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Enviros Call on FERC to Revise Atlantic Sunrise DEIS

A coalition of environmental groups on Monday asked FERC to redo its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Marcellus-to-Southeast Atlantic Sunrise expansion, a project of Williams Partners’ Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC (Transco).

In a filing submitted under the Atlantic Sunrise docket [CP15-138], the groups -- including the Allegheny Defense Project, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, the Sierra Club and others -- argued that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s favorable DEIS for Atlantic Sunrise issued earlier this year (see Shale Daily, May 6) contains “substantial defects” that need to be addressed in a revised or supplemental DEIS in order to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Monday’s filing continues a recent trend of obstructionist tactics aimed at slowing or stopping approval of infrastructure projects under FERC review (see Daily GPI, Dec. 1, 2015).

In pushing for FERC to go back to the drawing board on its DEIS for Atlantic Sunrise, the groups hit on a litany of familiar anti-pipeline arguments, including claims that the agency improperly segmented its review, that it failed to consider the impact of induced natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale region, and that it failed to properly account for the project’s impact on climate change.

The groups further argued that a supplemental DEIS is necessary to account for “significant new information” contained in a data request response Transco provided in a public filing to FERC last month. The response to FERC’s data request “was supplied by Transco nearly three months after the close of the DEIS comment period,” they wrote, suggesting that a revised or supplemental DEIS would be necessary to facilitate “meaningful analysis and public participation.”

Atlantic Sunrise would provide an incremental 1.7 million Dth/d of year-round firm transportation capacity from the Marcellus Shale production area in northern Pennsylvania to Transco's existing market areas, extending to the Station 85 Pooling Point in Choctaw County, AL.

According to the DEIS, the project would include about 197.7 miles of pipeline composed of about 184 miles of new 30- and 42-inch diameter pipeline known as Central Penn Line (CPL) North and CPL South in Pennsylvania; about 12 miles of new 36- and 42-inch diameter pipeline looping known as Chapman and Unity Loops in Pennsylvania; about 3 miles of 30-inch diameter replacements in Virginia; and associated compressor stations, equipment and facilities.

Citing analysis of the project’s goals of helping Southeast market areas access Northeast gas, the groups claimed that the environmental review for Atlantic Sunrise had been improperly segmented from FERC’s reviews of Transco’s Hillabee Expansion (see Daily GPI, Sept. 2), and of the Sabal Trail Transmission LLC (see Daily GPI, Aug. 15) and Florida Southeast Connection LLC pipeline projects (see Daily GPI, Feb. 3) proposed to interconnect with Transco.

Williams hopes to get the nod from FERC for Atlantic Sunrise early next year with a target date for it to enter service during late 2017.

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