The company responsible for DAPL is yet again in hot water over a pipeline, this time, in Ohio.
Energy Transfer Partners, the conglomerate responsible for the construction of North Dakota’s contentious Dakota Access Pipeline, has come under fire again — this time in Ohio — for bulldozing a historic dwelling and failing to pay an annual million-dollar fee owed to the state.
To construct the similarly controversial Rover Pipeline, ETP purchased and then razed the historic Stoneman House in Dennison — built in 1843 — under obligation to pay the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office $1.5 million each year, for five years.
ETP demolished the structure just one week after purchasing it for $1.3 million in May 2015, but documents show the company failed to issue an obligatory notification to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it intended to do so — bringing into critical focus for Ohioans the callous nature and crushing power of the oil and gas industry.
“Rover is set to carry natural gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) from the Utica Shale and Marcellus Shale — up to 14 percent of it — through the state of Ohio,” DeSmogBlog reports. “The pipeline owner initially bulldozed the historic home, located near a compressor station, without notifying FERC, as the law requires.
“FERC provides regulatory and permitting oversight for interstate pipeline projects like Rover, and as a result, is tasked with performing an environmental and cultural review. Because Energy Transfer Partners didn’t notify the commission of the plan to tear down the historic home, citizens and other concerned stakeholders, including the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, did not have the ability to file a formal protest of the action.”
According to its agreement signed by FERC, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, ETP, and the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, the annual fee — paid each March — should provide “history education programs administered by” the state’s historic preservation office.
Demolishing the historic home had been warned against in a March 2015 email by an Energy Transfer Partners official (name is redacted in FERC filings) who wrote,
“I agree that tearing down the house could be a politically risky strategy. [I]t may negatively affect the relationships with our reviewers and possibly result in some negative regional PR. We also told FERC that we would work with the [State Historic Preservation Office] to get to a place where there was no adverse effect.”
Seemingly in frustration on April 28, Ohio State Historic Preservation Office CEO and executive director Lox Logan, Jr., implored FERC to intervene in the office’s ongoing row with ETP. In a letter, Logan wrote the preservation office had contacted Rover LLC representatives on multiple occasions to discuss payment of the annual fee per the Memorandum of Agreement; but,
“As of this date, no efforts have been made to meet those obligations. As the lead federal agency with jurisdiction over this undertaking, we are notifying you of this dispute.”
Energy Transfer Partners shared with DeSmog a letter to FERC from company attorney William Scherman, of the firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, dated May 10, which states,
“Certain facts regarding the generation and completion of the MOA and the handling of the mitigation monetary provision were misleading and in error, and therefore we do believe that there is an impasse to resolution at this time. Rover believes any additional contribution is unwarranted and unfair, and Rover is willing to vigorously defend itself against any attempts to leverage any additional contribution.”
DeSmog critically notes, “Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher is a firm best known for providing legal counsel to Chevron in the ongoing litigation between attorney Steven Donziger and indigenous plaintiffs in Ecuador against Chevron. That lawsuit and complex litigation battle, which has now dragged on for nearly 25 years, centers around the legacy of oil pollution and contamination in the country.”
In response to communications from both parties, on May 17, FERC established a three-week dispute resolution period, admonishing,
“If this dispute is not resolved by the end of that period, Commission staff will provide its recommended final decision on the dispute, along with all documentation it deems relevant to the dispute, to the [Advisory Council on Historic Preservation] for its review and comment.”
ETP officials refused to elaborate on the dispute, telling DeSmog for its Sunday article the company must “decline to comment as we continue to work with all parties.”
By Sunday, however, Rover issued a statement of clarification to “conflicting reports,” claiming it contributed $2.3 million to the Community Historic Preservation Fund on November 21, 2016. Ohio’s WMFD published the declaration, which asserted, in part,
“That payment was part of its cooperative agreement in which counties can apply for funds to be used towards the preservation of historic properties in Ohio, and more specifically, in the 18 counties through which the Rover Pipeline traverses.
“This payment also included monies that are to be allocated towards an establishment of an archeological database and a one-time payment to fund positive historic achievement outcomes throughout Ohio.
“What remains in discussions with the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office and the Federal Regulatory Commission are requested contributions, in addition to the more than $2.3-million the state received in 2016.”
To be clear, Energy Transfer Partners believes that $2.3 million, the one-time payout would supplant any further monetary obligations — with $1.3 million allotted toward historic preservation efforts in Ohio, and the remainder distributed among the aforementioned 18 countries through which Rover Pipeline is slated traverse.
“FERC has responded to our letter. We’re entering into dispute resolution with FERC at this time,” Emmy Beach, public relations manager for the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, told DeSmog. “At this point, the matter is up to FERC to decide what happens next.”