A proposed interstate gas pipeline designed to bring Marcellus Shale gas to markets in New York and New England has cleared a major regulatory hurdle.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which oversees interstate pipelines, concluded in an Environmental Impact Statement Friday that the project would have “some adverse environmental impacts” but that they would be limited.
The proposal now goes to FERC’s Commissioners for final approval, which could come as early as the end of November.
The Constitution project involves construction of 124 miles of new 30-inch-diameter pipeline, connecting gas production in Susquehanna County to the existing Iroquois and Tennessee transmission lines. It would be jointly operated by subsidiaries of Williams Partners, Cabot Oil and Gas, Piedmont Natural Gas, and WGL Holdings.
“After a long and comprehensive review of our proposed route, FERC’s Final Environmental Impact Statement confirms the Constitution Pipeline can be constructed in a manner that minimizes environmental impacts,” the project’s sponsors said in a statement.
The pipeline would cross 289 bodies of water along the route. If approved by FERC, it would still need permits from other state and federal agencies including the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
“Our time-frame is that we want to start construction by the first quarter of 2015,” says Williams spokesman Chris Stockton. ”If all goes according to schedule, we’d wrap everything up by the end of 2015.”
Williams is also in the process of seeking FERC approval for another interstate pipeline– the Atlantic Sunrise project– which would run through 10 Pennsylvania counties, sending Marcellus Shale gas southward toward markets along the east coast. The company is still in the early stages of its application but has already received significant pushback from communities along the route, particularly in Lancaster County.