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FERC rejects move to stop work on Columbia Pipeline projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected a request to stay its construction approval of two Columbia Pipeline Group Inc. natural gas projects, saying an environmental group that requested the move did not provide enough evidence of "irreparable harm."

In a March 22 order rejecting the stay request from the Allegheny Defense Project, FERC said the group only presented "generalized claims of environmental harm" that were not sufficient reasons for stopping the projects from construction. The Allegheny Defense Project asked for a stay after it and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and the Sierra Club requested a rehearing of the FERC order authorizing the construction and operation of Columbia Gas Transmission LLC's Mountaineer XPress project and Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC's Gulf XPress project.

"The injury must be both certain and great and it must be actual and not theoretical. ... Bare allegations of what is likely to occur do not suffice," the order said. "Instead, Allegheny catalogs the number of vegetated acres impacted by the projects, the number of waterbodies that they would cross, and the number of at-risk species affected."

FERC said the commission's environmental impact statement for the projects already looked at environmental impacts and created mitigation measures and compliance programs with the companies' participation. (FERC dockets CP16-357-001, CP16-361-001)

The two pipeline projects would provide up to 2.66 MMDth/d of incremental transportation capacity between the Northeast and the Gulf Coast. Columbia Pipeline Group is a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp.