DNR warns proposed Texas Gas Transmission pipeline could harm Indiana plants and wildlife

August 24, 2021

The route of a proposed pipeline connecting an Indiana power plant to a natural gas network in Kentucky could have “significant impacts” on endangered plant species and waterways in Posey County, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The proposed 24-mile Texas Gas Transmission LLC pipeline would connect two proposed natural gas-fired power plants at CenterPoint Energy Inc.’s A.B. Brown Generating Station in Posey County to a network of interstate natural gas pipelines.

Texas Gas Transmission wants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the project without an environmental impact statement.

The proposed 24-mile natural gas pipeline.

In comments to FERC, DNR said the project could affect animal species protected by state and federal authorities, like endangered mussels in the Ohio River, the Indiana bat and northern long-ear bat, and forest and wetland areas along the river in Posey County.

If the project is approved by FERC, it would involve two Indiana counties. DNR said the portion of the project in Johnson County, the expansion of a warehouse, would have minimal impacts to fish, wildlife and botanical resources, but the Posey County portion would pose “various natural resource concerns.”

The plan submitted by Texas Gas Transmission indicates the pipeline would cross from Kentucky into Indiana under the Ohio River through a process called horizontal directional drilling.

The drilling would mostly occur underground and could avoid impacting mussels and fish directly, but DNR said that unless erosion and control measures are taken at the drilling sites, the project could negatively affect aquatic species in the Ohio River and cause sedimentation.

A number of risks threaten the success of horizontal directional drilling projects, including drilling fluid circulation loss, pipeline damage during the pullback of the drill and hole instability.

If any of those happen during pipeline construction, or if the pipeline fails later, animal and plant species could be affected.

Texas Gas Transmission LLC has had two pipeline failures since 2009, according to reports submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

One inactive natural gas pipeline failed in 2009 due to a leak caused by internal corrosion.

An underground pipeline ruptured in 2015 due to a combination of corrosion and cracking at the bottom of the pipeline, where it was installed over an area of sandy clay and rocky material. More than 45 feet of pipeline was blown away from its original location despite being buried several feet underground.

According to the proposal submitted to FERC, Texas Gas Transmission LLC expects much softer soil for its proposed project, but other variables could affect the project.

Texas Gas Transmission’s sister company, Gulf South Pipeline Co. LLC, has had two pipelines fail due to faulty materials.

Pipelines in neighboring states have had catastrophic, and sometimes fatal, failures for multiple reasons, including earthquakes, farmers fixing drainage tiles and incorrect operation of the pipeline.

DNR also said forest and scrub areas, small wetlands and various drainages are along the proposed path in Posey County.

Clearing trees could affect several endangered bat species, and the agency said it is unclear whether the pipeline project crew would attempt to determine whether bats were using the trees before they cut.

DNR’s comments add to the environmental concerns submitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which said the project could potentially impact 15 endangered and threatened species, the bald eagle and other migratory birds.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission will hold a hearing on CenterPoint Energy Inc.’s proposed natural gas units at the A.B. Brown plant Dec. 9.

FERC is currently accepting public comments on the proposed Texas Gas pipeline until Aug. 30.

To comment, you can submit a request at the FERC site. The commission will then send a link for comments to the email supplied. Commenters should ensure to include docket number CP21-467-000.

Comments can also be submitted by using the eFiling feature on the FERC website. Registration is required before eFiling can be used.

Additionally, comments can be submitted by U.S. Postal Service to: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.

DNR warns proposed Texas Gas Transmission pipeline could harm Indiana plants and wildlife