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Pendleton planners OK National Fuel compressor plan

PENDLETON - The Pendleton Planning Board this week approved a site plan for National Fuel's natural gas compressor project on Killian Road, but that doesn't mean the project has the green light.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has yet to grant a permit for National Fuel's $455 million Northern Access 2016 project, designed to export gas from McKean County, Pa., where it is obtained through hydrofracking, to Canada. The pipeline route runs through Allegany, Cattaraugus, Erie and Niagara counties to connect to a Canadian pipeline under the Niagara River.

The project has drawn heavy opposition from Pendleton and Wheatfield residents as well as other activists, but FERC ruled in July that it saw no significant environmental impact from the project. However, it's not known when a ruling might come on the project application itself. "We anticipate a decision from FERC very soon," National Fuel spokeswoman Karen L. Merkel said Thursday.

A FERC spokeswoman said the three members of the commission still are reviewing the record, and the panel never announces in advance when it will make a ruling.

The two compressors, totaling 22,000 horsepower, are designed to push the gas through two miles of newly built pipeline to be laid in Pendleton. The compressors are to be built on 20 acres of land National Fuel intends to buy from the Tonawanda Sportsmen's Club. In Wheatfield, town planners in September approved a plan for a gas dewatering station on Liberty Drive, also part of Northern Access.

In all, 96.5 miles of new 24-inch gas pipeline are to be laid. The route from Pennsylvania cuts through the Southern Tier to an existing compressor station in Elma, whose capacity is to be nearly doubled. In Wales, an interconnection is to be built with the existing Tennessee Gas Pipeline.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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