May 2019 News

May 2019

5-30-19 Washington Post. Take a big, deep whiff of those molecules of freedom. “Do you smell that? That aroma, like many spoiled eggs congregating in a hot locker room? That is the wonderful, pleasing scent of American freedom! A statement from the Energy Department, which I am not making up because satire has been overfished and is now extinct, described natural gas as ‘molecules of freedom.’ In the statement, Undersecretary of Energy Mark Menezes noted that ‘increasing export capacity . . . is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy.’ The statement also included the profound remark from Steven Winberg, the assistant secretary for fossil energy, that he was happy ‘the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of U.S. freedom to be exported to the world.’ …. Methane is patriotism! Freedom is CO2! The only good thing about the First Amendment is that when people speak, they release trace amounts of carbon dioxide, a cherished substance, into the beautiful American air! That is not smog. It is a lot of freedom proceeding toward heaven one molecule at a time. Hasten the day, I say, that we may join it!”

5-30-19 Vox. More natural gas isn’t a “middle ground” — it’s a climate disaster. “Expert opinion on climate change policy has been evolving quickly. The opinion of policymakers has not always kept up. One area where this split is particularly notable is around the role of natural gas in a clean energy future. …. All those arguments for natural gas that seemed so compelling during the Obama years have fallen apart. It’s now clear that if the world is to meet the climate targets it promised in Paris, natural gas, like coal, must be deliberately and rapidly phased out. There’s no time for a bridge. And clean alternatives are ready. Since climate policy promises to be a hot item this primary season, let’s quickly review the reasons natural gas has got to go. Helpfully, the think tank Oil Change International (OCI) has just put out a paper making those very arguments.”

5-29-19 Marketwatch. ‘Freedom gas’? That’s what Trump’s Energy Department is now calling natural gas. ” Remember freedom fries? The U.S. Department of Energy has apparently taken that rebranding concept one step further, referring to natural gas as ‘freedom gas’ and ‘molecules of U.S. freedom’ in a press release Wednesday.  The terms popped up in a statement announcing the approval of additional liquefied natural gas exports from a facility in Texas. ‘Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world,’ U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes was quoted as saying. ‘I am pleased that the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of U.S. freedom to be exported to the world,’ added a second official, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg.”

5-29-19 Roanoke Times. Mountain Valley Pipeline urges judge to remove tree-sitters. “After staying up in the trees for nearly nine months, blockers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline are facing an attempt to bring them down. Lawyers for the company said in a recent court filing that it needs to have two tree-sitters removed by Friday so workers can finish clearing a path for the massive natural gas pipeline. On Sept. 5, 2018, two protesters took up residence in a white pine and a chestnut oak that stand in a construction easement for the pipeline in eastern Montgomery County. While the tree stands have switched occupants a number of times, they remain standing — in what is now the longest active blockade of a pipeline on the East Coast, according to Appalachians Against Pipelines. In December, lawyers for Mountain Valley asked federal Judge Elizabeth Dillon to issue a preliminary injunction against the tree-sitters, which would allow their removal by U.S. Marshals. Dillon had yet to rule on the request by 6 p.m. Wednesday. Mountain Valley said in mid-May it would like to have the tree-sitters removed by the end of the month ‘in order to avoid additional costs.’ Lawyers for the company filed a notice in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, including an affidavit from Jeffrey Klinefelter, director of construction engineering for Mountain Valley. Klinefelter said that later in the month, Mountain Valley would have a crew of tree-cutters near the protest off Yellow Finch Lane in the Elliston area. The company asked that the two occupied trees be cleared of protesters so they could then be timbered ‘from an efficiency standpoint,’ Klinefelter said. If Mountain Valley is forced to wait, it would cost an additional $22,000, he said.”

5-29-19 Virginia Mercury. Will they be built? Virginia’s contentious pipeline projects face major legal hurdles. “Warm weather has brought renewed activity to the Mountain Valley Pipeline in western Virginia, but the project and its equally contentious sibling, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, still face unresolved legal and regulatory hurdles that leave their completion uncertain. This year has seen new protests on the ground, as well as an escalation in charges against protesters. …. While protesters are placing their bodies in the way, legal and regulatory barricades related to the pipelines’ crossings of waterways, federal land and the Appalachian Trail stand in the way of completion. The developments have pushed back construction timelines, with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline stopping work altogether after a federal court ruling in December. Officials with the Mountain Valley Pipeline have said it will be complete later this year, but, according to The Roanoke Times, at least two of the five partners in the pipeline have said in financial reports that the pipeline likely will be delayed longer.” [article has section on crossing AT]

5-29-19 Energy News. Q&A: Climate leader works to shape ‘environmenal awakening’ in Virginia. “Before Kendyl Crawford began her freshman year at Hampton University, she asked fellow students what was on their ‘must-pack’ list. ‘Rainboots,’ they all replied. And that was 11 years ago. The historically black university was often flooded because the campus is on a coastal Virginia peninsula particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise. It’s where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, so residents of Hampton and neighboring Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach often wade through the realities of climate change. Today, Crawford still has her boots on. But the 29-year-old Hampton native is 115 miles south, in Richmond, leading an effort to educate Virginians about the nexus of environmental justice and climate change. In her 18 months as the director of Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, she’s advancing a piece of the climate change conversation that has lagged behind. Her nonprofit, formed in 2004 and relaunched in 2015, is a state affiliate of the national Interfaith Power & Light. It’s dedicated to mobilizing a religious response to climate change through energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

5-28-19 Allegheny Journal [Covington VA]. Attorney Wilson Contends Virginia DEQ Not Doing Its Job On Pipelines. “Several months ago, Bill Wilson, President of the Jackson River Preservation Association, Inc. (JRPA) wrote to every member of the Virginia General Assembly outlining the history of the JRPA’s opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) proposed by Dominion Energy outlining some of the milestones along the way. The text of that letter is set forth below.” [Also included in the article is Deed’s response, and Wilson’t reply on March 7, 2019]

5-28-19 Forbes. Renewable Energy Costs Take Another Tumble, Making Fossil Fuels Look More Expensive Than Ever. “The cost of renewable energy has tumbled even further over the past year, to the point where almost every source of green energy can now compete on cost with oil, coal and gas-fired power plants, according to new data released today. Hydroelectric power is the cheapest source of renewable energy, at an average of $0.05 per kilowatt hour (kWh), but the average cost of developing new power plants based on onshore wind, solar photovoltaic (PV), biomass or geothermal energy is now usually below $0.10/kWh. Not far behind that is offshore wind, which costs close to $0.13/kWh. These figures are global averages and it is worth noting that the cost of individual projects can vary hugely – the cost of producing electricity from a biomass energy plant, for example, can range from as low as $0.05/kWh to a high of almost $0.25/kWh. However, all these fuel types are now able to compete with the cost of developing new power plants based on fossil fuels such as oil and gas, which typically range from $0.05/kWh to over $0.15/kWh.”

5-28-19 E&E News. Justices reject pipeline eminent domain, utility cases. ‘The Supreme Court today rejected a challenge of a practice some pipeline developers use to seize private property before paying landowners. Five Pennsylvania homeowners listed as petitioners in Lynda Like v. Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC had asked the court to ensure they receive the ‘just compensation’ guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment. A team of lawyers from the Institute for Justice, the conservative law firm behind the landmark 2005 eminent domain lawsuit Kelo v. City of New London, represented the landowners in the case. The challengers said Transco and other pipeline companies had exceeded the eminent domain authorities conveyed in the Natural Gas Act by engaging in ‘quick take,’ or immediate possession of property. They said Transco has yet to pay for use of their property to build the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, which is now carrying natural gas from Marcellus Shale fields in the northern part of the Keystone State. Judges for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year dismissed the landowners’ claims. Transco wrote in its brief to the Supreme Court that it had followed standard eminent domain procedures and secured bonds to cover landowner payments. The Supreme Court’s refusal to review the case is a loss for property rights advocates concerned that pipeline development is encroaching on Fifth Amendment rights.”

5-28-19 Houston Chronicle. Export pipelines new front in eminent domain fights. “With growing volumes of natural gas from Texas and the rest of the United States sold abroad, developers are rushing to build new pipelines connecting oil and gas fields with border crossings and shipping ports. But a growing number of landowners and environmentalists are fighting those projects at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and in federal courts, challenging the notion that pipeline projects carrying gas destined for export are entitled to the same privileges granted infrastructure projects serving American customers.”

5-28-19 The Guardian. How eminent domain is blighting farmers in path of gas pipeline. “Compulsory purchase – or the threat of it – of property on the route of a pipeline for fracked natural gas has left a slew of grievances and lawsuits in West Virginia and Virginia. …. ‘Your plans, hopes, dreams for your property you worked for your whole life … All those things are gone now.’”

5-27-19 Charleston Gazette-Mail. Solicitor general, ACP seek more time to appeal pipeline case to Supreme Court. “The federal government and Atlantic Coast Pipeline will have more time to appeal a lower court’s ruling that halted the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, wrote to the U.S. Supreme Court asking to move the deadline to June 25 — one month after the initial deadline. The ACP subsequently filed a request for an extension to file a petition for a writ of certiorari, or a request that the Supreme Court hear the case. Chief Justice John Roberts granted the request. ‘The additional time sought in this application is necessary to permit the preparation and printing of the petition, and because the attorneys with principal responsibility for drafting and reviewing the petition have been heavily engaged with the press of other matters before this Court at this time in the Court’s term,’ Francisco wrote. At issue is the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ December decision to vacate two key approvals from the U.S. Forest Service.”

Spring 2019. Virginia Episcopalian. Toxic Injustice. The The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has featured environmental justice on the cover of its quarterly magazine. The article (pages 7-10) is called “Toxic Injustice: When Marginalized Communities Bear the Burden of Environmental Hazards.” It features the story of John and Ruby Laury, a Black family who live near the site of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. It’s written by Robert Dilday, who just graduated seminary this month and is co-founder of the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice.

5-25-19 Blue Virginia. 21 Virginia Legislators Send Letter to DEQ Director Paylor, Call for Immediate Order of Compliance with Erosion and Sediment Controls for Mountain Valley Pipeline. “From Del. Chris Hurst (D-HD12) and “more than 20 of my General Assembly colleagues” (Delegates Charniele Herring, Alfonso Lopez, Kaye Kory, Sam Rasoul, John Bell, Danica Roem, Mark Keam, Patrick Hope, Debra Rodman, Karrie Delaney, Dawn Adams, Kelly Convirs-Fowler, Paul Krizek, Vivian Watts, Ibraheem Samirah, Lee Carter, Jennifer Carroll-Foy; Senators John Edwards, Creigh Deeds, Adam Ebbin): ‘This week, more than 20 of my General Assembly colleagues and I sent a letter to DEQ Director David Paylor calling for the Department to immediately issue orders of compliance with erosion and sediment control regulations for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project. This call comes after violations of erosion and sediment control requirements continue to be reported to DEQ. Thank you so much to the co-signers who stand with me, my constituents, and landowners in the fight to stop this dangerous and unnecessary pipeline project.’” See the article for the full text of the letter.

5-24-19 Forbes. The FERC, An Under-the-Radar Federal Regulator, Is Key To U.S. Energy-Climate Balance. “The energy system in the U.S. has changed dramatically over the past 20 years and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the government agency charged with regulating much of the nation’s electricity and natural gas system, is struggling to adapt. The root of the FERC’s current challenges is two-fold.”

5-24-19 Blue Virginia. Pipeline Greenwashing 101: We’re Rural, Not Stupid. “If the ‘Attorney General’s job is to enforce the terms of permits and put an end to violations when they are found,’ his ‘aggressive, wide-ranging lawsuit against the company building the Mountain Valley Pipeline’ is meaningless without a stop-work order. He knows this. His game of hot-potato with regulators that HIS OFFICE ADVISES is just that–a game. And he is playing games with people’s lives. We are rural, not stupid, Mark. And if you thought you could appease us with your toothless lawsuit, you gravely underestimated our ability to pay attention to the convoluted system designed for us to fail. We will not fail, though. Because we see through the blinders you try to apply to this atrocity and we have proven that we will stop this project from harming our communities through every means necessary: our own experts, our own documenting of violations, and even non-violent direct action and civil disobedience. We will not back down and we are not going away. We will win. If Secretary Strickler wishes to actually demonstrate that this “administration is protecting the environment,” he needs to insist upon a stop work order for the MVP immediately. He knows this. Herring knows this. Northam knows this. They must all take action to halt the abuse that is currently being committed by the MVP.”

5-23-19 The Intercept. Pipeline Opponents Strike Back Against Anti-Protest Laws. “Opponents of oil and gas pipelines in three states are fighting back against new anti-protest laws aimed at suppressing fossil fuel industry dissent. Two lawsuits in Louisiana and South Dakota, and a promised suit in Texas, are the first signs of a concerted pushback against a nationwide, industry-led effort to halt the most confrontational arm of the climate movement. Since Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, at least 17 states have introduced laws that create new penalties for pipeline protesters.”

5-22-19 Vox.com. This federal agency is quietly, profoundly shaping climate policy. “Some of the most consequential decisions about how the US government deals with climate change are being made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an agency few people are aware exists and even fewer people track closely. But FERC sits at the heart of the clean energy transition, overseeing two key areas of frequent conflict. The first is bulk electricity — interstate transmission lines and regional wholesale power markets. The second is natural gas infrastructure; the agency licenses the siting and building of all new pipelines. …. Now [[Commissioner] Glick has taken a step back and, along with his adviser Matthew Christiansen, gathered his thoughts into an academic article, just published in the Energy Law Review. It’s called ‘FERC and climate change.’ Their conclusion, in a nutshell, is that FERC doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to address climate change. It doesn’t need a new regulatory regime or new authorities. It just needs to diligently obey its current mandates. …. When it comes to pipelines, they argue, FERC does have a clear mandate to take climate effects into account. Such decisions are supposed to be guided by the “public interest,” and, as they say, “it is hard to imagine a consideration more relevant to the ‘public interest’ than the existential threat posed by climate change.” This conclusion has been confirmed by several recent federal court decisions instructing federal agencies, indeed FERC itself, to take climate into account.” [Vox interviews Commissioner Glick]

5-22-19 Reuters. U.S. asks Supreme Court for more time on Atlantic Coast natgas pipe appeal. “The U.S. Solicitor General asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to extend the time the government has to file a petition in an appeal of a circuit court decision preventing Dominion Energy Inc from building the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline across the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Solicitor General Noel Francisco is seeking a one-month extension until June 25. Without the extension, the time expires on May 28. Some analysts think Dominion could cancel the pipeline if the Supreme Court does not hear the case because the project’s costs have ballooned due to legal and regulatory delays. In December, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Cowpasture v U.S. Forest Service case vacated a permit that allowed the pipe to cross the Appalachian Trail on National Forest land. The court determined the Forest Service lacks authority to grant pipeline rights-of-way across the trail on federal land. Dominion said it welcomed news that the Solicitor General would join the case, noting for decades that 56 other pipelines have operated across the Appalachian Trail. Earlier this month, Dominion’s Chief Executive Thomas Farrell said it would increase the chances the court will hear the case if the Solicitor General joins the appeal. …. “If the court declines to hear the case, we anticipate Dominion and Duke will decide to terminate the project as rerouting the pipeline would likely be cost prohibitive,” the Height Capital Markets analysts said, noting it will be “extremely difficult” for the utilities to pass on additional costs to ratepayers.”

5-20-19 Loudoun Now. Pipeline Protest Comes to Herring’s Hometown. “A fight in Appalachia came to the Leesburg courthouse lawn Saturday as people from southwest and northern Virginia came together calling for action on two planned fracked gas pipelines through Virginia. The 312-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline and the 600-mile Atlantic Coast pipeline both cut across Virginia’s mountainous west, transporting natural gas extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. And opposition to those pipelines has been fierce and sustained. In February, Dominion Energy disclosed that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project has been delayed to 2020, and another $1 billion added to the estimated $6-$6.5 billion cost, in the face of ongoing lawsuits that have forced a stop to construction. But despite repeated problems with the Mountain Valley Pipeline project, such as construction materials and waste washing out into neighboring communities and streams, work continues. Both face ongoing lawsuits from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, but protestors came to Herring’s hometown of Leesburg to demand more—such as pushing for a stop-work order on the Mountain Valley Pipeline project that he has alleged has broken Virginia’s environmental laws more than 300 times already. More than 100 people gathered on the courthouse lawn for demonstrations, music, and speeches. ‘Attorney General Mark Herring, we need you,’ said southwest Virginia native and George Washington University Law School professor Emily Hammond. ‘Protect Appalachia. Protect the rule of law.’”

5-20-19 Virginia Mercury. Green energy and greenwashing. “Recently I criticized a Dominion Energy advertisement that boasted, misleadingly and inaccurately, about the company’s investments in solar energy. By contrast, the company’s investments in greenwashing are transparent and heartfelt. Dominion has had several bad months here in Virginia and would very much like to change the conversation. …. Fortunately, Dominion’s PR offensive was only just ramping up. A full-page newspaper ad, predictably light on detail, promises the company will cut its climate-heating methane emissions in half. That would be a nice trick from the company whose Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all Virginia’s power plants put together. In case you doubt the company’s sincerity, Dominion just joined a corporate coalition calling for a price on carbon. This must have been in the works about the same time Dominion was criticizing Virginia’s proposed entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which actually puts a price on carbon. Hey, The Washington Post fell for it. Greenwashing works.”

5-19-19 Blue Virginia. “Yesterday, the mountains in Southwest Virginia visited Richmond, and today, they came to Northern Virginia!” [Delegate Mark Keam]. “At the ‘Virginians for Justice: Progress Not Pipelines!’ rally in Leesburg, a huge crowd of activists from across the Commonwealth called on Attorney General Mark Herring to take stronger action to stop the disastrous Mountain Valley Pipeline from destroying Appalachia. These fierce grassroots leaders and tireless environmental champions have been fighting for years to stop more fracked methane gas extractions generally, and Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines specifically. I regret that I joined this fight only last year when I should have done so much earlier. But today, I was proud to stand with these warriors and with my friends and House colleagues Sam Rasoul and Chris Hurst whose legislative districts are much closer to the impact zones.”

5-17-19 WAVY.com.  ‘That’s part of our responsibility’: Faith leaders lead march in protest of Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Communities continue to resist the 600-mile long Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project going through parts of the Commonwealth. This comes as the lead partner on the project, Dominion Energy, plans to appeal a hold on the pipeline’s construction later this month to the Supreme Court of the United States. Two hundred people marched across the Robert E. Lee Bridge in Richmond Friday, led by faith leaders, protesting the project. ‘That’s part of our responsibility,’ Pastor Paul Wilson of Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church said. That responsibility, according to Pastor Wilson, is to tell Virginians about what’s happening in Union Hill, a historically black community in the pipeline’s path.

5-17-19 Blue Virginia. Yes Virginia, We Can Stop the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines. Here’s How [Sam Rasoul]. “I am often asked what can Virginia do to stop these corporate boondoggles. I have heard some say the pipelines are “a done deal” and that there’s nothing the state can do. Neither is true. We have a wealth of options at our disposal and citizens can play an important role in urging us to take these actions.”

5-15-19 Bloomberg. Trump Likes Fossil Fuels. Investors Don’t. “Fossil fuel never had a better friend in the White House than Donald Trump. So why, two years into his presidency, are investors favoring public companies devoted to renewable energy and giving the Bronx cheer to the coal, gas and oil crowd? …. [F]ossil fuel is a rare loser in the stock market since Trump took office. And that’s after oil appreciated 15%. The 170 companies in the Russell 3000 Energy Index, most of which engage in oil and gas, are down 12% during the first administration to declare global warming a hoax. The Russell 3000, meanwhile, gained 27% and technology, its best-performing sector, rallied 53%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. As lucrative as the overall stock market has been for investors during the past two years, clean-technology shares have done even better. The 89 major publicly traded U.S. firms identified by Bloomberg New Energy Finance as deriving at least 10 percent of their revenue from the business of renewable energy, energy efficiency or clean technology have returned 50% since Trump’s first day in the Oval Office.”

5-15-19 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Letter: Holding Dominion Energy accountable for actions. “If it seemed like the whole world was out to get Dominion Energy last week, it was for good reason. Locking Virginia into unneeded fossil fuel infrastructure, misleading regulators and cheating customers were just a few of the very valid complaints hurled at Dominion in legal proceedings, shareholder meetings and headlines. …. Responding to months of similar bad news, Dominion recently launched a (ratepayer-subsidized) advertising campaign with the tagline ‘Actions Speak Louder.’ Thankfully for Virginia, regulators and ratepayers are finally holding Dominion to account for theirs.”

5-15-19 Blue Virginia. Virginia Could Really Use a Hero These Days. Attorney General Mark Herring Could Be That Hero. “What are Virginians directly affected by the destruction caused by the Mountain Valley Pipeline to do when their calls for accountable governance fall on deaf ears? What recourse do people have when a project that has received hundreds of environmental violations from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is still allowed to continue construction? What do you do when you have a scandalously corrupt Governor, but an Attorney General who might still have a future in Virginia politics? Answer: You make as much noise as close to the place people with power are. To that end, the mountains are coming to NoVA! On May 18, rally with us at the Loudoun County courthouse for Herring: Stand with Appalachia, Not Pipelines. This is the second day of a two-day event that starts with a march in Richmond to bring this fight to Virginia’s elected leadership once again. Virginia could use a hero these days. It needs someone who does the right thing even if it’s the hard thing, someone who puts others before himself or herself, someone who sees the big picture instead of the short term gains. Attorney General (AG) Mark Herring could be that hero.”

5-15-19 Morning Call. New York denies natural gas pipeline expansion permit. “State environmental regulators on Wednesday denied a water quality permit for a 24-mile underwater pipeline from New Jersey to Queens that backers say is crucial for meeting rising demand for natural gas in New York City and Long Island. The Northeast Supply Enhancement project would expand the Transco pipeline, which extends from Texas to the Northeast coast. It would allow National Grid to bring natural gas from Pennsylvania’s shale gas fields to the metropolitan region. …. In denying the permit, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said the project ‘fails to meet New York State’s rigorous water quality standards’ and ‘would cause impacts to habitats due to the disturbance of shellfish beds and other benthic resources.’”

5-15-19 Grey Area News [NC]. Virginia Senators Urged to Protect Appalachian Trail. “On May 16, 2019, more than 50 organizations from across the state called on Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Virginia’s members of the House of Representatives to push back on Dominion Energy’s political pressure seeking legislation allowing it to get around a decision by a federal court. ‘Dominion’s permitting problems for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are entirely self-inflicted—it never made sense to force this project through a national park, two national forests, and some of the steepest mountains in Virginia. But rather than rethink its plans, Dominion wants political favors to get around the laws in place to protect our public lands,’ said Greg Buppert, Senior Attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. ‘Congress should not open the door for Dominion’s last ditch effort to build this destructive and unnecessary pipeline.’ …. The letter to Senators Kaine and Warner also outlines mounting evidence of a lack of public need for the project in Virginia, where the pipeline will cut through more than 300 miles of mountains, forests and private property. …. Dominion wants to put its pipeline across the Appalachian Trail at a place where the Trail enjoys its highest protection—national forest lands in Virginia. It would permanently harm the Trail’s scenic vistas with a clear-cut swath as wide in places as a seven-lane highway.”

5-14-19 Roanoke Times. Mountain Valley agrees to pay $266,000 for pollution problems in W.Va. “Developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline have agreed to pay a fine of nearly $266,000 for violating environmental regulations in West Virginia. The agreement, outlined in a consent order from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, marks the first financial penalty for problems with storm water runoff caused by building a 303-mile pipeline that will also cross the New River and Roanoke valleys. Photographs included in the 179-page document show a ‘drastic change’ in streams since work on the buried pipeline began last winter, said Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. ‘These are clear-running streams and they have been forever,’ Rosser said. ‘And you look at the photos now and they are just brown.’ Mountain Valley faces similar issues in Virginia. A lawsuit filed in December by the Department of Environmental Quality alleges more than 300 violations of erosion and sediment control measures. Online court records indicate the case is still pending. …. Rosser said the fine, which represents well less than 1% of the project’s cost, is unlikely to lead to significant change. ‘The concern is that paying the fine is cheaper than doing it right in the first place,’ she said.”

5-13-19 Forbes. The Supreme Court Should End Pipeline Companies “Build First, Pay Later” Use Of Eminent Domain. “All across the country, pipeline companies are using court orders to take land before—long before—they pay the owner a penny. But now, the Institute for Justice is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to end the free lunch and make companies follow the proper legal and constitutional process for taking land. …. Few Americans ever deal with their property being taken by eminent domain, but most probably imagine that they would be justly compensated if the government demanded their homes. But in recent years, pipeline companies have been getting court orders to take land immediately and figure out payment and compensation later—much later in some cases. …. The Institute for Justice has long defended the rights of property owners in eminent domain proceedings, but not typically when land is being taken for infrastructure. But in this case and hundreds more documented by IJ, the process that pipeline companies are using is far from the one established in law. Congress granted pipeline companies the power to acquire land through eminent domain, but not the power to take first and pay later.”

5-13-19 DeSmog. Energy Regulators May Reconsider Rules Critics Say Fueled America’s Oil and Gas Pipeline Glut. “A little-noticed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announcement could have an outsized impact on the oil and gas pipeline industries — if the commission decides to snap shut loopholes that analysts say create financial incentives to build too many new pipelines in the U.S. The way the rules are currently written can allow unusually high profit margins for new pipeline projects. Since 1997, FERC has allowed certain new pipelines to rake in 14 percent profits — a rate far higher than the returns presently generated by, say, corporate bonds — with little eye to how that compares to profits available from other investments. …. FERC’s March 21 notice of inquiry requests comment from the public on how it should calculate rates of return in the future. Energy lawyers say that billions of dollars could be on the line. …. Market analysts — and even a former FERC commissioner — have highlighted FERC’s responsibility for allowing unnecessary pipeline construction projects, which critics say will leave the United States criss-crossed by newly built fossil fuel infrastructure despite falling renewable energy prices and growing concern about the climate crisis. Critics add that because utilities can pass along costs to consumers in their monthly bills, FERC has effectively allowed them to use other people’s money to build pipes that may never be fully used. …. Comments from the public on FERC’s new inquiry are due on June 26. ”

5-12-19 WVNews. Atlantic Coast Pipeline ruling not expected until August. “A representative of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline says the company doesn’t expect a federal court ruling that could greatly impact the project’s future until at least August. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit held a hearing Thursday regarding its December ruling that stayed authorization of a key permit previously issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said ACP spokesman Karl Neddenien. The court will now take several months to consider the facts of the case before issuing a decision, Neddenien said. ‘We look forward to seeing the court’s opinion,’ he said. ‘Based on past practice, we expect that the court would issue its opinion by August.’”

5-10-19 Daily Progress. Editorial: SCC needs full report from utility. “Judges on the State Corporation Commission say Dominion Energy was less than transparent in recent dealings with the commission. But the utility outed itself by being more forthcoming with Wall Street investors under rules set by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. Did Dominion think the SCC wouldn’t notice? At issue are Dominion’s long-term plans and their effect on ratepayers. The SCC is tasked with the job of ensuring that the utility, as a virtual monopoly, plays fair with its customers — at least, within the parameters set by the General Assembly, which has been somewhat lenient with Dominion in recent years. To make good judgments about whether Dominion is safeguarding its customers, the SCC needs information about the utility’s expansion plans and how they might affect rates as Dominion seeks to recover costs. …. Dominion discussed its proposed new projects for generating more electricity; SCC judges and staff noted that virtually all of them could also generate higher bills for ratepayers. Judges also noticed that a plan submitted to the SCC in early April was somewhat different from a plan submitted to investors two weeks earlier. The investor plan included $16.4 billion in projects that are not reflected in the version submitted to the SCC. A Dominion official acknowledged the difference, but said it was due to the fact that the recent plan sent to the SCC, in an attempt to answer the commission’s earlier questions, was simply a revision of the one that ran into difficulties in December. …. As we noted, the SCC needs the information — the full information — in order to do its job of protecting ratepayers’ interests.”

5-10-19 Blue Virginia. Interview with Former Virginia Air Board Member Sam Bleicher, Who Was Removed by Gov. Northam Ahead of Vote on Union Hill Compressor Station. “I had a chance to sit down yesterday with Sam Bleicher, an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and a strong environmentalist, who was a member and vice chair of the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board from June 2014 to November 2018, when he was removed by Gov. Northam ‘less than a week after they raised concerns about a natural gas compressor station planned for a historic black community in Buckingham County and ahead of the board’s vote on the project.’ What spurred our meeting was that Bleicher is now out with an excellent new novel, The Plot to Cool the Planet, which we discussed for a while…. After talking about his book, we then proceeded to a lengthy discussion about Virginia environmental issues, particularly the fracked-gas pipelines, Bleicher’s service on and dismissal from the Air Board, the Union Hill compressor station issue, Dominion Energy, DEQ director David Paylor, environmental racism, etc, etc. By the way, many of the questions I asked Bleicher were ‘crowdsourced’ from folks I respect in the anti-pipeline community. See [the article] for highlights from that part of our discussion – lots of interesting comments by Bleicher.”

5-10-19 Charleston Gazette-Mail.   ACP, Fish and Wildlife defend pipeline permits in US court.  “Building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline could endanger four threatened species, and a federal agency’s approval also jeopardizes the species, lawyers for a coalition of environmental groups told a panel of federal judges Thursday. ‘There’s no question this project is going to wipe out this population, and the Incidental Take Statement authorizes that,’ D.J. Gerken, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, told judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, referring to a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that describes the impact pipeline construction might have on endangered or threatened species.”

5-9-19 Free-Lance Star (Fredricksbirg.com). Editorial: Dominion’s latest ask: higher profits. “Dominion Energy Virginia is asking the State Corporation Commission to raise its guaranteed return on equity so that it can attract the $11 billion in capital the utility says its needs over the next three years for upgrades under the Grid Transformation and Security Act, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam in 2018. The state law removed a 2015 rate freeze, but allowed state-regulated utilities to use ‘overearnings’ (i.e. excess profits) to modernize the grid, increase energy efficiency, and invest in renewable energy projects instead of returning the money to their customers. …. The SCC spokesman explained that when the commission next reviews the utility’s earnings in 2021, ‘the ROE set in this case will be the number by which to determine the company’s earnings position. Under Virginia law, if the company overearns, a portion of the overearnings may be refunded to customers. Or, in lieu of a refund, the company may invest those overearnings in certain qualifying projects as determined by legislation adopted during the 2018 General Assembly session.’ But ‘overearning’ simply means that the company takes in more profit than is guaranteed by the SCC. If Dominion’s guaranteed return on equity is increased, that would mean more money for investors, but less money for refunds or grid investments that directly benefit the company’s 2.6 million captive customers—who incidentally just got stuck paying up to $5.7 billion to clean up decades’ worth of toxic coal ash. It’s up to the SCC, which will hold a public hearing on Sept. 10 in Richmond on the utility’s application, to decide whether that’s fair.”

5-9-19 Courthouse News Service. Fourth Circuit Urged to Block Pipeline Threatening Bees. “The Fourth Circuit was abuzz Thursday morning as environmentalists asked for a second time that a three-judge panel stop a natural gas pipeline from being constructed through the Appalachian Mountains, specifically raising concerns about its impact on an endangered bumblebee species. …. Other concerns from environmental groups included the impact pipeline construction could have on the Madison Cave isopod, a threatened subterranean freshwater crustacean native to the area where the pipeline would be built.”

5-9-19 Southern Environmental Law Center. SELC argues problematic pipeline permit again in federal court. “Today SELC was before a federal court in Richmond for oral arguments in the case addressing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s impacts to endangered species. These species, which are facing unprecedented threats, require intact habitats and occupy some of the wildest remaining areas in Virginia and West Virginia—areas unsuitable for the destructive, unnecessary Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Since May 2018, a federal court or the federal agencies themselves have vacated, stayed, or suspended seven required permits for the ACP, and Dominion was forced to halt all project construction indefinitely in December 2018. Without these permits, the proposed route lacks a lawful path forward. Dominion and its partners have yet to show that the pipeline is necessary to meet natural gas demand in the region. If constructed, utility customers in Virginia and North Carolina will foot the hefty bill while the energy companies collect a yearly 15 percent profit.”

5-8-19 GreenPeace.org. Internet Giants Reject Dominion’s Plan for More Fossil Fuels in Virginia. “At Dominion Energy’s integrated resource plan hearings in Virginia today, cloud computing and internet giants delivered a letter demanding the company shift away from planned investment in natural gas infrastructure and instead invest in renewable energy and energy storage capacity to meet growing data center energy demand in the state. Greenpeace Senior IT Sector Analyst Gary Cook said, in response to the letter: ‘Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and other tech giants have now clearly and publicly rejected Dominion’s plan to meet their energy needs with fracked gas through the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. These tech companies and their customers are demanding the utility focus instead on renewable energy solutions. This pipeline has been rejected by the public, the courts, and now the very customers Dominion claimed it was for.’”

5-7-19 Washington Post. Coalition of unlikely allies calls on state to break up utilities, deregulate energy. “Nine organizations from across the ideological spectrum have formed an unlikely alliance to call for change in the way Virginians get their electricity, including breaking up the state’s monopoly utilities and letting customers choose their power providers. Former state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and others from conservative or libertarian groups stood alongside representatives from such left-leaning groups as the Virginia Poverty Law Center on Tuesday to announce the Virginia Energy Reform Coalition. The coalition highlights what a lightning rod the political power of Virginia’s electric utilities has become. …. The coalition’s slogan makes its target clear: ‘It’s Time to Take Back Our Dominion.’ Its members said the state should allow monopolies only for the network of wires that distributes energy. Power production should be open to competition, they say.”

5-7-19 Seeking Alpha. Dominion CEO says will take Atlantic Coast Pipeline fight to Supreme Court. “Dominion Energy (D -0.7%), fighting to resume construction on the $7.8B Atlantic Coast Pipeline, plans to take its case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, CEO Tom Farrell says. The regulatory process has been ‘very frustrating’ but the company will not back down from the project as planned, which would pump fracked natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina, Farrell says. But environmentalists – represented in court by the Southern Environmental Law Center – also say they will not back down, but SELC attorney Greg Buppert notes the Supreme Court takes less than 1% of cases presented to it and typically hears cases involving constitutional issues or conflicts between lower courts. ‘Neither of those issues are present here… So I think Dominion has a very steep hill to climb,’ Buppert says.”

5-6-19 NRDC. Could “Liking” an Anti-Pipeline Facebook Post Soon Be Illegal? “Thanks to the foresight of those who framed our Constitution, public protest has become a key component of our democratic process, a means by which the people can make their voices heard and effect real, even historic, change. The right to assemble played a crucial role in the women’s suffrage, civil rights, and antiwar movements, to name just a few. Still, in each of those instances, mobilized citizens had to contend with powerful, entrenched forces who fought back aggressively and did whatever they could to stifle these movements and preserve the status quo. This same struggle is playing out again today. As the American and global communities grapple with the mounting climate catastrophe, the fossil fuel industry is holding nothing back in its attempt to silence its critics and those who assemble to protest their destruction of our shared climate. In a surprising number of states, antidemocratic legislation is being pushed through state legislatures with the backing of fossil fuel companies, conservative think tanks, and industry-tied mega-donors. …. Bt the Riot Boosting Act is different. It creates a fund specifically dedicated to going after individuals, groups, and organizations outside of the state that it believes are ‘riot boosting.’ Could someone leading 500 people in a chant at a pipeline protest where five people end up getting in an altercation with police be considered to have ‘encouraged’ a riot? Could someone sharing details of a protest—time, place, what to wear, etc.—on his or her Facebook page be seen as ‘advising’ rioters? Those are exactly the sorts of questions that South Dakota and TransCanada want pipeline opponents to be asking themselves. Their hope is that fear of legal repercussions, no matter how tenuous, will keep these people silent, at home, not watching as projects like Keystone XL further degrade our environment and threaten the health and heritage of entire communities.”

5-5-19 Virginia Mercury. Dominion Keeps Trying to Pull the Wool Over Our Eyes. “When your kid greets you at the door with the cheery news that he’s swept the floor for you without being asked, you are probably right to wonder which breakable item is no longer in its usual place. I have the same feeling about the series of full-page ads Dominion Energy has taken out in newspapers over the past few weeks bragging about the company’s investments in solar energy. The ads are misleadingb — I’ll get to that in a minute—but the more interesting question is what the company is up to that it hopes we’re too busy looking at solar panels to notice. Here are some possible answers.”

5-6-19 WV Metro News. Protester arrested after barricading himself inside Mountain Valley Pipeline. “The latest protest-related arrest at the construction site of the Mountain Valley Pipeline occurred Monday, after a man barricaded himself inside a section of the pipeline that was nearly ready to be placed underground. The unidentified protester was taken into custody at the scene in Pence Springs near Hinton by West Virginia State Police and charged with two misdemeanors, obstruction and trespassing, and a pair of felonies, property destruction and threats of terrorist acts. According to an officer, a second person was detained on suspicion of trespassing but later was released. A banner on the pipe section read ‘MVP: THE TRUE TERRORIST,” in reference to a felony charge recently brought against another protester at an area of construction in Monroe County.”

5-5-19 DeSmog. With Renewables so Competitive, Big Plans for Oil and Gas Investments Look Risky. “However, despite industry propaganda, the economic reality is that renewable energy and storage capacity is already competitive with natural gas for electricity. That fact should be a flashing warning sign to investors making long-term bets on natural gas as a “bridge fuel.” The U.S. has already crossed the bridge to a point where renewables are cheaper than coal and often cheaper than gas for power generation. …. However, the rapidly declining costs of renewables and storage now offer what is often a cheaper alternative to gas-fired plants. This makes the investors warning that oil and gas are a bad long-term investment look quite prescient. At a recent power industry conference, the last line of the last slide from one presentation summed up the prospects for natural gas power: ‘While natural gas generation remains favorable in the near term in many markets, there appear to be more risks than opportunities.’ Plenty of money is still lining up to take on those risks, but the rapidly changing economics of renewables and battery storage — along with the global goal of averting climate catastrophe — mean those investments increasingly run the risk of becoming stranded assets.”

5-4-19 Washington Examiner. FERC allays climate change worries to approve pipeline to move natural gas from Pennsylvania to Northeast. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission managed to allay concerns about greenhouse gas emissions to issue a long-sought permit Friday to build a pipeline to move natural gas from the shale fields of Pennsylvania to utilities in the Northeast. The regulators issued a 3-1 majority decision with two Republicans and one Democrat voting in favor of Transco’s pipeline project to connect New York and points north, furthering President Trump’s ‘energy dominance’ agenda. The two Republicans, Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Commissioner Bernard McNamee, voted in favor of the project’s certificate approval, which looked at a range of environmental factors, but didn’t go far enough for Democrats. Yet, despite their differences on the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, they managed to gain the vote of Democratic Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, who concurred in full with the pipeline’s approval.”

5-3-19 Charlotte Business Journal. Piedmont Natural Gas to start soon on $250M storage project in NC, names contractor. “Piedmont Natural Gas has chosen Matrix Service Inc. as its principal contractor for the $250 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage project it proposes to build in Robeson County. Construction could start as early as the end of this month, says Piedmont spokeswoman Tammie McGee. The company now estimates that about 150 workers will be employed during construction of the facility. When the facility is completed in 2021, it will employ as many as 12 full-time employees. The project is designed to store natural gas for use during peak demand on cold winter days, particularly as a hedge against the polar-vortex events that sent temperatures to record lows in the Carolinas over the last few years. The project is being built about 15 miles northwest of where the $7.5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline is supposed to end near Lumberton. That pipeline is designed to transport natural gas collected in the Marcellus and Utica shale fields from West Virginia to southeastern North Carolina. The pipeline is on hold for now, with construction blocked in federal courts. But Piedmont says the projects are not related. The Robeson facility can store gas shipped by either the ACP, if it is completed, or the Transco Pipeline running through central and western North Carolina, which is currently the only interstate pipeline transporting gas here.”

5-3-19 Reuters. Dominion to resume work on U.S. Atlantic Coast natgas pipe in 3rd qtr. “Dominion Energy Inc said on Friday it expects to resume construction of the $7.0 billion-$7.5 billion Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina in the third quarter and complete it by early 2021, despite legal and regulatory challenges. ‘It’s been a very frustrating process, but we are winding our way through it … and we’re making progress,’ Dominion Chief Executive Thomas Farrell said on Dominion’s first-quarter earnings call. The company still needs to resolve two major legal cases before it can complete the project, which has been on hold since late last year. …. Dominion suspended construction in early December after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit stayed a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that authorized building the pipe in areas inhabited by threatened or endangered species. The company said oral arguments in that case will be presented on May 9, with a decision expected about 90 days later. Dominion said a positive decision would allow it to restart partial construction in the third quarter. Dominion is also seeking an order from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning a Fourth Circuit decision that invalidated the U.S. Forest Service’s authorization to build the pipe across the Appalachian Trail. That case, if the Supreme Court takes it up, would be heard in 2020, so full construction would resume after that decision, Dominion said.”

5-3-19 Roanoke Times. New questions raised about pipeline’s impact on endangered species. “Another legal battle could be brewing with the Mountain Valley Pipeline, this one over whether endangered species of fish and bats might be jeopardized by building the massive project through the waters and mountains they inhabit. In a letter this week to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Sierra Club said that ‘ample’ new information has come to light since the agency determined in 2017 that endangered species would not be significantly harmed. The environmental organization asked the Fish and Wildlife Service to reexamine its earlier opinion — a move that could stop work on the beleaguered pipeline. If that does not happen, the Sierra Club will ‘evaluate next steps’ a spokesman said, with one option being a lawsuit. Joining in the May 1 letter were Appalachian Voices and Wild Virginia, two other conservation groups that in the past have been part of coalitions that filed legal actions that have hampered the pipeline with cost overruns and construction delays.”

5-2-19 Reuters. House backs Paris agreement in first climate bill in a decade. “The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed its first climate-change bill in a decade, voting 231-190 to require that Trump administration keep the United States as a party to the Paris Climate Agreement. The Climate Action Now Act would require President Donald Trump to develop a plan for the United States to meet the goals it committed to in the Paris agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and block federal funds from being used to advance the formal U.S. withdrawal from the pact. Trump has stood by his 2017 decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 climate accord and has been dismissive of regulations aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions. The bill, which passed along party lines, as expected, with three Republicans backing the measure, was meant to signal to the international community that many Americans support the Paris agreement regardless of Trump’s decision to abandon it. …. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would not take up the legislation, dismissing the bill as ‘political theater’ by Democrats.”

5-2-19 Washington Post. Property owners protest pipeline procurement process. “Much to Gary Erb’s chagrin, a natural gas pipeline now cuts across his 72-acre homestead in Conestoga Township, Pennsylvania. To his even greater chagrin, he remains unpaid for the 6 acres (2.4 hectares) of land that were taken from him under eminent domain to build the pipeline. With the help of a Virginia-based legal group, he is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to end what he and his lawyers say has become a common practice in the pipeline industry: taking the land first, and paying later. …. In Virginia, pipeline companies building the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines have similarly been able to take land needed for construction before paying for property, said Chris Johns, a Texas-based lawyer who represents some of the affected landowners.”

5-2-19 Clean Virginia. Governor Northam Fails to Veto General Assembly’s Roadblock to Cutting Carbon. “In response to Governor Northam’s failure to veto language from Republican lawmakers in the state budget blocking Virginia’s ability to cut carbon emissions, Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore said, ‘Governor Northam missed a critical opportunity today to address Virginia’s harmful emissions by not vetoing the General Assembly’s regressive climate legislation. The Governor’s inaction has set Virginia back in our collective, urgent endeavor to mitigate climate change, which disproportionately impacts Virginia’s communities of color and low-income communities.’”

5-2-19 The Recorder. Little Valley resident presses federal regulators for pipeline coating information. Letter sent by Bill Limpert on April 25, 2019, to Kimberly D. Bose, secretary of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, regarding the threat to public health from the 3M Scotchkote Fusion Bonded Epoxy 6233 coating (FBE) on the pipes used for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

5-1-19 Energy and Policy Institute. Global Climate Coalition documents reveal the electric utility industry’s role in notorious climate denial campaign. “Electric utilities played a prominent role in the Global Climate Coalition, an industry group that worked for over a decade to sow doubt about climate change and block efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new collection of documents released last week. The collection represents the largest publicly available compilation of Global Climate Coalition (GCC) documents to date. The Climate Investigations Center, in collaboration with DeSmog and Climate Liability News, published the documents, which show disturbing new evidence of the GCC’s efforts to influence and undermine the scientific research of the International Panel on Climate Change. The Global Climate Coalition (GCC) officially shut down in 2002, after many of its industry backers quit amid public opposition to its misleading attacks on science, but it remains relevant today. It was an early source of the climate denial that remains an obstacle to efforts to address climate change in the U.S.”

5-1-19 Sludge. Reps Overseeing Pipeline Safety are Profiting From Pipeline Companies. “The laws regulating the pipeline industry, including the cost-benefit analysis requirement, fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. House Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. The subcommittee, part of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, is responsible for legislation reauthorizing the PHMSA every few years and establishing laws governing its operation and rulemaking process. So far the subcommittee has not passed legislation to address the agency’s stalled rulemaking process. According to a Sludge analysis of financial disclosures, the members of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee have as much as $2.8 million invested in fossil fuel companies that own and operate oil and gas pipelines, presenting significant conflicts of interest. Many of the companies in which the representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, are personally invested are members of trade groups that oppose the PHSMA’s proposals to regulate natural gas gathering pipelines.”