NiSource, Inc. announced that it will implement a long-term investment program to modernize its Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC (Columbia) interstate gas transmission system by replacing aging infrastructure. The company estimates an investment of $4 billion over 10 to 15 years, beginning in 2012. Affected states include West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Maryland. One of the major drivers for the project's timetable is navigating the various federal, state and local regulations and permitting requirements. In support of EO 13604, the Department of Transportation sought to facilitate coordination among several Federal and State entities to allow for timely and efficient reviews of the project as the modernization effort was directly in support of Secretary LaHood's call to action to improve safety of aging pipeline transmission infrastructure. This coordination role was a pilot to determine whether such high-level coordination would be a replicable practice for other similar projects. Although there was limited success, the role of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) as an independent agency in the review did not allow for the sort of third-party facilitation that was envisioned. The Commission is an independent regulatory agency which, among other things, is responsible for reviewing proposals to build interstate natural gas pipeline facilities as well as liquefied natural gas terminals. As an independent regulatory agency, the Commission's decisions are not subject to review by the President or Congress. These natural gas facility siting responsibilities are guided by the Natural Gas Act (NGA) which states, in Section 15(b), that the Commission is the lead agency for the purpose of coordinating the necessary Federal authorizations and for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The NGA also states that the Commission is responsible for establishing a schedule for the issuance of all necessary Federal authorizations. Such schedules take into account the statutory processing requirements of the necessary Federal authorizations. The Commission attempts to act expeditiously on all infrastructure applications, generally in the order in which they are received, and thus is not in a position to select particular projects to be highlighted in a public forum, which might give the incorrect assumption that those projects have priority. The Commission's environmental review process is transparent and well defined, and provides a number of resources to people that are interested in pending projects (http://www.ferc.gov/for-citizens/get-involved/how-get-inv.asp). Therefore, while the "schedule" for facilitation may not be available as a Dashboard schedule, anyone interested in following the progress of Columbia's Line MB Project at the Commission (Docket No. PF12-6) can easily do so using the Commission's eLibrary (http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp) and eSubscription (http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/esubscription.asp) systems. For the purposes of the Dashboard, this project is considered "complete" as the pilot effort to lead as a 3rd party coordinator was wrapped up. Any further information on the project should be requested of FERC using the links above.
Reviews, Approvals and Permits
|Title||Responsible Agency||Responsible Agency POC||Estimated Completion||Status|
|Informal Consultation under the Endangered Species Act- Section 7||Genevieve LaRouche||5/30/2012||Complete|