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FERC sets new date for environmental report on Mountain Valley project

For a second time, FERC pushed back the environmental review of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC natural gas transportation project and a related Equitrans LP expansion project that would allow East Coast customers to tap Appalachian Basin gas supplies.

In a March 31 notice, the commission released its staff's planned schedule for a final environmental impact statement for the projects. The review, previously scheduled for a March 10 release, will now be published June 23. FERC delayed the environmental review in order to collect and study route modifications and more information provided by Mountain Valley and Equitrans in January and March. Cooperating federal agencies would have until Sept. 21 to complete their work on the project review.

Mountain Valley received support from industrial gas consumers, which asked FERC to authorize the project and 11 others in January letters. The project was also granted a water quality permit from West Virginia, although the project is still waiting for Clean Water Act permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other permits.

The Mountain Valley project would deliver 2 Bcf/d of gas supplies from the Marcellus and Utica shales toward Mid-Atlantic and Southeast markets, with construction planned in Virginia and West Virginia. Mountain Valley's project would include approximately 300 miles of 42-inch-diameter pipeline, three new compressor stations and other facilities.

The Equitrans expansion would increase north-to-south firm capacity by about 600,000 Dth/d. Built in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the expansion project would involve approximately eight miles pipelines of various diameters and replacement of a compressor station. The projects would also give shippers access to interconnects with Texas Eastern Transmission LP, Dominion Transmission Inc. and Columbia Gas Transmission LLC.

Mountain Valley and Equitrans submitted applications to FERC in October 2015. FERC staff determined in June 2016 that because the Mountain Valley pipeline and Equitrans expansion projects would be interrelated, it would be appropriate to analyze them in the same environmental review. Staff issued a positive draft environmental impact statement for the projects in September 2016.

The original estimate for the start date for construction on the projects was December 2016. Since then, the date has been pushed back to mid-2017. The projects are still expected to be in service in late 2018, according to EQT spokeswoman Natalie Cox.

Mountain Valley is a joint venture of EQT Midstream Partners LP, NextEra US Gas Assets LLC, Edison Gas Pipeline and Storage LLC, WGL Midstream Inc and RGC Midstream LLC. Equitrans is owned by subsidiaries of EQT Midstream. (FERC dockets CP16-10, CP16-13)