Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline gets green light, gas to start flowing through Lancaster County on Saturday


Natural gas will begin flowing through the controversial Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline underneath Lancaster County on Saturday, according to the pipeline builder.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday morning gave Oklahoma-based Williams Partners the green light, saying the company has “adequately stabilized the areas disturbed by construction and that restoration is proceeding satisfactorily.”

Williams had originally asked to put the pipeline in service by Sept. 10, but flooding damage along the rights of way in August delayed that startup date.

Williams said it will begin full service on Saturday, moving natural gas collected from Marcellus Shale wells in northeastern Pennsylvania through the 42-inch pipeline — the industry's largest — to markets as far south as Alabama. Some of the gas will be exported overseas as well.

The pipeline goes through 37 miles of western Lancaster County.

"This project makes the largest-volume pipeline system in the country even larger, further executing on our strategy to connect premier natural gas supply areas with the best markets in the country," Alan Armstrong, Williams' president and chief executive officer said in a press release.

"The project is significant for Pennsylvania and natural gas-consuming markets all along the East Coast, alleviating infrastructure bottlenecks and providing millions of consumers direct access to one of the most abundant, cost-effective natural gas supply sources in the country."

Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry added, "Atlantic Sunrise has been a tremendous economic boom that will no doubt yield benefits, both economic and environmental, for the commonwealth for decades to come."

But Lancaster County was the focal point for the strongest opposition to the pipeline, with dozens of arrests during protests and work blockages.

Lancaster Against Pipelines co-founder Mark Clatterbuck of Martic Township issued a statement in reaction to the pipeline opening, which reads, in part: "From start to finish, Williams has shown nothing but arrogance and contempt toward our community while forcing the ASP through Lancaster County...

"The ASP has been a huge wake-up call for Lancaster County. As FERC gives final approval for this dangerous pipeline, grassroots efforts are just beginning to dismantle the system that allows pipelines to keep terrorizing our communities and environment. Local resistance is springing up all over Pennsylvania, which is the industry's greatest fear."

The $3 billion project includes 198 miles of new pipeline, almost all in Pennsylvania, two new compressor stations and compressor station modifications in five states.

FERC had authorized construction of the project in February 2017.