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People’s Dossier of FERC Abuses: Illegal Segmentation

FERC Engages in Segmentation in Order to Prevent Full Consideration of Environmental and Community Impacts

(Download printable copy of “People’s Dossier of FERC Abuses: Illegal Segmentation with attachments” here)

FERC routinely and illegally narrows its environmental review of pipeline projects by allowing for the practice of segmentation.

On January 22, 2013, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, NJ Sierra Club, and New Jersey Highlands Coalition filed a legal action challenging FERC’s May 2012 approval of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Northeast Upgrade Project (NEUP). Delaware Riverkeeper Network et al. successfully argued that FERC’s approval was illegal because the Agency segmented its environmental review when it ignored three other connected and interdependent pipeline projects that were simultaneously before FERC. A map clearly demonstrates that the 300 Line Project, the Northeast Supply Diversification Project, the MPP Project, and the NEUP were merely separate parts of the same pipeline and, therefore, FERC was legally obligated to consider all of these projects together when reviewing the NEUP for environmental impacts. (Attch 1) On June 6, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an opinion and order finding that FERC’s segmentation violated NEPA and that FERC had failed to consider the cumulative impacts of these projects. (Attach 2) (Attch 3)

Despite this ruling, FERC continues to rely upon segmentation as a matter of common practice in its pipeline reviews.  For example:

SouthEast Leidy – Atlantic Sunrise pipelines:

Just six months after the Court’s ruling, FERC engaged in the same unlawfully segmented NEPA process for Transcontinental Pipeline Company’s Leidy Southeast Upgrade Project (FERC Docket No. CP13-551), the Northeast Supply Diversification Project (FERC Docket No. CP11-30), and the Atlantic Sunrise Project (FERC Docket No. CP15-138)— all parts of the same pipeline that were illegally segmented for FERC review. The Combined Transco Leidy Line Project Map clearly demonstrates the connection between the projects. (Attch 4)

Orion Pipeline:

On February 2, 2017, FERC approved the Tennessee Gas Company’s proposed Orion Pipeline project — another segmented project designed to further upgrade the 300 Line project — known as 300-3 —  that was the subject of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et al. case. Tennessee has improperly segmented its 300-3 pipeline into pieces for review: the Orion Project, the Triad Expansion project, and the Susquehanna West project.

  • Application for the proposed Susquehanna West project was submitted on April 2, 2015 (FERC Docket No. CP15-148). Anticipated in-service date; November 1, 2017.
  • Application for the Triad Expansion project was submitted on June 19, 2015 (FERC Docket No. CP15-520).  Anticipated in-service date; November 1, 2017.
  • Application for the Orion project was submitted October 9, 2015 (FERC Docket No. CP16-4). Anticipated in-service date; June 1, 2018.

The three 300-3 line Tennessee projects were all proposed within roughly six months of each other. Tennessee Gas’s Orion, Triad, and Susquehanna West Map demonstrates the interconnected nature of the three projects — they are all clearly part of the same pipeline system — each upgrading a different section of the pre-existing 300 pipeline. (Attch 5)

National Fuel’s Northern Access 2016:

FERC also engaged in illegal segmentation when considering the National Fuel’s Northern Access 2016 project (FERC Docket No. CP15-115), the latest of National Fuel’s pipeline projects in the Northeast. The figure on p.10 of Allegheny Defense Project’s Northern Access Comment shows the segmentation of the in-service and proposed pipelines, and hints at further expansion and segmentation with stranded gathering lines. (Attch 6)

For a discussion of the significance of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network et. al. v. FERC case, see the article by Michael R. Pincus of the American Bar Association. (Attch 7)

Complete People’s Dossier: FERC’s Abuses of Power and Law 
available here.