Pipeline backers, New York duel over water quality certificates
- Backers of the Constitution Pipeline say they could have the northeast system online in 2019, but will need the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reverse a New York state decision to deny the project a water quality certificate.
- It wouldn't be the first time for such a reversal: Last month, FERC overruled the New York Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) decision to deny a water quality certification to the 8-mile Valley Lateral pipeline proposed by Millennium Pipeline. The DEC is appealing FERC's decision.
- In Millennium's case, the pipeline developers argued that New York failed to act on the application in a timely manner and had "waived" its authority on the matter. FERC agreed, and now Constitution Pipeline backers are hoping for a similar outcome.
Constitution Pipeline developers believe they have found a way around New York's permit denial, by arguing to federal officials that the DEC took too long. That worked in Millennium's case, where the state received the application in late 2015 but only denied it this summer. According to FERC, by not acting within a year, the DEC ceded its authority.
According to Reuters, Constitution backers are now making a similar claim. While the Clean Water Act requires a decision from DEC within a year, project developers say they were forced to withdraw and resubmit their application over the course of almost three years.
Williams is developing and would operate Constitution Pipeline, which would be supported by shipments from Cabot Oil & Gas, Piedmont Natural Gas and WGL Holdings. The system would run 124 miles, moving natural gas from Pennsylvania into New York.
As for the Millennium Pipeline project, FERC's decision last month to overrule New York has set up a conflict between the state and federal agencies. State officials, however, are firing back.
FERC "should not, and cannot, be allowed to undercut the state's ability to protect our water resources by making informed decisions to ensure water quality standards are met," the DEC said in a statement as it filed a formal challenge last week to FERC's decision.
"DEC demands that FERC refrain from authorizing Millennium to commence construction of the project while DEC's appeal is heard. DEC is committed to ensuring the protection of New York's natural resources, and will continue to vigorously defend its right to do so," the agency continued.
A copy of DEC's request for rehearing can be found here. The agency asked FERC to refuse to authorize Millennium to begin construction "to prevent potential irreparable harm to the state's environment, including
potential harm derived from the department's lack of oversight and enforcement authority on the
The short lateral in dispute would connect from Millennium Pipeline to a 680 MW natural gas plant being developed by Competitive Energy Ventures.
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