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Potential delays on Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project

Published by
World Pipelines,

Due to a slow regulatory process, a decision on Williams Companies’ US$2.59 billion 177 mile Atlantic Sunrise pipeline expansion project of its Transco portion is likely to be delayed. Williams wish to construct the 42 in. pipeline through its 36.5 mile portion of the route through Lancaster County.

The entire 177 mile pipeline would transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in northeastern Pennsylvania to the Eastern Seaboard markets and for shipment overseas.

Originally, Williams intended to begin construction on the pipeline in July 2016, though this seems unlikely due to delays.

After 60 route changes and over 1000 public comments, Williams filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC). At present, FERC is reviewing the impact statement of the proposed route.

Chris Stockton, a Williams Spokesman, stated: “Hopefully in March we’ll see [the impact statement released].”

Once the draft environmental impact statement is release, public meetings shall be held in order to attain information for the final version of the statement – this usually gets released approximately six months later.

Stockton continued: “After [the final statement is released], the commission makes its decision. We’re still optimistic FERC will make its decision this year, hopefully as early as this summer. FERC’s review is extremely comprehensive. This is a large project, so it takes time for the agency to analyse and evaluate all of the various environmental issues.”

FERC Spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen, explained that the FERC are not sure when they shall act on the pipeline, stating: “It really depends on the work load. They take their time before issuing an order. The commission staff reads the comments, and a section of the upcoming environmental impact statement will address the issues raised. Quantity is not as important as quality. The issues that are raised will be the issues that will be addressed, not if there are 50 000 letters saying I don’t want this in my backyard.”

For example, Philip R. Wenger, the conservancy’s new CEO, asked the FERC to deliberate over the farmland and forestland within Lancaster Country, which "make us different from many communities."

Attorney Erik Jaffe believes the FERC should review the report: ‘Beyond Food: The Environmental Benefits of Agriculture in Lancaster County.’ The FERC would then be able to determine whether or not the preserved 103 000 acres at between US$17.5 – 114 billion would “determine whether the proposed routing, or indeed, the project as a whole, makes economic sense and satisfies any reasonable cost-benefit analysis.”

Edited from various sources by Stephanie Roker

Sources: Lancaster Online, The Wyoming County Press Examiner

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