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Suit alleging FERC bias dismissed; Algonquin cleared for part of Atlantic Bridge

Court dismisses lawsuit accusing FERC of bias in favor of pipeline projects

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a complaint by environmental groups that had called FERC a "corrupt, rogue agency" biased in favor of the natural gas pipelines it reviews.

A March 22 order by District Judge Tanya Chutkan granted requests for dismissal filed by FERC and PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC, dismissing with prejudice a complaint filed by Delaware Riverkeeper Network and allied groups. The judge said her order was a final decision that could be brought to federal appeals court.

In a lawsuit filed in March 2016, Delaware Riverkeeper charged that FERC was "infected by structural bias" toward approving natural gas infrastructure, including the proposed PennEast pipeline project between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, because of a connection the group drew between user fees that the commission collects from the industry it regulates and the commission's budget.

Algonquin cleared to begin work on additional supply pipe to New England, Canada

FERC staff gave Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC permission to begin building its Atlantic Bridge gas project connecting points in New Jersey and New York with New England and Canada's Maritime provinces.

Staff said in a March 27 notice that Algonquin can begin constructing project facilities in Connecticut, including a new meter station and parts of the 42-inch-diameter mainline take-up and relay pipeline. FERC staff also approved Algonquin to place the permitted Connecticut facilities in service.

They added that authority has not yet been issued for construction activities to begin on other portions of the project. Algonquin requested permission to begin building these facilities March 14.

FERC OKs building another stage of Transco's Atlantic Sunrise

FERC staff gave Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC permission to begin building mainline facilities and other parts of the almost $3 billion, up-to-1.7-Bcf/d Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline project, even as opponents tried to stop it with legal measures.

FERC staff issued on March 24 a partial notice to proceed to the Williams Partners LP subsidiary. Staff outlined that construction activities should be limited to replacing two sections of mainline in Virginia; making modifications to six compressor stations in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina; building 14 mainline valves in North Carolina and South Carolina; and modifying meter and regulator stations in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Transco applies for $927M Northeast Supply Enhancement gas pipeline project

Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC applied to FERC for authorization for its Northeast Supply Enhancement natural gas project, which would create 400,000 Dth/d of incremental transportation capacity to markets in the Northeast in time for the 2019-2020 winter heating season.

The project is intended to help meet the growing natural gas demand in the region, including the 1.8 million customers served by National Grid USA in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island in New York. Transco has executed precedent agreements with National Grid subsidiaries for firm transportation service through the project. The project complements the Brooklyn Queens Interconnect and Rockaway lateral project, completed in spring 2016, the first new gas supply delivery point in decades for National Grid customers in the area.

Columbia's WB XPress gas system expansion passes FERC environmental review

FERC staff found no significant environmental issues that would hold up a proposed Columbia Gas Transmission LLC expansion designed to move an incremental 1.3 MMDth/d of natural gas and provide bidirectional service on its pipeline system from shale reserves in West Virginia.

FERC Office of Energy Projects staff found in an environmental assessment released March 24 that any commission approval of the WB XPress project would not represent a major federal action harming the environment. The U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and West Virginia Division of Natural Resources participated in the preparation of the assessment. The project route crosses more than 11 miles of national forest, and the Forest Service provided recommendations for construction in addition to 21 mitigation measures proposed by FERC staff.

Cheniere gets permission to start commissioning 4th LNG train at Sabine Pass

Cheniere Energy Inc. affiliates were given permission to begin commissioning the fourth liquefaction train at the Sabine Pass LNG export terminal in Louisiana.

FERC on March 24 granted Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC and Sabine Pass LNG LP's request to introduce fuel gas to train 4 days after the commission approved the companies to put in service train 3, which had been undergoing commissioning activities since September 2016.

Dominion Carolina to start building Transco-to-Charleston project

FERC staff gave Dominion Carolina Gas Transmission LLC the go-ahead to begin construction on its Transco-to-Charleston natural gas pipeline project that will provide 80,000 Dth/d of firm transportation to South Carolina customers.

FERC staff said in a March 24 letter order that Dominion Carolina can begin building the project's Dorchester and Southern compressor stations in Dorchester and Aiken counties in South Carolina. The compressor stations will allow Dominion Carolina to handle approximately 30,000 Dth/d of incremental delivery capability to the Charleston area.