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Federal Agency Grants Approval to Pipeline Project

Kim Paynter / Newsworks/WHYY

A pipeline construction site in Susquehanna County, Pa.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a proposed 39-mile natural gas pipeline that will run through the Endless Mountain region of northeast Pennsylvania. The controversial project will cross about 100 waterways, and has been opposed by environmental groups. The Environmental Protection Agency had requested FERC conduct an environmental impact study. But FERC says their own environmental review is sufficient.
Central New York Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of Inergy, recently urged FERC to speed up the process of issuing a certificate. The Marc 1 Hub Line will help develop the Marcellus Shale in that region of the state by providing a way to ship the shale gas to market. The proposed pipeline will run through Bradford, Sullivan and Lycoming counties, connecting two major transcontinental natural gas pipelines that serve the lucrative market of New York City and northern New Jersey.
As part of a new strategy to slow down gas drilling in the area, environmentalists are looking to halt pipeline construction. Earthjustice, a national environmental law firm, submitted comments to the permit application, asking FERC to do a more extensive, environmental impact study.

FERC did conduct a less extensive environmental assessment that concluded the ecological impact would not be significant. But the Environmental Protection Agency agreed with Earthjustice that a better study is needed, one that would look at the cumulative effect of all the new pipelines planned for the region’s undeveloped stretches of forest.
The pipeline will require the clearcut of tens of thousands of trees, which would create what ecologists call an “edge effect.” These edges are actually beneficial for grazing deer and elk, but some worry about how it will impact the forest ecology. Earthjustice says they have plans to challenge the FERC decision in court.

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