PA Lawmaker Seeks to Revoke Independence Certificate
Seizing upon a deadline ultimatum recently issued by FERC for the proposed
Independence Pipeline and associated SupplyLink expansion, State Rep. Frank
LaGrotta of Pennsylvania has called on the Commission to revoke the certificate
for the construction of the controversial, multi-state project.
An ardent foe of the project, LaGrotta said his request was based on
the "clear and inescapable inability" of the sponsors to meet
the deadline for the project's environmental clearances and on what he
called a flawed final environmental impact statement (FEIS) by FERC staff.
In a letter to FERC on Nov. 28, the state lawmaker claimed it was "inconceivable
that Independence could possibly meet FERC's May 1, 2001 deadline by which
you have mandated that the environmental clearances be obtained" for
LaGrotta's bid to revoke the project came on the heels of the Commission
staff's rejection of a request by Independence Pipeline Co. and ANR Pipeline
for an extension of the deadline for complying with the FERC-imposed environmental
requirements. They asked for an extension to Feb. 1, 2002, but FERC staff
held fast to May 1, 2001 as the deadline. It further warned the sponsors
that Independence and SupplyLink "could be in jeopardy" if the
data is filed late [see NGI, Nov. 27, 2000].
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection already has
issued a "pre-denial" of the Independence sponsors' request for
a 401 environmental clearance, according to LaGrotta. This ruling was based
Independence's failure to provide "written concurrence from the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service that the project will not adversely impact federally
listed, proposed or candidate species."
The Fish and Wildlife can't issue such a finding until the Independence
sponsors conduct a study required under the Endangered Species Act, according
to LaGrotta. However, the report "has not, as yet, been conducted,"
and "cannot even be begun until May 15, 2001, pushing back any foreseeable
date by which the companies could receive their 401 clearance [from the
state] to late fall."
In a Dec. 18 letter to FERC, LaGrotta further pointed out that while
the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks said Independence could cross two
state parks, another state agency denied new rights-of-way within the parks
for the construction.
FERC issued the certificate on the Independence and SupplyLink projects
in July. If ever completed, SupplyLink, a 73-mile looping of ANR's existing
system, and the 400-mile, 36-inch Independence line would ship to East
Coast markets about 1 Bcf/d of natural gas that currently is flowing into
the Midwest over Alliance Pipeline and Northern Border Pipeline's extension/expansion.
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