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April 2, 2013

Pipeline hits snag as U.S. engineers plan review

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is urging federal regulators to hold off on approving the controversial Constitution Pipeline project until all parcels along the 122-mile stretch are studied for potential impact on waterways.

“Prior to making a permit decision, the USACE will need field delineations of all parcels proposed to be impacted by the project,” Kevin Bruce, the project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in a letter last week.

Bruce added: “The USACE respectfully requests that FERC also defer a decision on the project until all parcels are delineated.”

FERC is the agency that will decide whether the pipeline can be constructed, and, if approved, determine the pathway it should take to send shale gas extracted in northeastern Pennsylvania to two existing pipelines in Schoharie County town of Wright. However, the pipeline must also obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers in order to have the project cross streams and wetlands.

One of the problems faced by the developers of the Constitution Pipeline is that scores of landowners have refused to allow the company’s land surveyors to access their property. According to its latest monthly filing with FERC, just 61 percent of the landowners have given consent for the land surveys.

Christopher Stockton, a spokesman for Williams Partners, one of the companies behind the $750 million project, downplayed the significance of the letter from the Army Corps of Engineers official.

“Ultimately, it is up to the FERC to determine whether or not it chooses to adopt the recommendations submitted by the Corps with respect to wetlands and water body crossing “ Stockton told The Daily Star in an emailed response to the newspaper’s inquiry.

Stockton added: “We have and will continue to work closely with the Corps to address any issues or concerns that agency may have.”

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