13 October 2006
by Marie Jones Holmes
Notice was filed on September 18 of the intent by two federal agencies to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Downeast LNG project to be located in the Mill Cove area of Robbinston. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard, are in the process of preparing an EIS that will discuss the environmental impacts of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project proposed by Downeast LNG Inc. FERC and the Coast Guard will be the lead federal agencies in the preparation of the EIS but will prepare the report in cooperation with several other agencies: the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Since the earlier March 13 Notice of Intent to file an EIS, the natural gas sendout pipeline routes have been analyzed in greater detail by Downeast LNG. Originally, Downeast LNG evaluated three options for the sendout pipeline route. Option 3 has been eliminated from further consideration because of significant residential impacts and the lack of available land area adjacent to roadways, but Downeast LNG has identified two additional route options, 4 and 5.
In the March 13 submittal, Downeast LNG identified the Route 1 option as the preferred alternative for the pipeline. Option 1 would have bordered the communities of Pembroke and Charlotte and then crossed through a significant portion of Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge.
Among the route option alternatives now available and evaluated, Option 4 is the preferred route for the following reasons: shorter pipeline length by three miles (28 miles long); existing transmission corridors followed for 57 percent of its length; reduced potential for wetlands impact; reduced number of residences within 50 feet of the construction right of way; reduced acreage of significant wildlife habitat within 250 feet of the construction right of way; an inability to receive irrevocable license agreements from the Department of Transportation for use of existing but inactive railroad and other roadways; the potential for re-activation of the railway would require reconstruction of the rail bed and straightening of rail line segments which could require relocation of the proposed gas pipeline; and ongoing discussions with the staff at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge regarding minimization of pipeline routing through the refuge.
The Option 4 route runs from the proposed LNG facility in Robbinston north to Red Beach and continues north to Magurrewock Mountain then along a small portion of the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge and north to Woodland where it intersects the Maritimes & Northeast pipeline.
FERC is seeking specific comments or concerns about the planned project. Comments should focus on the potential environmental effects, reasonable alternatives, including alternative pipeline routes, and measures to avoid or lessen environmental impacts. The scoping period for the September 18 notice of intent to prepare an EIS ends on Wednesday, October 18. Comments should be mailed to Magalie Salas, Secretary, FERC, 888 First St. NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC, 20426, and must be received on or before October 18.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.