September 20, 2020

FERC rejects bid to reconsider route of pipeline

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Wednesday denied a request from a group of southern Maine residents to reconsider the routing approved for the Maritimes & Northeast natural-gas pipeline through their region. The commissioners voted unanimously and without discussion, a spokeswoman said.

Brian Prenda, a spokesman for the company, said the commission’s “timely decision” keeps the project on schedule and puts all of its regulatory permitting “on the correct track.”

Bruce Reeves, a spokesman for the residents, vowed to appeal in federal court.

Residents along a section of the route between Windsor and Lewiston said the pipeline should have followed a more northerly route where more of the line would have fallen in existing utility rights of way.

The northern route would have gone through Sabattus, Wales, Litchfield, West Gardiner, Farmingdale and Chelsea. The southern route goes through Whitefield, Pittston, Richmond, Bowdoinham, Bowdoin, Lisbon and Lisbon Falls.

FERC staff originally recommended the northern route, but changed the recommendation in the final analysis.

Reeves, a member of the group No New Corridors and a resident of Pittston along the southern route, said the federal commission’s decision was not surprising.

“FERC rarely changes its position,” he said.

Reeves’ group is in the process of finding an attorney to appeal both the FERC approval of the southern route and a similar finding by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection earlier this month.

The FERC appeal will charge that the federal commission violated its own policies, which Reeves said require that such pipelines follow existing rights of way as much as possible.

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