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EPA tells FERC that Atlantic Sunrise gas project might not be necessary

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EPA tells FERC that Atlantic Sunrise gas project might not be necessary

The U.S. EPA said FERC ought to take a closer look atproject alternatives for the AtlanticSunrise pipeline project, even if they threaten the rationale forthe project.

The EPA recommended that FERC consider two systemalternatives for further study that were presented but not fully fleshed out inthe commission's draft environmentalimpact statement, saying they would minimize environmental impactswhile accomplishing the project's goal.

TranscontinentalGas Pipe Line Co. LLC's Atlantic Sunrise project would expand itsbidirectional transmission system in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, NorthCarolina and South Carolina to provide an incremental 1.7 MMDth/d of year-roundtransportation capacity from the Marcellus Shale region.

"The alternatives analysis presented in the DEIS seemsto include reasonable alternatives which were not carried forward for detailedconsideration," the EPA wrote.

One of the suggested alternatives involves co-location ofapproximately 91% of the project's route with the Transco system, while theother would involve an expansion of the PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC pipeline for 80 miles andwould ultimately eliminate the need for the Atlantic Sunrise project.

"Upon detailed evaluation it is possible that there areenvironmental advantages or that there are less damaging practicablealternatives," the EPA said.

In the DEIS, issued in May, FERC staff concluded that theTransco system alternative would have environmental disadvantages that wouldoutweigh any advantages. However, the EPA said that this conclusion was reachedwithout considering efforts to avoid and minimize the environmental impacts.

The DEIS, meanwhile, considered efforts to avoid andminimize impacts in the "preferred alternative."

"A more detailed analysis could reveal that thecollocated project minimizes impacts," the EPA said. "It is possiblethat there are environmental advantages or that there are less damagingpracticable alternatives."

The PennEast expansion alternative would extend the 111-milepipeline project andalso connect it to the Transco pipeline.

"If the expanded PennEast project moved forward andAtlantic Sunrise did not, it appears that PennEast would result inapproximately the same mileage as Atlantic Sunrise," the EPA said. "Itis not clear why this alternative has been dismissed as it appears to have thepotential to eliminate the construction and operation of 110+ miles."

As proposed, the Atlantic Sunrise project is expected tocost approximately $2.6 billion and would involve the installation of almost200 miles of 30- and 42-inch-diameter pipeline and 11.5 miles of 36- and42-inch-diameter pipeline, as well as 2.5 miles of pipeline replacements. Otheraspects of the project would involve construction to two new compressorstations in Pennsylvania and modifications to facilities in Pennsylvania,Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Transco is a subsidiary of . (CP15-138)