- Federal regulators last week authorized Spectra Energy to move ahead with its Atlantic Bridge pipeline project, which aims to boost deliveries in New England and Atlantic Canada in time for next winter, MassLive.com reports.
- The project calls for an expansion of the Algonquin Gas Transmission and Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline systems, including about 6.3 miles of new pipeline construction and a new compressor station in Massachusetts.
- FERC issued its order one day before Commissioner Norman Bay announced his resignation. The commission shakeup will likely leave the agency unable to approve pipeline projects for at least several weeks after Bay's departure on February 3.
It may have been serendipitous timing for Spectra Energy, which got approval for Atlantic Bridge just a day before Bay announced his resignation after President Trump formally tapped Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur as acting chairman last week. While FERC will attempt to rush out orders this week, the former chairman's departure will leave the commission with just two members and unable to convene a quorum or issue significant decisions.
The Spectra pipeline expansion will add 132,700 dekatherms/day to the region's capacity. The project has not been without controversy. The DeSmog Blog noted that the project remains the subject of scrutiny by Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, related to potential conflicts of interests and the project's environmental review.
“The agency also has not answered my questions about conflicts of interest in the permitting process," Warren told the blog in a statement. And she questioned the need for the project, saying the compressor station which will be constructed in the state "has more to do with pumping gas north for export to distant markets than with helping Massachusetts residents."
Project developers expect the new capacity to be online in November.