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Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas in Lusby is getting closer to filing its formal application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expand its facility.

FERC sent out a brief notice at the end of February to provide an update on where the commission is in the process of creating the environmental assessment of the planned Cove Point liquefaction exportation project.

“We are currently conducting our environmental analysis of the planned project,” FERC states in the notice.

Dominion expects to file its application with FERC in April and, after FERC approval, construction would begin at the Cove Point location in early 2014 with a projected in-service date for the entire project in 2017, according to Dan Donovan, director of media relations for Dominion.

“We’re making good process with this project,” Donovan said March 8.

The Cove Point Liquefaction Project will expand the natural gas terminal in Cove Point to include the exportation of LNG. According to Dominion, the project will create an additional $40 million annually in property tax revenue, as well as $22 billion in new government royalties and other revenues to federal, state and local governments.

Donovan said March 8 that as the process has progressed, the cost of the project has risen to between $3.4 and $3.8 billion, rather than the previous estimation between $2.5 and $3.5 billion.

Currently, Dominion is in the pre-filing process with FERC regarding the proposed expansion project; the commission began its review of the project in June 2012.

FERC is the lead federal agency responsible for conducting the project’s environmental assessment, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

To date, according to the FERC notice, FERC attended three Dominion-sponsored open house meetings, issued a notice of intent to prepare an environmental assessment, which allowed for public comments on the project, and conducted two public comment meetings and one on-site environmental review in the project area. The environmental assessment will describe the potential environmental impacts of the project, alternatives to the project and the proposed construction procedures. It will also include recommendations for additional mitigation and conservation measures to avoid and reduce environmental impacts.

“All substantive issues identified by commentators will be addressed in the [assessment],” the notice states, including the impact on air quality, water resources, wildlife, recreational areas, nearby residences and property values and Civil War-era resources; noise pollution; increased marine and road traffic; and economic benefits.

According to the notice, Dominion filed draft resource reports describing the impacts it believes would result from the project and is currently revising them to address FERC and other agency comments.

The next “major” step, the notice states, will be Dominion filing its formal project application, which Donovan said he expects to occur in April.

“When we have all the information necessary to complete our analysis and write the [assessment], we will issue a Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review,” the February notice said. The notice of schedule will identify a target date for issuing the environmental assessment and disclose a 90-day federal decision deadline for other agencies.

The assessment will be placed in the Federal Register and mailed to the “environmental mailing list for this proceeding,” the notice states.

“Everything’s moving along very well,” Donovan said of the entire project.

aharrison@somdnews.com