Northwest Pipeline could expand in Whatcom County

By Steve Guntli

A major liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline may be growing in Whatcom County and throughout the state.

The Northwest Pipeline, which runs south out of Sumas, could expand to help supply a proposed terminal in Oregon. If approved, the expansion would add 140 miles of 36-inch pipeline in 10 different spots along the existing structure.

The expansion would call for an additional 11 miles of pipeline in Whatcom County. The pipes would be built in loops to add capacity while conserving space.

Every county along the pipeline’s route from Sumas to the proposed facility in Warrenton, Oregon would add capacity. Cowlitz County will get the largest upgrade, with about 35 miles of pipeline added to the existing pipe outside of Longview, according to Williams pipeline manufacturers.

The Warrenton facility would be used to supercool natural gas into LNG form and transport it to Portland and other locations throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Williams, the company that owns and operates the Northwest Pipeline, submitted forms for the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2013. FERC has published a 970-page draft on the potential environmental impacts of the project, and is now looking for input from the public. According to the report, FERC believes the environmental impacts will be kept to a minimum if Williams and partners at Oregon LNG follow the stated guidelines.

This project is unrelated to another recently proposed pipeline expansion, reported last week, which would connect two Canadian LNG stations via Custer and Cherry Point. Both projects are under the oversight of Williams pipelines.

No public meetings on the draft have been scheduled in Whatcom County. A public meeting was held in Sedro-Woolley on September 15.

A copy of the environmental report is available on Electronic comments on the project can be submitted on the website’s e-comments section. To submit written questions or comments about the pipeline expansion, mail letters to Kimberly Bose, secretary of FERC, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC, 20426.

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