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FERC Issues Favorable DEIS on Sparrow's Point LNG Terminal

With mitigation, the construction of the proposed AES Sparrows Point LNG receiving terminal at an industrial site in Baltimore Harbor would be environmentally acceptable, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) issued last Friday. The Commission was quick to point out that the DEIS is not the final word on the controversial project and said it would hold public meetings to gather comments before a final environmental decision is made.

The FERC DEIS said the AES Sparrows Point and Mid-Atlantic Express project "with appropriate mitigating measures, as recommended, would have limited adverse environmental impact and would be an environmentally acceptable action."

Additionally, the Commission noted that according to the preliminary Coast Guard Waterway Suitability Report, the route of LNG tankers through the Chesapeake Bay can be made suitable with added measures to manage maritime safety and security. In this regard AES and Mid-Atlantic would be charged with developing an emergency response plan involving state and local agencies and a cost-sharing and transit management plan in line with FERC's requirements and those of the Coast Guard and other federal agencies.

The Coast Guard report issued last month said "an armed, multi-vessel escort will be required to enforce the federal safety/security zones around any loaded LNG vessel navigating within specified areas of the Chesapeake Bay" (see NGI, March 10).

Sparrows Point Project Manager Kent Morton said the company believes it could meet the Coast Guard requirements. Several Maryland congressmen have joined local groups in opposing the siting of the LNG terminal, saying meeting the security requirements would be an intolerable burden.

The Sparrows Point terminal would be built to handle 1.5 Bcf/d of sendout through a connecting 88-mile pipeline terminating in eastern Pennsylvania. Potentially the unit could be expanded to handle up to 2.25 Bcf/d. The project, including three LNG storage tanks, would be located on 80 acres within the existing Sparrows Point Industrial Complex in Baltimore County. The site was previously owned by Bethlehem Steel and housed a steel manufacturing and shipbuilding facility.

The Commission has scheduled public meetings on June 9 in Baltimore, June 11 in Downingtown, PA, and June 12 in Edgewood, MD. It will accept written comments filed by June 16. FERC already has conducted several scoping meetings in the area and received more than 500 comments from potentially affected property owners. The DEIS notes that there are no existing residences within one mile of the proposed terminal.

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