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Islander East Seeks Court Support for Long Island Sound Testing

Islander East Pipeline, the long-planned 50-mile line under Long Island Sound, is continuing its tortuous trail through the regulatory maze, filing a complaint in U.S. District Court in Connecticut last week to stop state and local officials from interfering with offshore data-gathering activities necessary for design work for horizontal directional drilling.

The pipeline sponsors, Duke Energy and KeySpan, say the work is necessary in the event other courts give it the go-ahead on the pipeline itself, which could be imminent. The prime time for laying the underwater line is from Sept. 1 through March 31, Duke Energy spokesman John Sheridan said. And while the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) originally said no water quality permit was needed for the testing, it now says the company must have a state permit. Islander East claims the FERC authorization is sufficient.

The line from near New Haven, CT across Long Island Sound to Suffolk County near Yaphank, NY would deliver 285,000 Dth/d of gas initially and ultimately 400,000 Dth/d, fueling a power plant on Long Island. It was first proposed five years ago.

Sheridan said there could be a decision soon on a water quality certificate, which currently is being litigated in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (see Daily GPI, Jan. 6). The pipeline refiled based on new authority given to FERC under last year's Energy Policy Act (see Daily GPI, Aug. 8, 2005). Also, there is a case involving a Coastal Zone Management permit pending in U.S. District Court.

Connecticut doesn't like the project primarily because it would see no direct benefit from it since the gas would go to Long Island. Sheridan said, however, that Connecticut also would benefit from additional supplies coming through the area.

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