Earlier this year, federal regulators blocked Energy Transfer Partners from drilling until it addressed environmental concerns over the project. Photo: Ohio EPA

President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt have vowed to boost domestic energy production by dismantling federal regulations on things like drilling, but environmental agencies in both blue and red states have pushed back in the months since Mr. Trump took office. One such battle in Ohio suggests that oil and gas companies may not have a blank check to drill after all — even with a Republican in the White House ordering expedited environmental reviews on major pipeline projects.

Energy Transfer Partners — the same company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline — has received 13 violations from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency since construction began this year on the Rover Pipeline Project, a 713-mile pipeline designed to gather gas from processing plants in Eastern Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The new pipeline will distribute 68 percent of the gas carried through Ohio and West Virginia into markets across the country, with remaining gas flowing to storage fields across the state of Michigan and as far north as Ontario, Canada.

Ohio flagged the most recent violation last week after pollutants from the pipeline were were unlawfully discharged into an unnamed river that flows into a larger lake. The spill took place days after federal regulators allowed Rover Pipeline construction to resume horizontal directional drilling, a construction method used to install pipelines under bodies of water.

Following a number of these environmental violations — some of which prompted a four-month stop on some drilling after two separate spills dumped two million gallons of drilling mud contaminated with diesel fuel into Ohio wetlands — the state EPA director notified Energy Transfer Partners it owes $2.3 million dollars in civil fines and damages. But the company has held firm it is not responsible for those fines, and still plans to finish the project next year.

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PBS Newshour – Courtney Norris – 10.05.2017

Posted by Nelson Bailey

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