Tag Archives: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

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!

Farm Bureau pipeline and solar power policies 2018

Pipelines and rivers run through and by farms, and many farmers have solar panels, so it’s interesting to see what Farm Bureau has for energy policies.

Farm Bureau is for fixing FERC by revising the laws that let the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reimburse Congress from fees and charges on the companies it supposedly regulates. Many of Farm Bureau’s pipeline policies are good and sound like it listened to Randy Dowdy. It gets hardcore about eminent domain. There are even a couple of items that, if law, would have been very useful in the recent and upcoming Sabal Trail eminent domain jury trials.

It has some very good solar energy policies, and it is for renewable energy, including incentives; even an electric car policy.

Not all is good. Farm Bureau is for “clean coal”, fracking, nuclear power, and oil and gas exploration everywhere. It never mentions wind power without mixing it with dirtier energy sources.

Title, Policy Book

This is all from FARM BUREAU® POLICIES FOR 2018: Resolutions on National Issues Adopted by the Voting Delegates of the Member State Farm Bureaus to the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation®, Nashville, TN, January 2018.

Some of the policies are weirdly categorized: Continue reading

Benefits must outweigh harms –WWALS to FERC Re: Pipeline Certification NOI 2018-07-25

Here’s the WWALS response to FERC’s Notice of Inquiry (NOI) about “Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Facilities”. A few excerpts:

FERC should approve no more pipelines without comparing not just coal plants to natural gas plants, but also comparing sun and wind power. If that means no more pipelines, so be it….

In one of the most egregious cases, Sabal Trail commenced construction on the land of the Bell Brothers in Mitchell County, Georgia, and when they countersued, Continue reading

Glick and LaFleur dissent again from a Spectra pipeline permit 2018-07-19

FERC just rubberstamped three pipelines before Commissioner Robert Powelson exits next month. Yet Commissioners Glick and LaFleur are still complaining every time about lack of use of Social Cost of Carbon to account for Greenhouse Gases (GHG). Those dissents started after Sierra Club won against FERC and Sabal Trail in the DC District Court on just that subject; recently FERC and Sabal Trail declined to appeal to the Supreme Court, thus admitting the pipeline company and its permitter lost that case.

Open Season, Maps
Open Season Maps, TX-LA Pipeline Project

Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur spelled out the connection in her dissent on Spectra’s Texas-Louisiana Markets Project:

I believe the fact pattern presented in this case, a pipeline designed to serve a specific known downstream powerplant, falls squarely within the precedent of Sierra Club v. FERC.1 Given that the majority’s analysis here suffers from the same flaws as its decision on remand in Sabal Trail,2 I respectfully dissent.

Commissioner Richard Glick in his dissent on the same pipeline also explicitly cited Sierra Club v. FERC (Sabal Trail) and went further about the specific underlying laws FERC is shirking:

“Today, the Commission issues a certificate to Texas Eastern Transmission, LP to construct and operate the Texas Industrial Market Expansion Project and the Louisiana Market Expansion Project (Projects), concluding that the Projects are required by the public convenience and necessity.1 The Commission also finds that the Projects will not have a significant effect on the environment.2 In reaching these conclusions, the Commission maintains that it need not consider the harm caused by the Projects’ contribution to climate change. The Commission’s refusal to do so falls well short of our obligations under the Natural Gas Act (NGA)3 and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).4 Because I disagree with these conclusions and believe the Commission cannot find that the Projects are in the public interest without first considering the significance of the Projects’ contribution to climate change,5 I dissent in part from the Commission’s action today.

And yes, he really wrote “shirk”: Continue reading

Deadline for FERC rulemaking comments 2018-07-25

In addition to probably signing onto comments by a larger entity, WWALS is preparing comments for FERC in response to its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) about “Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Facilities”. FERC’s current deadline is this Wednesday, 25 July 2018. Please send any suggestions you may have to wwalswatershed@gmail.com. Or file your own comments. Apologies for the late request.

Here’s what FERC has asked for:

In the NOI, the Commission sought input on whether, and if so how, the Commission should adjust: (1) its methodology for determining whether there is a need for a proposed project, including the Commission’s consideration of precedent agreements and contracts for service as evidence of such need; (2) its consideration of the potential exercise of eminent domain and of landowner interests related to a proposed project; and (3) its evaluation of the environmental impact of a proposed project. The Commission also sought input on whether there are specific changes the Commission could consider implementing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its certificate processes including pre-filing, post-filing, and post-order issuance.

South Georgia and north Florida
Sabal Trail through south Georgia and north Florida.
Map by Geology Prof. Can Denizman for WWALS.net, 17 September 2016, as part of Sabal Trail maps digitized.

Here are some relevant documents, starting with a how-to in case you want to file your own comments directly with FERC: Continue reading

Levy Co., FL, ranch invaded by Sabal Trail’s invasive weeds

A pair of ranchers report an epidemic of stillborn calves, four dead mother cows, equipment damaged by too-steep grades, invasive weeds planted as a “cover Crop” by Sabal Trail and now spreading through seeds in cow manure, hay unusable, and:

At this point we are requesting help to repair the land that was never restored. The grade and the grasses require a farmer to repair not a Sable trails employee can repair

We have waited until now for you to not answer or get back with us and still our ranch issues are growing while you look into your options.

WWALS Digitized Pipeline Path, Google Maps, Maps
WWALS Digitized Pipeline Path

Maybe FERC didn’t want the public to see this. FERC’s elibrary shows Accession Number 20180716-5129, Report / Form of alexander cochrane under CP15-17,, but attempts to retrieve the files listed get:

The requested URL was rejected. Please consult with your administrator.

Your support ID is: 7429593144853677013

As so often, FERC’s backup elibrary Continue reading

Powelson leaves FERC with a split board as Sabal Trail loses legal cases 2018-07-02

Just one day before FERC admitted Sierra Club won in D.C. District Court, and a week after Sabal Trail Sabal Trail lost a jury trial in the U.S. Middle District of Georgia in Valdosta, something else at FERC put pause to further pipeline and LNG export rubberstamps.

Ellen M. Gilmer, Rod Kuckro and Sam Mintz, E&& News, 2 July 2018, Powelson’s departure means fallout for pipelines, policies,

Robert F. Powelson by FERC
Photo: FERC, of Robert F. Powelson, via E&E News

Robert Powelson’s decision to exit the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission less than a year into his term could leave natural gas pipeline developers in the lurch and policy critics scrambling for how to approach the commission’s coming 2-2 partisan split.

That’s the consensus among Continue reading

Sabal Trail Jury Selection 2018-06-25

When I started out the day, I wasn’t planning on spending the morning watching jury selection but I did. Honestly, everyone should go observe court our government in action now and then. Voir dire!
I knew that electronic devices weren’t allowed so I left my phone in the car. I couldn’t find any paper so I used Moonwalking with Einstein to remember things.

Electronic devices shall not be utilized

I arrived at the Federal Building about 9:15AM and noticed the changes since the post office moved out. The only thing you can do is go into the elevator. I took the elevator to the second floor to the security screening but had to go back to the car to get ID. I successfully negotiated security by 9:30AM.

When I actually arrived, jury selection was Continue reading

Fundraiser to stop FERC shirking LNG oversight

Update 2018-06-13: Press Release.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has abdicated its jurisdictional duties under the Natural Gas Act to regulate the siting, construction, operation and maintenance of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) small-scale inland export facilities.

Instead these facilities operate with basically no Federal oversight.

LNG trucks barrel down I-75 through Georgia past high schools, colleges, businesses, and homes, then on I-10 to Jacksonville for ships at least as far as Puerto Rico. At the ends of the Sabal Trail pipeline chain in Florida, trucks go out from half a dozen LNG export operations authorized by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy (FE). If any of those trucks wrecks, federal standard everyone should be evacuated half a mile downwind, including high schools and hospitals. Very few local emergency responders know this and fewer have appropriate emergency plans.

On roads in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, LNG and ports

Compounding the problem, Continue reading

LNG Export in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida

Update 2018-06-06: Fundraiser to stop FERC shirking its LNG oversight duties.

Did you know there are multiple liquid natural gas (LNG) facilities already shipping LNG down I-75 and I-10 to Jacksonville, Florida, another one in Hialeah, FL apparently exporting through Miami, with permission to export from four ports up and down Florida’s east coast, plus another permitted at Crystal River, and still more?

Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, LNG and ports

Only a few of the LNG operations shown were permitted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); most notably Elba Island LNG, downstream from Savannah, Georgia. Most of them have been authorized by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE).

Pivotal LNG, LNG and ports

Pivotal LNG is trucking LNG to JAXport right now.

Pivotal is Continue reading