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May 15, 2014

Pipeline faces delay as feds seek more data

Federal regulators are pressing the planners of the Constitution Pipeline for a raft of new information about environmental impacts as part of a move that will delay the determination on whether the project can be licensed.

The authorization decision deadline had been scheduled by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for Sept 11.

On Wednesday, however, FERC advised the pipeline company that it was requiring it to submit a slew of new information as a result of comments received from both the public and other agencies in response to a draft environmental impact report issued earlier this year by the FERC staff.

Numerous property owners with parcels along the pipeline route as well as groups advocating for the protection of birds, fish and wildlife had been critical of the draft report. They argue it did not adequately examine the full range of potential impacts of the project along its proposed 124-mile pathway stretching from northeastern Pennsylvania to the Schoharie County town of Wright.

FERC did not indicate how much additional time will be required for its review now that it is asking for more data from the company. But the agency made it clear that there will be a delay.

FERC told the pipeline company it wants more information on how it plans to protect bald eagles and migratory birds in the vicinity of the route

FERC also directed the company to provide a “complete justification” for erecting a series of monopole radio communication towers near the 11 proposed mainline valves along the route of the 30-inch-diameter pipe.

A spokesman for the pipeline company, Christopher Stockton, did not respond to email and telephone messages requesting comment on the FERC

The pipeline project has met stiff resistance from a grassroots group called Stop the Pipeline. One of its organizes, Anne Marie Garti, an environmental lawyer from East Meredith, said FERC must re-open the public comment period once the pipeline submits the documents sought by FERC.

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