DEP taking comments on permits for natural gas pipeline in Luzerne, Monroe counties
By Kathryne Rubright, Pocono Record,2022-10-03
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is taking comments on permit applications for a proposed natural gas expansion project that would add about 36 miles of pipeline in Luzerne and Monroe counties.
Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC, a subsidiary of The Williams Companies, Inc., is seeking to expand the existing Transco pipeline, which runs from Texas to New York City.
Doing so “will help ease supply constraints affecting customers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, providing enough natural gas supply to serve approximately 3 million homes,” Transcontinental says.
The expansion, known as the Regional Energy Access Expansion Project, would add 22.3 miles of 30-inch pipe in Luzerne and 13.8 miles of 42-inch pipe in Monroe, in addition to a new compressor facility in Gloucester County, New Jersey and updates to existing facilities.
In Monroe County, the proposed addition — called the Effort Loop — would largely run next to existing pipeline Tunkhannock, Chestnuthill and Ross townships, except for an approximately 3-mile section in the Brodheadsville area.
“If Transco’s application is approved, it would allow harmful open cuts across sensitive high quality and exceptional value streams, destroying riparian buffers and floodplain habitats across the watershed,” saidDelaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum in a press release from the Delaware RiverkeeperNetwork. “We have documented damage from past pipelines using similar crossing and cutting techniques, so we urge the PADEP to deny the application based upon evidence of past harms.”
“Given the linear nature of the pipeline component of the Project, total avoidance of wetlands, streams, and floodways is not feasible and therefore installation of the proposed pipelines will result in temporary and permanent impacts to wetlands and watercourses,” the company acknowledges in its Chapter 105 application (Chapter 105 deals with water obstructions and encroachments.)
Transcontinental’s application says that it will restore stream banks, stream beds and wetlands after construction and use a riparian seed mix to replant buffer zones. It also plans to provide wetland enhancements at two other sites “to provide sufficient compensation to offset unavoidable wetland impacts” from the expansion project. Properties in Plainfield Township, Northampton County, and Huntington Township, Luzerne County, have been chosen for native tree and shrub plantings.
The DEP notes that its “permitting authority does not cover the determination of the overall pipeline route or property rights. Other agencies also have jurisdiction over pipelines, such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).”
About a year ago, PennEast canceled a proposed pipeline project in Pennsylvania and New Jersey due to not having received some of the required permits for the New Jersey portion.
Of interest:Advocates laud cancelation of PennEast pipeline
How to submit comments to DEP
DEP will take comments regarding permit applications during a virtual public hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 5, and in writing through Wednesday, Oct. 12.
To comment at the hearing, contact Colleen Connolly at 570-826-2035 or email@example.com at least 24 hours in advance. The hearing will be held via WebEx from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., with the possibility of ending earlier if all commenters present have been heard.
Written comments should be sent to RA-EPREGIONALPERMIT@pa.gov.
Those planning to attend, whether commenting or not, can go to DEP’s Virtual Public Hearings page (bit.ly/3M2OGzW) to register to attend via WebEx or to get audio dial-in information.
Visit bit.ly/3y4Vkjg to view permit information, including Transcontinental's application materials.