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Transco Expansion Refiled as Williams Tries Again for Water Certification in New York

Williams said Wednesday Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC (Transco) has refiled for a Section 401 water quality certification (WQC) for its Northeast Supply Enhancement Project  with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which last month denied the initial application. 

The company said if the latest application is evaluated in a timely manner, the project’s timeline, which still calls for a December 2019 in-service date, would not be affected. 

“Our resubmitted application now provides the DEC with the additional time it has stated it needs to complete its review of the project,” the company stated. 

DEC denied Transco’s initial application filed in June 2017, saying it was incomplete. Regulators added that FERC’s ongoing environmental review could result in changes to the project. About a month after the initial application was filed last year, DEC told Transco that it application was administratively incomplete, pending a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC issued the DEIS in March, but DEC then said in denying the WQC that it would not ultimately have the information it needed to make a determination about the application within the one-year statutory deadline because a final EIS would not be issued until September. 

Williams said Tuesday management believes FERC’s DEIS “positively reflects our efforts to collaborate with stakeholders to design this project in an environmentally responsible manner.”

The nearly $1 billion expansion would increase natural gas deliveries to National Grid. The project is designed to create 400 MMcf/d of incremental firm capacity to Northeast markets, primarily to feed gas demand in New York City, which is phasing out the use of No. 4 fuel oil to help curb emissions. 

The expansion would include 10 miles of pipe in Pennsylvania, three miles in New Jersey and 23 miles of pipe offshore New Jersey and New York. Of particular concern to the project’s opposition is the 23-mile segment of new pipeline that would cross Raritan Bay from Old Bridge, NJ, to Rockaway Point in Queens, NY. 

DEC’s denial in April was the fourth time the agency has rejected a WQC application for a pipeline project. Williams’ refiling still could face an uphill battle, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose administration banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing in 2015, is facing a heated Democratic primary challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon. She has already called for a ban on gas pipelines and power plants, which appears to be forcing Cuomo farther to the left as he continues to tout his fight against fossil fuels while on the campaign trail.  

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