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Groups Cite Concern Over $1B PA, NY Pipeline

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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Environmental activists are taking aim against a proposed $1 billion underwater pipeline that would run fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania into New York City. Activists are highlighting concerns over locking the area into fossil-fuel-burning infrastructure for the next several decades, as well as concerns over climate change.

Williams is the developer spearheading work on the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, which will connect the pre-existing Transco pipeline to northeastern customers. According to the company, the total proposed facilities include:

  • 23.5 miles of 26-inch pipe offshore in the New York Bay;
  • 3.4 miles of 26-inch pipe onshore in Middlesex County, New Jersey;
  • 10.2 miles of 42-inch pipe in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania;
  • A new compressor station in Somerset County, New Jersey; and
  • Other existing compressor facility modifications.

Project History

The Transco system carries natural gas to customers along its 10,200-mile-pipeline network, the mainline of which runs nearly 1,800 miles between South Texas and New York City.

Courtesy of Williams

Environmental activists are taking aim against a proposed $1 billion underwater pipeline that would run fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania into New York City. Activists are highlighting concerns over locking the area into fossil-fuel-burning infrastructure for the next several decades, as well as concerns over climate change.

Before any adjustments to Transco pipeline facilities can be made, Williams must acquire a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Onshore field surveys for the project began in late spring of 2016 and a public comment period was held in September 2016. In the spring of 2017, the company submitted an application to FERC detailing the need for the project, which also included an environmental analysis.

In late January, FERC issued a final Environmental Impact Statement, noting that the project’s impacts on the environment would be reduced to “less than significant levels” with the planned mitigation measures in place.

Assuming the pipeline is approved, Williams plans to start construction in the fall or winter of this year, with plans to have the pipeline online in time for the winter 2020.

Environmental Concerns

According to The Guardian, a draft of a study, originally commissioned by 350.org, noted that New York has made significant progress in eliminating a carbon-heavy fuel for heating. Projections also currently indicate that there will be a decline in the use of electricity due to improvements in efficiency.

Environmentalists are also concerned that pipeline construction could kick up toxins from the harbor’s seabed. Eyes are on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo regarding the project, due to his previously banning fracking in the state and setting the goal to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

National Grid, the utility that will be the sole customer for the gas from the pipeline, noted that it has experienced significant demand for natural gas in New York City and Long Island. Future demands are expected to increase by 10 percent over the next decade as households switch to gas from oil for heating purposes.

Other Projects Under Scrutiny

The Northeast Supply Enhancement project is certainly not the only pipeline currently under scrutiny: The Enbridge project is currently facing its own delay, construction on the Keystone XL pipeline is still paused and the Dakota Access Pipeline marked its first year in operation in June.

According to Bloomberg, Enbridge Inc. is now anticipating its Line 3 crude oil pipeline to be in operation a year behind schedule, with a current planned opening date in the second half of 2020. The delay is largely due to Minnesota’s permitting process, which won’t be complete until November. Federal permits won’t arrive until up to two months after that. Work on Line 3 would help transport more crude from Alberta to Wisconsin, where construction is already finished.

As for the Keystone XL pipeline, the project remains in a similar state of limbo due to Calgary-based TransCanada asking the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a previous injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris that put a stop to many forms of pipeline construction. On Friday (March 15), the higher court denied TransCanada’s motion to overturn the stoppage.

The Dakota Access Pipeline celebrated its first year in operation back in June, according to Forbes. The DAPL is so far free from significant incidents, though there have been minor leakages. In the first six months of operation, the pipeline lost less than four barrels of oil, compared to the 61.25 million barrels moved during that same period. Pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners noted that it intentionally over-built the line, which included installing pipe 50 percent thicker than required by law in tricky areas.

   

Tagged categories: Construction; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipelines; Program/Project Management

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