The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final Environmental Impact Statement for the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project that was purposed by Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC. This Project would provide an estimated “400,000 dekatherms per day of natural gas” to customers in the New York City area.
“The final EIS addresses the potential environmental effects of the construction and operation of the following Project facilities:
- 10.2 miles of 42-inch-diameter pipeline loop in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (the Quarryville Loop);
- 3.4 miles of 26-inch-diameter pipeline loop in Middlesex County, New Jersey (the Madison Loop);
- 23.5 miles of 26-inch-diameter pipeline loop in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties, New Jersey, and Queens and Richmond Counties, New York (the Raritan Bay Loop, which consists of 0.2 mile of pipe in onshore Middlesex County, New Jersey; 6.0 miles of offshore pipe in New Jersey waters; and 17.3 miles of offshore pipe in New York waters);
- modification of existing Compressor Station 200 in Chester County, Pennsylvania;
- construction of new Compressor Station 206 in Somerset County, New Jersey; and
- ancillary facilities (including cathodic protection systems, new and modified mainline valves with tie-in assemblies, new and modified launcher/receiver facilities, and facilities to connect the Raritan Bay Loop to the existing Rockaway Delivery Lateral at the Rockaway Transfer Point).”
FERC determined that the Project would have adverse impacts on the environment, though most of them would be temporary, only occurring during the construction of the Project. “Long-term impacts on air quality and noise would result from the operation of Compressor Station 206. We also conclude that, with implementation of Transco’s impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures, as well as their adherence to our recommendations, all Project effects would be reduced to less-than-significant levels.
“Although many factors were considered during our environmental review, the principal reasons for these conclusions are as follows:
- The Quarryville and Madison Loops would be collocated with existing Transco facilities for 97 percent and 100 percent of their lengths, respectively, with a typical offset of 25 feet from existing pipelines. Some workspace needed to construct the loops would overlap with Transco’s current right-of-way, reducing construction-related impacts.
- A high level of public participation was achieved during the pre-filing and post-application review processes and helped inform our analysis.
- Compressor Station 206 would comply with operating air permit conditions, and emissions would meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and other applicable standards that are protective of public health and welfare. Operating noise from the facility would meet our requirements at noise sensitive areas and the facility would be visually screened from surrounding viewpoints. All Project facilities, including Compressor Station 206, would be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained in accordance with U.S. Department of Transportation safety requirements that are protective of public safety.
- Direct and indirect construction emissions of nitrogen oxides would be offset through direct mitigation or the purchase of Emission Reduction Credits and Creditable Emissions Reductions, thereby conforming with the New York and New Jersey State Implementation Plans with respect to the New Jersey-New York-Connecticut Interstate Air Quality Control Region.
- The proposed route and construction methods for the Raritan Bay Loop were developed in consultation with the USACE and other agencies to minimize crossing designated anchorage areas, meet USACE marine traffic safety requirements, and reduce impacts on water quality and aquatic wildlife. Sixty-four percent of the offshore loop would be installed using a jet trencher, which would not require the removal and disposal of seafloor sediment. Thirty-one percent of the offshore loop would be installed using a clamshell excavator fitted with an environmental bucket, and an environmental clamshell would also be used to excavate horizontal directional drill (HDD) entry and exit pits. The remainder of the offshore loop would be installed via HDD, thereby avoiding direct seafloor impacts. Project-related turbidity would be temporary, and most sedimentation would occur near to the approximately 87.8-acre area of seafloor that would be directly affected by construction. In addition, Transco consulted with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to minimize construction conflicts with time of year restrictions for certain marine species to the extent practicable. As a result, impacts on aquatic resources would be temporary and minor to moderate.
- We evaluated numerous alternatives to Transco’s proposal and determined that the alternatives would either not meet the stated purpose and need of the Project, would be infeasible, or would not provide a significant environmental advantage when compared to the proposed Project.
- The Project area has been substantially impacted by human activity. The Project and other actions in the area would cumulatively impact some resources, but most cumulative impacts would be temporary or short-term and minor. Project impacts on forest resources would be permanent but minor when compared to the extent of forest in the region, and operating air emissions from Compressor Station 206 would permanently contribute to other emission sources in the region but would comply with applicable regulations.
- An environmental inspection and monitoring programs would ensure compliance with all construction and mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC We completed our consultation with the NMFS regarding the potential for the Project to impact Essential Fish Habitat species and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Trust Resources.authorizations and other approvals.
- We would complete the process of complying with the Endangered Species Act prior to allowing any construction to begin.
- We would complete the process of complying with section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and implementing the regulations at 36 CFR 800 prior to allowing any construction to begin.”