FERC issued a favorable environmental assessment (EA) Friday for Columbia Gas Transmission LLC’s proposed 1.3 million Dth/d WB XPress Project in Virginia and West Virginia.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff concluded that WB XPress [CP16-38] “would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.”

The project would include construction of 26.2 miles of replacement pipeline and 3.1 miles of new pipeline, with diameters varying. Most of the proposed pipeline would be collocated with existing Columbia pipelines and on or next to existing Columbia rights-of-way, according to FERC.

Columbia would construct two new compressor stations for the project, the Elk River Compressor Station in Kanawha County, WV, and the Chantilly Compressor Station in Fairfax County, VA, along with installation of other facilities and equipment.

According to FERC, the additional capacity on Columbia’s system will allow it to increase deliveries to a local distribution company and third party interstate pipelines, opening up additional space for shale gas from West Virginia to move eastward to market.

WB XPress would cross through a little over 11 miles of the Monongahela National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service, participating in the environmental review, concluded that the project’s “workspaces, both temporary and permanent, have been specifically routed to maximize collocation with other existing pipelines and therefore minimize disturbance of [National Forest Service] lands.”

Columbia filed its application with FERC seeking a Section 7(c) Natural Gas Act certificate for WB XPress last January.

Columbia, acquired last year by TransCanada Corp., has been busy in recent years expanding Appalachian takeaway capacity on its system. The company’s Leach XPress and Rayne XPress projects received certificates in January.

Meanwhile, FERC recently released a favorable draft environmental impact statement for the company’s Mountaineer XPress and Gulf XPress projects.

Columbia has said it plans to begin constructing WB XPress late this year, with the project coming online in two phases in 2018.