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Rover Pipeline Sets Record for Environmental Violations

Energy
Rover Pipeline Sets Record for Environmental Violations
Richland County Wetland destroyed by spilled drilling fluids during construction of Rover Pipeline, April 14. Sierra Club

Energy Transfer Partners' controversial $4.3 billion Rover pipeline has more negative inspection reports than any other major interstate natural gas pipeline built in the last two years, according to a new Bloomberg analysis.

The 713-mile pipeline, which will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan and Canada, has been stalled from numerous environmental violations, including a 2 million gallon drilling fluid spill into an Ohio wetland in April.


Rover has accrued 104 violations since construction of the $4.2 billion project in started in March.

That's more negative reports than the next four pipeline projects combined, including William's Virginia Southside Expansion (26 reports), Enbridge's Algonquin Incremental Market (24), Williams' Dalton Expansion (23) and Endbridges Sabal Trail (18).

In May, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected Energy Transfer's request to resume horizontal directional drilling at two sites for the Rover Pipeline after numerous leaks into Ohio's wetlands as well as various Clean Air and Clean Water act violations across the state.

Blackstone announced last month it was spending $1.57 billion for a 32 percent stake in the troubled project.

"Rover will be built in compliance with all safety and environmental regulations and in some instances we will exceed those requirements," Energy Transfer spokeswoman Alexis Daniel told Bloomberg in response to the violation tally.

Energy Transfer owns about 71,000 miles of natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products and crude oil pipelines across the country and is the same company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. Citing numbers from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, TheStreet reported in June that the Dallas-based firm spilled hazardous liquids near water crossings more than twice the frequency of any other U.S. pipeline company this decade.

But spills are not the only problem. A June study by Oil Change International highlighted how the Rover pipeline will fuel a massive increase in climate pollution, causing as much greenhouse gas pollution as 42 coal-fired power plants—some 145 million metric tons per year.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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