Last-Minute Pipeline Approval

February 6, 2017

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved the $4.2 billion Rover natural gas pipeline, along with the $3billion Atlantic Sunrise pipeline and two smaller pipelines, in a last-minute push to authorize projects before it loses its ability to act. Agency member Norman Bay resigned last Friday, leaving the agency without the required quorum needed for major infrastructure decisions. Had the commission not acted, energy development applicants would have to wait until the president names and Congress confirms a new member to FERC.

The Rover Pipeline Project, spanning 713-miles across four states, is being developed by Energy Transfer Partners, is planned to transport Marcellus and Utica shale gas from processing plants in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to a natural gas hub in western Ohio. The line will also extend into southern Michigan for eventual delivery to the Union gas hub in Ontario, Canada.

However, FERC refused to grant Energy Transfer Partners a blanket approval in part because of the company's demolition of a house on the pipeline's route with no prior notice. The house was originally purchased by Rover and was under consideration to be added to the National Register of Historic Places, but when Rover decided the building would not serve its purpose as company office space, it knocked it down without notifying FERC.

FERC said the demolition raised concerns about compliance with environmental rules. ETP will instead need to gain property access approvals on a case-by-case basis.