The Sierra Club and Freshwater Accountability Project, parties to the E.T. Rover gas mega-pipeline licensing case, have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require the company to install turbine instead of reciprocating engines in each of the planned nine (9) compressor pump stations along the route. In a letter to FERC, the groups cited a commitment to use turbines which appears in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (“FEIS”) for Rover. A citizen watchdog, who is also a professional engineer, found the “bait and switch” and brought the concerns forward for investigation by FERC.
The use of turbines was designated to avoid causing an irritating “pulsing” vibration to emanate from the compressor stations, which is admittedly very distracting to nearby residents. The staff of FERC wrote the FEIS, and the groups maintain that the assurance of turbine use at the compressor statements is a legally-enforceable condition which cannot be abandoned within the permit that was subsequently granted by the FERC Commissioners.
“The FERC Commissioners met and voted on February 2, 2017 that the Environmental Impact Statement adequately reduces environmental harms, including the pulsing vibrations from compressors,” said Leatra Harper, intervenor to the case as Managing Director or Freshwater Accountability Project. “That should have legally locked in the use of turbines, but instead, the Commissioners approved reciprocating engines and offered no explanation for the switch.” Besides being noisier, reciprocating engines are also more polluting because they are less efficient, and are likely less expensive as well.
Rover has obtained Ohio Environmental Protection Agency permission to install reciprocating engines in all nine planned compressor stations. “We believe that Rover must be held to the FEIS commitment under NEPA regulations, and that only in the rarest of circumstances (none of which are present here) should any change to that commitment be allowed,” commented Terry Lodge, attorney for the FreshWater Accountability Project. “If the FERC decision is not corrected, we will seek to block construction of any of the compressor stations until this disagreement is resolved.”
Rover has already been found in non-compliance with regulations by FERC and was sanctioned when the company caused the demolition of the historic Stoneman House in eastern Ohio, which apparently held up FERC approval of the pipeline’s certificate for months.
A copy of the complaint letter sent to FERC can be found here.