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Sierra Club asks FERC to dismiss rehearing requests for Northern Access 2016

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Sierra Club asks FERC to dismiss rehearing requests for Northern Access 2016

The Sierra Club asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission not to circumvent state authority in favor of National Fuel Gas Co.'s Northern Access 2016 natural gas transportation project.

The environmental group asked FERC to dismiss requests from National Fuel Gas Supply Corp. and Empire Pipeline Inc. to rehear approval of the approximately $455 million project, specifically to reconsider language in the commission's certificate order for the project. In August, National Fuel argued that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation waived its authority to issue or deny a Clean Water Act Section 401 permit. Sierra Club said the claim is "groundless" because the agency has previously accepted resubmittals for the permit, even after the deadline for the state's decision.

The Sierra Club said that because the department issued a denial of the project within one year of receiving the application on April 8, 2016, National Fuel cannot claim that the project is exempt from needing such permits.

National Fuel's original rehearing request March 3 said the certificate order made the project too reliant on state permits and failed to give it a predetermination of rolled-in rate treatment. The companies hope a rehearing will circumvent "unlawful obstacles" thrown up by New York, such as denying the project a water quality certificate.

FERC issued the Northern Access 2016 project a certificate order Feb. 3. The project would expand National Fuel's pipeline system by adding 497,000 Dth/d of new firm transportation capacity and expand Empire's pipeline system with 350,000 Dth/d of new capacity. (FERC docket CP15-115)