A company building the Dominion natural gas pipeline from Spartanburg County to Laurens County has asked a federal regulatory agency to issue a quicker decision on whether or not the company can begin construction.
In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Dominion Carolina Gas Transmission company requested a Friday, Feb. 3 deadline to hear back about the regulatory agency’s decision that could clear a hurdle for the pipeline’s construction. Dominion CEO Diane Leopold wrote in the letter that the project is “ripe for approval,” and hopes to begin construction in March so that the pipeline can begin moving natural gas by early November.
The 55-mile pipeline project would move natural gas from Spartanburg County to Greenwood County. It’s expected to cost $119 million to build, while generating an estimated $1.5 million annually in property taxes for the state.
Some landowners in Laurens County and Upstate environmental groups oppose the project.
At a Laurens County council meeting last week, landowners bemoaned the prices Dominion offered for their land and said they were threatened with eminent domain seizures if they did not accept the company’s offer. Such responses led to the council’s unanimous vote to oppose any “unfair” eminent domain proceedings stemming from Dominion.
Dominion spokesperson Kristen Beckham said that the company has been able to secure 60 percent of easements needed along the path of the pipeline and is open to negotiations on the remaining properties. Beckham said that Dominion does not publicly discuss their business dealings with residents and gave no comment on the market value of the offers it made to landowners.
The Dominion pipeline project passed an Environmental Assessment last October but Upstate environmental groups believe a more rigorous Environmental Impact Statement should have been used, considering the size of the project. The environmental group Upstate Forever points out that he pipeline makes more than 70 water crossing along its 55-mile route.
Currently, Dominion needs the FERC certificate as well as a water quality certification from the Department of Health and Environmental Control before it can begin construction.
The company sought the February deadline after FERC Commissioner Norman Bay resigned from his position on January 26. Dominion fears that FERC will not have enough commissioners needed to approve the project’s construction until Bay’s replacement is chosen by President Donald Trump and approved by the U.S. Senate.
“The subsequent, potentially lengthy, period of inaction when the Commission will lack a quorum will endanger the timely completion of this important project if action is not taken this coming week,” Leopold said in the company’s letter to FERC asking for the deadline.