Two congressional lawmakers have called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to deny Independence Pipeline’s bid for a further extension of its in-service date until November 2004.

The request by the proposed Midwest-to-East Coast pipeline “is very troubling because Independence has established a pattern of not meeting the Commission’s clear and well-established deadlines…The Commission must deny the extension and demonstrate that there are consequences for failing to meet the conditions,” wrote Ohio Reps. Paul Gillmore and Ralph Regula, through whose state Independence would run, in a Nov. 7 letter to FERC.

In its recent request, Independence said it needed more time because it still hadn’t obtained access to sections of its proposed right of way in Ohio due to significant landowner opposition, and was far short of the contract requirements imposed by FERC. The Commission had required Independence to have 68% of its proposed 1 Bcf/d of firm capacity under contract, but it only has about 38% subscribed so far, all of it by Dynegy Corp. (See NGI, Nov. 5)

This marks the third time that Independence has sought an extension. The second extension called for the pipeline to be in service by July 2003. Additional time also has been requested for the related SupplyLink project sponsored by ANR Pipeline.

“The absence of such contracts creates an impression that the [pipeline] is not based in the true realities of the market, and this only compounds the public’s perceptions that Independence has fundamentally failed to follow the process,” the two House Republicans said.

“I have opposed the building of this pipeline for many years because Independence Pipeline does not have solid plans for the future of the pipeline,” said Gillmore in a prepared statement. Given the level of opposition to the line by Ohio residents and its failure to acquire contracts, “it is evident to me that this pipeline is just not needed or wanted.”

As originally envisioned, the proposed 400-mile Independence would ship gas through several states to Pennsylvania, where it would be picked up by other pipelines to serve East Coast markets. The project has been entangled in a regulatory maze since it was first filed in March 1997, with landowners, state officials and congressional lawmakers questioning whether sufficient market support exists to justify it.

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