Natural Gas NOW Picks of the Week – January 5, 2019

NaturalGasNOWTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Natural Gas NOW readers pass along a lot of stuff every week about natural gas, fractivist antics, emissions, renewables, and other news relating to energy. As usual, emphasis is added.

Russian Meddling

The Institute for Energy Research (IER), which allows us to post some of their best stuff has filed a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Treasury to learn what they know about Russian meddling with US environmental groups. Russia has clearly been doing whatever it can to frustrate US fracking and part of its strategy has apparently been to funnel dark money to these groups. The IER’s initiative is very welcome, indeed:

“The Russia meddling that no one is talking about involves Russian attempts to promote an environmental agenda in the U.S. by masking its interests and using U.S. green groups to do its bidding. It is imperative that we learn the extent of their ideological campaign and what the federal government may know. Treasury has a public obligation to inform the public on this matter and we file this lawsuit in the hopes that the information will come out as soon as possible.”

Attorney Chris Horner, who filed the suit for IER on behalf of the non-profit public interest law firm Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO) said,

“Increasing public revelations confirm that these issues are too important to be buried in bureaucratic runaround and delays. Both GAO and IER look forward to resolving the Treasury Department’s public obligations sooner rather than later, but intend to fully pursue IER’s rights, and these public records, to fully understand what our government officials knew and did regarding this ideological campaign.”

Go get ’em! More here from our friend Kevin Mooney. And, then, there’s this:

DC Circuit Strikes Two Blows for Pipeline Sanity

A three-member panel of the DC Court of Appeals just issued two common sense pipeline decisions. One was to throw out the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s challenge to FERC’s approval of a largely already completed Pennsylvania Tennessee Gas pipeline upgrade project near my home. It is designed to increase the capacity of the pipeline to deliver gas to New England, but Maya wanted to keep the battle going, proving her assigned mission is stopping natural gas development and has nothing to do with water quality.

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The other decision was to throw out a challenge from Weymouth, Massachusetts folks arguing they didn’t want the gas anywhere near them. Here’s a tidbit from the latter decision:

The petitioners also contend that the project does not serve the public convenience and necessity because roughly half its gas is slated for export to Canada. But given that much of the gas will be used for domestic consumption, petitioners have not identified why granting the certificate in this case would not still advance the public convenience and necessity, even if a portion of the gas is ultimately diverted for export.

Who knew a court—one located in Washington, DC, of all places—could exercise such common sense?

Maryland Governor Plays New York Game

Maryland’s weak-spined, go-along-to-get-along governor, Larry Hogan, has decided to play New York’s game by taking a stand against a pipeline he knows is needed in hopes FERC and/or a Federal court will overrule him:

The Maryland Board of Public Works started off the new year by denying access for a gas pipeline proposed for construction under the Potomac River near Hancock.

Gov. Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp voted unanimously to deny an easement and permission to install a natural gas pipeline under the Western Maryland Rail Trail…

TransCanada officials called the project “critical” for the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia…

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Berkeley County Council attorney Norwood Bentley said Wednesday that Maryland’s decision probably will be appealed in federal court…

Bentley said he doesn’t practice the kind of law that would be involved in such a court case, but suggested that the Board of Public Works decision could be overturned, citing the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The commerce clause provision authorizes Congress “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with Indian Tribes” and has traditionally been interpreted to prohibit actions that interfere with business being conducted across state lines.

What a joke. There are numerous pipelines under the Potomac and none of them have caused problems. This is about trying to stop oil and gas development and Maryland is a bone-headed state where Hogan knows he’s outnumbered. So, he’s taking the cynical route of jumping on the anti bandwagon hoping the Feds will overrule. It’s disgusting. What is interesting, even heartening, though, is that sane folks are talking about using the Commerce Clause to end this nonsense.

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