 166. This would be a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week shift for truck transportation.

The company proposed to “restrict all site development and operational activity to existing disturbed areas."

Santa Barbra officials will hold a hearing today to weigh in on the environmental impacts as they prepare supplements for the environmental impact report. The Santa Barbara Country Board of supervisors will decide whether to grant the permit in roughly a year’s time.

Offshore technology


Court Appeal Stops Partial Work on Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline in West Virgina

U.S. federal appeals court issued an order last week against a permit, resulting in a construction halt of parts of EQT Midstream Partners’ $3.5 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline.

The pipeline company will steer clear of waters affected by the stay order in West Virginia.

A judge in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA issued the order to challenge the permit that involves a waterway crossing permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involving rivers and streams.

The challenged permit cites concerns over environmental damage involving 160 miles of the total 303-mile route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The pipeline had been under development for multiple years and had a scheduled completion date by the end of this year.

MVP will now continue with construction but will not proceed with anything that could cause environmental damage to the waters affected by the stay order.


Water Permit Denial Keeping Constitution Pipeline From Being Built, Extension Needed

Williams Cos asked U.S. energy regulators on Monday to extend the time needed to build their Constitution pipeline which stretches from Pennsylvania to New York until December 2020.

The extension is needed because Williams said New York regulators denied the company’s request for a water quality certification permit.

Williams is waiting on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to rule on its latest appeal after challenging the denial.

FERC originally gave the company until the end of 2016 to complete the project but FERC granted the company an extension to finish the project by December 2018.

With the water permit fight ongoing, Williams said it can’t have the project finished by then.

With necessary approval, Williams said it would take about 10-12 months for the pipeline to be built.


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.


Mountain Valley NatGas Pipeline Receives Key Step Forward from Virginia Regulators

The Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline has been granted another key step forward by Virginia environmental regulators, allowing for full-scale construction in the state.

The state Department of Environmental Quality said Monday that it approved erosion, sediment, and stormwater control plans for the 300-mile pipeline project.

Trees have already been cut in the state to clear the way for the pipeline that will travel from West Virginia through southwest Virginia, and now full-scale construction can begin.

Opponents of the pipeline say digging trenches along steep mountain slopes will contaminate water supply.

The pipeline is also facing protestors in West Virginia who are camping dozens of feet up in trees along the route in an attempt to at least delay, if not stop, pipeline construction.

The News Tribune

Maryland Issues Permit for Columbia Gas Pipeline Extension

Maryland on Friday issued a state permit for the proposed Columbia Gas natural gas pipeline extension in western Maryland, subject to nearly two dozen environmental conditions that the state added to the project.

The project would involve construction of about 3 miles of natural gas pipeline in Maryland as part of a section that would connect a TransCanada pipeline in Pennsylvania to Mountaineer Gas line in West Virginia.

The pipeline has brought protestors to the state capital to argue that the project would affect drinking water for millions.

Maryland said the pipeline cannot be built through the state unless the applicant complies with each requirement made by the state on top of the requirements already issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the project.

The Washington Post

Builder of Bayou Bridge Pipeline Urges Appeals Court to Lift Halt to Construction

Builders of the Bayou Bridge crude oil pipeline asked a federal appeals court on Tuesday for an order that would allow it to resume construction on a section of the pipeline that crosses under an environmentally crucial swamp in Louisiana.

The pipeline company is seeking to lift a temporary injunction that halted construction on the section of the crude oil pipeline that resides in the Atchafalaya Basin.

The appeals court did not immediately rule after hearing arguments from attorneys for the pipeline and from environmental groups that are opposed to the project.

The pipeline company argues that time is crucial in completing construction because water levels in the basin are rising due to the rainy season, and construction cannot continue if water levels get too high.

Environmental groups argue that the water levels are already too high for the company to resume pipeline construction in the basin.

About 23 miles of the 162-mile pipeline is designed to cross through the Atchafalaya Basin, which consists of about 1 million acres of swampland that is crucial to the state's flood protection system.

The $750 million project would transport crude from Lake Charles to St. James, Louisiana and connect to an existing line that starts in Nederland, Texas.

Miami Herald

Appeals Court Will Review Issued Halt to Bayou Bridge Pipeline through Atchafalaya Basin

A federal appeals court next week will review a Louisiana judge's order to halt construction of Energy Transfer Partners' Bayou Bridge crude oil pipeline through the Atchafalaya Basin.

Builder of the Bayou Bridge pipeline has asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for an "emergency stay" which would lift the temporary halt of construction on the line while the pipeline company appeals the Louisiana judge's ruling.

The court is scheduled to hear arguments next Tuesday.

In late February, U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick issued a preliminary injunction to stop construction on the 162-mile line that passes through the Atchafalaya Basin.

The decision was a response to a lawsuit filed against the Army Corps by environmentalists and local Louisiana fishermen who sought to challenge the permit approving construction through the basin, citing environmental, health, and economic risks.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick in Baton Rouge requires the Army Corps of Engineers to revisit its approval of the pipeline's construction through the Atchafalaya Basin.

Washington Post

Atlantic Coast Pipeline is Granted Another Permit in North Carolina, Needs One More

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline cleared another regulatory hurdle on Tuesday after it received an air quality permit from the state of North Carolina, bringing the 600-mile natural gas pipeline one step closer to receiving all of its necessary permits.

The Department of Environmental Quality granted the developers of the project with an air quality permit for a Northampton County compressor station, saying station emissions would be within acceptable thresholds.

A compressor station uses pressure to push gas down the pipe to final destinations.

Developers of the project are still awaiting a state stormwater permit from North Carolina.

The 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline is designed to carry natural gas from West Virginia into North Carolina. Its lead developer is Dominion Energy with partners Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Southern Company Gas.

The Washington Post

Builder of Bayou Bridge Pipeline Appeals Court Decision to Revoke Needed Permit

The company building the Bayou Bridge crude oil pipeline in southern Louisiana appealed a ruling on Monday by a federal judge that stopped construction on a section of the project.

U.S. District Court Judge Shelly Dick revoked a needed permit for the 162-mile pipeline, which is already under construction, in response to a lawsuit filed against the Army Corps by environmentalists and local Louisiana fishermen who sought to challenge the permit approving construction through the basin.

In the lawsuit, opponents of the Bayou Bridge crude oil pipeline cited environmental, health, and economic risks as a portion of the pipeline would run through the nearly 1-million-acre Atchafalaya Basin that serves as a critical component of Louisiana's flood protection system.

The $750 million Bayou Bridge pipeline is an extension of an existing pipeline that runs from Nederland, Texas to Lake Charles, Louisiana. Bayou Bridge would extend the system to St. James, Louisiana and have the capacity to transport up to 480,000 barrels per day.

The project is owned by Energy Transfer Partners.


Federal Judge Revokes Permit for Energy Transfer Partners' Crude Pipeline through Atchafalaya Basin

A federal judge in Louisiana revoked a permit for Energy Transfer Partners' Bayou Bridge crude oil pipeline on Friday, halting construction on part of the project through the Atchafalaya Basin.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick in Baton Rouge requires the Army Corps of Engineers to revisit its approval of the pipeline's construction through the Atchafalaya Basin.

The decision is in response to a lawsuit filed against the Army Corps by environmentalists and local Louisiana fishermen who sought to challenge the permit approving construction through the basin, citing environmental, health, and economic risks.

The proposed 162-mile Bayou Bridge pipeline would travel through the Atchafalaya Basin in southern Louisiana, which consists of about 1 million acres of swampland that is crucial to the state's flood protection system.

The $750 million project would transport crude from Lake Charles to St. James, Louisiana and connect to an existing line that starts in Nederland, Texas. Construction has already begun.


Duke Energy: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Cost Expected to Increase by More than $1 Billion

The cost of the 600-mile Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline is expected to increase by more than $1 billion due to delays in the permitting process, according to Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good.

The Atlantic Coast pipeline, lead by Dominion Energy with partners Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Southern Company Gas, is now up to at least $6 billion in cost, said Good on Thursday during an earnings call.

A spokesman for Dominion Energy would not confirm the new estimate.

Duke Energy expects Atlantic Coast Pipeline's cost to increase by up to $1.5 billion before it's complete, which is expected in 2019.

The 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline is designed to carry natural gas across West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina.

US News

U.S. Pipeline Permit Approvals May Be Tested as More LNG is Exported Overseas

As more liquefied natural gas comes into the U.S. market and is exported overseas, energy analysts say that FERC may have to grapple with arguments against pipeline approvals for public interest for the energy that isn't staying in the U.S.

When pipeline companies ask federal regulators for permits to construct proposed interstate natural gas pipelines in the U.S., they point to the necessity of ensuring adequate supplies of natural gas as an argument for receiving approval.

When FERC approves pipeline construction and issues permits, pipeline companies then have the right to force landowners to sell their private property for the project that is argued to be in the public interest.

But as more liquefied natural gas is sent overseas with increasing LNG export facilities in the U.S., the argument of public interest may be tested, especially by landowners who do not want to sell their land.

Energy lawyer Emily Mallen, who was in Houston recently talking about challenges facing the energy industry, said that FERC commissioners will most likely favor pipeline projects of companies who have already received permissions from landowners.

Houston Chronicle

Trump Infrastructure Proposal Would Speed Up Pipeline Approvals, Permit Processes

The Trump administration released its infrastructure proposal Monday, which aims to expedite the process for approving and issuing permits for U.S. natural gas pipelines.

In its attempt to boost U.S. oil and gas development by slashing red tape and regulations, the Trump administration released its $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal that would give the interior secretary the authority to approve natural gas pipelines that cross national parks instead of keeping that authorization exclusive to Congress.

The proposal would also speed up the time states have to issue water permits, or section 401 certificates, that companies need in order to construct interstate natural gas pipelines.

The proposal would delegate more decision-making to the states and enhance coordination between state and federal reviews, according to the proposal. Projects will then become less costly and more time efficient.

The administration aims to make the approval process for major projects to take no longer than 21 months instead of two years.

The administration also wants to direct one federal agency rather than several agencies to conduct the review.

The proposal would have a significant impact on the permitting process for pipelines, especially in places like the Northeast where pipelines have been struggling to receive permits from those states.