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Group tries to block construction on Millennium's NY pipeline upgrade project

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Group tries to block construction on Millennium's NY pipeline upgrade project

An environmental group that regularly opposes pipeline projects launched a new attempt block construction on Millennium Pipeline Co. LLC's recently approved $275 million Eastern System Upgrade natural gas transportation project in New York.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network said Dec. 21 that it had filed a request for an injunction with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit following the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission construction authorization on Dec. 19. Millennium is owned by TransCanada Corp.'s Columbia Gas Transmission LLC and by National Grid USA and DTE Energy Co.

"FERC has given approval to advance construction of the Millennium [project] while impacted communities are placed in legal limbo by the agency's failure to respond to our November 30 rehearing request, and before the court has had an opportunity to even consider, let alone decide upon, our December 1 challenge to state approval of the project," the group's leader, Maya van Rossum, said in the statement.

Van Rossum said the state of New York, which has tried to stop several gas pipeline projects, "has also rolled over for this project."

In an email, Millennium spokeswoman Michelle Hook said the lawsuit was groundless. "The Delaware Riverkeeper's press release and request for injunction are filled with rhetoric and accusations but lack any merit or real facts," Hook said. "Contrary to Delaware Riverkeeper's allegations, both FERC and the New York [State Department of Environmental Conservation] have a rigorous and thorough permit process and a careful review was done by each agency before granting us any permits to proceed."

FERC authorized Millennium to build most of its Eastern System Upgrade, a 223,000-Dth/d expansion of its New York pipeline system, on Dec. 19, with the exception of facilities in part of the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest. On Dec. 21, the commission told Millennium it could begin tree clearing in the forest. FERC approved the upgrade project Nov. 28. The project is designed to provide additional firm gas transportation service on the Millennium system for local distribution companies and towns.

The project facilities include almost 8 miles of pipeline loop between Millennium's Corning compressor station and an interconnection with Enbridge Inc.'s Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC system in Ramapo, N.Y.; a new 22,400-horsepower compressor station; and upgrades at existing compressor stations. (FERC docket CP16-486)