The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has issued a permit to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC (TGP) for its Northeast Upgrade Project after determining that it is in the public interest and would not adversely affect the environment.

In a public notice, Frank Cianfrani, chief regulator for the USACE’s Philadelphia District, said an environmental impact statement (EIS) would not be necessary because the lead agency for the project, FERC, “has determined that the proposed work would not have a significant impact on the human environment.

“On balance, based on the Corps’ evaluation of all pertinent information, it has been determined that the proposed project complies with applicable federal regulations/guidelines and is not contrary to the general public interest and that the public interest would be best served by approving the proposed work,” Cianfrani said in the notice issued March 22. “Permit conditions have been added…to ensure that the impacts associated with the project be minimal.”

TGP is a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP. Construction of the project was originally scheduled to begin last fall with an in-service date of Nov. 1, 2013.

The Northeast Upgrade Project calls for expanding TGP’s existing 24-inch diameter 300 Line by building five, 30-inch diameter pipeline loops and modifying four existing compressor stations. The $400 million project will allow an additional 636,000 Dth/d of natural gas to be transported via the 300 Line to markets in the Northeast. An interconnection with the Algonquin Gas Transmission line will also be built in Mahwah, NJ.

According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order [CP11-161-001], the five pipeline loop segments will total about 40.3 miles, with 21.9 miles in Pennsylvania and 18.5 miles in New Jersey.

Loop Nos. 317 (5.4 miles) and 319 (2.0 miles) will be built in Bradford County, while Loop No. 321 (8.1 miles) will be built in Pennsylvania’s Wayne and Pike counties, Loop No. 323 (17.2 miles) will connect Pike County, PA, with Sussex County, NJ, and Loop No. 325 (7.6 miles) will traverse New Jersey’s Passaic and Bergen counties.

The FERC order also shows the four compressor stations receiving upgrades are in Bradford, Susquehanna and Pike counties in Pennsylvania, and Sussex County, NJ.

Although FERC issued a certificate for the project in May 2012 (see Shale Daily, May 31, 2012), environmental groups remain opposed to it.

“It is shocking that it took [USACE] nine months to ultimately fall into line with FERC,” Jolie DeFeis, a member of the environmental group Save Cummins Hill, said on the group’s website. “I was told by [FERC] that FERC was only required to review the applicant’s route and make sure it was acceptable…it was incumbent upon USACE to determine the best route through their stringent alternatives analysis, which we don’t believe was ever done.

“It is particularly mind blowing that their permit basically acknowledges that they really didn’t look any further as they promised.”

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) said in late January that despite the Northeast Upgrade Project crossing Pennsylvania’s Delaware State Forest, the agency would not revisit the project, which it approved in July 2012 (see Shale Daily, Feb. 8). But the DRBC said it would conduct a docket review of two completed projects — TGP’s 300 Line Extension Project and Columbia Gas Transmission LLC’s Line 1278 Replacement Project — because both traverse the forest, a public recreation area within the DRBC’s comprehensive planning area.

TGP’s 300 Line expansion was placed into service in November 2011, increasing system capacity by 350,000 Dth/d (see Shale Daily, Nov. 2, 2011).