ACCESS NORTHEAST - SPECTRA/ENBRIDGE
Enbridge suspends Access Northeast natural gas pipeline plan
by Mary Serreze, Springfield Republican / MassLive
June 29, 2017
For lack of policies that support project financing, another New England natural gas pipeline proposal has been put on ice.
The Houston-based Enbridge on Thursday suspended federal permitting for its $3.2 billion Access Northeast, which would upgrade 125 miles of the Algonquin pipeline system to serve around 60 percent of the New England power sector.
Enbridge had partnered with Eversource Energy and National Grid to advance the project through Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC.
It is "no longer in the interest of stakeholders" to continue federal review of the project, a lawyer for Algonquin told public officials in a June 29 email. Inconsistent energy policies across the Northeast states are to blame, wrote Atty. Jon N. Bonsall of the Boston-based Keegan Werlin.
Natural gas pipeline developers have been seeking a mechanism for cost recovery in the New England states, such as a tariff on ratepayers. While an increasing number of power generators burn natural gas, they are reluctant to commit to binding contracts for the fuel, in the way that local gas distributors do. An alternative finance mechanism where electric ratepayers would foot the bill for pipeline capacity on behalf of power generators was shot down last year by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
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One of the largest nails in the coffin for this project was last year's ruling of the MA Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Conservation Law Foundation vs. Mass DPU
, ruling that it is illegal for electric utilities to raise a tariff on electric ratepayers to cover the cost of pipeline capacity ( a.k.a "pipeline tax"). This ruling has held up other New England states from allowing similar measures, except in Connecticut, where a "pipeline tax" has been in place since 2015. There are now efforts to remove that one as well. We all will need to stay on the lookout for legislative initiatives that may try to make these tariffs legal.
Amendment Seeks to Overturn CT Pipeline Taxby Andrea Sears, Public News Service, June 7, 2017
HARTFORD, Conn. - Environmental and consumer groups are urging passage of an amendment in the state Senate that would protect Connecticut electric customers from being forced to pay for new gas pipelines.
The proposed amendment to Senate Bill 861 would overturn a pipeline tax passed in 2015 to fund interstate gas pipelines. According to Louis Burch, Connecticut program director for the group Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island already have blocked or overturned similar charges.
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CT EXPANSION - CEREMONIAL STONE LANDSCAPE PROTECTION
Native Americans to fight FERC over pipeline work: Tribe says agency violating National Historic Preservation Act
By Heather Bellow, Berkshire Eagle
June 23, 2017
SANDISFIELD — A Native American tribe says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission broke federal law by giving Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. permission to build a natural gas storage loop here before fully studying Native American sites in Otis State Forest.
The Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office has filed a rehearing request with FERC on grounds the agency violated the National Historic Preservation Act by not taking proper legal steps to protect ceremonial stone landscapes found along the proposed pipeline path. And the tribe's attorney says she will take this violation to appeals court if FERC denies either the request or its wrongdoing.
"FERC thinks it can break laws," said Anne Marie Garti. "And we're challenging that."
Tree clearing is complete and trench digging is still underway for the Kinder Morgan subsidiary's tri-state Connecticut Expansion Project, a 13-mile line, about 2 miles of which are going into an existing pipeline corridor here. Two of those miles are on state-owned and protected land.
"We intend to bring this forward, even if the pipeline is built," Garti said. "FERC has to be held accountable for breaking the law and not complying with schedules in federal law."
Tennessee Gas immediately filed an answer with FERC, asking the commission to deny the rehearing request, saying it and the commission did everything right.
CT EXPANSION - PROTESTS
'Will people rise up?' asks 98-year-old pipeline protester following arraignment on trespass charges
by Heather Bellow, Berkshire Eagle
June 29, 2017
GREAT BARRINGTON — Frances Crowe is often seen smiling. But on the courthouse steps, the 98-year-old activist went stern.
"This is a serious business we're involved in," she said, speaking from her wheelchair. "This is the future of life on the planet. Are the corporations going to rule the future, or will people rise up and say no?"
Crowe, a longtime, legendary peace and environmental activist was among eight anti-pipeline activists arraigned in Southern Berkshire District Court Thursday after arrests Saturday for trespassing on state-owned and protected land in Otis State Forest.
Crowe and the others were swiftly told by the assistant court clerk - before the judge was even seated - that the state had decriminalized their charges, and that their civil hearing was set for July 18.
The state had similarly reduced the same charges against 24 other activists affiliated with climate justice group Sugar Shack Alliance, who were arrested in early May.
The Northeast Natural Gas Pipeline Buildout
by Jude Clemente, Contributor, Forbes Magazine
Jun 25, 2017
Being a new major gas producing region, entire Appalachia needs more gas infrastructure to move gas to markets. We keep hearing about the pushback on pipelines, but make no mistake: the buildout is on. In charge of approving interstate pipelines, FERC in 2016 approved almost 40 major pipeline projects across the country, covering 1,200 miles, over 14 Bcf/d of new capacity (total national consumption is around 75 Bcf/d), and over $10 billion in new investment.
Most of these pipelines are indeed getting approved in the eastern third of the U.S., with a concentration in the Marcellus and Utica shale states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. Figure 1 illustrates an overview of FERC's certification process for nine major new pipeline projects in the region. FERC has actually lacked quorum since early-February, and as an independent agency now has two possible Republicans (Neil Chatterjee, Robert Powelson) coming on board with a Democrat (Richard Glick). Perhaps most important is the 100% subscribed, 3.25 Bcf/d Rover pipeline taking Appalachia shale gas into eastern Michigan and up into Dawn Hub in Canada. Rover is so instrumental that when it was first halted for construction by FERC on May 10 natural gas prices actually surged to 14-week highs ("A Single Pipeline's Taking U.S. Gas on a Rollercoaster Ride").
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POLITICAL / LEGISLATIVE OUTLOOKGov. Charlie Baker says Massachusetts
will join US Climate Alliance
by Shannon Young, Springfield Republican / MassLive
June 2, 2017
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday that the state will join the newly formed U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition that seeks to meet the goals set forth in the Paris climate agreement.
Baker, who had been urged to enter the alliance following President Donald Trump's Thursday decision to withdraw the United States from the global climate pact, said he is committed to working with other states on efforts to address climate change.
"Today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand on our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change...our administration looks forward to continued, bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy and deliver a brighter future to the next generation," he said in a statement.
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Unnecessary Abdication of Power
While this is a welcome declaration in the face of the United States becoming one of only three countries to not adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement, Governor Baker (as well as other Governors who have taken this pledge) will need to be held accountable on policies that may lead them astray of the goals of the agreement. In Massachusetts, we have the Global Warming Solutions Act
and several pieces of proposed legislation
that would move us toward a 100% Renewables economy, yet Governor Baker has been quick to drop any state authority
on preventing pipeline projects from gaining necessary state-level permits.
Others seem to "get" that state level permits can block final permitting of projects that are detrimental to our environmental, health and safety and climate goals.