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PennEast pipeline opponents push FERC to re-examine approval

Pipeline opposition groups asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider its approval of PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC's 1.1-Bcf/d natural gas transportation project.

Following up on a request for a rehearing of the project, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network asked the commission to withdraw its Feb. 22 tolling order, which allows FERC an indefinite amount of time to consider the rehearing request. In the March 16 motion, the environmental group claimed the tolling order deprives Delaware Riverkeeper of its due process rights. The group has said it plans to appeal the commission's authorization of the project to a federal court, but it must first receive a ruling on the rehearing request from FERC.

In a separate filing on March 15, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, which asked the commission for a rehearing of the project and a stay in February, said the project is unnecessary. The groups asked FERC to reexamine the project and consider their economic analysis that concludes the project would not contribute to supply security for its customers. The groups and the New Jersey Rate Counsel claim "this pipeline is not necessary to reduce gas prices, ensure reliability, allow for flexibility, or for any other reason."

Local distribution companies and electric generators have subscribed to about 1 Bcf/d of the project's firm transportation capacity in binding precedent agreements. PennEast has said the project would ultimately lower electric and gas utility bills for consumers. The developer is cooperating with New Jersey agencies, other regulators and landowners to mitigate temporary and permanent impacts.

FERC approved the project in a certificate order Jan. 19 after the pipeline received a favorable final environmental review in April 2017. The project would consist of about 120 miles of pipe from the Marcellus Shale region to East Coast markets. PennEast is a joint venture of affiliates of Enbridge Inc., Southern Co. Inc, New Jersey Resources Corp., South Jersey Industries Inc. and UGI Corp. (FERC docket CP15-558)