The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) told FERC that Columbia Gas Transmission LLC’s proposed WB XPress Project, which would increase capacity of the company’s regional interstate pipeline system by 1.3 Bcf/d, appears “unlikely” to pose a threat to the environment.

According to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission documents, the DEQ completed a preliminary draft environmental assessment for the project [PF15-21] earlier this month. Five additional state agencies — plus the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and Fairfax County, VA — participated in the assessment.

“This proposal is unlikely to have significant effects on ambient air quality, water quality, natural heritage resources or historic resources,” Bettina Sullivan, who serves as program manager for environmental impact reviews at DEQ, said in a letter to FERC Secretary Kimberly Bose. “It is unlikely to adversely affect species of plants or insects listed by state agencies as rare, threatened or endangered.”

Columbia has proposed building and operating two new compressor stations — one in Fairfax County, the other in Kanawha County, WV — replacing approximately 26 miles of existing pipeline and building about 2.9 miles of new pipeline in Virginia and West Virginia.

In Virginia, the WB XPress Project calls for the construction of 2.2 miles of 12-inch diameter pipeline in Fairfax County, plus modifications to two existing compressor stations in Loudoun and Shenandoah counties. A new compressor station would be built in Chantilly, in Fairfax County.

In West Virginia, Columbia plans to replace 26 miles of 26-inch diameter pipeline in Pendleton and Randolph counties; build a new compressor station in Kanawha County, which will require the installation of two natural gas-driven units for additional horsepower adjacent to its existing Cobb Compressor Station; and install 1,500 feet of 36-inch diameter pipeline from the Panther Mountain Regulator Station to the new compressor station in Kanawha County, plus 3,300 feet of 36-inch diameter pipeline from the Kanawha County compressor station to the point of delivery.

The WB XPress Project also calls for modifications to existing compressor stations in West Virginia’s Braxton, Hardy, Pendleton, Randolph and Upshur counties.

Columbia filed its final pre-filing monthly status report for the WB XPress Project on Dec. 22. The company said it anticipates receiving approvals from various state and federal agencies throughout 2016, culminating with the receipt of a certificate of public convenience and necessity from FERC in December 2016. Pending approval, Columbia could begin construction in the winter of 2017 and have the project placed into service in two phases in 2018.