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Final Environmental Impact Statement


FERC Staff Issues the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the PennEast Pipeline Project (Docket No. CP15-558-000)
Issued: April 7, 2017

The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission or FERC) has prepared a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the PennEast Pipeline Project (or Project) proposed by PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC (PennEast) in the above-referenced docket. PennEast requests authorization to construct, own, and operate, facilities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to provide about 1.1 million dekatherms per day of year-round natural gas transportation service from northern Pennsylvania to markets in New Jersey, eastern and southeastern Pennsylvania, and surrounding states.

The final EIS addresses the potential environmental effects of the construction and operation of about 120.2 miles of pipeline composed of the following facilities:

  • 116.0 miles (78.3 miles in Pennsylvania and 37.7 miles in New Jersey) of new, 36 inch-diameter greenfield1 pipeline extending from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania to Mercer County, New Jersey;


  • the 2.1-mile Hellertown Lateral consisting of 24-inch-diameter pipeline in Northampton County, Pennsylvania;


  • the 0.6-mile Gilbert Lateral consisting of 12-inch-diameter pipeline in Hunterdon County, New Jersey;


  • the 1.5-mile Lambertville Lateral consisting of 36-inch-diameter pipeline in Hunterdon County, New Jersey; and


  • associated equipment and facilities.


The Project’s proposed aboveground facilities include:

  • construction of a new up to 47,700 horsepower compressor station in Kidder Township, Carbon County, Pennsylvania;


  • eight metering and regulating stations;


  • 11 mainline valve sites; and


  • four pig launcher/receiver sites.


The EIS has been 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 conclusions and recommendations presented in the EIS are those of the FERC environmental staff. Input from the cooperating agencies; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), was considered during the development of staff’s conclusions and recommendations. However, the USACE and NRCS could develop their own conclusions and recommendations and would adopt the final EIS per 40 CFR 1506.3 (where applicable) if, after an independent review of the document, the USACE and NRCS conclude that their permitting requirements have been satisfied.

FERC staff determined that construction and operation of the Project would result in some adverse environmental impacts, but impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of PennEast’s proposed and FERC staff’s recommended mitigation measures. This determination is based on review of the information provided by PennEast and further developed from data requests; field investigations; scoping; literature research; alternatives analysis; and contacts with federal, state, and local agencies as well as Indian tribes and individual members of the public. Although many factors were considered in this determination, the principal reasons are:


  • about 44.5 miles (27.0 miles in Pennsylvania and 17.5 miles in New Jersey), or about 37 percent, of the 120.2-mile-long pipeline route (including laterals) would be constructed adjacent to existing rights-of-way;


  • PennEast would minimize impacts on natural and cultural resources during construction and operation of the Project by implementing FERC’s Upland Erosion Control, Revegetation, and Maintenance Plan (Plan) and Wetland and Waterbody Construction and Mitigation Procedures (Procedures), its Erosion and Sediment Control Plan (E&SCP), and other Project-specific plans including; Unanticipated Discovery Plan, Fugitive Dust Control Plan, Agricultural Impact Minimization Plan, Karst Mitigation Plan, Horizontal Directional Drill (HDD) Drilling Plan for Karst Terrain, HDD Inadvertent Returns and Contingency Plan, Hydrostatic Testing Alternative Water Source Plan, Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan, Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Plan, Unanticipated Discovery of Contamination Plan, Blasting Plan, Invasive Plant Species Control Plan, Well Monitoring Plan, Wetland Restoration Plan, Residential Access and Traffic Management Plan, Site-Specific Residential Construction Plans, Vibration Monitoring Plan, HDD Noise Mitigation Plan, Post-Construction Landslide Monitoring Plan, and Migratory Bird Conservation Plan;


  • the FERC staff would complete the process of complying with section 7 of the Endangered Species Act prior to construction;


  • the FERC staff would complete consultation under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and implementing regulations at 36 CFR 800;


  • PennEast would comply with all applicable air and noise regulatory requirements during construction and operation of the Project; and


  • an environmental inspection program and a third-party monitoring oversight program would be implemented to ensure compliance with the mitigation measures that would become conditions of any FERC authorization.


In addition, FERC staff developed Project-specific mitigation measures that PennEast should implement to further reduce the environmental impacts that would otherwise result from construction and operation of the Project. The FERC Commissioners will take into consideration staff’s recommendations when they make a decision on the Project.




                                               

    1A “greenfield” pipeline is a new pipeline that crosses primarily land previously untouched by natural gas infrastructure rather than an expansion of an existing pipeline.