Protesters parked cars along Witmer Road in Manor Township to block access to a work site for the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Federal regulators won’t reconsider approval of Atlantic Sunrise pipeline

  • Marie Cusick
Construction of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Lancaster County.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Construction of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Lancaster County.

Federal regulators won’t revisit their decision to approve a major natural gas transmission pipeline through Pennsylvania.

In a December 6 order, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied a rehearing request by landowners, anti-pipeline activists, environmental groups, Native American tribes and the public service commissions of North Carolina and New York. They were challenging FERC’s approval of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline.

Construction on the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline began in September. It is being built to carry Marcellus Shale gas from northeastern Pennsylvania southward to markets along the East Coast.

Among the opponents’ allegations was that the pipeline does not serve a public need. FERC responded that the project is designed “to meet the growing demand for natural gas in the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern markets.”

It is not uncommon for the agency to deny such requests. An investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and StateImpact Pennsylvania found FERC often delays appeals of its pipeline approvals for months while allowing companies to begin construction. In seven cases since 2015, gas already was flowing in the pipeline by the time opponents could challenge it in court.