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Environmental groups seek larger pipeline review

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than 30 environmental groups are calling for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to conduct a comprehensive impact study for four proposed interstate gas pipelines that would run out of West Virginia.

The groups, including Appalachian Mountain Advocates and the Southern Environmental Law Center, are asking the federal regulators to assess the need for the interstate pipelines as a whole, instead of on a case-by-case basis.

“Given the surge in pipeline proposals within this region, the reliance on project-by-project environmental review has become increasingly ineffective and inadequate,” said Tammy Belinsky, with Preserve Craig in Virginia.

In total, there are seven interstate pipeline projects currently being reviewed by the commission that would begin in the Marcellus Shale region of West Virginia. Those seven projects, which are expected to cost more than $16.4 billion to construct, would start in counties like Doddridge, Wetzel and Marshall, and would carry gas into Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia.

Together, the pipelines, which range in size from 24 to 42 inches in diameter, would be able to carry an estimated 12.25 billion cubic feet per day — more than four times the amount of gas produced on average in West Virginia in 2014.

On Monday, the coalition of environmental groups sent a letter to federal regulators reiterating their previous calls to conduct a “programmatic environmental impact statement” for four of the projects…

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