Rover Pipeline LLC has turned to a federal appeals court to challenge FERC’s denial of a blanket certificate for routine construction activities for the project, the latest in a dispute over the company’s demolition of a historic home near one of the pipeline’s Ohio compressor stations.
Rover filed a petition for review this week asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to look at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Nov. 30 order upholding the blanket certificate denial.
The commission’s decision, as explained in its certificate order approving the project last year, was based on Rover’s demolition of the historic Stoneman House in Ohio, which was located within the area of potential effects of Rover's proposed Mainline Compressor Station 1 and was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Prior to obtaining certificate approval, Rover acquired and demolished the home without notifying FERC of its plans ahead of time in an attempt to bypass procedures set out under federal historic preservation laws, the Commission has alleged.
FERC withheld the blanket authorization for routine construction activities in its Feb. 2, 2017, certificate order as a de facto sanction over the incident, saying it “raises the question of whether Rover would fully comply with our environmental regulations in future construction activities under a blanket certificate."
FERC later explained its decision by pointing to email correspondence between the company and contractors that it said confirmed suspicions that the home was purposefully demolished to avoid additional costs and prolonged regulatory proceedings.
For its part, Rover said in a filing last year that FERC failed to adequately prove that the operator had demolished the home to intentionally avoid additional regulatory proceedings under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The Commission further failed to address “contrary evidence” showing Rover notified state preservation officials prior to demolishing the Stoneman House, Rover said.
"Finally, even if the Commission had somehow made a supportable finding with respect to Rover's intent -- which it did not -- the remedy imposed by the Commission...does not follow, according to Commission precedent or as defined by any rule or law for a violation of the NHPA or the Natural Gas Act," Rover wrote.
Meanwhile, construction for the 713-mile, 3.25 Bcf/d Appalachian takeaway project recently hit yet another snag when FERC ordered the company to suspend its second horizontal directional drill crossing of the Tuscarawas River in Stark County, OH. Rover voiced its displeasure with that decision as well.