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Columbia Gas gets Md. water permit for line to Mountaineer Gas

The Maryland Department of the Environment granted a nontidal wetlands and waterways permit to Columbia Gas Transmission LLC for a proposed pipeline project that would deliver 47,500 Dth/d of natural gas under the Potomac River to a West Virginia gas utility.

In a March 16 notice, the state agency said the Eastern Panhandle lateral project would satisfy all applicable Maryland laws and regulations as long as the developer adheres to more than 20 environmental conditions and requirements. The conditions cover topics including drinking water protection, drilling fluids monitoring and notification, and sinkhole prevention. The lateral would cross the C&O Canal and the Potomac River near Hancock, Md.

"Our state permit is strong and balanced, adding almost two dozen environmental conditions, many of which go above and beyond what the Army Corps and [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] would typically include, while also recognizing that natural gas has a role in meeting state and regional energy needs," Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles said. "The bottom line is that this pipeline will not get built if the applicant doesn't comply with our many requirements, regardless of what the federal agencies ultimately decide."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a general permit for the project in 2016, which included authorization under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

Pipeline opponents have criticized the Maryland review of the Columbia Gas project and asked the state for a more thorough evaluation of potential environmental impacts. Columbia Gas is part of TransCanada Corp.

FERC staff issued a favorable environmental assessment Jan. 26. Pennsylvania issued a Section 401 water quality certificate in February.

The three miles of new 8-inch-diameter gas pipeline in Maryland would be part of the 3.4-mile project. The entire pipeline would run from Fulton County, Pa., to a delivery point for West Virginia gas utility Mountaineer Gas Co. in Morgan County, W.Va. (FERC docket CP17-80)