This blog previously reported on a challenge by environmental groups to the construction of parts of a 39-mile natural gas pipeline in northeast Pennsylvania that will transport natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale to a larger interstate pipeline.   On April 3, 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a letter order approving the construction of the remaining elements of that pipeline.  Environmental groups had challenged portions of the pipeline that FERC previously approved, contending that FERC’s environmental assessment of the proposal failed to consider all appropriate environmental impacts.

Preparation for trench digging already has commenced, and the operator intends for the pipeline to be partly operational by this summer.  FERC’s April 3 approvals will allow for construction of a compressor and routing of the pipeline under the Susquehanna River.  Reservations already have been secured for 100% of the pipeline’s capacity once operational; the line will have a minimum daily capacity of 550,000 dekatherms. 

It is unknown whether environmental groups will challenge these approvals on the same basis as it is FERC’s November 2011 approval of initial portions of the pipeline.