Support and opposition to Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project voiced
By Eileen Godwin – firstname.lastname@example.org
Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline proponent Kevin Lynn, of Harveys Lake expresses his opinion during a meeting held at a half-filled auditorium at Lake-Lehman Junior Senior High School Thursday evening.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission heard both points of view on the Atlantic Sunrise Project at a public meeting Thursday in the Lake-Lehman Junior-Senior High School.
Thirty-five people, out of an estimated 75 in attendance, registered to submit their testimony to be included in FERC’s draft Environment Impact Study on a planned 195.2-mile Transcontinental Gas Pipeline extension called the Atlantic Sunrise Project.
“This meeting is about the future,” Harveys Lake resident Kevin Lynn told FERC representatives. “In five years will we need more energy or less? We will need more.”
The $3 billion project is projected to transport 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas from Susquehanna Country to Choctaw County, Alabama.
The pipeline route will start south of Lenox in Susquehanna County and cross Wyoming, Luzerne, Columbia, Schuylkill, Lebanon and Lancaster counties.
The project involves underground infrastructure and several above ground facilities, including two compressor stations, two meter stations and three regulator stations in Pennsylvania, in addition to modifications to two compressor stations in the commonwealth and one in Maryland, according to the proposal.
Lynn, a supporter of the pipeline, noted how the development of Pennsylvania’s natural gas will help the country maintain its current carbon dioxide reduction levels, increase national security and provide a cost effective fuel.
Dallas Township residents Thomas and Joan Byron voiced environmental concerns. The current proposed route of the pipeline will cross through their 250-acre property that consists of century old trees, wetlands, water bodies and many underground springs, they said.
An environmental study, prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, states that the pipeline will cross 22 intermittent water bodies, Joan Byron said.
“This is not accurate,” she said. “We have at least three on our property that are not included in your study. No one ever came to inspect our property.”
Joann Wachholder, a project manager at FERC, wanted to hear issues such as the ones the couple face.
“The goal of (Thursday’s) meeting is to get information that may create changes in the pipeline route,” Wachholder said. “(Area residents) are the experts.”
FERC began studying the Atlantic Sunrise route in July 2014, four months after receiving a request from Transco to review the project proposal.
“We have adopted more than 400 route variations since the proposal was first introduced in 2014 to address stakeholder concerns, and we are still making adjustments,” Chris Springer, Atlantic Sunrise project director, said in an emailed statement. “As recently as May 18, 2016, we filed 39 additional minor route adjustments with FERC in response to landowner requests.”
Wachholder said FERC’s final EIS should be completed in October, but that does not authorize Transco, a subsidiary of Williams Partners L.P., to begin construction.
“The EIS is not a decision-making document,” she said.
After the EIS is analyzed, Transco, then, could be granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which would allow the company to file federal permits to use eminent domain.
“Eminent domain does not authorize them (Transco) to put a shovel in the dirt,” Wachholder said.
Transco will have to meet various conditions imposed by FERC, she said.