The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday it is in the process of approving a pipeline dredged in the San Diego-Sonoma-Riverside region, which the agency says will remove sediment and create a safer way to dredge oil and gas pipelines.
The approval follows a long process that began in September 2017, after environmental groups and local communities opposed the project in federal court.
The EPA has until June 26 to approve the project, which will be operated by the San Francisco-based company, Transocean.
Transocean has said it would spend up to $1.8 billion on dredging the line, which was built to remove sediment from the sea floor.
The project has been delayed by environmental concerns, which include the potential of leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
In the first few weeks of the dredging, the company said it had detected and removed up to 1,000 metric tons of methane from the line.
EPA spokeswoman Julie Phillips said the agency was concerned about the possibility of a leak and the potential for marine wildlife to migrate into the ocean.
Transfers are a concern for coastal communities that rely on fish and shellfish for food.
The line will likely be used for oil and natural gas storage.
The agency is not the only agency to find oil and methane in the river, which flows through a major port in the city of San Francisco.
On Monday, the EPA also approved a project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which is in a different part of the country.
That project, however, is not expected to result in oil and related emissions.
It’s unclear how the EPA will make a final decision on the project.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said the EPA is considering two alternatives to the San Joaquin delta dredging project, including drilling through the sediments.
The company behind the pipeline, Transco Corporation, said in a statement that it is currently working with the EPA on an additional dredging site.