Guardian Receives Final EIS

It appears the Guardian Pipeline project received what it wanted for the holidays after all, even though it came a week or two late. The pipeline cleared one of the larger regulatory hurdles, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the project, deeming the construction and operation of the 149-mile natural gas pipeline from Joliet, IL, to Ixonia, WI, an acceptable environmental action.

The approval came as a shock to some after 2,500 names on a petition were submitted by Wisconsin's Neighbors Standing United (NSU) in protest of the project. The citizen group said the proposed mainline and 8.5-mile lateral in Wisconsin would damage their properties. In response, FERC Chairman James Hoecker said in October that comments that identified issues not addressed in the draft EIS, would be addressed in the final EIS.

Regardless, the FERC staff concluded, "that approval of the proposed project, with appropriate mitigating measures as recommended, would have limited adverse environmental impact."

Since the pipeline filed its application with FERC in November 1999, the final EIS is the third significant regulatory approval Guardian has received. In June of last year, the project received from FERC a Preliminary Determination that it would be in the public interest, and shortly thereafter the FERC staff issued a Draft EIS. Guardian's backers, CMS Energy, WICOR and Viking Gas, believe that with the favorable final EIS, the project is now ripe for FERC to issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity, which the companies hope will be handed down within the next month or so.

"We are pleased with the staff's strong confirmation that Guardian Pipeline will have 'limited environmental impact' and will be environmentally acceptable," said George C. Hass, Guardian project manager. "From Guardian's very inception, we have stressed the importance of environmental stewardship and our commitment to landowners and communities. This finding acknowledges that commitment."

The project, which includes the construction of a 22,225 HP Joliet Compressor Station, seven new meter stations, and eight mainline valves is expected to be in service during November 2002.

Currently, Guardian has firm agreements with Wisconsin Gas and others to transport 662 MMcf/d of natural gas, which equates to 88% of its designed capacity, when the pipeline enters service.

Alex Steis

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