A subsidiary of the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s lead developer is planning a project that would include constructing roughly 4.5 miles of pipeline in Wetzel County to help transport gas to mid-continent and Gulf Coast markets.
Equitrans LP, subsidiary of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Mountain Valley Pipeline lead developer Equitrans Midstream Corp., has proposed the construction as part of the Ohio Valley Connector Expansion project. The project includes natural gas transmission pipeline and aboveground facilities in Wetzel County, Greene County, Pennsylvania and Monroe County, Ohio.
Equitrans said the project will increase its capability to deliver gas to takeaway transmission pipelines in the Clarington area of Ohio by roughly 350,000 dekatherms a day.
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas, has issued a draft environmental impact statement for the project. The commission is taking public comment on the draft statement until Nov. 21.
Published last month, the draft environmental impact statement concludes that project construction and operation won’t result in significant adverse impacts, although it makes no determination regarding the significance of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The staff said the draft environmental impact statement doesn’t address the significance of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions because the commission is evaluating in a separate proceeding whether and how it will determine the significance of greenhouse gases.
Estimated construction emissions in 2023 would include 5,600 tons of carbon dioxide, 77 tons of particulate matter and 3.5 tons of methane in Wetzel County.
The project would add 83 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and 6 tons of particulate matter to the 74 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and nearly 11 tons of particulate matter in annual emissions from operations at the existing Corona Compressor Station.
The project is an expansion of Equitrans’ existing Ohio Valley Connector extension, placed into service in 2016, that consists of 37 miles of pipeline and compression facilities spanning from Northern West Virginia to Clarington.
The staff’s engineering modeling found that Eastern Gas Transmission and Storage’s TL-337 Pipeline and TC Energy’s Mountaineer XPress Pipeline also spanning West Virginia to Clarington don’t serve the same delivery market points as the project would.
In Wetzel County, the project would include additional compression at the existing Corona Compressor Station, 3.7 miles of new 24-inch-diameter pipeline, 0.8 miles of 16-inch-diameter pipeline, less than 200 feet each of new 8-and 12-inch-diameter pipeline.
The project would affect around 42 acres of land in Wetzel County during construction and 21 acres during operation, according to the draft environmental impact statement. The project’s proposed pipelines would cross nine waterbodies in West Virginia, one waterbody in Pennsylvania and none in Ohio.
Equitrans proposes to cross all waterbodies via open-cut or dry-ditch methods. The former consists of trench excavation, pipeline installation and backfilling in a waterbody without controlling or diverting streamflow. That method would be used when the commission doesn’t mandate the dry-ditch method or when the dry summer months bring low-flow or no-flow conditions, according to the draft environmental impact statement.
The dry-ditch method includes diverting the flow of water across the construction work area through one or more flume pipes placed in the waterbody or using pumps and hoses to move water across the work area.
Temporary dams may be installed across the waterbody, typically using sandbags or plastic sheeting, with pumps set up at an upstream dam with a discharge line routed through the construction area to discharge water immediately downstream of the downstream dam. The pipeline would then be installed and the trench backfilled, followed by dam removal and bank stabilization.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommended that project impacts should address water quality, including a water quality certificate for each waterbody’s designated use under the federal Clean Water Act, according to the draft environmental impact statement.
The statement holds that detailed evaluation of non-fossil fuel power generation alternatives like wind and solar are beyond the document’s scope.
Of the 48 acres of tree clearing expected for the project, 41 are in West Virginia. The project is in the range of the endangered Indiana bat, and commission staff said Equitrans should submit the results of a mist net survey to determine the Indiana bat’s presence or absence in project areas in West Virginia prior to the close of the comment period for the impact statement next month.
Comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are due Nov. 21 at 5 p.m.
The commission encourages electronic filing using the eComment feature at www.ferc.gov under the link to FERC Online for text-only comments or by using the eFiling feature at the same website to provide comments in other formats by attaching them as a file with a submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on “eRegister.”
Paper copies of comments may be mailed to the commission via the U.S. Post Service at Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426. Submissions via other carriers must be addressed to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 12225 Wilkins Avenue, Rockville, MD 20852. The agency has asked that commenters by mail reference the project docket number, CP22-44-000, on their letter.
Wetzel County is the site of the unfinished Mountain Valley Pipeline’s northern terminus. Opponents of the pipeline have alleged that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has rubber-stamped proposed pipeline projects,
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s oversight of pipeline projects was heavily scrutinized at a 2020 U.S. House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties hearing, during which the panel highlighted its findings that the FERC had approved 99% of applications for natural gas projects in the previous 20 years.