Independence, Ohio Agency Agree to Protect Resources
Hoping to solidify the project's shaky environmental status,
Independence Pipeline Co., working with the Ohio Power Siting Board
(OPSB), voluntarily agreed to a set of standards last week intended
to protect Ohio's environment from the construction and operation
of the pipeline. The agreement, which was signed by the OPSB in
early June, has been forwarded to the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC) for consideration.
There are 31 conditions in the joint agreement, which augments
other procedures included in FERC's Plan and Procedures and
Independence's Best Management Practices plan.
"I don't think any other project has gone to this length," said
Joe Martucci, an ANR Pipeline spokesman, which is a partner in the
$678 million, 400-mile project along with Transco and National
Fuel Gas Co. "This is a detailed, legal document outlining
specific measures we have agreed to perform."
For Independence, the OPSB agreement is significant because FERC
still has not issued preliminary determinations (PDs) on the four
major proposed pipeline projects intended to transport gas from the
Midwest to the Northeast (the other three being Millennium, SupplyLink
and MarketLink). FERC withheld issuing PDs for any of the projects
last March (See Daily GPI, March 11),
citing enormous landowner opposition, environmental concerns and
potential lack of demand. FERC is aiming for action to resume by this
Independence itself has received more than 6,000 landowner
complaints. Although it won a positive draft environmental impact
statement from FERC in April (See Daily GPI, April 20), this agreement demonstrates that
Independence supporters are still working to combat the landowner
"It is a direct effort on Independence's part to step up and
ease the concerns people have," Martucci said.
One of the most rigorous conditions of the OPSB agreement
requires Independence to enter into an extensive construction and
agricultural mitigation agreement with the Ohio Federation of Soil
and Water Conservation districts. The mitigation agreement calls
for the implementation of a series of specific construction
measures and precautions on privately-owned agricultural land
during pipeline construction , cleanup and restoration activities.
The mitigation agreement also stipulates that Independence must
retain qualified agricultural consultants and inspectors on each
work phase of the project, including initial construction plan
development, actual construction, initial restoration,
post-construction monitoring and follow-up restoration.
"The prescribed state-of-the-art construction standards and
policies outlined in the construction and agricultural mitigation
agreement underscore our respect for the agricultural industry in
the state of Ohio. They also recognize the importance of designing
and building a pipeline that will add a critical link to the
nation's natural gas pipeline infrastructure to serve current and
future energy needs," Independence and the OPSB said.
If approved, Independence would transport up to 1 Bcf/d of gas
from Defiance, OH, to the hub in Leidy, PA.