Independence, Millennium Win Draft Environmental Nod
The controversial Northeast-bound Independence Pipeline and
Millennium Pipeline have won draft environmental acceptance at the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This was good news for both
pipelines, which have been beset by unprecedented landowner
opposition and questions about the "need" for the projects.
Separate draft environmental impact statements (DEIS) said
construction of the Midwest-to-Northeast greenfield pipelines would
have "limited adverse environmental impact" if "appropriate
mitigating measures" were placed in effect.
This was the first encouraging sign for the Columbia Gas
Transmission-sponsored Millennium project at the Commission. The
417-mile line would extend from Lake Erie to Westchester County in
New York, bringing in gas from other regions of the U.S. and from
western Canada. FERC last month in unprecedented action refused to
give Millennium and Independence (and associated expansions)
preliminary determinations (PDs) on the non-environmental aspects
of the projects until the environmental reviews are completed.
With respect to Independence (and the associated Market Link
project), FERC staff noted they issued a favorable draft decision
because 76% of the proposed pipeline routes would be adjacent to or
overlap existing pipeline and powerline rights-of-way; the
applicants have agreed to use mitigation procedures to reduce soil
and water-related impact and have entered into an agreement with
the state of Ohio to further reduce impact on agricultural lands.
These findings are key considering that the Independence project
has generated more than 6,000 landowner complaints.
Independence would run about 400-miles from Defiance, OH, to the
hub in Leidy, PA. Project sponsors are ANR Pipeline, National Fuel
Gas Supply and Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line. From Leidy, Transco
- the sole sponsor of Market Link - proposes to loop about 154
miles of its exiting system in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
FERC staff said it evaluated existing and planned system
alternatives to Independence and the associated Market Link
expansion, including the proposed Vector, Tristate and Millennium
projects, but none were found to be "both environmentally
preferable to the proposed facilities and able to meet the proposed
projects' objectives." Staff, however, did recommend that one major
route alternative and six minor variations be incorporated into the
Public comments on the Millennium and Independence projects are
due at the Commission on June 7th and June 4th, respectively. Ten
scoping sessions on the proposed two new pipelines will be held
Separately, in a letter last week, FERC asked Millennium for an
update on the seven to nine shippers who had reserved the right to
opt out of their precedent agreements by either late March or
mid-April in the event either a PD was not issued for Millennium or
they failed to received corporate approval for their capacity
agreements. "In view of the fact that all...deadlines have passed
and no preliminary determination has been issued, please advise if
the above-referenced agreements have been amended, or if any
shipper has notified Millennium of its election to terminate its
agreement," wrote Kevin P. Madden, director of FERC's Office of
Pipeline Regulation, on April 13th.
He also asked Millennium if it had entered into an agreement to
build a lateral connection with Southern Energy Bowline L.L.C to
provide up to 300,000 Dth/d of gas to the Bowline Generating
Station, and - if so - whether this would require a modification to
the Millennium proposal. It further wanted to know whether a
decision by New York City's Department of Environmental Protection
to deny Millennium's request to cross the Catskill Aqueduct would
result in any changes to the project.
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