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Transco gets the go-ahead for Loop

Dispute settled between natural-gas pipeline company and Berwick property owners.

A right-of-way dispute in Salem Township has been tentatively settled, clearing the way for a national natural-gas pipeline company to begin work on an expansion of a line called the Conyngham Loop.

On March 18, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. filed in federal court for an emergency injunction against Donald and Joanne Bower of Berwick, who had been refusing Transco access to their property along U.S. Route 11 in the township because they believed they weren’t being compensated adequately for the potential minerals underground.

It was unclear what minerals the Bowers believe exist, and a call to the couple’s attorney was not returned.

The project would provide additional natural-gas transmission capacity to northeastern states to meet a demand that’s expected to continue growing.

Because the land is potential habitat for the endangered Indiana bat, Transco argued that it needs to access the property by April 1 to cut down trees or it will be forced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to wait until Nov. 15 when the bat returns to hibernation. That would cause the company to miss the Nov. 1 completion deadline for the project set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In an agreement signed on Monday, Transco consented to post a $5-million bond in exchange for the right to access the land for the sole purpose of cutting down the trees, and the timber can’t be removed before April 30 without written permission from the Bowers.

According to the order, the Bowers plan to file for a non-coal mining permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection, and Transco agreed that any actions it takes in that process must relate to its pipelines.

The “loop” pipeline installs adjacent to an existing pipeline and connects at both ends, allowing more gas to be moved through the system.

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