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New York to Hold Public Hearings on Permits For Algonquin Expansion

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has scheduled two public hearings this month to discuss Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC's proposed Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) natural gas expansion project.

Algonquin, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy Partners LP, received a favorable draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the project from FERC [CP-14-96-000] last August (see Daily GPI, Aug. 6, 2014). The AIM Project calls for construction of approximately 37.6 miles of pipeline in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island, and would create up to 342,000 Dth/d of firm transportation capacity to markets in the Northeast.

According to documents filed Friday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the DEC considers the application by Algonquin to be complete and has scheduled two public hearings for the project. Specifically, the hearings will address separate permits issued by New York for stream and wetland disturbance and the modification of two compressor stations.

"This is only for our permits that are associated with the pipeline," Michael Higgins, project manager for the DEC's Division of Environmental Permits, told NGI on Friday. "We have several permits that we have to issue for the disturbance of streams and wetlands, as well as a modification to the two compressor stations that are being modified. We're going to be holding hearings on those applications, not the FERC application."

The DEC said it would hold public hearings on Jan. 21 and 22 in Brewster and Stony Point, respectively. The agency would also accept written public comments through Feb. 13.

In its FERC filing, the DEC said it has prepared draft permits and made tentative determinations to issue modifications for existing Title V air facility permits at Algonquin's existing Stony Point and Southeast compressor stations, which are located in New York's Rockland and Putnam counties, respectively. The Southeast permit also involved renewal of an existing permit. Algonquin has proposed installing two new 15,900 hp natural gas-fired turbine-driven compressors at Stony Point, and one new 10,320 hp natural gas-fired turbine at Southeast.

The DEC said that under New York state law, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "has the authority to bar issuance of any Title V facility permit if it is determined not to be in compliance with applicable requirements of the Clean Air Act" or state law.

Meanwhile, the DEC said the AIM Project will impact 34 bodies of water in the state, including 21 that are protected by state law. Seventy-seven wetlands will also be impacted, both within and outside of existing rights-of-way for the expanded pipeline and compressor stations. Algonquin has filed a wetland mitigation plan.

The DEC said permit applications for the AIM Project are not subject to its Environmental Justice and Permitting rules, but the Title V applications for the compressor stations are. "However, review in accordance with methodology...of the policy has resulted in a determination that no potential adverse environmental impacts related to the proposed action are likely to affect...potential environmental justice areas."

The state agency added that the compressor station applications were reviewed pursuant to the state's Environmental Conservation Law and Uniform Procedures Act (UPA).

"In addition to these permits being considered under UPA, the project is required to demonstrate the ability to obtain coverage under the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Stormwater General Permit for Construction Activities prior to conducting any construction activities that disturb greater than one acre," the DEC said.

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