On Tuesday, June 12th the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an attempt by a coalition of environmental groups to stop the construction of a natural gas pipeline in northern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains. The Sierra Club and two local groups, represented by Earthjustice (an environmental group), argued that the regulators should have performed a more thorough environmental assessment.
The court found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) properly approved the 39-mile MARC 1 pipeline through Bradford, Sullivan and Lycoming counties. The court stated that FERC’s analysis of the pipeline’s impact on forests and migratory birds was sufficient, and that regulators “reasonably concluded” that broader impacts caused by natural gas development in the Marcellus should not factor into the analysis of the MARC 1 project.
Experts believe that Marcellus, a rock formation underneath Pennsylvania and surrounding states, holds the nation’s largest reservoir of gas. The MARC 1 will connect to major interstate pipelines and the company’s own natural gas storage facility in southern New York State.
Earthjustice stated that although the ruling was a disappointment their actions forced the company to abide by seasonal construction limits to protect wildlife and take measures to prevent stream damage. FERC received 22,000 comments regarding the MARC 1 project and environmental and safety concerns. The EPA was also worried about potential damage to the forest ecosystem and noted that the pipeline will cross dozens of pristine waterways in an area popular with hikers, hunters and fisherman.
An attorney for the company in charge of the project stated that it’s unlikely either the full circuit court or the U.S. Supreme Court would agree to an appeal by environmental groups.