Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

Groups Seek to Block Construction of MARC I Hub Project

Three conservation and environmental groups are seeking to stall the construction of Inergy subsidiary Central New York Oil and Gas Co.'s (CNYOG) MARC I Hub project in northeast Pennsylvania until the company corrects "serious flaws" in its invasive species management plan.

"Contrary to [FERC's] explicit direction in the order granting certificate dated Nov. 14, CNYOG's plan focuses exclusively on invasive terrestrial plant species [see Shale Daily, Nov. 17]. In the order, the Commission agreed with EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] that an invasive species management plan should require 'measures to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species [as well as invasive plant species],'" wrote the Coalition for Responsible Growth and Resource Conservation (CRGRC) in Lycoming County, PA, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability and the Sierra Club [CP10-480].

The Damascus Citizens' group is opposed to shale gas extraction in the Upper Delaware River Basin, while the CRGRC is a nonprofit organization that favors development that is consistent with land-use and environmental regulations.

The MARC I Hub project would give northern markets greater access to Marcellus Shale gas.

"We seek clarification from the Commission whether the invasive species management plan is required to include consideration of nonplant aquatic invasive species. We believe it should," the groups said.

"Since water will be withdrawn from nearby water bodies for hydrostatic testing and later discharged, and 111 water bodies would be crossed as a result of this project, EPA recommends that the NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] analysis provide, at a minimum, information as to any necessary precautions that will be taken to prevent the spread of aquative invasives.

"These are invasive fish, mussels, clams, plants and crayfish all within the Susquehanna River Basin that could have adverse effects on aquatic communities within these watersheds.

"The plan also fails to address the management of invasive insects -- such as the emerald ash borer or the Asian longhorned beetle, ravenous insects that can decimate timber species. Given that construction of the proposed MARC I Hub Line will cut through a densely forested landscape and will cross numerous streams and waterbodies, it is imperative that such ecosystems are protects no only from invasive plants, but also from invasive insects and aquatic species."

The three groups have urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to "withhold approval of CNYOG's invasive species management plan and to prohibit the commencement of construction activities until a management plan that ensures protection of the affected environment against invasive species is developed and approved."

Earlier this month, Inergy CEO John Sherman said, "We are ready to begin construction and expect to be in service next summer."

The project calls for the construction of a 39-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline in three counties in northeastern Pennsylvania -- Bradford, Sullivan and Lycoming -- as well as installation of a 15,300 hp Northern Compressor Unit at CNYOG's NS2 Compressor Station in Bradford County, and a 16,360 hp Southern Compressor Unit at CNYOG's M1-S Compressor Station in Sullivan County (see Shale Daily, June 2). The project would have about 550,000 Dth/d of firm capacity.

The proposed MARC I Hub gas transmission line would connect to Tennessee Gas Pipeline's Line 300 and Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line's Leidy Line, as well as existing Stagecoach laterals that tie in with Millennium Pipeline. The project would clear the way for gas produced in the northeastern Pennsylvania counties to be stored at CNYOG's Stagecoach Gas Storage facility near Oswego, NY.

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