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Habitat Watch # 292
Great Lakes United
February 29 ­ March 6, 2004

Millennium’s Lake Erie Crossing canceled

In a rapid turn of events, TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. told the Northwest Indiana Times on March 4th that regulatory delays had increased the cost of the Millennium pipeline by $100 million and portion of the project that includes the high-pressure, high-volume pipeline under Lake Erie to the United States was not going to be built. Read the article at: http://www.nwitimes.com/articles/2004/03/04/business/business/12e5db2d28e14d5986256e4c007bf6a1.txt

Despite legal blocks, Millennium proponents, Columbia Gas Transmission Corp., TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., Westcoast Energy Inc., and MCN Energy Group Inc., are moving forward to build and operate a modified Millennium pipeline in two phases.

Phase 1 includes replacing and upgrading a portion of National Fuel Gas Co.’s Empire State Pipeline to link to TransCanada’s existing pipeline in southern Ontario, crossing the international border at the Buffalo/Niagara region in New York State. Phase 2 would require new pipeline construction and crossing the Hudson River at environmentally sensitive Haverstaw Bay. New York State denied the river crossing due to conflicts with its Coastal Zone Management Plan for the Hudson River. After the state denial was upheld by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the pipeline proponents appealed in federal court. The appeal is still pending.

No construction of the "western leg" (the Lake Erie crossing) is needed for delivery of natural gas to New York City under this two-phase plan. See the pipeline’s new route at: http://www.millenniumpipeline.com/maps.htm

Using the new land-based route, the Millennium pipeline would provide 500 million cubic feet of natural gas to New York City per day. Pipeline proponents say this meets the city’s current demand. The original proposal, which included the Lake Erie crossing, would have provided New York City with 700 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. Proponents say that if the city’s future demands require that much natural gas, the western leg would be needed. The Millennium partners may attempt to keep the western leg approval active with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, even though there are currently no plans to build it.

While TransCanada has no intention of building the pipeline’s Lake Erie crossing, were the partners to change their mind, TransCanada would have to file for permission from the Canadian National Energy Board. TransCanada originally did so in 1997, but withdrew the request early on due to regulatory delays and supply and demand issues.

It should be noted that a previously developed New York State Coastal Zone Management Plan for the Hudson River was a deciding factor in the state and federal denial of the pipeline’s Hudson River crossing. There was no Coastal Zone Management Plan articulated for the Lake Erie shoreline during the pipeline review process, so it could not be used to defend the state against the outlandish precedent-setting Lake Erie crossing proposal. If a Coastal Zone Management Plan is developed for New York’s Lake Erie shoreline, it could be a factor influencing any future proposal to build a translake utility project, including any future return of the Millennium pipeline Lake Erie crossing.

Great Lakes United would like to express our sincere gratitude to all who have voiced their concerns with this project’s Lakes Erie crossing, and our support for communities still engaged in this battle along the Hudson River.

Mark Your Calendars! Great Lakes United’s Annual General Meeting
June 4-6th, 2004, Mercyhurst College, Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.


Great Lakes United’s Habitat and Biodiversity Task Force produces Habitat Watch with support from the George Gund Foundation and GLU coalition members. The task force is committed to protecting natural areas, wildlife, and strong conservation laws across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem. To join the coalition, subscribe, or send stories, contact GLU at: (716) 886-0142; fax: (716) 886-0303; or email: jen@glu.org. Past issues of Habitat Watch can be found at: http://www.sustain.org/Bulletins/index.cfm

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