FERC Approves Spectra Energy’s $1.2B NYC Natural Gas Pipeline

Spectra Energy’s proposed $1.2 billion natural gas pipeline for New York City finally won approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Monday. The 20-mile new pipeline to be built will connect New York to New Jersey and deliver 800 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to homes and businesses in New York. Most of the gas will come from the Marcellus Shale. It will ease the energy needs of New York because starting in 2015 the City will no longer allow No. 6 fuel oil to be burned.

The new pipeline and the energy it will deliver by saving all that oil burning will be the equivalent of taking 1 million cars off the road. That’s a good thing, right? So how have some New Yorkers responded? Thankful that they too will be able to access cleaner burning, lower cost natural gas? Thankful that this new pipeline will result in cleaner air? You guessed it—they don’t want it!

But Spectra’s project is strongly opposed by residents and environmentalists wary of increased natural gas production that relies on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", a process to release gas trapped in shale by blasting the rock with chemical-laced water and sand deep below the surface.

Opponents say the process contaminates water supplies. Energy companies deny such a link.

"It’s a very simple equation: The more buildings that switch to gas, the more hydrofracking will take place in NY state," New York resident Stephanie Low said in a letter to FERC this month.(1)

Maybe Stephanie wants to burn chicken fat instead? To be fair, not all New Yorkers are opposed.

Here’s the official announcement from Spectra Energy:

Spectra Energy Corp yesterday received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its New Jersey-New York Expansion Project, which will transport new, critically needed natural gas supplies to high demand markets in northern New Jersey and New York City.

The 20-mile expansion of the Company’s Texas Eastern Transmission and Algonquin Gas Transmission interstate pipeline systems, the New Jersey-New York Expansion will provide 800 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d) of additional capacity to the region once completed in the fourth quarter of 2013.

“The Project’s FERC certificate is the culmination of a comprehensive, multi-year review by numerous federal, state and local agencies,” said Greg Ebel, president and chief executive officer, Spectra Energy Corp.  “This milestone is a crucial step toward completing this project, which will provide critically needed pipeline infrastructure and numerous environmental and economic benefits to the region.” 

During the planning and construction phases of the project, more than 5,200 direct and indirect jobs will be created in and around local host communities.  Additionally, increasing the region’s access to diverse and reliable supplies will alleviate seasonal natural gas volatility, resulting in an estimated $700 million total annual energy savings in New Jersey and New York.  The project will also bring in millions in tax revenue and improve the region’s air quality by eliminating an estimated 6 million tons per year of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road.(2)

(1) Reuters (May 22, 2012) – New York City to get 1st major natgas line in 40 yrs

(2) Spectra Energy (May 22, 2012) – Spectra Energy Receives FERC Certificate for New Jersey-New York Expansion Project