energy transfer

Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Some Pipeline Projects Push Forward While Others Falter Nationwide

Read time: 12 mins
pipeline in Permian Basin

Last Friday, the Iowa Utilities Board issued an order that would allow the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) to double the amount of oil that flows through the state from 550,000 barrels a day to 1.1 million barrels a day. The utilities board, which also announced it had waived a hearing on the matter, made its move over the objections of environmental organizations and other civic groups opposed to DAPL operator Energy Transfer’s expansion plans.

Iowa’s approval landed just two days after a federal judge in North Dakota found that the project must undergo a full environmental review in a March 25 order, throwing the pipeline’s legal status into question. U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg, who issued that order, also asked attorneys involved in that dispute to submit briefs on whether DAPL should be shut down while the pipeline undergoes its environmental review.

The DAPL expansion, meanwhile, still needs approval from Illinois state regulators, and environmental groups have asked the Illinois Commerce Commission to hold off from making any decisions for the time being, citing not only Judge Boasberg’s ruling but also the turmoil in the global oil market and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on oil demand.

Federal Judge Tosses Dakota Access Pipeline Permits, Orders Full Environmental Review

Read time: 6 mins
Standing Rock camp in December 2016

Today, a federal judge tossed out federal permits for the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), built to carry over half a million barrels of Bakken crude oil a day from North Dakota, and ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a full environmental review of the pipeline project.

U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg indicated that he would next consider whether to shut down the current flows of oil through DAPL while the environmental review is in process, ordering both sides to submit briefs on the question.

Louisiana Landowners Appeal Bayou Bridge Pipeline's Right to Seize Their Land After Trespassing

Read time: 3 mins
Atchafalaya Basin clearing for Bayou Bridge pipeline construction in 2018

A Louisiana appeals court heard oral arguments Wednesday, January 8 in a case brought by Louisiana landowners against the Bayou Bridge Pipeline Company that illegally trespassed and began pipeline construction without landowners’ consent.

Attorneys for the landowners are asking the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court decision granting the pipeline company’s eminent domain right to seize the land. That granting of expropriation was made despite a finding that the company had unlawfully entered and damaged the land.

Breaking: Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry Rejoins Board of Dakota Access Owner, Energy Transfer

Read time: 6 mins
Rick Perry

Former Trump administration Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who resigned from his cabinet-level post effective last month, has joined the board of directors of the general partner of Energy Transfer LP, according to a filing made today with the Securities and Exchange Commission by Energy Transfer.

Before joining the Trump administration, Perry had served on the board of Energy Transfer, the pipeline company behind controversial projects including Dakota Access, Bayou Bridge, and Mariner East, but resigned to become Secretary of the Department of Energy. On January 1, 2020, Perry was appointed as a director of LE GP, LLC, the general partner of Energy Transfer LP, according to today's SEC filing, made after the market closed. (“Energy Transfer is structured as a master limited partnership,” Bloomberg reports.)

The news comes on the same day that Pennsylvania regulators announced a record $30.6 million fine for Energy Transfer over an explosion of the company's Revolution pipeline. State regulators said they would resume permitting for the firm's Mariner East project.

Court Throws out Energy Transfer’s ‘Racketeering’ Claims Against Dakota Access Pipeline Opponents

Read time: 4 mins
Dakota Access pipeline protest in Philadelphia

A North Dakota federal judge dismissed Energy Transfer’s racketeering lawsuit against Greenpeace and all its co-defendants in a sharply worded ruling issued today, finding that the pipeline builder’s allegations fell “far short of what is necessary to establish a [racketeering] claim.”

In August 2017, Energy Transfer filed a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act civil complaint against Greenpeace and other environmental groups who had opposed the company’s Dakota Access pipeline, claiming that the protests had caused $300 million in damages (and requesting three times that amount from the defendants).

Today’s ruling flatly rejected Energy Transfer’s claims.

Energy Transfer Pipeline Projects on Hold in Pennsylvania After String of Violations

Read time: 9 mins
Mariner East 2 pipeline spill site near an apartment complex

Plans for a pipeline network to export petrochemical ingredients from fracked gas wells in Pennsylvania hit a major roadblock, as state environmental regulators announced Friday that they were suspending all permit reviews for pipeline builder Energy Transfer until further notice.

There has been a failure by Energy Transfer and its subsidiaries to respect our laws and our communities,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who has supported fracking in the state, said in a statement when the suspension was announced. “This is not how we strive to do business in Pennsylvania, and it will not be tolerated.”

Lawsuit Seeks to Halt Bayou Bridge Pipeline Construction Amid High Waters, Permit Violations

Read time: 6 mins
Excavators doing construction work for the Bayou Bridge pipeline amid high waters in the Atchafalaya Basin

Since October 2018, the Mississippi River has been running high, thanks in part to heavier-than-usual rainfall across its northern and central stretches.

And when the water flows high on the most powerful river in the U.S., local residents and industries take notice. Fishermen fret the high January waters could mean a poor brown shrimp season ahead. Shippers using barges to haul grain bemoan headaches caused by fast-flowing waters and the river-traffic restrictions that follow. And federal agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers start inspecting levees daily and barring digging within 1,500 feet of the embankments built to protect river-side residents against flooding.

But in the swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin, roughly a million acres of bayous, lakes, and wetlands that span upwards from the Gulf of Mexico for 140 miles into Louisiana, there’s one thing that hasn’t responded as it should to the rising waters: construction of Energy Transfer’s Bayou Bridge pipeline.

Energy Transfer Uses Workaround to Open Mariner East 2 Pipeline Amid Hazard Worries, Criminal Investigation

Read time: 8 mins
Mariner East 2 pipeline opponents protest the pipeline project with signs

Energy Transfer has begun shipping natural gas liquids through one of the most troubled pipeline projects in Pennsylvania, sparking calls for additional investigations as residents say safety concerns remain unresolved.

Natural gas liquids (NGLs) are fossil fuels found in large volumes in “wet” shale gas wells. They include the highly flammable fuels propane and butane, plus ethane, which is used extensively in the petrochemicals and plastics industy.

A year ago today, Pennsylvania temporarily suspended permits for Mariner East 2 pipeline construction, citing the builder’s “egregious and willful violations” of state laws.

Louisiana Sheriff Who Criticized Pipeline Opponents Is Ordered to Release Records on Standing Rock Visit

Read time: 5 mins
Law enforcement officers next to pipeline opponents at a Louisiana Department of Natural Resources permit hearing for the Bayou Bridge project on February 8.

On December 27, a state* appeals court ordered a Louisiana’s sheriff’s department and its sheriff to release information about its officers’ trip to North Dakota during the heated protests against the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016. The extended, indigenous-led protests near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation drew a highly militarized response from public and private law enforcement. Out-of-state cops, including those from Louisiana’s St. Charles Parish, flooded North Dakota to support it via an interstate agreement.

The latest move reversed a decision by a district court, which denied a public records request made by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a human rights law firm which has worked on behalf of environmental groups* in Louisiana, after parish law enforcement spoke out against Dakota Access pipeline opponents and endorsed the Bayou Bridge pipeline, a similar oil pipeline in Louisiana.

Bayou Bridge Charged $450 for Trespassing and Building Oil Pipeline Without Permission on Louisiana Parcel

Read time: 7 mins
Dean Wilson of the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper on the plaintiffs’ land in the basin

After three landowners filed a legal challenge against Bayou Bridge Pipeline, LLC’s right to build a pipeline on their land — which it did without their permission — the case concluded this week with a very small fine for the company.

On December 6, Louisiana State Judge Keith Comeaux fined the pipeline company $450 for trespassing during construction before properly obtaining permission. The judge also granted the company the permission it sought to expropriate the land it had already built on.

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