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FERC gives a greenlight to Adelphia pipeline project


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said last week it will not review its decision to approve the Adelphia Gateway pipeline, part of which passes through Upper Bucks.

West Rockhill’s board of supervisors, Richland Township residents Sheila and Daniel McCarthy, and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network had all appealed FERC’s 3-1 ruling last December to greenlight the project, raising concerns about groundwater, air and noise pollution.

In its 76-page response to the plaintiffs, FERC says many of the issues raised had already been addressed in an Environmental Assessment conducted in 2018. Commissioners note that Adelphia had adequately considered the 84-mile natural gas project’s impacts on property values, human health, emergency services and greenhouse gases, and assert the company’s legal right to eminent domain if necessary.

The report defends the current 1.5-acre site for compressor station on Rich Hill Road and said an alternative, much larger site would result in far greater emissions because additional compression would be required.

Acknowledging that the proposed facility is in a residential area, the report states that the compressor station “will be designed, constructed, tested, operated and maintained pursuant to federal safety standards.”

In a rare concession, FERC does call on Adelphia to consult with West Rockhill and Richland townships to ensure an adequate visual buffer between the site and residences. The commission also recognizes the compressor station will affect nearby property values, but notes confidently that “any such impact would not be significant.”

The report anticipates no significant noise impacts from the facility, and claims Adelphia will remedy any noise levels in excess of 55 decibels.

Commissioner Richard Glick dissented again, criticizing FERC for ignoring the project’s impact on climate change.

West Rockhill is currently appealing the decision to grant an air quality permit for the compressor station in Commonwealth Court, the first step toward a federal hearing. The action was taken after a state Environmental Hearing Board dismissed the case, stating it had no jurisdiction in the matter.