FERC's actions in response to the Tuscarawas River HDD spill came just days after a May 5 letter from Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) Director Craig Butler asking for FERC’s help in responding to "numerous inadvertent returns of bentonite slurry at a number of locations throughout" the state, including the 2 million gallon Tuscarawas River spill, which affected "a high-quality Category 3 wetland."
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."
Butler added, "In light of Rover's restarting drilling operations today and Rover's position that the state is without any authority to address violations of environmental laws, we are asking FERC to review the matter and to take appropriate action in the most expeditious manner."
Prior to FERC stepping in, Ohio EPA issued a series of proposed administrative orders in response to the spills that would require Rover to, among other things, develop a wetlands restoration plan and pay a $431,000 civil penalty. An Ohio EPA spokesman told NGI the orders represent the "beginning of the enforcement process" and that they are in response to the Tuscarawas spill and "at least 17 other Rover-related environmental incidents reported to Ohio EPA's spill hotline."
While local media outlets reported that Rover had been fined by Ohio EPA for environmental violations, Energy Transfer spokeswoman Alexis Daniel challenged that characterization.
"There has been a great deal of misrepresentation of the facts as it pertains to this issue," she said in an email. She referred NGI back to the Ohio EPA to "get a clear understanding of the specifics of the situation as no fine has been issued. We continue to work with all regulatory bodies with governance over the project to resolve any outstanding questions or concerns."Click here to read the whole article.
It would appear that the Ohio EPA has issued the fines, but perhaps the reason that Energy Transfer says no fine has been issued is that the company seems to have decided that the agency has no authority over them and can be ignored.
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