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AIM gas project marches on as NY lawmakers decry FERC decision

AsNew York state lawmakers called FERC's refusal to stop work on the 342,000-Dth/dAlgonquin IncrementalMarket natural gas pipeline expansion "reckless and dangerous,"Spectra Energy Corp continuedwith construction and simply acknowledged a commission decision that backed upthe previous permit review.

"Weare pleased that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission confirmed the validityof its certificate of public convenience and necessity for the AlgonquinIncremental Market (AIM) project, as well as the findings of other federal andstate agencies," Spectra Energy spokeswoman Marylee Hanley wrote in anemail.

"Thecertificate approved the AIM project and authorized [] toproceed with construction of the project following two years of extensiveevaluation that involved significant public participation," Hanley said.

OnMarch 25, FERC denieda request of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation,signed by other state agencies and backed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, thatthe commission shut down work on the approximately $972 million AIMexpansion project whilethe agencies conduct a safety analysis of Entergy Corp.'s Indian Point nuclear power plant and thepipeline where it crosses plant property. FERC found that the environmentalagency had not raised a safety concern that had not been considered when FERCand the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewed the pipeline projectapplication. FERC approved the AIM project in March 2015. (CP14-96)

In aMarch 29 statement, New York Assembly members Sandy Galef and David Buchwaldcriticized the FERC decision on the DEC request.

"FERC'sdecision to reject Governor Cuomo's request to halt construction of the AIMpipeline while [New York state] conducts an independent safety analysis on thepipeline's potential impact to Indian Point is reckless and dangerous,"the Democrats said in a statement. "FERC needs to respect New York stategovernment's position and our duty to protect the health and safety of millionsof residents who could be in harm's way and stop pipeline constructionimmediately.

"GovernorCuomo has rightly acted to put New Yorkers first, while FERC is acting only inthe interests of the oil and gas industry, and that has to stop now," theycontinued. "We demand that FERC reverse its decision and stop constructionof the AIM pipeline immediately."

OnMarch 30, a group of parties that had challenged the AIM project in the FERCreview process asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuitto review the FERCdecision to approve the project.

Thepipeline project is well into construction, with an in-service date inNovember. "Algonquin will continue with its construction, in accordancewith the FERC certificate, to meet the project's critical construction timeframes and safely transport additional supplies of clean, reliable, domesticnatural gas to heat the region's homes and businesses," Hanley said.