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Green Group Asks FERC to Prepare Supplemental DEIS For Nexus Pipeline

Environmental group Sustainable Medina County (SMC) filed a motion Monday asking FERC to complete a supplemental draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the proposed Nexus Gas Transmission LLC pipeline.

SMC argued that additional information on a possible route variation filed since the DEIS was completed in July (see Daily GPI, July 8) obligates the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to prepare a supplemental DEIS and conduct an additional public comment period.

The group pointed to a route alternative in the Chippewa Lake area of Medina County, OH, that was developed based on additional information FERC had sought from Nexus in the DEIS.

Nexus, a high-profile east-to-west Marcellus/Utica takeaway project, would transport 1.5 Bcf/d from eastern Ohio into Michigan, connecting Appalachian Basin gas to markets in the Midwest and Canada. Nexus, which filed with FERC last year (see Daily GPI, Nov. 23, 2015), is under development by Spectra Energy Corp. and DTE Energy Co.

SMC took issue with the timing and scope of FERC’s Oct. 6 request for comments from landowners affected by the “Chippewa D” route alternative. “FERC staff’s decision to not include Chippewa D within the [DEIS], coupled with the deliberate curtailment of ‘public’ from which comments are being sought, violates the National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA],” SMC wrote, pushing for FERC to issue the supplemental DEIS and “schedule a second round series of public comment hearings without restriction as to those who may offer comments.”

Starting at mile point (MP) 66.0, the Chippewa D route variation would run to the northeast of the original proposed route before reconnecting with the original route at MP 72.5, according to FERC’s Oct. 6 request for public comment.

The group contended that a supplemental public filing from NEXUS and FERC’s request for input from landowners with property on or adjacent to the Chippewa D alternative route is not enough to satisfy the public engagement requirements under NEPA.

“Disclosures by Spectra which are aimed at filling in gaps in the DEIS but which do not appear in the Draft EIS itself are not publicly disclosed as required by NEPA for purposes of public comment,” SMC wrote. “The fact that the public has been abandoned to sift for itself through the FERC docket on NEXUS during the comment period to find out whether there are new supplemental disclosures thwarts the statutory right of the public to generate comments [that] are timely, meaningful, and heard.

“The predicament here is that there is an incomplete DEIS. FERC must supplement the DEIS and solicit the additional public information, public investigation, and comment via legal notification of the entire public. Otherwise, FERC’s failures to disclose in a DEIS the Chippewa D reroute and information responsive to the Staff’s other requests will defeat NEPA's goal of public participation during the decision making process.”

Last week, a coalition of environmental groups followed a similar line of reasoning in pushing for FERC to prepare a supplemental DEIS for the Atlantic Sunrise expansion proposed for Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. (see Daily GPI, Oct. 11).

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