FERC issues final environmental impact statement

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has prepared a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Algonquin Incremental Market Project, proposed by Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC.

The proposed project facilities include the construction and operation of about 37.4 miles of pipeline in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, composed of the following facilities:

  • Replacement of 26.3 miles of existing pipeline with a 16 or 42 in. diameter pipeline.
  • Extension of an existing loop pipeline with about 3.3 miles of additional 12 and 36 in. diameter pipeline within Algonquin's existing right-of-way.
  • Installation of about 7.8 miles of new 16, 24, and 42 in. diameter pipeline.

The project's proposed aboveground facilities consist of modifications to six existing compressor stations, to add a total 81 620 horsepower, in New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island and abandonment of four existing compressor units for a total of 10 800 horsepower at one compressor station in New York. Algonquin would also modify 24 existing meter and regulating stations, construct 3 new meter and regulation stations, and remove 1 meter station in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The project would provide firm transportation service of 342 000 dkth/d of natural gas to local distribution companies and municipal utilities in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The EIS was prepared in compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 1500–1508), and FERC regulations implementing NEPA (18 CFR 380). The US Environmental Protection Agency, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration cooperated in the preparation of the final EIS.

FERC's environmental staff concludes that construction and operation of the project would result in some adverse environmental impacts. However, most of these impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of Algonquin's proposed mitigation measures and plans and the additional measures recommended by the FERC staff in the draft EIS. Although many factors were considered in this determination, the principal reasons are:

  • About 35 miles (93%) of the 37.4 miles of project pipeline facilities would be within or adjacent to existing rights-of-way.
  • The majority of the pipeline facilities (70%) would replace existing Algonquin pipelines within existing rights-of-way.
  • Algonquin would minimise impacts on natural and cultural resources during construction and operation of the project by implementing its Erosion and Sediment Control Plan; Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan; Unexpected Contamination Encounter Procedures; Invasive Plant Species Control Plan; Best Drilling Practices Plan; Compensatory Mitigation Plan; Traffic Management Plans for New York and the West Roxbury Lateral; Procedures Guiding the Discovery of Unanticipated Cultural Resources and Human Remains; and Fugitive Dust Control Plan.
  • Algonquin would utilise the horizontal directional drill method to cross the Hudson and Still Rivers, which would avoid any direct impacts on these resources.
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of issuing a letter of concurrent for the AIM Project, which would complete consultation under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
  • FERC staff would complete the process with section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and implementing the regulations at 36 CFR 800 prior to allowing any construction to begin.
  • FERC staff would ensure compliance with all mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC authorisations and other approvals during our oversight of an environmental inspection and mitigation monitoring programme.

The FERC Commissioners will take into consideration staff's recommendations when the Commission makes a decision on the project.


Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

Published on 26/01/2015


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