The PennEast Pipeline received a favorable draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) from FERC Friday, bringing plans for the natural gas pipeline, which would traverse the Marcellus Shale, one step closer to reality.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that “approval of the project would result in some adverse environmental impacts; however, most of these impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels” after mitigation measures [CP15-558].

“This conclusion outs PennEast one step closer to providing a vital source of reliable, affordable energy for local homes, hospitals, businesses and schools,” said PennEast spokesman Pat Kornick.

“Since its August 2014 inception, PennEast has held more than 250 meetings with landowners, residents and public officials. Dozens of route changes were implemented through those conversations, including collocating 37% of the pipeline’s route alongside other utility rights of way, to minimize environmental and community impacts. Our application before FERC reflects our strong commitment to constructing and operating the PennEast pipeline in an environmentally sensitive manner while meeting or exceeding all federal safety standards.”

FERC has said it plans to issue a final environmental impact statement for PennEast on Dec. 16, with the 90-day deadline for coordinating agencies arriving March 16, 2017 (see Daily GPI, March 30).

The 114-mile, 36-inch diameter greenfield PennEast would transport 1.11 million Dth/d of eastern Marcellus Shale gas to markets in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. About 990,000 Dth/d of that capacity is spoken for (see Shale Daily, Sept. 25, 2015). New Jersey Natural Gas Co. is the largest taker with 180,000 Dth/d. PSEG Power LLC and Texas Eastern Transmission each have 125,000 Dth/d. South Jersey Gas. Co. has 105,000 Dth/d, and Consolidated Edison Company of New York Inc., Elizabethtown Gas, and UGI Energy Services LLC each have 100,000 Dth/d.

PennEast is a joint venture owned by AGL Resources Inc. unit Red Oak Enterprise Holdings Inc. (20%); New Jersey Resources’ NJR Pipeline Co. (20%); South Jersey Industries’ SJI Midstream LLC (20%); UGI Energy Services LLC’s UGI PennEast LLC (20%); PSEG Power LLC (10%); and Spectra Energy Partners LP (10%). The partnership is managed by UGI Energy Services.

Like many Northeast pipeline projects in recent years, PennEast has faced its share of opposition from environmental groups (see Shale Daily, March 22; Daily GPI,March 4). Last year, PennEast’s backers responded in detail to a long list of the objections lodged against the project (see Shale Daily, Nov. 20, 2015).