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ALJ Rejects Appeals of Permits for Tennessee's Northeast Upgrade

An administrative law judge (ALJ) has turned down a request from two environmental groups to block Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co's plans for an expansion of a natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania, saying the groups "failed to show that they were likely to succeed on the merits or that they would suffer irreparable harm."

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Responsible Drilling Alliance had appealed three permits issued in November to Tennessee by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that authorized numerous activities along the approximately 22 miles of the project's pipeline right-of-way in Pennsylvania. The groups argued that DEP had issued the permits despite expert analysis identifying serious technical deficiencies with Tennessee's plans. They also claimed that the permits failed to meet legal requirements and said previous environmental violations at Tennessee's 300 Line Project "establish a basis to deny the permit application for compliance history."

The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board rejected all of the environmental group's arguments and denied their appeal of the DEP permits, according to an opinion written by ALJ Richard Mather.

FERC issued a certificate for the Northeast Upgrade Project in May 2012 (see Shale Daily, May 31, 2012). Last month the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave Tennessee the go-ahead on rehearing to construct and place the project into service by Nov. 1, denying requests for stay by the Sierra Club and a private New Jersey landowner (see Shale Daily, Jan. 14).

The $376 million project will allow an additional 636,000 Dth/d to be transported along Tennessee's 300 Line in Pennsylvania to an interconnect with Algonquin Gas Transmission in Mahwah, NJ, to serve the Northeast. To create the additional capacity, Tennessee proposed upgrading the remaining 24-inch diameter parts of the 300 Line by constructing five 30-inch diameter loops and modifying four compressor stations. The five loops (totaling 40.3 miles) will close out the remaining unlooped segments of Tennessee's existing 300 Line east of Bradford County, PA, into New Jersey.

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