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April 24, 2014

EPA deems pipeline study 'insufficient'


FERC’s determination that the installation of the underground pipeline through forests, fields, farmland and ridge tops was also questioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the state Attorney General’s Office and the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

“It’s very consistent across the board that the agencies are saying it’s not done,” said Anne Marie Garti, an environmental lawyer from East Meredith who is one of the prime organizers of the grassroots group Stop the Pipeline.

Whether the FERC staff will significantly amend the impact statement may not be known for weeks. It will be up to the agency’s presidentially-appointed commissioners to issue a final environmental impact statement.

Garti said her group will be watching to see if FERC “obeys the law or breaks the law.” She also insisted the project is “in trouble” as a result of the concerns expressed by the other regulatory agencies regarding the environmental impact statement.

Christopher Stockton, the spokesman for the Constitution Pipeline and an executive with Williams Partners, the energy firm that is the lead investor in the project, said the pipeline company is in “regular contact” with the regulatory agencies that have lodged their concerns with FERC.

Stockton said the pipeline planners remain “cautiously optimistic” that the project will advance.

“If FERC asks us to respond to certain issues, we certainly will,” he said.

The pipeline, if approved, will receive gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale wells in northeastern Pennsylvania. From there, the pipeline would stretch to the Schoharie County town of Wright, where an existing compressor station would be expanded to facilitate the transmission of gas for the new pipeline.

Stockton noted that the Marcellus Shale is the largest natural gas reserve in the world, and last year produced 13 billion cubic feet of gas a day, up from 2 billion cubic feet per day in 2010. An expansion of infrastructure is needed to bring that gas to the markets that want it, he said.

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