In FERC’s Game of Musical Chairs, NEXUS Pipeline Left Standing

When reporting on the flurry of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approvals from last Friday, before Commissioner Norman Bay resigned in a huff over losing the chairmanship of the agency (and leaving the Commission with only two Commissioners, not enough to vote on more projects), we noticed there was one major Marcellus/Utica pipeline project that didn’t receive a final approval: the NEXUS Pipeline project. NEXUS is a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that will run from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. It is a critically needed pipeline to move Utica and Marcellus Shale gas from an over-saturated market in the northeast to markets in the Midwest and Canada. It is a joint venture between DTE Energy and Spectra Energy. In December FERC issued a positive final Environmental Impact Statement (see FERC Approves NEXUS Pipeline, Project on Track for 2017). The only thing left is for FERC to issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity, to begin construction. That didn’t happen on Friday, which means the project is now delayed until at least one more FERC Commissioner is nominated and approved by the U.S. Senate so the Commission regains a voting quorum. In a sense, FERC could only rush through so many projects at the last minute, and in a game of musical chairs, the music stopped and NEXUS was left standing–without a chair. Is lack of a FERC decision last week an indicator that the project is in trouble? What happens now?…

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