Friday, January 15, 2010

FERC said ready to approve Ruby and Bison gas pipelines in West

BILLINGS, Mont. - Federal regulators are recommending approval of two natural gas pipelines that could increase fuel shipments from the Rockies to population centers in the Midwest and on the West Coast.
The Rockies hold an estimated 375 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, almost as much as the Gulf of Mexico.
Combined, the two latest proposed pipelines would move almost two billion cubic feet of natural gas a day.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to make final decisions on the Bison and Ruby pipelines in the next two to three months, said agency spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen. Construction could begin by spring.
Building the pipelines - each hundreds of miles long - entails crossing more than 1,200 streams and other bodies of water and disturbing thousands of acres of undeveloped land, according to recent environmental studies by the commission's staff.
TransCanada's $610 million, 310-mile Bison pipeline would run from Gillette, Wyo., through southeastern Montana to Morton County, N.D. From there, the line would feed into other pipelines serving the Midwest.
El Paso Corp.'s $3 billion Ruby pipeline would run from Opal, Wyo., to Malin, Ore., passing through Utah and Nevada along a 675-mile route.
Environmentalists have singled out the Ruby pipeline as particularly damaging because of its route through the remote wilds of northern Nevada. Also, horse advocates claim the project is prompting the removal of wild mustang herds along the proposed route by the Bureau of Land Management.
But commission staff concluded the environmental effects would be outweighed by the economic benefits of the pipelines, including roughly $30 million in annual property taxes. They also said the routes chosen minimized harm to the environment.
In Wyoming, officials have pushed hard for the projects. In December, they approved a state investment in Ruby of up to $300 million.
The Ruby project is intended to fill a gas supply gap on the West Coast as imports from Canada taper off, while Bison would give energy producers in Wyoming's remote Powder River Basin new access to markets, company officials said.
That could give producers across the Rockies opportunities to get better prices for their fuel.

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