Aug. 07–National Fuel has announced that a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decision has reversed a judgement from the state Department of Environmental Conservation that was holding up the construction of the Northern Access Pipeline.
The DEC ruled in April 2017 to deny water quality permits that would have allowed construction on the pipeline to begin.
The project would allow for the transport of gas from Pennsylvania to Canada with a gas compressor station in Pendleton and a gas dehydration station in Wheatfield.
“We are pleased with yesterday’s ruling which removes a major barrier for an important project that will provide consumers with increased access to abundant energy supplies, while also improving reliability and resiliency of the energy grid,” said National Fuel Spokeswoman Karen Merkel in an email statement.
“We remain committed to the project, and due to the significant delay caused by the actions of the state agency, our team is developing a revised timeline including reviewing the status of various other relevant permits.”
According to the statement, FERC ruled that the DEC had “waived its right to review the Northern Access Project’s application for a crucial Clean Water Act permit by failing to act within a year of receiving it.”
The $500 million project is expected to generate quite a few jobs, with nearly 1,700 workers expected to work on the pipeline installation.
The project is also expected to garner significant tax revenues for the municipalities it will run through. According to the statement from Merkel, that number is around $11.8 million, with a one-time sales tax impact over $8 million.
“In addition to these more discrete benefits, the Northern Access Project will help assure access to a substantial supply of low-cost energy,” Merkel said in the statement. “The development of vast natural gas reserves has markedly decreased the average winter heating bills of customers in Western New York.”
According to Merkel, during the winter of 2005 to 2006, at a time when natural gas was supplied mainly from the Southeast and Canada, an average heating bill for a residential building was around $1,200. This past winter, she said the average was closer to $560.
The project had been vocally protested by neighbors who live along the pipeline’s proposed path, with residents questioning the possibility of leaks, explosions and other hazards, especially around the Pendleton and Wheatfield facilities.
Merkel said the project has even heavily scrutinized by several state and federal agencies and the project had been thoroughly analyzed. In 115 years of service, she said, “National Fuel has consistently protected water quality and water supplies in Western New York and Pennsylvania.”
“Like the dozens of natural gas pipeline projects it constructs yearly, the Northern Access Project will use construction techniques which are protective of the environment and will not put at risk or endanger water supplies,” she said. “Throughout the project’s review, the Company has committed to meet or exceed safety codes and environmental protection requirements.
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