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EPA wants closer look at Rover pipeline; FERC staff OKs Columbia Pipeline Group projects

TheU.S. EPA requested more involvement from federal and state agencies in feedbackon FERC's draft environmental impact statement for three connected natural gas pipeline projects.

Inresponse to a draft environmentalimpact statement released April 18, the EPA recommended furtherefforts to remedy the "insufficient information" provided in thedraft review of the Rover, Panhandle Backhaul and Trunkline Backhaul projects.

FERCOffice of Energy Projects staff signed off on andColumbia Gulf Transmission LLCproposals to build natural gas expansion projects linking Appalachian suppliesto the Gulf region.

Thestaff determined that the Columbia Gas' Leach Xpress project and Columbia Gulf'sRayne Express expansion project would result in limited adverse environmentalimpacts, which could be offset with mitigation measures.

AnotherNortheast natural gas pipeline project may get held up in regulatory processes,after the Delaware River Basin Commission told FERC it would conduct separatehearings on a proposed 1-Bcf/d line running through its territory.

TheDRBC, in no hurry to review the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline project,said the hearings are not expected to take place until after 2016.

New York denies key permit for Constitution gas pipeline

In along-awaited ruling,the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied a CleanWater Act permit required to build the FERC-approved Constitution Pipeline LLCnatural gas project.

"AlthoughDEC has granted certificates for other projects, the application byConstitution for these certificates fails to meet New York state's waterquality standards," the department said in an April 22 statement.

TheSenate energy bill that passedApril 20 contains a slew of natural gas items, including provisions designed tofirm up FERC's pipeline authority and expedite LNG export permitting.

S.2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, was approved in a bipartisan85-12 vote after months of delay over the fight to provide financial aid forthe water crisis in Flint, Mich.

IfCongress can send a broad energy bill to President Barack Obama's desk, itwould send a strong signal to New York and other states that the U.S. needs tobuild more natural gas infrastructure, according to the American PetroleumInstitute.

"Whatwe are hoping is that this directive for the agencies collaborating with FERC[prompts them to] engage and provide guidance to the states," APIExecutive Vice President for Government Affairs Louis Finkel said in an April21 press call. Finkel said the country needs to "get out from the politicsof these projects at the state and federal level."