Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Federal Briefs

Uh-oh: Government Doesn’t Have Water Rights at Yucca Mountain Site

Yucca MountainAttempts to restart the Yucca Mountain Underground Nuclear Waste Repository have hit another snag: the government does not have the necessary water rights to operate at the Nevada site.

A staff report by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that despite decades of study and construction, the Department of Energy allowed land-use agreements for the site to expire and would need an act of Congress to renew them.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., a leading opponent of Yucca Mountain, said the report underscored major weaknesses in the project. “This is just one reason why the Yucca Mountain project will never be built,” he said in a statement.

More: Las Vegas Review Journal

NRC Puts Callaway’s License Renewal Decision on Hold

Callaway (Source: Ameren)Ameren Missouri expected the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to rule by the end of this month on its application for a 20-year license renewal for its Callaway Energy Center, but the company heard last week that the decision is on hold while the commission considers a legal challenge.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment, which on Dec. 8 requested to intervene in the case, wants to challenge the “legal adequacy” of the commission’s newly revised Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel rule. Callaway was to be the second nuclear plant to get a license renewal under the new spent-fuel rule, which the commission adopted in October, ending a two-year moratorium on license renewals.

Callaway’s current license expires in 2024.

More: Fulton Sun

FERC OKs Columbia Gas Compressor Station Upgrade

Columbia Gas’ $268.5 million Eastside Expansion Project, which includes 19 miles of new transmission line from Chester County, Pa., into New Jersey, received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The expansion includes plans to upgrade a compressor station in Forks Township, Pa., to support the pipeline’s added capacity. FERC determined that the upgrade would not have an adverse impact on air quality.

More: Allentown Morning Call

Another NJ Pipeline Expansion Project Approved by FERC

The Leidy Southeast line, an addition to the Transcontinental Pipeline designed to bring Marcellus Shale natural gas to southern markets, was approved last week by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The $738 million project, a 30-mile series of loops in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, won the commission’s approval despite objections from environmentalists who said it would cross farmlands and wetlands.

More: StateImpact

Minnesota-Manitoba Tx Line Gets Nod from FERC

The Great Northern Transmission Line, a 220-mile, 500-kV line being built by Minnesota Power and Manitoba Hydro, has received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The line will bring power to Minnesota from two hydro stations in northern Manitoba. MISO also voted to include the line in its Transmission Expansion Planning report for 2014.

More: Zacks

FERC Grants Native American Hydro Project Exempt Status

PPL Kerr DamThe Federal Energy Regulatory Commission exempted a Montana hydro project from having to comply with reporting requirements, the first time such an exemption has been granted. The project will come under the full ownership of Native American tribes next year.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, which already owns part of the Kerr Hydroelectric Project, are buying the remaining shares from PPL. The tribes and their company Energy Keepers Inc. asked FERC for an order declaring them exempt public utilities under section 201(f) of the Federal Power Act, which would relieve them of obligations to maintain or make available their books and records to the commission.

FERC found that the tribes and their holding company are performing an inherent government function and were exempt. The ruling will allow the tribes to engage in forward power sales before assuming full control of the project.

More: JDSupra

DOE Releases Environmental Study on 720-Mile Tx Line

A proposed $2 billion transmission line designed to bring wind energy from Oklahoma to Tennessee passed an important regulatory hurdle when the Department of Energy released the draft environmental impact study.

Clean Line Energy Partners, the project’s developer, said the final environmental impact study should be completed next year. Construction on the Plains & Eastern project is expected to begin next year and to be completed in 2018. The line is designed to deliver 3,500 MW of wind energy to its final customer, the Tennessee Valley Authority.

More: Tulsa World

Savannah River Site Cleanup Marks Milestone

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz has given the OK for the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to begin  cleaning up radioactive tanks that stored chemicals when the site was part of the nation’s nuclear weapons production system.

Moniz’s decision came after a long study of hazards and preliminary work at the site. The underground tanks of H Tank Farm will be emptied and their interiors will be coated with a cement grouting to stabilize any remaining materials.

“We are now able to move forward to safely, effectively and efficiently clean up and close these tanks in the H Tank Farm, as we work to achieve the key mission of cleaning up the environmental legacy of the Cold War,” Moniz said.

More: The Times and Democrat

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