FERC Says Guardian Environmentally Sound
In a draft environment impact statement (EIS) released last week, FERC
staff concluded the Guardian Pipeline would have "limited adverse
environmental impact" and would be an acceptable action, with appropriate
The staff's decision brings the proposed 149-mile pipeline project one
step closer to realization. The Commission staff issued its preliminary
determination on non-environmental issues on June 14, stating that the
Guardian Pipeline Project, which would serve Illinois and Wisconsin, would
be in the "public convenience and necessity" (see NGI, June 19).
Staff analyzed a number of system alternatives for carrying Guardian's
load, including a "no action" approach, an ANR alternative, another
using Northern Natural, one involving Viking Gas Transmission, another
involving Great Lakes Gas Transmission and one using NGPL. Staff found
that Guardian's proposed project would have less environmental impact than
the Northern Natural, Viking and Great Lakes' alternatives, and the NGPL
system was dismissed because of too many questions. Results of the ANR
comparison, however, showed that it would provide the same services with
less environmental impact. ANR could not be considered an alternative because
one of the main reasons for proposing Guardian line was to create competition
with ANR. ANR has been fighting Guardian every step of the way (see NGI,
July 26, 1999; Sept.
13, 1999; Jan. 10, 2000).
"While the ANR system alternative could provide the 750,000 Dth/d
of firm transportation proposed by Guardian from the Chicago Hub to markets
in southern Wisconsin with less environmental impact than Guardian's proposed
facilities, it would not introduce new interstate pipeline competition
into the Southern Wisconsin marketplace," said FERC's staff in its
Staff found that as long as Guardian kept to its proposed plan and adhered
to the Commission staff's additional recommendations there would not be
any significant impacts on groundwater resources, fisheries, vegetation,
forested wetlands or air and noise pollution.
FERC will take written public comments on the draft EIS until Aug. 28,
and will conduct four more public meetings along the route starting Aug.
14. The final EIS is expected sometime early next year. FERC's final decision
on the project should follow a short time after that ruling.
Guardian's sponsors are WICOR, parent of Wisconsin Gas, CMS Energy and
Northern States Power subsidiary Viking Gas Transmission. The Guardian
line is backed by Wisconsin consumers, who want to see pipeline competition
with ANR, currently the only major pipeline into Wisconsin.
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