Quantcast

Feds Halt New Drilling on Rover Pipeline After Massive Spills Destroy Ohio Wetlands

Popular
Wetland destroyed by spilled drilling fluids during construction of Rover Pipeline.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) halted new drilling Wednesday on the Rover Pipeline until it addresses its 2 million gallon spill of drilling fluids into Ohio wetlands.


The decision was made just days after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) slapped parent company Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) with a $431,000 fine over numerous water and air pollution violations along the route of the $4.2 billion project. ETP is the same company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, which also happened to leak 84 gallons of oil in South Dakota early last month.

Terry Turpin, director of FERC's Office of Energy Projects, said in a Wednesday letter to the developer that FERC staff has "serious concerns" about the sizable spill, its environmental impacts and the "lack of clarity regarding the underlying reasons for its occurrence, and the possibility of future problems."

The two spills of betonite mud were discovered April 13 and 14 in Stark and Richland County wetlands and was caused by pressure during drilling that allowed mud to rise to the surface, the Ohio EPA said.

Although the mud is nontoxic, officials worry that it could smother wildlife, plants and affect the wetlands' water chemistry.

ETP cannot conduct any new horizontal directional drilling activities until it complies with certain measures to help prevent spills, the FERC letter said.

"The action taken Wednesday by FERC is a step in the right direction," Ohio EPA spokesman James Lee told NBC News.

According to S&P Global Platts, FERC's order affects horizontal directional drilling in eight out of 30 drilling areas associated with the project. The regulators have also required Rover to obtain independent third-party consultants to study the company's drilling plans.

The drilling ban will remain in place until FERC authorizes it to start again. The company can still finish drilling activities it already started or other non-drilling construction work.

"We have received the letter from the FERC. We continue to work with them and the [Ohio Environmental Protection Agency] on a resolution to this matter," Alexis Daniel, Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman, told Platts.

But Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler told acting FERC chairman Cheryl LaFleur that Rover has "taken the position that Ohio has no authority to enforce violations of its federally delegated state water pollution control statutes, water quality standards or air pollution control statutes ... Ohio EPA strongly disagrees with Rover's position."

The finished 713-mile Rover Pipeline will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and Canada, and crosses three major rivers, the Maumee, Sandusky and Portage, all of which feed into Lake Erie. The pipeline is designed to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of domestically produced natural gas per day.

ETP said the pipeline will enter service in two phases in July and November.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A protest march against the Line 3 pipeline in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 18, 2018. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Collin Rees

We know that people power can stop dangerous fossil fuel projects like the proposed Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, because we've proved it over and over again — and recently we've had two more big wins.

Read More Show Less
Scientists released a study showing that a million species are at risk for extinction, but it was largely ignored by the corporate news media. Danny Perez Photography / Flickr / CC

By Julia Conley

Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pixabay

Summer is fast approaching, which means it's time to stock up on sunscreen to ward off the harmful effects of sun exposure. Not all sunscreens are created equally, however.

Read More Show Less
DoneGood

By Cullen Schwarz

Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We're far more familiar with the "tried and tested" methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.

Read More Show Less
Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Flooding in Winfield, Missouri this month. Jonathan Rehg / Getty Images

President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.

"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.

Read More Show Less
Reed Hoffmann / Getty Images

Violent tornadoes tore through Missouri Wednesday night, killing three and causing "extensive damage" to the state's capital of Jefferson City, The New York Times reported.

"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."

Read More Show Less

georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images

By Jennifer Molidor

One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.

Read More Show Less