Changes to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (USACE) methods of reviewing and permitting natural gas pipelines in Pennsylvania, which were instituted by the Corps July 1, will result in "substantial delays" in pipeline construction in the state's Marcellus Shale area, according to David Spigelmyer, Chesapeake Energy vice president of government relations.
The Corps' Pennsylvania State Programmatic General Permit-4 "has added an unnecessary, time-consuming and redundant layer to the permitting process," Spigelmyer wrote in a recent letter to landowners in the state's Northern Tier.
"The potential review of all stream and wetland crossing permits by the USACE moves the average release time for a project from 45 days to almost 300 days. In other areas of the United States where substantial natural gas gathering lines are being built, this federal agency does not require this extra layer of review."
The regulations, which replace federal rules adopted in 2006, were designed to protect Pennsylvania's aquatic resources within USACE's Baltimore, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Districts, improve regulatory response time and add predictability to the permit program, according to USACE. Under the new rules, regulators may consider the cumulative surface-water impacts of projects.
Chesapeake has invested more than $3 billion in the development of Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, but it also has 128 drilled and completed wells awaiting pipeline permits from USACE, according to Spigelmyer.
In his letter, Spigelmyer asked landowners to let their representatives in Congress know that the Corps' actions "are infringing on your ability to develop your minerals."