Request to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

May 16, 2016
Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20426
Request to Extend the Scoping Comment Deadline for Algonquin Gas Transmission
LLC's Access Northeast Project, Docket No. PF16-1-000
Dear Secretary Bose:
On behalf of Mass Audubon and The Trustees, we are writing to request that the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC) extend by at least forty-five days the public comment period set
by FERC's Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (E1S) as part of the
pre-filing process for FERC's review of Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC's (Algonquin)
proposed Access Northeast Project (Project), Docket No. PF16-1-000.
The FERC Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS, dated April 29, 2016 and published in the Federal
Register on May 6, 2016, set a May 30, 2016 deadline for submission of written scoping comments
for the EIS. We note that May 30, 2016 is Memorial Day, a state and federal holiday, therefore it
is our understanding that the comment deadline would actually be the following business day, May
31. In any event, we request that the scoping comment deadline be extended by at least forty-five
(45) days for the following reasons.
This is a large and complex project, impacting many sensitive environmental resources including
dozens of parcels of protected conservation lands held by the state, municipalities, and land trusts.
This includes properties owned by Mass Audubon and The Trustees in Sharon, Massachusetts
subject to Conservation Restrictions and Article 97 of the Articles of Amendment to the
Massachusetts Constitution.1
Citizens of Massachusetts have a state constitutional right to a clean environment as first established under an
amendment adopted in 1918. Article 97 of the Articles of Amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution
provides that:
The pre-filing information submitted by the company did not identify all of the affected
conservation lands along the Q-1Loop, the I-8 Loop, and the West Boylston Lateral in
Massachusetts. This is NOT an oversight by Algonquin; it appears to be Algonquin’s pattern and
As observed in April 2016 comments submitted by the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation, Algonquin failed in its description of existing conditions (as set forth
in Draft Resource Report 1) to disclose and address significant, ongoing and unrepaired natural
gas leaks within the New York Metropolitan Region which are today impacting sensitive
environmental resources, as well as public health and safety. Algonquin has similarly failed to
disclose the existence of many natural gas leaks impacting protected conservation lands and
invaluable aquatic systems, and has failed to report or to repair hundreds of leaks identified on the
proposed I-8 Loop, Q-1 Loop, and W. Boylston Lateral routes.2
Algonquin has failed to provide significant information (see Draft Resource Report 10) concerning
the routing process itself and alternatives to the proposed project, instead potentially putting at risk
conservation lands subject to federal and state constitutional protection. These submissions, as
presented, are materially defective and fail to conform to basic FERC requirements concerning the
scope of information necessary for meaningful public participation in this proceeding.3 There are
also many other natural and cultural resources that would be impacted, with scant information
presently available on the extent and locations of those impacts.
FERC, the federal cooperating agencies, and the affected states must work together to ensure that
the applicant provide all of the information necessary for any substantive public review and
participation, as required by the Administrative Procedure Act, the Natural Gas Act, the National
Environmental Policy Act, and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act.
[t]he people shall have the right to clean air and water, freedom from excessive and unnecessary noise, and
the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic qualities of their environment.” “Lands and easements taken or
acquired for such purposes shall not be used for other purposes or otherwise disposed of except by
laws enacted by a two thirds vote, taken by yeas and nays, of each branch of the general court.
These public lands are subject to Massachusetts constitutional protection. As such, the Tenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution applies: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor
prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. The Natural Gas Act cannot
preempt the protections afforded by the Massachusetts Constitution, as guaranteed to the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts by the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
All electric and natural gas utilities are required to provide annual, service quality reports to the Massachusetts
Department of Public Utilities identifying, classifying, and disclosing the existence of natural gas leaks, and
providing public action plans to protect the health and safety of Massachusetts citizens and to avoid, minimize, and
mitigate the impacts of such leaks on water supplies and air quality.
See the December 2015 update to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Guidance Manual for
Environmental Report Preparation at Volume 1, Chapter 4, §§ 4.1. and 4.10.
Algonquin’s selective proffering of information fails on its face to meet statutory, regulatory, and
guidance recommendations. As such, Algonquin itself has provided the basis upon which the
requested extension should be granted. Full public participation, as prescribed by the National
Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Natural Gas Act, and the
Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act can only be realized when the agencies and all interested
and/or affected stakeholders have the information necessary to consider and balance the impacts
of the proposed project against the impacts to constitutionally protected natural resources, public
health, and public safety.
According to information posted on the FERC docket, Algonquin intends to file draft
environmental resource reports 11 and 13 in May 2016, and the complete set of draft resource
reports by the end of June 2016. These draft resource reports will provide important information
concerning the Project's environmental impacts. In order to ensure that all interested and affected
stakeholders have access to and time to review relevant information about the project as they
prepare scoping comments with FERC, extension of the comment period is warranted.
Thank you for considering this request.
John J. Clarke
Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
Mass Audubon
Jennifer Ryan
Director of Public Policy
The Trustees