Pipeline EIA insufficient without interstate highway option –EPA

If FERC needs to consider an interstate highway route for the Constitution Pipeline through Pennsylvania and New York State, it also needs to consider running down I-75 through Georgia and Florida for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline. Just as numerous state and federal agencies insisted on that in New York and Pennsylvania, state agencies in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida and the same federal agencies can insist on the same for the Transco -> Sabal Trail -> FSC 100-foot-wide gash to the sea.

Joe Mahoney wrote for The Daily Star 17 April 2014, EPA deems pipeline study ‘insufficient’,

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that a draft report on the environmental impacts of the proposed Constitution Pipeline is “insufficient,” and that a potential option of co-locating the transmission line along Interstate 88 “has not been fully evaluated.”

The comments by Judy-Ann Mitchell, chief of the EPA’s Sustainability and Multimedia Programs Branch, were sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in recent days in response to the latter agency’s determination that the controversial $700 million project posed “acceptable” environmental impacts along the 124-mile pathway.

EPA is calling on FERC, the pipeline planners, the state Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and other agencies meet to discuss the I-88 alternative “fully,” according to Mitchell’s letter to FERC.

And that’s not all:

Leatherstocking Gas Co., a partnership of Corning Gas and Mirabito Holdings, wants to supply gas to the Amphenol plant through a tap that would be placed on the pipeline. The company also hopes to provide natural gas to homes and businesses in the village of Sidney.

The EPA, in its filing, called on FERC to study the “reasonably foreseeable impacts” of the Leatherstocking network, calling that an “indirect effect of the Constitution Pipeline.”

The FERC document states “because specifics of this (Leatherstocking) infrastructure are unknown, impacts are discussed in a general sense where applicable below.”

However, the EPA stated: “The impacts are never mentioned again” in the FERC report.

What about the effects of the Sabal Trail offshoots, the Citrus County pipeline to Duke Energy’s Crystal River plant (that Duke admits it doesn’t actually need) and the Hunters Creek Pipeline to connect with the Gulfstream Pipeline, plus the pre-existing SONAT pipeline? A court just ruled that FERC has to consider cumulative pipeline effects. What about the effects of those already-authorized LNG export operations that FERC and Spectra and FPL keep refusing to take into account? FERC has to approve any new LNG export projects, so maybe it should first look at all the ones DoE’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE) already approved.

And it’s not just the EPA: numerous state and federal agencies object:

For instance, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) complained that the FERC impact statement “prematurely eliminates further consideration of all or portions of Alternative M (the Interstate 88 corridor) which would significantly reduce environmental impacts and serve to promote the FERC’s policy to use, widen or extend existing rights of way when locating proposed facilities.”

DEC, which has limited jurisdiction over the projected, suggested that the I-88 alternative offers “substantially fewer impacts to three critically important fish and wildlife habitats, interior forests, wetlands and streams.”

The analysis of the I-88 option has been hindered, DEC said, because “the applicant has unfortunately not submitted detailed information nor has it presented detailed proposals or plans” to the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

In an even stronger comment, DEC noted that co-locating a pipeline along an existing highway right of way is not only consistent with FERC policy, but also “required” by regulations governing FERC.

FERC’s determination that the installation of the underground pipeline through forests, fields, farmland and ridge tops was also questioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the state Attorney General’s Office and the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

“It’s very consistent across the board that the agencies are saying it’s not done,” said Anne Marie Garti, an environmental lawyer from East Meredith who is one of the prime organizers of the grassroots group Stop the Pipeline.

Where are all the equivalent state agencies in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida?

After all, this is one of the same same pipeline companies involved in the Transco -> Sabal Trail -> FSC pipeline from Alabama to the sea in Florida where multiple LNG export operations are already authorized.

And export may be one of the goals of the Constitution Pipeline, as well:

Garti accused Constitution Pipeline of misrepresenting what she said is the real goal of the project — to transmit the gas to Canada. Stockton said the plan continues to call for the gas to go to markets in the northeastern United States.

Yeah, and Spectra keeps saying the Sabal Trail fracked methane is for Florida, too.

Williams Company says it owns:

  • 70% of the proposed Constitution Pipeline,
  • 49% of the Gulfstream Pipeline (Spectra Energy owns 49% and each of them have related corporations that own 1% each),
  • 100% of the Northwest Pipeline which runs all the way from New Mexico and Colorado to Washington State, Canada, and California.
  • and 100% of Transco, the pipeline through Alabama that Spectra and FPL’s proposed Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline would connect to. Transco also runs all the way from Texas to Pennsylvania, and would connect to the Constitution Pipeline.

Oh, and Williams was also behind the Bluegrass Pipeline through Ohio and Kentucky, which it cancelled a month ago due to “an insufficient level of firm customer commitment”.

In addition to taking an interstate highway route seriously, FERC needs to seriously examine the lack of need for a new pipeline by Florida, and the faster, cheaper, and much less destructive way to get any new energy that is needed: solar power.

If FERC followed its own rules, it would say cancel the Constitution Pipeline, cancel the Sabal Trail pipeline, and build solar power instead. After all, according to Sabal Trail’s own numbers, solar on half the acreage could produce as much power as the pipeline.

Let’s insist FERC cancel the pipelines and recommend solar power.


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