The federal agency in charge of interstate pipelines says a Williams plan to add pipeline capacity in the region would have “no significant impact.”
Williams’ proposed Leidy Southeast expansion project would increase capacity on its Transco line, which runs through Luzerne County onto the New York metro area. The project involves adding parallel lines, known as loops, and compressors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with small equipment upgrades in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. It hopes to start construction this fall.
It would add more than half a billion cubic feet of gas per day to the Transco line, which runs more than 10,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeast. Shipments of Marcellus Shale gas along this line increased 14-fold in the last two years, according to Williams.
The expansion would add 5.3 miles of loop in Conyngham, Dorrance and Slocum townships, Luzerne County, and 11.5 miles of loop in Buck, Tunkhannock and Tobyhanna townships, Monroe and Luzerne counties. It would also add a 16,000-horsepower gas turbine compressor unit at station 515 in Buck Twp., Luzerne County.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission took 34 verbal comments at its June meetings in Wilkes-Barre and Hillsborough Twp., New Jersey. It took 151 written comments.
FERC used these comments to prepare an environmental assessment for the project, as required by federal law. Because of its “no significant impact” finding, FERC argues it does not have to prepare a more extensive environmental impact statement.
The assessment focuses almost entirely on local issues, including impacts to forests, wetlands, water bodies, local economies and wildlife, to name a few.
While under construction, the project would affect almost 800 acres of land, with 84 acres permanently affected, the assessment states.
Construction would affect 51 wetlands and 38 water bodies in Pennsylvania. Williams’ proposed crossing techniques would depend on the size and permanence of the water body, but it did state plans to cross Tobyhanna Creek and the Lehigh River by cutting a trench in the stream bed, laying prefabricated pipe, then re-covering the trench again. Williams claims it will only be working in each stream for 48 hours “assuming favorable conditions.”
Many of the commenters asked FERC to consider national and global cumulative impacts the project might cause, from the drilling and hydraulic fracturing of more Marcellus Shale wells to the eventual combustion of the gas for heating and electricity, emitting greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
FERC responded that its legal jurisdiction only extends to natural gas facilities involved in interstate commerce. It would only assess the cumulative impacts that occur near the Leidy Southeast project during the project’s timeframe.
The full assessment is available at ferc.gov under the docket number CP13-551-000 or on thetimes-tribune.com. FERC will accept comments until Sept. 10 online or in writing to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St. NE, Room 1A. Washington, DC 20426.
Contact the writer: email@example.com, @bgibbonsTT on Twitter
First Published August 12, 2014 8:00 PM