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Court Order Ends Work Delay on Transco's Leidy Project

A stay precipitated by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) that had delayed preliminary work on Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC's (Transco) proposed Leidy Southeast expansion has been dissolved by a panel of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

DRN "has not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay," the judges said in an order issued March 19. Transco had argued that DRN has not met the burden required to justify a stay.

Earlier this month, DRN filed a petition of writ seeking an emergency stay of a FERC notice to proceed with tree felling activities "to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the merits" of the Commission's Dec. 18 approval of the project (see Daily GPI, March 13; Dec. 18, 2014). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission subsequently issued an order denying another request for stay of its December approval that was filed by DRN Feb. 12, saying commissioners had concluded "that justice does not require a stay."

FERC found that DRN had not demonstrated that it would suffer irreparable injury in the absence of a stay; provided no evidence to support "its vague claims regarding property values;" and was inaccurate in its claims that Transco has not obtained all required federal authorizations to begin the project.

Delay of preliminary work on the expansion, which is designed to relieve capacity constraints in the Marcellus Shale while serving local distribution companies along the Atlantic Seaboard, was costing Transco $125,000 per day and threatened to push back the project's scheduled opening, the company said (see Daily GPI, March 18). Tree-felling and other preliminary work had begun, Transco said, when DRN obtained the temporary stay. The stay had stopped tree cutting for nine days.

Earlier this month, FERC gave Transco permission to begin partial path service on the proposed Leidy Southeast expansion, which would create an additional 525,000 Dth/d of capacity from Transco's Leidy line in Pennsylvania as far south as Choctaw County, AL (see Shale Daily, March 3).

The project, which is expected to cost $607 million, includes constructing about 30 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline looping in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the net addition of 71,900 hp at four existing compressor stations, and minor modifications to meter stations and associated facilities. The target in-service date for the project is Dec. 1 (see Shale Daily, Aug. 12, 2014; Oct. 2, 2013).

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) tabled the docket for the Southeast Leidy Pipeline at its last public meeting "to allow additional time for review of comments received." DRN said it had delivered comments in opposition to the project at a DRBC public hearing a day earlier, "supported by members of the public."

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