Natural Gas Pipeline Installation

Mountain Valley pipeline project takes property holders to court for access

From an Article by Casey Junkins, Wheeling News-Register, April 20, 2015

Moundsville, WV – Dozens of West Virginia landowners do not want Mountain Valley Pipeline surveyors in their neighborhoods, so developers of the 42-inch diameter natural gas project are suing the property owners in federal court to gain access.

Photo: As contractors continue building pipelines to move Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas to market, Mountain Valley Pipeline developers are suing dozens of West Virginia property owners for the right to survey their land.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is one of several large projects planned to move Marcellus and Utica shale material through West Virginia on its way to larger markets such as New York City and North Carolina. If built, the line would send 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day southward from MarkWest Energy’s Mobley processing station in Wetzel County to Virginia.

“People have said no. It can be an emotional issue. Some of this is totally pristine property,” Tim Greene, owner of Land and Mineral Management of Appalachia and a former West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection inspector, said. “Sometimes, people just don’t want a pipeline on their property.”

Shale driller EQT Corp. and NextEra US Gas Assets are the Mountain Valley Pipeline developers. Mountain Valley sued numerous individual West Virginia landowners in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on March 27, even though the project originates in the northern half of the state.

“Each of the respondents have failed or refused to permit Mountain Valley Pipeline (to) enter the respondent’s properties/or prevented Mountain Valley Pipeline from completing the necessary survey,” the complaint filed by the firm’s attorney Charles Piccirillo states.

The complaint cites a portion of West Virginia law that pipeline organizers believe gives them the power to use eminent domain to construct pipelines for public use. However, Greene believes this is part of the problem.

“That is the first thing they say when they approach these surface owners now,” he said of the eminent domain possibility. “People don’t like to be bullied, so they might just tell you not to even come on their property at all.”

Greene also cited pipeline accidents, such as the January rupture in the ATEX Express ethane pipeline in Brooke County that created a massive fireball.

“There are just so many of these pipelines going in right now. And, there is a worry in the surface owner that something will leak or even explode,” Greene said. “I mean, some of this is pristine property and some people just don’t want it.”

Subject to approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Mountain Valley Pipeline will connect to an existing transmission system in West Virginia. The line will then head to the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co. Zone 5 compressor station 165 in Virginia.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin continues expressing support for the project that could create up to 4,000 construction jobs in the Mountain State. Proprietors hope to have the project up and running before the end of 2018.

“We appreciate EQT’s continued investments in our state and their willingness to work with local economic developers to provide natural gas service in areas that would benefit from both new industry and downstream growth,” he said. “These investments have the potential to create good-paying jobs and by keeping key byproducts in our state, we have the opportunity to rejuvenate our manufacturing sector and create promising opportunities for future generations.”

Greene said traditionally, a pipeline firm would offer landowners $1 per foot for crossing their property with a right-of-way agreement. However, he said the going rate is higher now because the size and scale of the pipelines is generally larger.

“These pipelines are going to go somewhere. You can’t have gas without pipelines and you can’t have pipelines without gas,” Greene said. “Still, it can be done in a way where everybody wins.”

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Public not Adequately Protected from Marcellus Wastes

by Duane Nichols on April 19, 2015

Fracking Waste Study Says States Aren’t Doing Enough to Protect Public

From an Article by Glynis Board, WV Public Broadcasting, April 12, 2015

A new report was published this month that looks at how states are dealing with dangerous waste produced during shale gas development. Not well, according to the report.

Defining Hazardous

The Environmental Protection Agency regulates the disposal of toxic or hazardous materials. Such waste includes things that may contain heavy metals, chemicals, dangerous pathogens, radiation, or other toxins. Horizontal drilling produces both liquid and solid waste streams which can contain heavy metals, dangerous chemicals, salts and radiation. But you will never hear it referred to as toxic or hazardous by anyone, officially.

Amy Mall, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington-based nonprofit, explains that thirty years ago the EPA exempted oil and gas waste from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). “So right now, oil and gas waste, regardless of how toxic it is, can be treated like normal household waste in many parts of the country,” Mall said.

Wasting Away

There’s a new report: (Wasting Away – Four states’ failure to manage oil and gas waste in the Marcellus and Utica Shale) that examines this subject published by Earthworks – a nonprofit concerned with the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development. Lead author Nadia Steinzor explains that the EPA didn’t exempt the industry because the waste wasn’t considered a threat, but because state regulation of this waste was considered adequate. Of course, this was a couple decades before the horizontal gas drilling boom.

Steinzor and her colleagues decided to see what they could learn about waste practices in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, where Marcellus and Utica shale gas are being developed.

The report indicates that states are well behind the curve in adapting to the natural gas boom: good characterizations of the waste is incomplete according to a 2014 study that’s cited; and not much information is available about where the waste is coming from, going to, or how it gets there.

West Virginia’s Oil and Gas Waste Management

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection officials say most information that does exist about oil and gas production and waste disposal procedures is available online. What information isn’t public can be accessed with a fee and a Freedom of Information Act request.

DEP spokesperson Kelley Gillenwater says her agency is going above and beyond what’s required by law to make information more accessible and is currently working on a project to digitize and make public the information they collect. She says, however, that project is in the early stages and a timeframe for completion doesn’t exist yet.

Steinzor’s report argues that states don’t require enough information and often rely on operators to self-report in good faith.

The Earthworks report cites a 2013 study that says nearly half of all liquid oil and gas waste is shipped out of state, the remainder is injected underground. But Amy Mall from NRDC says rules for injection wells everywhere are also in need of attention.
“We think the rules for those disposal wells need to be much stronger than they are now because those disposal wells are not designed to handle toxic waste.”

Steinzor does credit West Virginia for taking some steps to address solid waste problems in the state. The sheer volume of drill cuttings, which at one point was simply being buried onsite, may have helped force the issue. Municipal landfills do accept the waste even though it’s largely uncharacterized.

Requirements are now in place for the waste to be held in separate storage cells within landfills and DEP is working with Marshall University to study the leachate from those facilities. Results from that study are scheduled to be presented to state lawmakers this July.


RE: “Lochgelly Waste Injection Well Permit Renewal” — Operator: Danny Webb Construction.  A Public Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 21st at the Oak Hill High School Auditorium, 350 Oyler Avenue, Oak Hill, WV.   Time: 6 pm to 8 pm.  [Written comment period extends to May 1st, per comment below.] Find more information here.

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WV Farmers Get No Respect from the State Government

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Prof. McCawley Speaks Out on Dangers of Ultrafine Dust (4/16/15)

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WVU Researcher Warns About Toxic Ultrafine Dust in West Virginia From an Article by Glynis Board, WV Public Broadcasting, April 15, 2015 When we hear about the danger of dust exposure, we are usually talking about coal dust underground, or silica dust. But that’s not the only dust that can make people sick. Apparently almost [...]

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Williams Energy Plans More Pipelines While Two Rupture

April 14, 2015

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WB Express Pipeline to Cross West Virginia

April 13, 2015

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Radioactive Radon Levels Higher in PA Fracking Areas

April 12, 2015

Study says, radon levels increase in homes near Pennsylvania fracking sites From an Article by Michael Walsh, Yahoo News, April 10, 2015 Levels of cancer-causing radon have reportedly been on the rise in Pennsylvania ever since fracking picked up in the state. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say there is [...]

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John Nash, Mathematician, is Awarded the Abel Prize

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‘Beautiful mind’ John Nash adds Abel Prize to his Economics Nobel Prize Excerpt from an Article by Phillip Ball, Nature Journal, March 25, 2015 Although some consider the Abel Prize to be the ‘Nobel of mathematics’, its winners are hardly ever household names. But this year’s prize, announced on March 25th, includes a notable exception: [...]

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