Port Authority Remains Concerned About Natural Gas Pipeline into NYCFeb 21st, 2012 | By fjgallagher | Category: Lead Articles, NYC Natural Gas Infrastructure
In a letter filed today with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey laid out a series of concerns the agency said remain unaddressed and could ultimately scuttle the agency’s support for the proposed Spectra Energy natural gas pipeline project.
“Should FERC’s ultimate recommendation on final pipeline alignment and certification conditions not reconcile with our requests, the PANYNJ will be prepared to oppose any alignments which do not adequately address our concerns,” Kenneth Swan, the Deputy Program Director for the NYC Port Authority’s Project Management Office, the agency stated in the Feb. 21 letter to FERC.
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The pipeline proposed by Spectra Energy would comprise the construction and operation of approximately 20 miles of new 42-inch diameter and 30-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline through the New Jersey and New York metropolitan area and bring shale gas directly from the Marcellus Shale formation in upstate New York into the city. FERC gave the project a preliminary thumbs-up in September 2011.
Although the Port Authority letter outlines a handful of concerns, the biggest concern remains Spectra’s ongoing efforts to replace the Port Authority’s construction approval process with something Spectra refers to as a, “standard form of easement.” The Port Authority maintains that the process recommended by Spectra would not adequately address the public safety and several other considerations.
“An abandonment or significant deviation … undermines the integrity, rules and regulatory protocols implemented by the PANYNJ,” Swan wrote. “It will also protract the execution of any access/easement agreement as such would need to [preserve] … all technical, engineering, environmental and life safety considerations.”
The Port Authority also noted that Spectra had changed the proposed alignment of the natural gas pipeline without informing the agency.
From the Port Authority letter:
The PANYNJ received a proposed easements package from the Applicants dated 1/16/12 for the required permanent pipeline easements. In that package PANYNJ noted that the HDD alignment under the Bayonne Bridge has changed from the alignment provided in the DEIS and approved by PANYNJ on 10/7/11. That change came as a surprise to PANYNJ. It voided the 10/7 approval PANYNJ granted to Spectra for their DEIS HDD alignment under the Bayonne Bridge. Spectra may have changed other alignments. We respectfully request that when an alignment is being changed on any of our properties that PANYNJ be informed so we can review it and confirm if it will impact any of our existing or future facilities and/or infrastructure. Without good communication, the review/approval process will be impeded. (Ed. note — emphasis added.)
The biggest concern with Spectra’s proposed alignment, according to the Port Authority letter, concerns the effect the natural gas pipeline’s construction might have on the pending Goethals Bridge replacement project. The pipeline’s current alignment, the Port Authority noted, might result in pilings intend to support the bridge being driven directly through the pipeline.
In the letter, the Port Authority also asked that FERC, should it approve the Spectra natural gas pipeline proposal, add language that would “indemnify, hold harmless and defend,” the agency from any and all legal actions that arise out of operation of the pipeline, and include both the Port Authority and the PATHs agency as insureds on any relevant insurance policies.
You can read the entire letter from the Port Authority to FERC here: Port Authority Spectra pipeline response 02212012
Hear the concerns about the Spectra pipeline expressed by the Mayor of Jersey City, Jerramiah Healy, in this video: