Ohio’s current Governor, Mike DeWine, is an establishment-type swamp dwelling Republican. DeWine was Attorney General for Ohio in November 2017 when he was manipulated into suing Energy Transfer claiming the Rover Pipeline project was guilty of “polluting state waters while constructing a natural gas pipeline across Ohio” (see OH EPA Director Manipulates Atty General to Sue Rover Pipeline). The lawsuit has essentially gone nowhere since that time.
Really? Yeah, the wheels of “justice” grind slooooooooowly in Ohio. ET says Ohio has no right or jurisdiction to bring such a lawsuit against the Rover project because Rover is a federally-approved and regulated project. If anyone files such a lawsuit, it should be the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The Ohio AG’s office says ET violated not only federal regulations, like the Clean Water Act, but also state environmental regulations issued by the Ohio EPA. (OEPA’s director, Craig “Captain Ahab” Butler, rises up again to kill the great white pipeline.)
Who’s right? A judge will decide whether or not the lawsuit can proceed. Final briefs and arguments were filed in November 2018, a year after the lawsuit was originally brought against ET/Rover. There is “no timetable” for when the judge will make her ruling.
More than a year after Ohio’s Attorney General sued Rover Pipeline for polluting a Stark County wetland and other alleged environmental violations, the parties continue to fight over whether a local court should hear the case.
The state has said Rover Pipeline and six subcontractors broke various regulations involving the release of stormwater, drilling fluid or water used in pressure-testing the 713-mile-long interstate natural gas pipeline.
Rover Pipeline and the subcontractors have argued that only the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, not the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, has the power to enforce environmental regulations on an interstate pipeline.
There is no timetable for when the judge will make her ruling.
Rover Pipeline, comprising two 42-inch-diameter mainlines, transports up to 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Utica and Marcellus shale regions to users in the United States and Canada. Texas-base Energy Transfer owns the pipeline.
Rover began partial operation in August 2017 and the last lateral pipelines that feed the system went on-line in November of last year. Locally, Rover’s mainlines cross Carroll, Tuscarawas, Stark and Wayne counties.
The Attorney General first sued Rover in Stark County Common Pleas Court in November 2017, and has filed three amended complaints since then, the latest in July. The case is assigned to Judge Kristin G. Farmer.
Subcontractors named in the lawsuit are Pretec Directional Drilling, Laney Directional Drilling, Atlas Trenchless, Mears Group and B&T Directional Drilling.
The lawsuit alleged violations in more than a dozen counties across the state involving the discharge of sediment-laden stormwater, leaks and spills of clay-based drilling fluid or the release of water used to pressure-test the pipeline.
The biggest spill happened in April 2017 when millions of gallons of clay-based drilling fluid leaked into a Bethlehem Township wetland while workers bored a path for one of the mainlines beneath the Tuscarawas River.
Workers later dumped the drilling fluid – tainted with diesel fuel — in quarries near water wells used by private residences and by the Canton Water Department and Aqua Ohio. Rover removed the waste from the quarries and testing showed no contamination of water wells, according to Ohio EPA.
The state has asked the court to order Rover Pipeline to comply with Ohio EPA’s orders and pay a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per day for each violation, as well as reimburse the Ohio EPA and pay the cost of the court action.
Toss it out?
Rover and its co-defendants have said the state’s lawsuit should be thrown out. The companies contend they had permits for the various discharges and releases cited by the state. The final written arguments on the motions to dismiss were filed in November.
“Those discharges are inevitable and foreseeable, which is why the parties planned for them in this construction project, just as they do in similar projects,” Rover’s attorneys wrote in court filings late last year.
The companies also have argued that federal law gives FERC, not state agencies, the authority to enforce environmental laws in this situation.
“It is well-settled that, where Congress has vested a federal agency with exclusive jurisdiction, a state court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear claims that second-guess that agency’s decisions,” attorneys for Pretec wrote.*
*New Philadelphia (OH) Times-Reporter (Feb 11, 2019) – Rover spill lawsuit moves slowly through court
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