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Breaking: Constitution Pipeline Hearing Set, Comments Extension Granted

October 9, 2012

This just in:  BREAKING!

Constitution Pipeline Comment Period has been extended by FERC to November 9th, and a new public hearing date, October 24th, has been set.

First, the hearing specifics:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Beginning at 7:00-10:00 pm EDT

Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center Atrium

24 Market Street

Oneonta, New York 13820

Second, “what is this about?” — Don’t worry, we’ll blog in more detail soon about this important fight to protect groundwater, surface water, land, air, human communities and wildlife from disruptive, dangerous pipeline impacts. Here are the basics:

Below are excerpts from the comment Delaware Riverkeeper Network is submitting today to FERC on the Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC, Docket No. PF12-9-000 Constitution Pipeline Project, Response to Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Planned Constitution Pipeline Project, Request for Comments on Environmental Issues, and Notice of Public Scoping Meetings

Comments are due by close of business November 9th. You can also just submit a letter in support of Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s comments. Link to filing commentshttp://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp

Here is an excerpt from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network comments filed today:

  1. i.  Air Quality

This Project will have serious impacts on the air quality along the ROW, ROW buffer, access roads, and surrounding landscape. Air quality degradation needs to be examined in relation to visitor experience and wildlife. Diesel emissions during construction will also impact visitor experience and wildlife. Further increases in diesel emissions as a result of the Project may lead to a higher level of ozone along the ROW as the cleared ROW provides more sunlight for nitrogen oxides and reactive organic gases to combine.

The cumulative impact analysis also should include consideration of the incremental impact of the Project on air quality, added to the air quality impacts of existing and reasonably foreseeable Marcellus Shale development in the region, including other pipeline construction. Natural gas and oil production and transmission emit substantial amounts of air pollution, including volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”), nitrogen oxides (“NOx”), and toxic air pollutants.[1] The toxic air pollutants include benzene, a known carcinogen; toluene, nhexane, and xylenes, which can lead to nervous system effects; and ethylbenzene, which can cause blood disorders.[2] Recent tests suggest that compressor stations also may emit harmful levels of formaldehyde, another known carcinogen.[3] VOCs and NOx contribute to local and regional ozone pollution, which has serious impacts on human respiratory and cardiovascular health as well as on vegetation and forest ecosystems.[4] Particulate matter too, whether directly emitted from exhaust and fugitive dust during construction or from operation of diesel-fired engines or indirectly created from interactions of NOx emissions in the atmosphere, affects respiratory and cardiovascular health.[5]

An examination of 2009 emissions data shows that in north-central Texas, VOCs and NOx emissions from compressor engines in the Barnett Shale area amounted to four times the emissions from all airports in the Dallas-Fort Worth area,[6] which includes the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world. 2009 NOx and VOC emissions from Barnett Shale oil and gas development generally were comparable to emissions from all the cars and trucks in the nine-county Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.[7] These figures suggest that any proper assessment of a Marcellus Shale development project must consider the cumulative impacts of all oil and gas development in the area in order to truly comprehend the Project’s effect on the quality of the human environment.

The NEPA document must assess air emissions from the construction and operation of the Project infrastructure based on the cumulative impact of the proposed hub line’s emissions together with air emissions from existing and reasonably foreseeable Marcellus development.

ii.Noise

FERC must explore the impacts of construction, operation, and maintenance of the Project on wildlife and visitor experience.

Noise associated with construction can have a devastating impact on wildlife. Certain species depend on hearing for courtship and mating behavior, prey location, predator detection, or homing and will suffer serious detrimental impacts from construction. Such aspects of temporary impacts must be considered.

Noise impacts to visitor experience must be examined as sensitivity to noise is very variable and these impacts may led to less utilization of the associated parklands by the public. These areas are generally given additional protection when projects are evaluated. For example, the Federal Highway Administration’s Exterior Noise Abatement Criteria has an activity category “Land where serenity and quiet are of extraordinary importance” and the maximum noise level is 57 dBA.[8] Consequently, we urge FERC to consider the proposed construction area a noise sensitive area and hold the Project to at least the minimal standards[9] given other sensitive areas (i.e. a 55 dBa day/night limit for new compressor stations) and also evaluate whether even that impact might be excessive in terms of affecting natural preservation and public enjoyment of the area.

In addition, given the scale of the Project and sensitivity of its location, FERC must include construction impacts in the scope of its environmental review…. The NEPA document must address [all] secondary noise impacts.

 I.                   As a Condition to any FERC Certification of the Project, FERC Must Require that the Project Sponsor Obtain All Applicable Authorizations and Approvals from Federal and State Regulatory Bodies, Which Includes the Delaware River Basin Commission.

In the event that a portion of the proposed project crosses through the Delaware River Basin, Constitution must apply for a docket, and receive approval of that docket, before the Delaware River Basin Commission (“DRBC”).  This requirement should be made clear as a condition on any Certification provided by FERC for the Project.

DRBC review is required when a project entails (a) a withdrawal or discharge that exceeds an established threshold, (b) diversion of wastewater into the basin, or (c) diversion of water or wastewater out of the basin.  To the extent that the Project involves such activities it must apply for a withdrawal/discharge docket with the DRBC.


[1] See Al Armendariz & Envtl. Def. Fund, Emissions from Natural Gas Production in the Barnett Shale Area and Opportunities for Cost‐Effective Improvements 24 (2009), available at http://www.edf.org/documents/9235_Barnett_Shale_Report.pdf; see also Envtl. Prot. Agency, Outdoor Air – Industry, Business, and Home: Oil and Natural Gas Production – Additional Information, http://www.epa.gov/oaqps001/community/details/oil-gas_addl_info.html (last visited Nov. 11, 2010).

[2] See Id.

[3] See Aman Batheja, Carcinogen from gas compressor stations being monitored, Star_Telegram, Oct. 4, 2010, available at http://www.star_telegram.com/2010/10/03/2516374/formaldehyde_from_gas_compressor.htm.

[4] See National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone, 75 Fed. Reg. 2,938, 2,938, 3,000 (Jan. 19, 2010); see also Judy Fahys, Ozone Raises Its Ugly Head in Utah, Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 21, 2010, available at http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/50516943-76/ozone-county-basin-epa.html.csp.

[5] Envtl. Prot. Agency, Particulate Matter: Health and Environment, http://www.epa.gov/pm/health.html (last visited Nov. 11, 2010).

[6] See Armendariz, supra note 121, at 25.

[7] See id.

[8] 23 C.F.R. § 772.19 (2010) (Table I (“Noise Abatement Criteria”) sets a limit of 57 dBA for “[l]ands on which serenity and quiet are of extraordinary significance and serve an important public need and where preservation of those qualities is essential if the area is to continue to serve its intended purpose”).

[9] See 18 C.F.R. § 157.206(b)(5).

[10] U.S. Department of Transportation, FHWA, CADOT, and SBAG 1993.

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