Monthly Archives: September 2017

Delaware River Basin Commission Considering Ban on NatGas Development, Fracking

by Charlie Passut, Natural Gas Intel
September 11, 2017

Delaware-River-Basin-20170316-1.png

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) will consider a resolution at its meeting on Wednesday calling for a rulemaking that ultimately could place a ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and related natural gas development activities in the river basin.

The DRBC said Monday the resolution is a procedural measure that, if adopted, would direct its executive director to prepare and publish a revised set of draft regulations governing natural gas development activities within the basin by Nov. 30. The agency emphasized that commissioners would not adopt any draft regulations at Wednesday’s meeting, which is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EDT at Linksz Pavilion, on the campus of Bucks County Community College in Newtown, PA.

“If the proposed resolution is approved by the commission on [Wednesday], the revised draft rules to be published on a later date would include prohibitions related to the production of natural gas utilizing horizontal drilling and fracking within the Delaware River Basin,” the DRBC said.

“The revised draft regulations would also include provisions for ensuring the safe and protective storage, treatment, disposal or discharge of fracking-related wastewater where permitted and provide for the regulation of inter-basin transfers of water and wastewater for purposes of natural gas development where permitted.”

The DRBC said it plans to hold public hearings on the draft regulations and provide “ample opportunity for written comments.”

Environmental groups have been lobbying the DRBC for years for prohibitions or an outright permanent ban on fracking and other activities in the basin. Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, told the Associated Press (AP) last week that the organization supports a permanent ban.

“The water resources of the Delaware River watershed would be inevitably and indelibly degraded should oil and gas drilling be allowed to commence,” Carluccio said.

Conversely, supporters of oil and gas development and some landowners oppose a ban.

“Banning the safe, tightly-regulated development of American natural gas is great news” for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, “but it’s bad news for working families,” Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Spigelmyer told the AP. “We strongly encourage DRBC to make sound policy based on facts and science, not politically charged hyperbole.”

The DRBC decided in 2009 that all gas drilling in the basin needed to be reviewed, and said it would not approve any development until it adopted rules governing the industry. The agency postponed the natural gas development review in 2010 and failed to act on adopting rules in 2011, leaving in place the de facto moratorium.

Last March, the DRBC said it had no plans to lift the moratorium on natural gas drilling within the 13,539-square mile watershed. Also in March, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit filed by a small exploration and production company that challenged the authority of the DRBC to review and approve gas drilling in the watershed.

Renewable Portfolio Standard – Bill Hearings!

Hosted by Mass Power Forward. No Fracked Gas in Mass is a MPF Coalition member.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
11:45 AM – 4 PM
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon St.
Boston, MA

The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) will hold a hearing on bills related to the Renewable Portfolio Standard. The RPS is a critical tool for advancing clean energy, mandating the amount of clean energy our utilities must purchase. As a show of solidarity, we’ll also give a plug to the Fight for $15 minimum wage, which has a hearing the same day. Come show your support!

RALLY:
We’ll convene at 11:45 outside the State House.
HEARING:
The hearing begins at 1 p.m. in Room A-2. Because this is a small hearing room, we are planning to fill it and send folks to advocate to their legislators. Testimony at the RPS hearing is also welcome.

Mass Power Forward supports increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard by 3% each year, driving demand for renewable power and growing our local clean energy industries. We also support a statewide solar target of 25% solar by 2030.

Additionally, we support a proposal by Rep. Khan to accelerate the RPS by 2% per year while incorporating municipal light plants into the state’s clean energy goals.

H2706 / S1846
An act relative to solar power and the green economy
– Rep. Mark / Sen. Eldridge

H2700 / S1876
An Act to Increase the RPS and Ensure Compliance with the GWSA
– Rep. Khan / Sen. Pacheco

» RPS info sheet
» Watch this video to learn more about the Massachusetts RPS

Save the Date! FERC Protest in D.C. on September 20th

A quorum has been restored at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with the confirmation of Trump’s two nominees, Robert Powelson and Neil Chatterjee. By adding these pro-fossil fuel commissioners to FERC, the abuses of power will only continue and get worse as they carry out Trump’s dirty energy agenda.

All of this is happening as the Senate and House are moving bills that would expand FERC’s authority. One of the House bills actually strips the president of the border crossing authority used to stop Keystone XL and gives it to FERC. But the worst of the bills is the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017, S. 1460. It expands FERC’s authority by requiring other permitting agencies to “give deference” to FERC and it limits FERC’s review of LNG facilities to 45 days.

FERC will be back to holding monthly meetings, starting with the meeting they’ve scheduled for Wednesday, September 20th. We need to be there in big numbers that day to let FERC and Congress know that the direction they plan to take the country is unacceptable and that we won’t tolerate it.

Rushed approvals, refusal to consider climate impacts, approvals with insufficient information. And Congress wants to expand FERC’s authority? No way! Unacceptable!

We’ve been FERCed long enough! Join us in D.C. to send that message on September 20th!


JOIN FOR A RALLY & DAY OF ACTION
September 20, 2017
Beginning 8:30 AM
At the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First St, NE, Washington, DC 20426

Afternoon lobbying on the hill to begin around 11:30, starting with a lunch time gathering in the Lower Senate park next to the Russell Senate Office Building, the corner of D St. and Delaware Ave NE.

Day’s agenda:
8:30 Gather and Rally from 8:30 until 9:30 am

10:00: Attendees encouraged to attend FERC’s open public meeting which begins at 10 am

11:00 (or thereabouts): At 11 am folks will be invited to grab a bag lunch and join together to drop in on Congressional offices to deliver the Stop Trump’s Dirty Energy Agenda sign on letters.
11:30: Over lunch at the park outside the Senate office buildings we will talk about the message and how to effectively drop in and drop off materials.
12:30: Head into congressional buildings to drop materials and ask for drop in meetings
2:45: Reconvene in the park outside Senate building to share your experience of the day
3:30: Head home feeling good that you have been part of delivering a powerful message of opposition to FERC, Trump’s Dirty Energy Agenda, and advocating for reform and change.

Those who cannot rally or go into the FERC meeting but just want to lobby in the afternoon are welcome to simply meet us at the park at 11:30

People are also encouraged to set up meetings with their own House members and/or Senators. Contact Bridget at bridget@delawareriverkeeper.org for materials that can be left with those you meet with.

Organizations can endorse our action here:
http://bit.ly/2x5AvFV
And can sign on to the letter to be delivered to congress here:
http://bit.ly/StopTrumpDirtyEnergySignOn

Individuals can sign up to attend the rally, other actions, and housing here:
http://bit.ly/2vFtSGs
And can sign on to the letter to be delivered to congress here:
http://bit.ly/2jjisXd

Housing: There is low-cost housing in a church about a 10 minute walk from FERC the night of September 19th. You will be asked to pay $27 for this, the cost to us, though no one will be turned away who needs housing. Mattresses on the floor are available, there are showers and there will be food for dinner on the 19th and for breakfast on the 20th. Be sure to fill out this form to reserve a spot.

Food will be available the early evening of September 19th at the church and the early morning of the 20th. There will be bag lunches distributed to people in front of FERC before we walk over the Capitol Hill.

Beyond Extreme Energy: BXE is organizing a strategy meeting the evening of the 20th from 7-9 pm and the morning of the 21st from 9 am -1 pm. If you are interested contact Ted Glick at indpol@igc.org for more information.


===

Supporters Of this Day of Action Include:
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Berks Gas Truth
Beyond Extreme Energy
Green America
OVEC—Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Safe Energy Rights Group, Inc.
Coalition for Responsible Siting of LNG Facilities
River Healers
Wild Virginia
Agape Community
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
198 methods
The Enviro Show
No Fracked Gas in Mass
Lancaster Against Pipelines
Resist Spectra
Safe Energy Rights Group
Bold Alliance
ECHO Action NH
PAUSE—People of Albany United for Safe Energy
350 NYC
Resist the Pipeline
SCRAM
Center for Biological Diversity
Stop NED
Alliance to Protect Our People and the Places We Love
Food and Water Watch
Toxics Action Center
Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development
Berkshire Environmental Action Team
The Shalom Center
Northjersey Pipeline Walkers
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
Pa. Alliance for Clean Water and Air
Northern NJ Chapter, National Organization for Women
Earthworks
The Essene Church of Peace
Global Coalition for Peace
Gas Free Seneca
Seneca Lake Guardian, a Waterkeeper Alliance
Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development (SACRED)
Christians for the Mountains
Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community
Athens County (Ohio) Fracking Action Network
STOP (Stanisfield Taxpayers Opposing the Pipelines)
Frack Free Genesee
Interreligious Eco-Justice Network
Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy
Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development
NJ Industrial Union Council
Oil Change International
Interfaith Moral Action on Climate
350 NJ
350 Central Mass
Aytzim: Ecological Judaism
Potomac Riverkeeper Network
Green Education and Legal Fund
350 Fairfax
Pay It Forward Global Foundation
Greenbrier River Association

A Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Moment for Natural Gas in NH

by D. Maurice Kreis, Power to the People
InDepth NH, September 11, 2017

Liberty Utilities is on the march, working hard to grow its natural gas empire in New Hampshire. What’s a ratepayer advocate to do? What does the public interest require?

The questions are anything but abstract at this point. Last week, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) held a hearing on Liberty’s latest expansion request: a bid for a utility franchise to provide natural gas service to Lebanon and Hanover.

In February, Liberty won PUC approval for a franchise to serve Pelham and Windham, neighboring communities in southeastern New Hampshire that are near the so-called Concord Lateral, the backbone of New Hampshire’s natural gas pipeline network.

Serving Hanover and Lebanon is a different kettle of fish altogether; the two Upper Valley communities on the Connecticut River are far from the existing distribution network and Liberty will have to truck natural gas to any system it builds there.

Of even greater potential importance is the divergent public reaction to Liberty’s plans. Town officials in Pelham and Windham were unequivocal supporters of having a natural gas utility.

In the Upper Valley, the two municipalities oppose the petition and grassroots activists have intervened in the PUC proceeding to argue that the only good natural gas is no natural gas – i.e., that given the need to act decisively to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere we have no business doing anything to double down on fossil fuel.

In this sense, Liberty’s proposal for Hanover and Lebanon is less like the Windham and Pelham deal and more like the recently completed Addison Natural Gas Project in Vermont. When Vermont Gas Systems first proposed extending its pipeline network south from Burlington in 2012, the utility expected dancing in the streets.

What it got was outspoken and principled opposition, as affected landowners and municipal officials found common purpose with climate activists, particularly those of college age, who perceived that the establishment was doing little to reduce our collective reliance on fossil fuels.

» Read the full article

PUC Holds Hearing on the Fracked Gas Pipeline

by Energy and Climate – Upper Valley
September 11, 2017

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) took testimony on Thursday on the fracked natural gas storage facility and pipeline proposed for Lebanon and Hanover.  Much of the focus during the three and a half hour hearing was on a “settlement agreement”, signed the previous week by Liberty Utilities, PUC staff and the New Hampshire Office of the Consumer Advocate (OCA), to which citizen intervenor Jonathan Chaffee, representing himself without an attorney, voiced strong opposition.  None of the other parties to the review, the City of Lebanon, the Town of Hanover, and a second citizen intervenor, offered any support for the agreement.  The settlement was negotiated during sessions that were closed to all but the three signing parties.  It can be read here.

The agreement, if approved by the three-member PUC, would grant Liberty Utilities a monopoly franchise to distribute gas by pipeline in Lebanon and Hanover.  Construction of each of the two initial phases of the system would not start until customer commitments for gas service reach a certain threshold of guaranteed revenue.  However, under questioning by Commissioner Kathryn Bailey, PUC staff analyst Stephen Frink acknowledged in his testimony that, although his office would review the financial projections provided by Liberty once the company claims it has met the revenue threshold, nothing in the agreement would prevent Liberty from building the system if the analysis were to be found insufficient.  So far, the company has announced no commitments in the form of contracts from large potential customers.

Chaffee, who is the former director of the Lebanon Housing Authority, provided powerful testimony against the proposed pipeline and the settlement agreement.  He offered evidence in the form of peer-reviewed scholarly research that natural gas, and especially fracked gas, has a greater climate changing greenhouse impact than any of the fuels that it would replace in Lebanon or Hanover, refuting Liberty’s assertion that natural gas is environmentally friendly.  Using a spreadsheet “calculator” provided by Liberty Utilities, he demonstrated that virtually all households in the two communities that are currently heated with oil would pay more to heat with gas, a point that was eventually conceded by the company.

» Read the full story

Energy and Climate – Upper Valley is a group comprising community members and organizations, including representatives from the New Hampshire Sierra Club Upper Valley Group and the Academy for Systems Change.