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PennEast pushes for fast FERC approval for 120-mile pipeline

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Essential Energy Insights - February 2021

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PennEast pushes for fast FERC approval for 120-mile pipeline

PennEast Pipeline Company LLC asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve its 1.1 Bcf/d natural gas transportation project, even as the Sierra Club pointed to missing state permits as a reason for the commission to deny the project.

PennEast requested that FERC "promptly issue" the authorization in a letter filed with the commission on Aug. 11. "PennEast believes that the record in this proceeding is complete and ready for a final commission decision," PennEast Chairman Dat Tran wrote.

Tran said the request stemmed from a concern that delays could impact project shippers, which have subscribed to about 1 Bcf/d of the firm transportation capacity of the project in binding precedent agreements. The shippers include local distribution companies, electric generators, producers and others. A certificate order "is critically important to satisfy the timing expectations of these shippers," Tran said, as well as to the energy markets the pipeline would supply.

The developers of another pipeline project, the 1.5-Bcf/d Nexus pipeline in the Midwest, sent FERC a similar letter asking for action now that the commission has the minimum number of commissioners to approve energy infrastructure projects.

The PennEast project received a positive final environmental impact statement from FERC staff on April 7. The project would include approximately 120 miles of new pipeline and associated facilities. It would deliver gas supplies from the Marcellus Shale region to markets in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other states.

Some state approvals have remained elusive. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection administratively closed the project's application for a wetlands permit in June. The state agency determined the application was deficient and lacked information.

The New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club referred to this decision in an Aug. 11 request that FERC deny a certificate for the PennEast project. "Based on this alone, they should not be allowed to go forward," New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said in the letter.

Tittel also pointed to litigation over a pending Pennsylvania-controlled Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality permit. Tittel said the project "is dangerous and threatens the environment of the entire Delaware Valley."

The PennEast pipeline is a joint venture of Enbridge Inc.'s Spectra Energy Partners LP, Southern Co. Inc's Southern Gas Co., New Jersey Resources Corp.'s NJR Pipeline Co., South Jersey Industries Inc.'s SJI Midstream and UGI Corp.'s UGI Energy Services. (FERC docket CP15-558)