Atlantic Bridge Gas Pipeline

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This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor and the Center for Media and Democracy.
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Atlantic Bridge Gas Pipeline is a proposed natural gas pipeline.[1]

Location

The pipeline is planned to run from New Jersey to Maine.

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Project Details

  • Operator: Enbridge
  • Proposed capacity: 133 million cubic feet per day
  • Length: 187 miles / 301 km
  • Status: Operating[2]
  • Start Year: 2017

Background

The Atlantic Bridge Gas Pipeline will expand Enbridge's Algonquin Gas Transmission and Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline systems by 133 million cubic feet feet per day. The $452 million project would replace existing pipelines and add new or expand existing compressor stations in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Six miles of existing pipeline in New York and Connecticut would be increased from 26 inches to 42 inches. A 7,700-horsepower compressor station would be built in Weymouth, Mass., along with numerous infrastructure improvements. The projects in-service date was slated for November 2017. In January 2017, FERC approved the project after the commission accepted that there would be no significant environmental impact and the project's in-service date was slated for November 2017.[3]

In May of 2017, FERC permitted Enbridge to continue the pipeline project in Connecticut.[4]In October 2017, FERC granted permission to Engbridge owned Algonquin Gas Transmission to proceed with the Atlantic Bridge expansion project in the state of New York.[5]

Phase I Project Details

  • Operator: Enbridge
  • Current capacity: 40 million cubic feet per day
  • Length: 187 miles / 301 km
  • Status: Operating[2]
  • Start Year: 2017

Phase I Background

The first phase of the pipeline through New Jersey New York began operating in November 2017, delivering 40 million cubic feet of gas per day (mmcfd).[2]

Opposition

After the January 2017 approval, Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey requested that FERC rescind its approval of the project. After the resignation of the commission's former Chairman Bay, the two senators argued that the commission lacked enough members needed to convene a quorum. Without a quorum, any challenges to the project would go unheard until the vacancy was filled.[6]

Before the approval of the project by FERC, both senators sent several letters to FERC scrutinizing the approval of the pipeline project. The Massachusetts Senators suggested that there were substantial conflicts of interests with the environmental review process.[7] Senator Warren has also questioned the need for the project, arguing that the compressor to be built in Weymouth, Massachusetts does little to serve the interest of the state. Rather, the project's main priority "has more to do with pumping gas north for export to distant markets than with helping Massachusetts residents."[8]

Conflict of Interest

One of the main points of contention against the project has been FERC's approval of the project despite significant conflicts of interest in both the environmental review process and the overall project itself. In 2016, Senators Warren and Markey sent a letter to FERC stating their concern over Natural Resource Group's assistance with vetting Spectra Energy's Atlantic Bridge project while working for Spectra on another project, the PennEast Pipeline project, generating a conflict of interest. Markey and Warren further added that Natural Resource Group's ties to the gas industry made it "difficult to believe that it could objectively evaluate the environmental impact of the Atlantic Bridge project.” [9]When FERC was presented with this knowledge, they ignored the detail when they approved the project.[10]

Another conflict of interest between FERC and Spectra Energy arose during the environmental review process for the Atlantic Bridge pipeline project. According to DeSmog, Phil Suter, the spouse of Maggie Suter, an official at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) who led the review for two gas pipeline projects by Spectra Energy including the Atlantic Bridge project, is a paid consultant on another Spectra project. The project Phil Suter was consulting for was Spectra's Access Northeast pipeline project, which is part of the Algonquin Transmission pipeline system expansion. The Atlantic Bridge project is also part of that expansion project. While FERC did remove her from the role of project manager on the Cove Point LNG proejct, it did not require her to remove herself from the review of the Atlantic Bridge prospect. However, since FERC and Spectra both considered that the three expansion project were entirely separate, they were able to technically avoid a conflict of interest.[11] On the other hand, opponents of the pipeline system expansion have repeatedly argued that the three separate expansion projects (Algonquin Incremental Market, Atlantic Bridge, and Access Northeast) are actually interconnected, thus making Phil Suter's and Maggie Suter's relationship a relevant conflict of interest.[12][13]

The most recent conflict of interest puts is the relationship between Enbridge, which bought out Spectra, and ERM (Environmental Resources Management), the company whose subsidiary NRG also conducted Atlantic Bridge's environmental review. ERM is also currently the contractor for a number of Enbridge's projects, which poses a conflict of interest in regards to the company's role as the monitor for the project. Despite allegations of another conflict of interest, FERC has allowed for ERM to remain as the monitor for the Atlantic Bridge project as of October 2017.[14]

Weymouth Resistance

One of the fiercest points of resistance to the gas pipeline project has been in the city of Weymouth, Massachusetts. Spectra Energy offered to pay the city $47 million to build a compressor station in the city, but residents have been steadfastly united in their opposition, citing environmental and health concerns. In 2016, hundreds of residents wrote to FERC demanding the commission to not approve the construction of the compressor station. Weymouth's conservation commission also denied a wetlands permit to the state's Department of Environmental Protection, while also appealing to the Office of Coastal Zone Management which oversees the state's industrial ports. The had already approved of the project which Weymouth has challenged.[15]

As of October 2017, plans to fully open the project have stalled due to Weymouth's opposition to the construction of the compressor station. The compressor dispute is currently sifting through the federal courts and may not be settled for another year. The compressor has a regional impact because it will maintain the pressure necessary to send gas upwards to Maine. If the compressor is not built by 2019, alternatives routes may be used; Appalachian gas could be routed through Ontario and Quebec and into western Maine on the Portland National Gas Transmission System pipeline, which connects with the Maritimes line in Westbrook.[16]

In January 2019 Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker approved permits for the construction of the compressor station at Weymouth.[17]

Expansion Project Details

  • Operator: Enbridge
  • Proposed capacity: 93 million cubic feet per day
  • Length:
  • Status: Proposed[2]
  • Start Year: 2018

Expansion Background

The second phase through Connecticut was scheduled to begin operations in Q4 2018.[2] Enbridge estimates that the entire pipeline will be operational by 2020.[18]

There have been no development updates on the expansion since 2017 and the project is presumed to be shelved.

Articles and resources

References

  1. Atlantic Bridge Gas Pipeline, Spectra Energy, accessed September 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Enbridge working on natural gas pipelines to New England, Kallanish Energy, Feb. 1, 2018
  3. William Opalka, Atlantic Bridge Project Approved by FERC, RTO Insider, January 29, 2017
  4. FERC Approves Enbridge's Request to Proceed with the Atlantic Bridge Pipeline Project, Horizon Supply Company, May 20, 2017
  5. Atlantic Bridge to begin New York state construction, Kallanish Energy, October 13, 2017
  6. Announcement of Commissioner Bay’s resignation will lead to lack of quorum necessary to hear public challenges to pipeline, Elizabeth Warren, February 1, 2017
  7. Announcement of Commissioner Bay’s resignation will lead to lack of quorum necessary to hear public challenges to pipeline, Elizabeth Warren, February 1, 2017
  8. Robert Walton, FERC greenlights Spectra Energy's Atlantic Bridge pipeline project, Utility Dive, January 31, 2017
  9. Christian Schiavone, Warren, Markey allege conflict of interest in federal pipeline review, The Patriot Ledger, June 13, 2016
  10. Itai VardiFERC Allows Conflicted Contractor to Supervise Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge Gas Project, DESMOG, October 8, 2017
  11. Husband of FERC Official Responsible for Reviewing New Spectra Energy Pipelines Consults On Related Spectra Project, DESMOG, November 1, 2016
  12. Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion, SAPE, 2016
  13. What We Need to Know about the Pipeline Fight in Massachusetts, Mothers Out Front, accessed December 2017
  14. Itai VardiFERC Allows Conflicted Contractor to Supervise Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge Gas Project, DESMOG, October 8, 2017
  15. Kathy McCabe, Natural gas plan worries Weymouth, The Boston Globe, July 29, 2016
  16. Tux Turkel, Delays in Massachusetts could affect natural gas customers in Maine, Portland Press Herald, October 26, 2017
  17. Baker approves air permits for natural gas project in Weymouth, Boston Globe, Jan. 12, 2019
  18. Enbridge's Energy Infrastructure Projects, Enbridge, Jan. 8, 2019

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External resources

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