EPA Questions Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

20 Sep

 

In July, 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued a four-page letter to FERC (the Federal Energy Regulation Commission), raising questions about Transco’s Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, proposed to be built through Pennsylvania.

The 30-inch pipeline is designed to carry natural gas from Marcellus Shale production areas to Transco’s Pooling Point in Choctaw County, Alabama. For about 28% of its 197.7 PA miles, the pipeline will be co-located within, or adjacent to existing pipelines, and or electrical transmission utility rights-of-way.

Transco’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) created concern to the EPA, because it put forward Transco’s preferred proposal for pipe location, and did not fully study alternatives, including one alternative by which expansion of the existing PennEast Pipeline by 80 miles, could entirely eliminate the need for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline.

EPA expressed concern about direct, secondary and cumulative impacts to water resources, including groundwater, wetlands and waterways, and recommended full assessment of impacts to these types of resources. In addition, EPA noted there would be “large impacts” to terrestrial resources including forests and the habitats of forest interior dwelling species.

EPA noted that there is a complex infrastructure, including natural gas wells, gathering lines and other natural gas transmission facilities, that all interact with the proposed Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. EPA recommended that FERC should actively “unravel and describe the highly complicated, interrelated network of pipelines.”

EPA summarized its review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, by concluding the statement had “Insufficient Information.”