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Federal Appeals Court Approves Major Pipeline Project for Northeast Pa.

Kimberly Paynter / NewsWorks

A pipeline construction site in Susquehanna County.

Efforts by environmentalists to block an interstate natural gas pipeline project in northeastern Pennsylvania have been rejected by a federal appeals court. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that federal regulators properly permitted the Marc 1 Hub line for Bradford, Sullivan, and Lycoming counties.
A group of residents, along with the Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club, and a national environmental law firm, joined together to oppose the 39-mile interstate pipeline project. The Marc 1 Hub pipeline is named after the Marcellus Shale. It would connect three major interstate pipelines that already haul gas from the Gulf Coast to the major east coast markets of New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.
NEPA Residents Seek to Halt Major Pipeline Project
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Because it’s an interstate pipeline, it needed approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. FERC approved the pipeline project last November.
Earthjustice, the law firm that represents residents who oppose the project, appealed FERC’s decision. Environmentalists sought to halt the construction of the pipeline, in part, to stall natural gas development in places like Sullivan County, where gas drilling has not yet developed as extensively as in places like Bradford County.
The group of local residents, backed by environmental groups, wanted FERC to do a more extensive, environmental impact study. And they had the support of the Environmental Protection Agency, which agreed 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. But the three-judge panel rejected that argument, saying federal regulators had done a sufficient review of the impacts, and that larger environmental consequences of natural gas development aided by the pipeline project, should not be considered a deciding factor.
FERC did conduct a less extensive environmental assessment that concluded the ecological impact would not be significant. The controversial project, proposed by Central New York Oil and Gas, whose parent company is Inergy, will cross about 100 waterways, and require the clear cutting of tens of thousands of trees.

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