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FERC Says Guardian Environmentally Sound

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 mitigating measures.

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 summary.

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.

Alex Steis

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