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FERC denies environmental groups' attempt to stymie Dominion Pa.-Va. gas project

FERC denied a request by environmental groups to rehear its authorization of Dominion Transmission Inc.'s 155,000-Dth/d Leidy South gas transmission project between Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The Jan. 17 order will allow the Leidy South project to proceed, as the commission determined that there was no further need to analyze the project's environmental impacts in the region.

The Allegheny Defense Project, Heartwood, Wild Virginia, the FreshWater Accountability Project and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition filed their request to rehear the project Sept. 28, 2016, claiming that FERC violated the National Environmental Policy Act. The groups requested that FERC conduct a programmatic environmental impact statement for natural gas projects in the region.

On March 31, 2016, FERC staff published a positive environmental assessment on the expansion project, which determined that it would have minimal impacts on the environment.

The commission stood by staff conclusions both in the Aug. 29, 2016, certificate order and in the order denying a rehearing. FERC also maintained that the "environmental analysis appropriately defined the ... scope of the cumulative impact analysis."

"It is the magnitude of a proposed action's impacts that determines the scope of the agency's environmental analysis," the order said, disagreeing with the groups' claim that the scope should be related to cumulative impacts from beyond the project and its time span.

The project, which would provide 155,000 Dth/d of firm transportation service on Dominion's pipeline system, includes new compression and other facility modifications in Clinton and Franklin counties in Pennsylvania, and in Loudoun County, Va. Construction on the $209.7 million project was approved by FERC on Jan. 3. (FERC docket CP15-492)