FERC Puts Stamp of Approval on Algonquin Pipeline Expansion

Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Rally, October 25, 2014/Photo Jim Alcorn for The Journal News
Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Rally, October 25, 2014/Photo Jim Alcorn for The Journal News

By Anne Meador, Cetology

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a positive Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Algonquin Incremental Market project on January 23, 2015. The project includes 37.4 miles of natural gas pipeline in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

In 2013, FERC began evaluating Spectra Energy’s proposal which would increase pipeline capacity to deliver gas to New England markets and include a new crossing of the Hudson River. It would also modify six existing compressors and build three new metering and regulating stations.

FERC Commissioners still have to make a final decision, but in recent years the agency has never failed to approve a major infrastructure project.

The advocacy group Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE) describes the project as a “high pressure large 42” diameter transmission pipeline near Indian Point… at least 200% larger in capacity than the current pipe.”

The proposed new pipeline would cross the Hudson River from Stony Point, Rockland County under the proposed Champlain Hudson 1000-megawatt electric transmission line. It would also intersect underground in Verplanck with another proposed West Point Partners 1000-megawatt electric transmission line just a few hundred feet from the Indian Point Nuclear Facility and its 40 years of spent nuclear fuel rods, near the Ramapo and Stamford faults. It will continue through Westchester and Putnam Counties and into Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

FERC found that the project would have no significant environmental impacts and  that it won’t hurt the Hudson River because developer Spectra Energy is drilling under the river.

Algonquin_Expansion

On its website, SAPE identifies risk factors and potential harms it believes would make the Algonquin expansion dangerous and ultimately unfeasible:

  • Public safety risk! Explosions have occurred in both compressor stations and gas pipelines. An explosion at or near Indian Point would be an unimaginable catastrophe.
  • High levels of radon, the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the U.S., will be transported through the pipeline from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale.
  • Noisy, polluting compressor station expansions proposed for Stony Point and Southeast expose people, pets and wildlife to many tons of highly toxic emissions per year.
  • Health effects associated with compressor stations emissions: nosebleeds, headaches, dizziness, skin rashes, respiratory, developmental and neurological problems, breast, kidney and liver cancer.
  • Risk to home values! The proximity of the high pressure pipelines and potential for an explosion could negatively impact your property, diminish its value, and reduce your quality of life.

FERC hasn’t announced when commissioners will make a final decision on the project.

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