Acting in concert with a stay issued by the Interior Department's Office
of Hearings and Appeals, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ordered
Southern Natural Gas to stop its recently-begun construction work in a
wildlife preserve along its mainline expansion route into northern Alabama.
The latest in the marathon case (CP96-153) to authorize a second pipeline
supplier for the towns of Huntsville and Decatur, AL, came after landowners
protesting the project successfully stayed a Fish and Wildlife Service
(FWS) ruling allowing construction through the Wheeler National Wildlife
Refuge. A letter order then was issued by FERC's Office of Pipeline Regulation
halting construction work in the wildlife refuge until the FWS complaint
(D99-18) is resolved.
Veteran environmentalist Anne Marie Mueser and the GASP Coalition, which
is opposing the 120-mile, 70 MMcf/d Southern Natural extension, have asked
FERC to halt construction on other segments of the pipeline until the wildlife
complaint - which has sparked a jurisdictional dispute within the Interior
Dept. - is resolved. The stays on environmental grounds came after FERC
overruled opposition by Midcoast Interstate Transmission, the current supplier
of the two Alabama towns and authorized the Southern Natural extension.
The coalition has appealed the FERC order in the D.C. Circuit Court.
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