Pipeline Opponents Need to Think Through LNG Uses

Pipeline opponents have made a big stink of the uses of liquefied natural gas particularly that transported to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex via the Mariner East 1 and 2 pipelines.

Opponents love to claim that the energy products shipped through Mariner East, in their entirety, to Europe to be used in the production processes of plastic products. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The natural gas produced in the west and transported east through the Mariner East pipelines and others will initially be used in a number of ways.

Example one: East of Pittsburgh sits the CPV Fairview facility. The complex is a 1,050 megawatt natural gas fueled electricity generation plant. One source for those resources will be Mariner East and that plant is slated to produce electricity for as many as 1 million Pennsylvania homes.

Example two: Ferro Fuels in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania is a local business that relies on the availability of natural gas at the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex. The company buys large quantities of processed natural gases to then package and sell for commercial and residential purposes. Again, another example of the usefulness of Pennsylvania natural gas that pays it back to the Commonwealth by supporting local business.

Example three: The glut of natural gas in Pennsylvania has afforded the state to become a player in the international energy market. Any fuel exported to foreign countries was paid for handsomely, generating tax revenues for the state, and putting the United States at the forefront of the energy market. Twisting this into a negative is incredibly naïve.

The bottom line is, energy production and pipeline infrastructure development is critical to ensure adequate supply of energy for consumers. Mariner East clearly has a local Pennsylvania benefit in the near term, but once in operation, could provide even greater benefit. One need to look no further than Braskem’s recent announcement to make investments in Texas when expansion of their Pennsylvania operations was more beneficial. The reason being that Pennsylvania did not have the adequate pipeline infrastructure to support their needs.

SE PA has 9 HVL Pipelines Operating Safely Today

Opposition to the safe transport of energy resources continue to spread misinformation and employ fear tactics to generate more opposition to pipelines. What they cannot deny is that pipelines are the safest means to transport energy resources according to the Department of Transportation Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

One line of attack that many pipeline opponents enjoy using is to misstate that Mariner East is the first pipeline of its kind running through Chester County. Mariner East is an HVL line of which there are at 9 HVL lines operating safely Chester County today according to the National Pipeline Mapping System. The numbers are similar in Delaware County.

Pennsylvania is home to the very first oil strike in the US and has had pipelines crisscrossing the state for years. Mariner East 1 was built in the 1930s when much of Chester County was farmland. Over time, Chester County has been developed. In other words, the easements were there first not the other way around as some would have you believe.

The Mariner East system is being built to transport propane, ethane, and butane, products that are critical in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Propane and ethane are critical for residential use for home heat, grills, and the nearly $1 billion CPV Fairview electricity generating facility in Cambria County will be directly connected to Mariner East for power generation.

Much of the criticisms lodged by pipeline opponents has little to no basis in fact, which is why continuing to correct their misstatements is critically important. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but basing that opinion on the facts shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Dinniman Stonewalled Himself From Getting Answers on Meritless Pipeline Probe

State Sen. Andy Dinniman’s anti-pipeline theatrics were on full display last week during a Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee hearing to reconfirm Patrick McDonnell as the secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Dinniman clashed with fellow committee members over his instance on peppering McDonnell with a series of loaded questions regarding the DEP’s involvement in the Mariner East pipeline project. Ironically, McDonnell was largely unable to respond to Dinniman’s inquiries due to a set of meritless local and state investigations that the senator himself is involved in.

In declining to comment on pending litigation, McDonnell followed longstanding protocol designed to protect taxpayers from frivolous lawsuits and ensure legal proceedings are properly insulated from political discourse. As Democratic Sen. John Yudichak made clear early on in the hearing, questions regarding ongoing litigation “are out of order and inappropriate.”

“It does a disservice to this committee and to the full Senate if members seek to impede or influence the outcome of litigation or an investigation through their questions in today’s proceeding,” said Yudichack, who serves as committee’s minority chair.

Not satisfied with his self-induced stonewalling, Dinniman suggested McDonnell’s reconfirmation hearing be delayed until litigation concerning Mariner East is resolved. This however would be pointless given Senate rules governing confirmation proceedings.

“We can delay the hearing which means he’s going to be automatically confirmed without a hearing,” noted Committee Chairman Gene Yaw. “If you want to make a press release out of this, that’s fine,” he added, noting Dinniman’s tendency for sensation-seeking headlines.

After nearly a hour of squabbling with Dinniman, visibly frustrated legislators ultimately voted in a bipartisan manner to advance McDonnell’s reconfirmation to the full Senate for a final vote, leaving Dinniman amongst the extreme minority on the committee.

Wednesday’s hearing came in the wake of new questions surrounding the true motivation behind Dinniman’s anti-pipeline vendetta. A review of Dinniman’s campaign finance disclosures by the website Natural Gas Now found that the senator has received nearly $80,000 from a developer with a financial interest in seeing the Mariner East project derailed.

Peaceful Protest, Sure. Eco-Terrorism, NO.

An Inside Sources article by retired U.S. Army General James ‘Spider’ Marks makes an important point: energy infrastructure sabotage is dangerous.

Recent news has shown us the downfalls of interfering with the construction and operation of large scale energy projects. Marks notes a number of recent events that have endangered or harmed environmental activists including:

  • Millions of dollars in damages to the Dakota Access Pipeline
  • 114 killed in Mexico when illegally tapping a natural gas pipeline
  • A series of Canadian bombing targeting pipeline infrastructure in 2008 and 2009
  • $500,000 in arson damages to the Mountain Valley Pipeline

Natural gas pipelines, for whatever reason, seem to be most frequently targeted.

Not only do these attackers put their lives on the line they also interfere with the energy grid at large. In 2016 a group of vandals known as the Four Necessity Valve Turners coordinated a break in of a secure facility to turn off valves controlling pipeline oil flow resulting in a security alert being issued by PHMSA, the nation’s leading pipeline regulator.

Actions like these are highly illegal but the disguise of “environmental activism” serves as a get out of jail – or avoid jail altogether – free card. Pennsylvania has also been victim to these action.

Activist groups like the Mama Bear Brigade or Philly Anti-Capitalists have irresponsibly chained themselves to heavy machinery, baited wild animals onto construction sites and damaged private property. Each of these puts their own and others’ lives at risk and should rightly result in jail time – Ellen Gerhart can attest.

Let’s not conflate peaceful activism with the eco-terrorism that is being pushed and OK’ed across the country, it harms not helps.

Peaceful Protest, Sure. Eco-Terrorism, NO.

An Inside Sources article by retired U.S. Army General James ‘Spider’ Marks makes an important point: energy infrastructure sabotage is dangerous.

Recent news has shown us the downfalls of interfering with the construction and operation of large scale energy projects. Marks notes a number of recent events that have endangered or harmed environmental activists including:

  • Millions of dollars in damages to the Dakota Access Pipeline
  • 114 killed in Mexico when illegally tapping a natural gas pipeline
  • A series of Canadian bombing targeting pipeline infrastructure in 2008 and 2009
  • $500,000 in arson damages to the Mountain Valley Pipeline

Natural gas pipelines, for whatever reason, seem to be most frequently targeted.

Not only do these attackers put their lives on the line they also interfere with the energy grid at large. In 2016 a group of vandals known as the Four Necessity Valve Turners coordinated a break in of a secure facility to turn off valves controlling pipeline oil flow resulting in a security alert being issued by PHMSA, the nation’s leading pipeline regulator.

Actions like these are highly illegal but the disguise of “environmental activism” serves as a get out of jail – or avoid jail altogether – free card. Pennsylvania has also been victim to these action.

Activist groups like the Mama Bear Brigade or Philly Anti-Capitalists have irresponsibly chained themselves to heavy machinery, baited wild animals onto construction sites and damaged private property. Each of these puts their own and others’ lives at risk and should rightly result in jail time – Ellen Gerhart can attest.

Let’s not conflate peaceful activism with the eco-terrorism that is being pushed and OK’ed across the country, it harms not helps.

New York State neglects natural gas infrastructure, now pays the price

A recent op-ed featured in the Wall Street Journal serves as an important warning of the costs accrued from stonewalling energy production and neglecting energy infrastructure projects.

New York State, which consists of part of the Marcellus Shale formation, is now facing potential energy shortages as a symptom of policies intended to neglect homegrown energy. A recent announcement from Consolidated Edison, a New York City energy utility provider, closed applications for natural gas connections beginning in mid-March. The decision comes on the back of policy prescriptions from the state’s Governor.

Though one company’s announcement may seem inconsequential neglecting the natural gas industry has had noticeable consequences for the state’s economy.

New Yorker drillers produced some 150 million cubic feet of natural gas a day in 2008. Since then natural gas production in the state has dropped so drastically because of policymakers actions that the Energy Information Administration – a government energy oversight agency – has stopped reporting the state’s natural gas production.

Diminished natural gas production has its costs. Not only is the state facing an energy shortage but two-thirds of natural gas consumed in New York is produced in Pennsylvania which employees 106,000 in the industry in Pennsylvania creating $247 million in gas related fees for the state’s government.

Let New York State serve as an example of the costs of neglecting energy infrastructure. Natural gas brings visible benefits to communities by creating jobs, tax revenue, and contributing to the nation’s growing energy sector. Pennsylvania must continue to pave the way for natural gas.

Safety Responders Execute Appropriately

Local Pennsylvania news outlets and environmental activists were up in arms this week over a reported butane leak at the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex though they have all missed a key point: plant employees and responders with hundreds of hours of safety trainings responded and executed their duty to ensure public safety perfectly.

For those unfamiliar, the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex traditionally processed crude oil from Texas but was recently converted to process natural gas liquids from the Mariner East pipeline system as well as serving as a distribution hub for refined products.

The Borough of Marcus Hook Facebook page broke news of the butane leak but noted that no evacuations were needed and temporary road closures were only taken as a best practice precaution. Safety responder quickly concluded that the leak was contained and no additional safety measures were required.

PPR encourages all Pennsylvania residents to acknowledge the due diligence the energy industry abides by, especially concerning public safety. Additionally, PPR applauds safety responders for remaining steadfast in their obligations to us all.

PA State Senator Dinniman Clumsily Tells One Side of the Story

Pennsylvania State Senator Andy Dinniman is in the news again. The pipeline opponent has turned his sights away from the Mariner East project to critique Pennsylvania’s energy industry efforts to push for projects.

Sen. Dinniman suggested in a Daily Local News article that the pipeline lobby runs rampant in Harrisburg as evidenced by their spending from 2012 and onward. In return, local activist groups praised the politician for “helping shine a light” on lobbying expenditures in the capital.

However, the senator’s words are painfully tone deaf and highlight what appears to be a short or selective memory. Sen. Dinniman is not so quick to own up to using taxpayer money to fund a frivolous lawsuit against energy producers in the state with an activist law firm that has represented other pipeline opponents.

Energy producers are cornered into increased and likely unnecessary lobbying expenditures because of ideological anti-pipeline rhetoric purported by Sen. Dinniman and co. who refuse to accept multiple risk assessments, judicial rulings, and regulator assurances of pipeline safety.

Local Media Trust Ideologue – Not Expert – With Geological Advice

News of a small sinkhole in West Whiteland Township in Chester County has captured the attention of local residents and media throughout southeast Pennsylvania though mostly as an opportunity to disparage the Mariner East 1 and 2 projects.

In an article titled “Another sinkhole appears in Chester County neighborhood, exposing Mariner East pipeline” The Inquirer incorporated a number of perspectives for insight, though some sources seem more questionable than others.

Energy Transfer, the parent company for Mariner East 1 and 2, released the following statement that was circulated in the article “We are working in coordination with the Pennsylvania PUC’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement and its consultants to perform activities to ensure the area remains stable. It is too early to know additional details at this time.”

Additionally the Bureau of Investigation concluded that “No injuries were reported, no one was evacuated, public safety was not affected, and the pipeline was not damaged,”

Eric Friedman, spokesman for local pipeline opposition group Del – Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, was quoted calling the land’s geological makeup “unstable.” Friedman mistakenly conflates “topography” and “geology,” specifically the “karst topography” that exists in Southeast Pennsylvania.

A layman passing as technical experts as Mr. Friedman continually does, are not credible sources of information. Mr. Friedman’s preference is more to muddy the water and spread faulty information, which does the community a disservice. Public safety is the top priority of infrastructure developers, regulators, and local communities alike and always will be.

Northeast Next to Boon Pending Infrastructure

The northeast’s critical pipeline infrastructure is sparsely strewn about the region and lacks full capability to provide for the region. With its large, and growing population, as well as its proximity to huge domestic reserves like the Marcellus and Utica shale reserves the northeast is poised for pipeline expansion. A Petrochemical whitepaper takes a look at the landscape for 2019 and 2020-2025 and the unique advantages and challenges the region presents. What is certain is that the northeast’s energy potential is yet to be fully realized and a robust natural gas industry could fulfill energy and economic needs for the region.

Northeast advantages:

  • The northeast is strategically located amongst numerous natural gas reserves including the Marcellus and Utica shale reserves and is also relatively close to the Rogersville reserves, sizes of which industry experts are not yet sure.
  • Manufacturing markets are abundant in the Midwest, East Coast, and Canada.
  • The scale of natural gas pipeline and power plant projects will guarantee significant employment opportunities throughout the region.
  • Ethane rejection can be avoided because of the northeast’s capabilities to make use of ethane.

Northeast and Ethane:

When transporting natural gas many pipeline companies and operators must burn off ethane in the gas stream to fuel the resources’ movement towards its destination because of lacking ‘hubs’ to connect supply and demand points. The northeast already has a number of these hubs and a viable ethane market. Industry experts anticipate an increase in the production and monetization of ethane thanks to these capabilities. Additionally, experts see the northeast’s use of ethane as an opportunity to kick start the proliferation of ethane utilities across the nation. The northeast has the chance to benefit from and create an energy trend.

Tri-State Shale Agreement

The Tri-State Shale Agreement, comprised of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, was extended through 2021 for the states to work together to develop shale and natural gas resources afforded to them through the Marcellus and Utica shale reserves.

With more than 70% of North American plastics customers within a 700-mile radius of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania prioritizing development in this area is key to long-term success. It seems that the states themselves recognize that no matter where central development takes place it will be a boon for the entire region. This agreement has done a good job at pushing actual cooperation and its extension into 2021 is an encouraging sign.

Employment Impact

Recently announced and commissioned projects have opened a magnifying lens on the employment opportunities associated with such large projects. Some of the most recent announcements include a Shell Cracker in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, a PTT Global Chemicals plant in Belmont County, Ohio and a Braskem location in Wood County, West Virginia.

If the aforementioned projects move forward and go on to produce as estimated researchs anticipate 25,000 direct jobs, 45,000 indirect jobs and 32,000 payroll induced jobs. Three projects alone could create 100,000 jobs and nearly $6 billion in payroll.

Since 2010 333 shale – related projects have been announced and cumulatively valued at $202 billion. It is obvious that these undertakings can give any region a facelift.

Infrastructure Updates

To ensure that projects like these are feasible and transportation of natural resources is guaranteed the report acknowledges updates that need to be made to the current transportation methods. Delivered costs are often dependent on location and logistics, which have increased thanks to reliance on rail transportation particularly in the northeast.

To overcome expense challenges the northeast must prioritize pipelines for delivery which should help ease some of the communication, forecasting, and timing troubles industry members have noted.

Conclusion

Northeast natural resources remain largely under-utilized. While the opportunities being realized throughout the other regions of the country are certainly worthy of celebration the energy industry must realize just how fickle some opportunities can be. To advance the United States’ energy agenda the northeast must be utilized like the rest of the country. Critical infrastructure must continue to be a priority for the local, state and federal governments.