May 15, 2014 / 6:55 PM / 4 years ago

Maine Downeast LNG import plant passes FERC environmental test

May 15 (Reuters) - U.S. energy regulators said on Thursday construction of the proposed Downeast liquefied natural gas project in Maine would pose little harm to the environment.

The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission prepared a final environmental impact statement for the Downeast LNG Project, FERC said in a release.

The environmental report is not a final decision on the project. FERC said its Commissioners will take into consideration staff’s recommendations when they make a decision. FERC did not say when its Commissioners will make that final decision on the project.

Officials at Downeast were not immediately available for comment.

Also on Thursday, the FERC staff said Dominion Resources Inc’s proposed Cove Point LNG export facility would not have a significant impact on the environment.

FERC said Downeast LNG would provide about 500 million cubic feet per day of imported natural gas to the New England region.

Although Downeast is a proposed LNG import terminal, which makes sense for New England where demand for gas mostly for power generation is rising, the recent U.S. LNG push has been toward export terminals like Cove Point. Cove Point is already an LNG import facility that wants to also become an LNG export facility.

The United States is expected to become a net exporter of gas in 2018 due in part to LNG export facilities and exports to Mexico via pipeline, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its Annual Energy Outlook.

The proposed Downeast facilities would be located in Washington County, Maine, and include a new marine terminal; two LNG storage tanks, each with a capacity of 160,000 cubic meters; and a 29.8-mile (48-km) long, 30-inch (76-cm) diameter underground natural gas pipeline.

FERC said its staff concluded that approval of the proposed project, with the mitigation measures recommended, would ensure that most impacts in the project area would be avoided or reduced to less than significant levels.

Downeast is continuing consultation with federal and state agencies to finalize a wetlands mitigation plan, FERC said. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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