Environmentalists and community activists called on Philadelphia Energy Solutions on Tuesday to withdraw a proposal to build a new facility at the planned Southport marine terminal, saying the project would worsen local air pollution and increase the region’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Around 100 protesters gathered outside the PES refinery in South Philadelphia, and said they hoped to influence the policies adopted by the Democratic National Convention taking place at the Wells Fargo Center a few miles away.
The demonstrators, carrying yellow flags and banging drums, briefly blocked traffic on busy Passyunk Avenue, angering drivers and causing backups in both directions. They also stopped tanker drivers going in and out of the refinery, prompting a confrontation between several protestors and at least two of the drivers. Continue Reading
From NJ Spotlight
Public Service Enterprise Group, New Jersey’s largest electricity supplier, is trying to block a plan to expand a natural-gas pipeline in New England, arguing it will unreasonably suppress prices in the electricity market there.
In a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, PSEG companies contend that the move, initiated by four states in the region, is not driven by reliability needs and that the gas would be rarely used by the utilities that would own the pipeline.
“It’s purely a scheme to suppress wholesale power prices,’’ the company argued in a filing with the federal agency last month. The case is “virtually indistinguishable’’ from a previous case before FERC involving New Jersey’s efforts to subsidize new power plant construction in the state, an effort struck down by both the agency and the U.S. Supreme Court, the filing said.
The filing, however, caught the interest of critics of the proposed PennEast pipeline, a 118-mile conduit from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. They argue that PSEG advances many of the same arguments opponents have made about that proposal, including supplying pipeline capacity far in excess of what is demanded by the marketplace. Continue reading at NJ Spotlight.
It’s not simply activity on the convention floor that make up a political convention. In addition to the speeches, caucuses and roundtable discussions are all part of the DNC this week in Philadelphia.
Leaders of environmental groups, politicians and business people gathered at a hotel in Center City Philadelphia to discuss how the Democratic Party could be pressed further to address climate change. The event was sponsored by Bloomberg News.
Elizabeth Thompson, a lobbyist for the Environmental Defense Fund, credited the Bernie Sanders supporters for bringing energy and focus to climate issues.
“It used to be climate change, or addressing these issues was sort of the political loser like, why would you do that? That’s going to hurt you. But I think a lot of people understand its about new jobs, it’s about clean energy revolution, it’s about the future.” Continue Reading
Thousands of campaigners for clean energy marched through the center of Philadelphia on the eve of the Democratic National Convention on Sunday, urging the party to adopt policies that would ban fracking and promote the use of renewable energy.
In an event that mixed national politics with local opposition to specific energy projects, some demonstrators called on the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, to step up her support for renewable energy, while others – many of them backers of Clinton’s former rival, Senator Bernie Sanders — vowed never to support Clinton even if that increased the chances of the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, becoming president.
A plan to build the controversial PennEast natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey took a step forward on Friday when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said the project’s environmental impacts could be reduced to “less than significant levels” if it adopts certain mitigation measures.
The proposed 119-mile pipeline from Luzerne County, PA to Mercer County, NJ could have “some adverse environmental impacts,” but those could be overcome if the builder and operator, PennEast Pipeline Company, takes steps recommended by itself and by FERC staffers, the federal agency said.
The commission said the decision was based in part on the fact that about a third of the route is along existing rights of way; that PennEast would control erosion, contamination and other negative effects, and that FERC staff would make sure the project complies with federal laws on endangered species and historic preservation. Continue Reading
Note: This story is from The Allegheny Front, a public radio program covering environmental issues in Western Pennsylvania.
Governor Tom Wolf was in Beaver County Thursday to tout the economic benefits of Shell’s multi-billion dollar ethane cracker and discuss the challenges ahead in building it.
Wolf spoke at what his office called a “roundtable” with local elected leaders and economic development officials.
The governor said the project will mean that Pennsylvania isn’t just an exporter of raw materials to other states, but will be using its own natural gas to build a new manufacturing base.
Rising seas and future storms are likely to flood some areas of greater Philadelphia to a depth of four feet or more above the current high tide line by 2040, according to a new climate report released on Thursday.
The report by Climate Central, a Princeton, NJ-based research group, said the projected floods would be the highest since records began in 1900, and would inundate nine square miles of land – most of it in the City of Philadelphia – that lies less than four feet above the high-tide line.
The largest facility that would be flooded under the scenario would be Philadelphia International Airport where property worth an estimated $250 million would be exposed to the rising waters, the report said. Across the whole exposed area, the value of property that would be flooded in the scenario was estimated at $686 million, and would affect about 5,000 people living in 2,000 homes. Continue Reading
Federal regulators are requiring a natural gas pipeline company to conduct more testing and take corrective actions on three nearby lines, following an April 29 explosion in Westmoreland County that sent a man to the hospital with severe burns.
In May the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) found evidence of corrosion on the 30-inch gas pipeline, indicating a potential flaw in the coating material used in weld joints at the time of construction in 1981.
In the July 19 order, PHMSA now says three nearby lines buried underground “could potentially have been damaged or adversely affected by the explosion … and pose a serious risk to life, property, or the environment if returned to normal operation” unless Spectra Energy Corporation conducts more testing and takes further corrective actions.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has unveiled an updated version of its interactive mapping tool for Pennsylvania’s oil and gas wells.
“Making such data available and easy to use promotes transparency and allows the public to generate the information they want on demand,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell in a statement.
The updated oil and gas map comes with a 10 minute YouTube tutorial on how to use it. Other groups have already used DEP’s oil and gas data to build their own interactive maps over the years, including StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Shale Play map, which launched in 2011.
A company constructing a pipeline system in Butler County to connect gas wells to a processing plant will pay $1.5 million for causing a landslide into a stream, and discharging sediment in to a wetland. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says Stonehenge Appalachia has entered a consent order with the agency and agreed to pay the fine.
“This type of man-made ecological impact is both egregious and avoidable, and never should have occurred,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “By this action, Stonehenge accepts both environmental and financial responsibility for their actions.”
Stonehenge incurred the violations while building an 18-mile gathering line for the State College based independent producer Rex Energy, which plans to transport the gas to MarkWest Energy’s Bluestone Processingfacility in Evans City.
DEP says between November 2015 and March 2016, Stonehenge allowed sediment to enter a stream and fill two wetlands. The company also discharged “significant drilling fluids, including bentonite clay” into waterways.