Northern Natural to Soon Seek Final FERC Construction Approval

By Maddy McCarty, P&GJ Digital Editor

The first gas pipeline project to be weighed by a federal energy board for its potential greenhouse gas emissions is still waiting on some federal permits before construction can begin, a spokesman said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Northern Natural Gas Company’s A-Line Replacement project, which will replace 87 miles of natural gas pipeline from South Sioux City, Nebraska, to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, by a 3-2 vote in March, agreeing the project’s greenhouse gas emissions would not be significant.

The replacement project will enhance safety, security and operational efficiency of Northern Natural’s pipeline system in South Dakota and Nebraska, FERC said in a news release.

Northern Natural expects its last federal permits by the end of this month, said Mike Loeffler, who is senior director of media and external affairs for Northern Natural. Once the company obtains those permits, it can file for authorization to proceed with construction from FERC.

“Assuming prompt Commission approval of Northern’s request to proceed with construction … Northern plans to begin facility construction in June 2021 and to commence pipeline construction in early July 2021,” Loeffler said by email. “The project will be constructed over the next two years with an anticipated in-service date of September 2022.”
FERC’s March vote was the first time FERC considered how a proposed natural gas pipeline would affect greenhouse gas emissions, which is one of the steps the Biden administration initiated in its effort to slow climate change, the Associated Press reported.

Most of the replacement A-line will be installed within a 25-foot offset from the existing A-line with the exception of three areas – the replacement pipeline route will be installed around Elk Point, South Dakota, to avoid multiple crossings of Interstate 29; deviate from the existing route where the pipeline crosses the Missouri River in Dixon County, Nebraska; and deviate from the existing pipeline where the new A-line ties into Northern’s B-line at the northern end of the route near Harrisburg, South Dakota, the company’s website states.

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