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Gas Pipelines Do the Safety Dance

The industry responds to FERC's new safety regulations.
Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 2003

with additional engineering techniques out in the sound on the Connecticut side that would further reduce the impact to sedimentation. DEP somewhat agreed with our additional proposal, so we had asked the Commerce Department in June to remand the appeal back to the state in the hopes-and that is a big hope-of resolving the issue as it relates to sedimentation. The U.S. Department of Commerce has given the state DEP until July 31 to take action on our CZM application." Sheridan points out that because of this situation, "the spotlight has been on us for over two and one-half years now."

Santa sums it all up. "It really creates an interesting issue, because if you look at what the states are examining and what NOAA is examining in the appeals, in some ways it is a de novo review of that which FERC has already addressed as part of the certificate process. As we all know, FERC bends over backwards to solicit and accommodate the states as part of that certificate process."

Santa says INGAA's concern is that if these states succeed in what they are trying to do, it will set a precedent for any state where there is a CZMA program. "I think there are about 33 of them where, if a pipeline came anywhere near the coast, the state could put itself in a position where it could de facto override the FERC certificate," he says.

There is a provision in the proposed House energy bill dealing with the CZMA that INGAA favors and that would address issues pipes are starting to run into. Another provision that came out of the House commerce committee portion of the energy bill, while not directly changing the CZMA, states that the record developed by FERC in the certificate process will be the exclusive record for purposes of any appeals of other agency's actions.

"Under the current law, once the record is closed, the Department of Commerce has a limited period within which it has to make a decision on the appeal," Santa says. "The problem we have witnessed on the Millenium appeal is that NOAA forever seems to be compiling the record and never closes the compilation of the record, which means the clock never starts to run for when they need to make their decision." -L.A.B.

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