Ohio EPA Raises Fines on Rover Pipeline to $2.3 Million, Company Still Refuses to Pay

Ohio EPA Raises Fines on Rover Pipeline to $2.3 Million, Company Still Refuses to Pay
Area of the Rover spill in April

The Rover pipeline, which will carry natural gas from Appalachia to Canada and the Midwest, spilled an estimated 2-million gallons of drilling fluid into Ohio wetlands in April shortly after construction began on the $4.2 billion project. Energy Transfer Partners, the company that owns Rover Pipeline LLC, acknowledged the spills but downplayed them as "inadvertent returns of horizontal directional drilling fluid."

The company had been prevented from drilling on unfinished sections of the massive pipeline since the incident in the spring until this week when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave them the go-ahead to restart operations.

Energy Transfer Partners has shouldered the cleanup costs and complied with orders to begin that process, but what the company hasn't done is settle up with fines levied by the Ohio EPA. Those began back in spring and have now grown to $2.3 million, all of it unpaid. The company is balking at the penalties and has argued that it isn't subject to regulations imposed by the Ohio EPA — like obtaining storm water pollution permits — because the greenlight on the project had long ago been granted by FERC. According to the Associated Press, "Ohio’s environmental regulators and farmers say there have been problems with flooded fields since construction crews began laying pipe in March to meet the company’s initial plan of finishing the project by November."

It's also worth noting FERC only recently gained two new members in August that brought the body to voting quorum status for the first time since January. Those two men — Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson — are almost sure to bring a more pro-pipeline stance to FERC.