The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says environmental issues would be minimized in Spectra Energy’s first pipeline expansion project through Rockland, Westchester and Putnam counties on its way to New England.
FERC issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement today.
The review process began in 2013, when Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC (Algonquin) informed FERC of its intent to expand 37.4 miles of its natural gas pipeline and associated equipment and facilities in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. In addition to the pipeline facilities, Algonquin would modify 6 existing compressor stations and 24 existing metering and regulating (M&R) stations; construct 3 new M&R stations; and remove an existing M&R station.
Here are some highlights from the FEIS:
The major issues identified in our analysis are in regard to blasting impacts, waterbody crossings, wetlands, special status species, land use and recreation, traffic impacts, safety, and alternatives.
In general, Project impacts on recreational and special interest areas would be temporary and limited to the period of active construction, which typically lasts several weeks or months in any one area.
Algonquin also developed site-specific measures to minimize impacts on St. Patrick’s Church in Verplanck, New York; however, we are recommending that a revised site-specific plan be developed incorporating additional mitigation measures.
Due to modifications on existing equipment and/or removal of existing compressors, the potential emissions of most pollutants at the Stony Point and Southeast Compressor Stations would be reduced from their current potential levels.
Because of the distance of the proposed Project from the IPEC (Indian Point Energy Center) generating facilities and the avoidance and mitigation measures that it would implement, the proposed route would not pose any new safety hazards to the IPEC facility.
We also received numerous comments about cumulative impacts of the proposed Atlantic Bridge Project. Preliminary details about the Atlantic Bridge Project have been provided by Algonquin but no application has been filed. If this project moves forward as currently planned, it would impact resources in many of the same areas as the AIM Project and the level of impacts would be similar to those of the AIM Project. The AIM Project would be constructed in 2015 and 2016, and the disturbed areas would be restored prior to any start of the Atlantic Bridge Project, which at its earliest would be constructed in 2017. Another planned Algonquin project is the Access Northeast Project. Spectra Energy’s website indicates that the company hoped to secure expression of interest from potential customers by the end of 2014, but it does not provide any information about the size or location of the proposed facilities. Spectra Energy indicates that, if they receive adequate market support, they would begin seeking regulatory approvals in 2015 with a goal of constructing and placing the facilities in service by the end of 2018. The Access Northeast Project would not occur at the same time as the AIM Project, and project details are not known at this time.