FERC Approves Pipeline Projects and Delegates Authority Prior to Loss of Quorum

On February 2 and 3, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Energy Transfer Partners, LP’s $4.2 billion “Rover” pipeline project, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC’s $3 billion “Atlantic Sunrise” pipeline expansion, and National Fuel Gas Company’s $455 million “Northern Access” pipeline project. The three pipeline projects will significantly enhance the ability of operators to move natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales into more favorable markets. Once constructed, the Rover project will transport up to 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Marcellus and Utica shales to Ohio, Michigan, and Canada. The Atlantic Sunrise expansion will transport an additional 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Marcellus shale to the southeastern United States. National Fuel’s Northern Access project will connect the Marcellus to Buffalo, New York and other interstate pipelines that will further transport the natural gas throughout New England and Canada.

The approvals came immediately prior to Commissioner Norman C. Bay’s February 3 departure from FERC, which leaves the Commission without a necessary quorum to take major actions until President Donald J. Trump nominates, and the United States Senate confirms, at least one new commissioner. In anticipation of the indefinite halt to the Commission’s ability to conduct meetings, the commissioners delegated duties, primarily concerning rate filings, to FERC staffers.
Wednesday, February 08, 2017

FERC Completes EIS for Transco’s Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Expansion

On December 30, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced the results of an Environmental Impact Study for Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC’s proposed 199.4-mile “Atlantic Sunrise” pipeline expansion. If approved, the pipeline is expected to extend from the Marcellus shale in northeastern Pennsylvania to the mid-Atlantic states of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Specifically, the EIS found that the construction and operation of the pipeline would result in some adverse environmental impacts, but that impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of Transco’s proposed and FERC staff’s recommended mitigation measures. The completion of the EIS allows FERC to determine whether to issue a permit authorizing the construction and operation of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline expansion.

The National Environmental Policy Act requires federal agencies to prepare an EIS if a proposed major federal action, such as the issuance of a permit, is determined to significantly affect the environment. EIS reports generally include the reasons the agency is proposing the action, consideration of a reasonable range of alternatives that can accomplish the purpose and need of the proposed action, a description of the environment of the area to be affected, and a discussion of the direct and indirect environmental effects and their significance. NEPA requires that federal agencies consider and disclose the environmental impacts of federal actions; it does not require that federal agencies only pursue those actions designed to have the least impactful effect on the environment.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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