Overnight Energy: Pennsylvania halts work on pipeline | Washington state sued over coal exports | Utility buys company that scuttled SC nuclear project

Overnight Energy: Pennsylvania halts work on pipeline | Washington state sued over coal exports | Utility buys company that scuttled SC nuclear project

PENNSYLVANIA STOPS PIPELINE WORK: Pennsylvania regulators ordered construction crews to stop work Wednesday on a controversial major pipeline after recording numerous environmental violations in the building process, including spills and well contamination.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) accused Sunoco Pipeline of "egregious and willful violations" of environmental rules in building the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

The agency ordered the company to halt all work except some maintenance activities on the pipeline until it can demonstrate that it is abiding by all requirements from the permits the state granted.

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"Until Sunoco can demonstrate that the permit conditions can and will be followed, DEP has no alternative but to suspend the permits," DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement. "We are living up to our promise to hold this project accountable to the strong protections in the permits."

DEP alleges dozens of legal violations by Sunoco since May, including releases of fluids into waterways, multiple unauthorized uses of horizontal drilling, unauthorized construction over a creek, violation of an order to re-evaluate construction techniques and unauthorized construction in a wild trout fishery.

Food & Water Watch applauded the DEP for its action, but asked the state to go further.

"Today's announcement is a step in the right direction, but the only responsible course of action for Governor Wolf is to stop the Mariner East 2 altogether," Sam Rubin, an organizer with the group, said in a statement. "This project, which was greenlighted with flawed permits, was never going to be safe for the people of Pennsylvania."

Read more here.

 

LAWSUIT CHALLENGES WASHINGTON OVER COAL TERMINAL: A coal company hoping to build a coal export terminal in Washington state sued the state government Wednesday for blocking the project.

Lighthouse Resources Inc. said in its federal lawsuit that Washington's decision amounts to an unconstitutional ban on coal exports and imposes illegal restrictions on railroad and ship operations.

"It's no secret that Washington state officials are philosophically opposed to coal," Everett King, the company's president, said in a statement. "But that does not give them legal authority to discriminate against this project and block foreign trade and interstate commerce."

Lighthouse is headquartered in Salt Lake City, and its subsidiaries operate coal mines in Montana and Wyoming. It hoped to build the Millennium Coal Terminal in Longview, Wash., to export coal to markets like Japan and South Korea.

It would have been the largest coal export terminal in the United States.

Read more here.

 

DOMINION BUYS COMPANY BEHIND FAILED SC NUKE PROJECT: Utility giant Dominion Energy Inc. agreed Wednesday to acquire Scana Corp. and assume its liabilities from a major nuclear power project in South Carolina that it scrapped last year.

The all-stock deal is worth about $7.9 billion. Dominion agreed to pay customers of Scana $1,000 each, totaling $1.3 billion, due to the costs they incurred from the failed V.C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station and promised to lower their bills as well.

Scana, a holding company that owns South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., scrapped V.C. Summer, in July, after it put nearly $9 billion into the project with Santee Cooper, a state-owned utility.

It was one of just two nuclear power plants under construction in the United States.

"We believe this merger will provide significant benefits to SCE&G's customers, SCANA's shareholders and the communities Scana serves," Thomas Farrell, president of Dominion, said in a statement.

"It would lock in significant and immediate savings for SCE&G customers -- including what we believe is the largest utility customer cash refund in history -- and guarantee a rapidly declining impact from the V.C. Summer project."

Scana had funded some of the costs of V.C. Summer with charges on South Carolina ratepayers' bills.

Read more here.

 

NEW EPA, ENERGY NOMINEES: President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE nominated senior officials for posts at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) Wednesday.

Holly Greaves was tapped to be the EPA chief financial officer. She has been at the EPA since Trump's inauguration, serving as a budget adviser to Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Rate of new endangered species listings falls | EPA approves use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock | Watchdog says EPA didn't conduct required analyses EPA didn't conduct required analyses of truck engine rule: internal watchdog Is Big Oil feeling the heat? MORE, and was formerly a senior manager at KPMG, an accounting firm.

"Holly is exceptionally qualified to be our chief financial officer and has been an integral advisor to the Agency as we look to enact meaningful fiscal reforms and eliminate wasteful spending," Pruitt said in a statement. "I look forward to working with Holly in her new leadership role at EPA."

Anne White was nominated to be DOE's assistant secretary for environmental management, the position in charge of environmental cleanups at more than 100 legacy sites from DOE and its predecessors.

White founded Bastet Technical Services, an environmental consulting services firm that serves DOE.

Both nominees must go through Senate confirmation.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

California took its ceremonial first measurement of the season at the Sierra Nevada snowpack, finding it to be very low, at 3 percent of its average, the Sacramento Bee reports.

The rest of the country is mocking Oregonians as they deal with pumping their own gasoline as a change in state law, USA Today reports.

A federal judge has ordered a suspect in the Oregon wildlife refuge occupation to return to jail early after seeing Facebook photos of him visiting the Bundy ranch in Nevada, the Oregonian reports.

Jeff Green argues in The Hill that Trump's executive order on minerals is important to long-term national security.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Wednesday's stories ...

- Former EPA intern: Trump's impact 'impossible to miss'

- Pennsylvania halts construction of controversial pipeline

- Utility to buy company behind failed SC nuclear project

- Company sues Washington state for blocking coal export terminal