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FERC Chair Urges U.S. Override of Connecticut Roadblock to Islander East Pipeline
FERC Chairman Pat Wood urged the U.S. Commerce Department to override objections from the state of Connecticut and okay the construction of the Islander East Pipeline to carry up to 400 MMcf/d under water from Connecticut to Long Island, NY.
In a letter last week to the Commerce Department’s Scott B. Gudes, deputy under secretary for oceans and atmosphere, Wood said Commerce should override the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s objection to a consistency certification for the project under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).
FERC issued a final certificate to Islander East, which is sponsored by Duke Energy Gas Transmission and KeySpan Energy, in September 2002. The pipeline would extend 50 miles from New Haven, CT, across Long Island Sound to Suffolk County (Long Island) near Yaphank, NY, delivering 285,000 Dth/d of gas initially and ultimately 400,000 Dth/d. Additionally, Algonquin Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, will loop about 13.7 miles of existing pipeline in Connecticut and add a new compressor station in Cheshire, CT. Approximately 90% of the Islander East pipeline land route will be located along existing corridors.
However, Connecticut objected mainly to the offshore portion of the project based on potential effects on the state’s natural resources or land and water uses in Connecticut’s coastal zone in Long Island Sound. As a result, the state blocked the project, using its rights under the CZMA. Islander East has appealed the state’s decision to the Commerce Department, which is responsible for actions under the act.
Wood once again urged the Commerce Department to find the project consistent with the CZMA. “The Commission conducted an exhaustive review of the environmental impacts of the project,” he noted. “This included an analysis that focused in particular on the impact…on Long Island Sound… We concluded after imposing numerous environmental conditions to the certificate authorization that the Islander East Project would have acceptable environmental impacts.”
Secondly, he said, the project is necessary to meet growing demand in eastern Long Island and would provide the area with an additional source of supply. Currently Suffolk County and eastern Long Island are served by only one pipeline, and a disruption on that system could “result in a substantial curtailment in natural gas service,” which in turn could result in power blackouts. “As such, the Islander East Project will provide much needed security and reliability that cannot be provided by any of the system alternatives…,” Wood said.
“[T]here is no reasonable alternative available which would permit the Islander East Project to be constructed consistent with the enforceable policies of Connecticut’s Coastal Management Plan that will fulfill the Commission’s statutory mandates under the Natural Gas Act,” he said.
Wood also stressed the urgency of regulatory approval, noting that without timely review, investments in needed infrastructure cannot be made.
The hearing on the project is scheduled to begin on Nov. 5 in the Omni New Haven Hotel in New Haven, CT. Public comments on the appeal are due by Nov. 20. For more information visit https://www.ogc.doc.gov/czma.htm.
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