Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

DRBC Reverses Course, to Review Two Completed Pipelines

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) said it has reversed course and now plans to conduct a docket review of two completed natural gas transmission line projects in northeast Pennsylvania, but it is resisting calls from an environmental group to reexamine a third pipeline.

In a Jan. 30 letter to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN), DRBC Executive Director Carol Collier said the commission would review two projects -- Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC's (TGP) 300 Line Extension Project, and Columbia Gas Transmission LLC's Line 1278 Replacement Project -- because they both traverse the Delaware State Forest, a public recreation area that lies within the DRBC's comprehensive planning area.

"The status of Delaware State Forest as a recreation area included in the comprehensive plan was not recognized during our original screening of the two projects," Collier said. "The project sponsors will be so informed and will be directed to submit applications that include the projects' as-built characteristics.

"[Our] review will not interrupt operation of the projects, but will involve consideration of any additional conditions that may be necessary to ensure the projects do not impair or conflict with the [DRBC's] Comprehensive Plan."

DRN chief Maya van Rossum told NGI's Shale Daily that the group was pleased with the DRBC's reversal but remained concerned over vegetation restoration, stream and wetland crossings and runoff.

"They made a huge mistake," van Rossum said Wednesday. "They were supposed to review those projects because they went through the Delaware State Forest. But at the time they were sort of ignoring that issue.

"Now that they've recognized that they made mistakes in the past, they need to apply this decision for projects that are yet to go in. TGP's Northeast Upgrade Project is also going to go through the Delaware State Forest. Large segments of that project haven't gone through yet, so hopefully they won't make the same mistake again."

But in a Feb. 1 letter to van Rossum, DRBC Secretary Pamela Bush said the commission's decision to revisit the two completed projects were "of no consequence" to the Northeast Upgrade Project, because the commission had completed its review for that project last July. "The time for appeal of that action has passed," she wrote.

Columbia, a unit of NiSource Inc., received regulatory approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in March 2011 to replace Line 1278 system in [CP10-492]. Meanwhile, TGP's 300 Line expansion was placed into service in November 2011, increasing system capacity by 350,000 Dth/d (see Shale Daily, Nov. 2, 2011).

FERC issued a certificate for TGP's Northeast Upgrade Project last May (see Shale Daily, May 31, 2012). The $376 million project will allow an additional 636,000 Dth/d to be transported along the 300 Line in Pennsylvania to an interconnection with Algonquin Gas Transmission in Mahwah, NJ, to serve the Northeast.

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