Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Company Cancels Plans For Southeast PA Pipeline Carrying Imported LNG

A natural gas pipeline runs through Susquehannock State Forest.

Susan Phillips / StateImpactPA

A natural gas pipeline runs through Susquehannock State Forest.

An energy company has cancelled its plans to build a pipeline to deliver natural gas to southeast Pennsylvania from a proposed import terminal at Sparrows Point in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Intelligencer/Lancaster New Era reports AES Corp. filed a motion to “vacate” its approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“AES has decided to no longer pursue constructing the LNG terminal and the associated 88-mile natural gas pipeline authorized by the Commission,” the motion stated.

“To date, no construction activities have been undertaken.”

AES Corp.’s decision comes not long after the U.S. Department of Energy issued its approval for a liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Cove Point, Maryland. Pending approval from FERC, the facility plans to export natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, representing a dramatic shift in the market.

That was one of several arguments used by environmental groups spanning Pennsylvania and Maryland that fought the Sparrows Point plan.

Bart Fisher, an attorney representing the LNG Opposition Team, believes AES Corp. “recognized the inevitability of the fact that they couldn’t put an import terminal there.”

“It was always a stupid idea. It took six years to prove it,” he said.

AES Corp. did not respond to a request for comment.

The Sparrows Point project and Mid-Atlantic Express pipeline were approved by FERC in 2009. But the projects failed to get the necessary water and air quality permits from the state of Maryland.

“It would have had major impacts on thousands of acres of land that we had worked so hard to permanently preserve,” said Theodosia Price, Senior Planner for Land Stewardship at the Brandywine Conservancy in Chadds Ford, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

The conservancy assisted in a legal challenge to the project, claiming the project would impact 48 streams and 23 wetlands, among other environmental concerns. Price said the group also argued that the project was unnecessary given the large amount of natural gas being produced in Pennsylvania.

“It may be that the company came to the same conclusion.”

Fisher said there has been no definitive discussion of AES Corp. changing up its plans and building an export terminal. If that were to happen, both Fisher and Price told StateImpact that the company would have to start from scratch with approvals from FERC.

“I think it’s too soon to say,” Price said.

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