Hearings on Trump’s nominations to FERC, Neil Chatterjee and Rob Powelson, will be held on Thursday May 25, 2017. Articles in PV Magazine and in Oil Change International discuss the shortcomings of both FERC and the nominees. As Oil Change International notes, “What’s urgently needed at FERC is reform of pipeline permitting processes to square with scientific and economic reality, and serve the public interest. Unfortunately, it appears that Trump’s nominees – Robert Powelson and Neil Chatterjee – would bring the exact opposite: more reliable rubber stamps for the gas industry.” The hearing will be webcast live here starting approximately fifteen minutes before the hearing begins, and an archived video will be available shortly after the hearing is complete.
The Elyria, Ohio, Chronicle reported on May 21, 2017, that a U.S. Senate hearing this week could clear way for Ohio’s NEXUS pipeline decision. “A U.S. Senate committee will hold a hearing Thursday to fill two vacancies on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which holds the future of the proposed NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline that is proposed to be built through Lorain County.” This is an important hearing for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline as well. Click here for contact information for members of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, which will hold the hearing.
FERC has announced that the issue date for the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed ACP will be July 21, 2017, a three-week slippage from the originally scheduled June 30, 2017. The mandated 90-day Federal Authorization Decision Deadline will now be October 19, 2017. Read the FERC issuance about the date change here.
The Washington Examiner reported on May 11, 2017 that “Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski said Thursday that she will announce confirmation hearings soon for President Trump’s nominees to the nation’s lead energy watchdog, which has been shut down for more than three months because it doesn’t have enough members.” The Alaska Republican said the White House had sent formal nominations to Congress on May 10, 2017, and “We will announce a hearing to review their nominations as soon as we receive all relevant paperwork, and seek to confirm them as expeditiously as possible.”
On May 10, 2017, the Washington Post reported that FERC has curtailed work on the Rover pipeline in northern Ohio after Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) reported 18 leaks and the spilling of more than 2 million gallons of drilling fluid. No new horizontal directional drilling (HDD) may begin in 8 areas where drilling was planned, and the company was told to “double the number of environmental inspectors and to preserve documents the commission wants to examine as it investigates the spills.” ETP maintains that the spills, which they say are of non-toxic drilling mud, had been predicted in their permit application, but FERC said its staff has “serious concerns” regarding the magnitude of the largest spill, “its environmental impacts, the lack of clarity regarding the underlying reasons for its occurrence, and the possibility of future problems,” and that the spill was “several orders of magnitude greater than other documented inadvertent returns for the project.”
Drilling mud a foot or two deep is visible in a video of the wetlands area provided by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Horizontal directional drilling is the process Dominion proposes for drilling under the Blue Ridge at Reed’s Gap.
According to The Hill, Trump said on May 8, 2017, that he would nominate two Republicans to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). If confirmed, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson would bring FERC’s size to three commissioners, giving the powerful body a quorum for the first time in three months.