Monthly Archives: June 2017

Legislation introduced to make FERC pipeline process more transparent

By News Staff, CBS 19, Charlottesville, VA
Jun 07, 2017

U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner have introduced legislation to strengthen the public’s ability to evaluate the impacts of natural gas pipelines that are being considering by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The bill would make it easier for the public to offer input and clarify the circumstances under which eminent domain could be used. It requires public comment meetings to be held in every locality through which a pipeline would pass and at every stage of the review process.

According to a release, this would minimize situations where individuals are forced to travel long distances in order to comment on projects. The release also says, though Congress does not decide on the merits of pipeline projects, it does provide FERC the authority to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of pipeline proposals.

“Driving two hours through the mountains to a public meeting at which you can speak for two minutes is not public input. Having 90 days to read and comment on 2,000 pages while a dozen other 400-page supplements are trickling out is not public input,” added Kaine.

“FERC’s job is to adjudicate the public interest, especially when eminent domain is involved, and this requires taking public input more seriously.”

“Public participation in an agency’s public proceedings is one of the cornerstones of our democratic process,” said Warner.

This piece of legislation would specifically:
– State that is it the policy of the United States for eminent domain to be limited to times when taking the property is for public, and not private, use.

– Requires a single programmatic environmental impact statement, or EIS, if who gas pipelines are proposed within one year and 100 miles of one another.

– States FERC must do a supplemental EIS and another public comment period if there is more information that comes out after a draft EIS.

– Mandates public comment meetings in every locality through which a pipeline passes and at every stage of the process.

– Specifies eminent domain takings of land that is under a conservation easement be given fair compensation for the value of the land and the lost conservation value of it.

– Ensures plans mitigate unavoidable impacts, that are also subject to public comment, so the public can verify that the mitigation is fair and proportionate.

– Requires cumulative analysis of visual impacts on National Scenic Trails, including the Appalachian Trail, for multiple pipelines that cross the same trail within 100 miles.

– Prohibits downgrading of National Scenic Trail integrity requirements in current law is the project represents a net degradation to the trail.

» Read full article



Massachusetts Clean Energy Advocates Welcome SMART Program Release

With modifications, new solar regulations could lay foundation for expanding savings, jobs in the Commonwealth

Jun. 6, 2017

BOSTON, Mass. – The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has announced its Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program regulations, which will now go through a public comment period. Massachusetts boasts the second largest solar workforce in the country thanks to state initiatives like net metering and the SREC 2 program, and today’s announcement could be a first step in giving residents and businesses confidence in the Bay State’s continued commitment to progress. This announcement followed the Governor’s recent commitment to addressing climate change and joining the United States Climate Alliance.

Solar advocates applauded the announcement of the new program, but called for improvements in order to continue solar growth and the Commonwealth’s climate and clean energy leadership. Additionally, the State Legislature has proposed bills needed to expand the net metering program, which is currently closed for new projects in the majority of the state, so further steps are needed to continue solar growth.

Below are statements from industry advocates following the announcement:
“Thanks to Massachusetts’ leadership and initiatives that make solar more accessible and affordable, Massachusetts has set itself apart as a national leader that’s building its clean, equitable energy economy,” said Sean Garren, Northeast Regional Director at Vote Solar.

“The Commonwealth affirmed its commitment to its clean energy future with today’s SMART program announcement, but more work is needed to improve the program and work with the Legislature to expand net metering to ensure that we continue to harness the economic and environmental benefits of solar.”

“We thank Governor Baker and his team for continuing to prioritize the expansion of solar energy,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “The SMART program will help support another 1600 megawatts of solar in the Commonwealth and maintain its position as a leading state. However, while an important step, this isn’t the finale. SMART will not be available until sometime next year. For solar’s economic engine to continue running, the Massachusetts State Legislature must raise the state’s net energy metering caps before the year is up to allow continued solar market growth until SMART is fully implemented.”

“Community solar projects are currently saving consumers money while providing clean, local power across the Commonwealth,” said Coalition for Community Solar Access Executive Director Jeff Cramer. “While we are pleased that the SMART framework was announced today, we are concerned that the proposed limits on community solar will hamper clean energy access. Every ratepayer in the Commonwealth deserves the opportunity to receive the benefits of solar energy on their electric bill through participation in community solar. We’re ready to work with the Administration to improve the regulations and look forward to celebrating the program’s launch next year.”

“While the overall framework of the SMART program is well considered, we’d be much more confident in its long term success if it included a requirement to evaluate program performance early and often with an ability to adjust the program in response to market forces, if the SMART program is not meeting its goals,” said Mark Sandeen, Co-Founder and President of MassSolar.

“We’re happy to see them appear, but the SMART program emergency regulations contain several last-minute surprises”, said Bill Stillinger, President of the Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE). “Solar is the key to a shared clean energy future and its implementation needs to be accelerated, not blocked or limited. Now, the often-conflicting voices of our industry and environmental advocates, elected officials, the state’s regulatory agencies, the utility companies, and solar installers and developers need to be reconciled to secure a good long-term path for solar in Massachusetts.”

“We commend the Baker Administration for its work to develop the SMART regulations and for committing to an additional 1,600 MW of solar in the Commonwealth,” said Peter Rothstein, President of the Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC). “Solar energy delivers energy, economic, and environmental benefits in Massachusetts and has fueled a vibrant solar industry that grows by the day. We look forward to continuing to work with the Baker Administration to refine and implement the final program design to ensure that additional cost-effective solar can be built in Massachusetts. Along with legislative action to raise the net metering caps, we are hopeful that the SMART program will provide the framework for continued solar success in Massachusetts.”

There will be opportunities for us to propose needed modifications to the regulation in the coming weeks and months.
» More information at DOER

Gov. Baker Enters Mass. Into Multi-State Climate Alliance After U.S. Withdraws From Paris Agreement

By Matt Murphy, State House News Service via WBUR
June 2, 2017

“As the Commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceed the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand on our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change,” Baker said in a statement. “After speaking with Governors Cuomo and Scott, 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.”
Baker and Scott wrote to Energy Secretary Rick Perry last month urging the Trump administration to remain in the pact, and Perry was reportedly one of the officials who advised the president not to withdraw.
The governors of California, New York and Washington, all Democrats, launched the coalition Thursday after Trump said he would withdraw the United States from the Paris accord, saying its terms are not fair and predicting major job losses because of the agreement.
The Democratic governors of Rhode Island and Connecticut also announced Friday that they would join the state climate alliance.
State Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, both Democrats, applauded Baker for joining the alliance.

» Read full story

Thank your Governors for joining, and demand they act accordingly

Addendum from No Fracked Gas in Mass
Of course, this is the perfect time to contact our Governors and thank them for joining the Climate Alliance, and then remind them that this commitment should obligate them to take fossil fuel development off the table in their state. Though some, like Governor Baker, like to wash their hands of any influence over these projects, citing federal preemption, there are solid steps they can take in advising their state regulatory agencies to deny the needed state permits and to move solidly forward with state legislation mandating stronger energy efficiency and ambitious goals for reaching 100% renewables.

» See more about MA state legislation

States/US Territories that have joined the climate alliance as of 6/6/2017:
New York
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island

Sovereign Native Nations that have joined:
Standing Rock Sioux
Quinault Nation
Swinomish Tribal Community
Tlingit Tribe
Haida Tribe

Canadian company Pieridae looking to acquire more natural gas resources

By Michael McDonald, Breaking Energy
May 30, 2017

According to Alfred Sorenson, CEO of Pieridae Energy Ltd, the Calgary-based Canadian energy infrastructure development company is looking to expand its production base. Pieridae is on the hunt for natural gas producing assets in western Canada or in the Marcellus shale play in the United States to supply a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal on Canada’s east coast.

Mr. Sorensen has stated that Pieridae is looking to buy 200 million cubic feet a day of natural gas production to supply its terminal and would consider purchasing either standalone assets or an entire company. Pieridae is in the process of developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Nova Scotia known as the Goldboro project which is scheduled to go into service in 2021 and has a planned capacity of 10 million metric tonnes per year.

According to Mr. Sorensen this is part of Pieridae’s larger plan to vertically integrate into the LNG market by owning both the natural gas production resources as well as the Goldboro LNG project. Pieridae will be looking for acquisitions later this year and may look to Husky Energy which has natural gas resources available as well as Cenovus Energy which also indicated it may be willing to sell some of its gas production.

This is in addition to Pieridae’s interest in acquiring assets from the Marcellus shale play which is the most prolific natural gas field in the United States. The Marcellus site is vast, extending from western New York and south of lake Eire in Pennsylvania to Ohio and stretching south to touch Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Goldboro project is a major piece of Canada’s plan to enter the global LNG market. There are more than a dozen proposed Canadian LNG terminals seeking the final approval to move forward. However, thus far only the Woodfibre LNG project based in British Columbia has been given the final permission to move forward.

Earlier this week Pieridae made a major acquisition when it agreed to buy Petrolia Inc, a Quebec-based oil and gas producer through a reverse takeover. In July when this arrangement is completed this will create Pieridae Energy Ltd, which will a publicly traded company. Mr. Sorensen hopes that becoming a listed company will provide greater access to capital, allowing the company to easily fund future growth.

» Read full article

Barrington board urges Gov. Baker to consider public health risks of fracked natural gas pipelines

By Terry Cowgill, Berkshire Edge
June 3, 2017

Great Barrington — Joining 22 other communities across the state, the Great Barrington Board of Health has signed and endorsed a strongly worded letter to Gov. Charlie Baker concerning the health impacts of any new or expanded fracked natural gas infrastructure in the state.

The letter cites state health commissioner Monica Bharel’s goals for her agency, which include combating health disparities, promoting health and making “the best use of our resources in that endeavor.”

“We are concerned that the rush to develop fracked gas infrastructure is in direct conflict with those goals,” the letter reads. “It increases health disparities and makes poor use of our healthcare resources by potentially creating public health problems instead of preventing them.”

The letter originated from the Sierra Club, a preeminent national environmental group, and was endorsed by both the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards.

“The biggest issue is the link to fracked gas,” said Michael Lanoue, who chairs the Great Barrington health board. “That’s the number-one issue that resonated with me.”

Lanoue noted at Thursday’s board meeting (June 1) that “other towns have signed onto it” and the letter “sends the right message. It’s not overreaching.”

Fracking is the process of injecting liquids, including potentially toxic chemicals, at high pressure into subterranean rocks and boreholes in an effort to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas.

The letter makes a compelling case that the extraction and transport of fracked oil and natural gas poses a threat to public health. While extraction via fracking “is widely recognized” to cause health problems because of the air and water pollution it causes where the drilling is done, “many people are not aware that the toxins and carcinogens that travel with the gas … can be emitted when there are releases of gas unintentional or intentional, anywhere along the pipeline infrastructure,” the letter states.

The topic is of particular interest to residents and activists in Berkshire County, where energy companies have been active in proposing and building natural gas pipeline projects. Most recently, protesters were arrested last month in the Otis State Forest, where workers for Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a unit of Kinder Morgan, have been using heavy equipment for tree cutting in preparation for the construction of a controversial pipeline extension to Connecticut.

» Read full article