INGAA seeks Abraham’s help on stalled pipelines
     Worried about a shortage of gas infrastructure in the Northeast, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America is urging Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to use his authority to advance long-delayed pipeline projects in the region.
     In a letter to Abraham this week, INGAA Executive Vice President Donald Santa Jr. said "increases in gas demand are now outpacing increases in supply and transportation capacity, sharpening the need for reliable and efficient distribution of gas to lessen pressures on supplies and price."
     Specifically, Santa asked Abraham to intervene on behalf of the Islander East Pipeline and Millennium Pipeline projects, both of which have been on hold despite receiving FERC certificates.
     Islander East has "already been delayed a full year," and unless the current review by the Army Corps of Engineers is completed quickly, "the project’s in-service date may well slip again, to the serious detriment of the energy distributors and generators who have contracted for capacity on the pipeline and the region as a whole," Santa wrote.
     Islander East, which would move about 285,000 Dt/day across the Long Island Sound between Connecticut and Long Island, has been rejected twice in the past nine months by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. The state believes dredging required to lay the pipe under the sound would harm shellfish and the area’s tidal wetlands.
     The project’s sponsors, Duke Energy and KeySpan, said they plan to appeal Connecticut’s decision to the U.S. Department of Commerce and insisted that the 50-mile line is still on schedule to be in operation by November 2004.
     Millennium, meanwhile, "is currently stalled in proceedings before the Department of Commerce" regarding an appeal over New York’s coastal management program, said Santa, a former FERC commissioner. Millennium has faced a series of setbacks and is several years behind schedule.
     Millennium, a $700 million joint effort whose lead sponsor is NiSource’s Columbia Gas Transmission, would move 700,000 Mcf/day of Canadian gas 440 miles across upstate New York to supply gas-fired generation in the New York City area. The pipeline faced strong resistance from communities through which it would pass and, even though it won FERC endorsement last year, New York officials rejected the pipeline’s proposed Hudson River crossing on environmental grounds -- prompting the sponsors to file an appeal.
     "We cannot afford to delay or discourage projects such as these without risking adverse effects on the price, availability and reliability of our natural gas supply, and the consequent and widespread negative implications for our economy," Santa told Abraham. "I strongly urge you to do whatever is in your power to ensure that viable projects like Islander East and Millennium are reviewed and approved in a coordinated and expedited fashion."