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Group wants intrastate line added to review of Spectra's pipeline export project

The Sierra Club asked FERC to evaluate a Texas intrastate natural gas pipeline proposed by Spectra Energy Corp in connection with the commission's review of the company's Valley Crossing border pipeline project.

Valley Crossing Pipeline LLC submitted an application to FERC for a certificate order and a presidential permit for the border-crossing project on Nov. 21. Valley Crossing requested the commission issue authorization for the project by July 3, 2017.

The proposed 2.6-Bcf/d Valley Crossing border-crossing project would consist of 1,000 feet of 42-inch-diameter pipeline running from Texas waters in the Gulf of Mexico to the international U.S.-Mexico boundary. It would receive gas from the 165-mile Valley Crossing intrastate pipeline that would begin at the Agua Dulce hub in Nueces County, Texas, and deliver the gas to the Comisión Federal de Electricidad, Mexico's state-owned electric utility. As an intrastate pipeline, the pipeline would fall under the jurisdiction of the Railroad Commission of Texas, according to the Valley Crossing application.

The Sierra Club labeled Valley Crossing's claim that it would place the 165-mile-long pipeline into intrastate service as "a transparent attempt to avoid federal oversight" in a Dec. 23 filing. The organization insisted that the commission consider the environmental and other impacts the intrastate pipeline could have on the region.

"Contrary to Valley Crossing's contentions, FERC must exercise jurisdiction over construction over the entirely pipeline project, rather than merely the 1000' border crossing," the Sierra Club said.

Spectra Energy defended its Valley Crossing application. "As outlined in our application, certain aspects of the project will be subject to FERC jurisdiction," Spectra spokesperson Devin Hotzel said in a Dec. 29 email.

Hotzel said extra access to Texas gas will provide market opportunities for state gas producers while assisting Mexico in addressing a growing demand for gas-fueled electric generation.

Other groups and individuals filed complaints with FERC, including the city of Port Isabel, Texas. Port Isabel, which lists fishing, tourism, shipping and light industry as parts of its economy, claimed the project could harm its industries and have adverse health and safety impacts on the city's schools, housing and health care facilities. (FERC docket CP17-19)