Democrats request info on 'repeated environmental concerns' at Ohio pipeline

Democrats request info on 'repeated environmental concerns' at Ohio pipeline
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Ranking members on the House and Senate energy committees sent a joint letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) this week asking to be updated on the potential environmental safety risks related to construction of the Rover Pipeline in Ohio.

It is the second time that the commission has raised concerns about the pipeline's construction techniques, according to a Senate energy committee press release.

The letter, dated Wednesday, was sent in response to news that in January, FERC put a halt to the use of horizontal directional drilling techniques near the Tuscarawas River by the pipeline's parent company Energy Transfer Partners.


Ohio officials had previously raised concerns that drilling from the project was spilling waste — including diesel fuel — at the pipeline site.

FERC on January 24 issued the pipeline company a notice to cease its horizontal drilling technique, saying in their memorandum that no "approach to date" had been successful at keeping drilling fluid from leaking. FERC then authorized the company to recommence drilling on Feb. 6.

"We remain concerned with Rover's apparent lack of urgency in addressing repeated environmental concerns during the construction of the pipeline," wrote Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneIntercept bureau chief: Democrats dropping support of Medicare for All could threaten bill's momentum House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 House Democrats criticize Texas's 'shortcomings in preparations' on winter storms MORE (D-N.J.), the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellBiden looks to bolster long-term research and development Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations MORE (D-Wash.), the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 

Both members had previously sent a letter to FERC in July expressing concerns over the pipeline's management as well as the parent company's environmental record. The record included seven industrial spills including one along the same river near the pipeline, which resulted in two million gallons of drilling fluid leaking into wetlands, according to the letter.

"Our committees have a longstanding interest in ensuring that drilling activities minimize environmental risk and that regulated entities are operating in full compliance with all applicable statutes, regulations, and permits,” Cantwell and Pallone wrote. “In order to more fully understand these issues, we request a briefing from FERC staff on any environmental risks associated with this project as referenced in FERC’s January 24 memorandum and the other information requested above.”  

FERC's order to temporarily cease drilling was just the latest problem for Rover, whose developer also built and operates the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.

In July, FERC started an investigation into the developer building the controversial natural gas pipeline over alleged “misstatements” regarding its construction.

FERC staff said in a notice that they preliminarily determined that ETP “did not fully and forthrightly disclose all relevant information to the commission” in paperwork filed for a federal permit.