FERC denies latest petition from Constitution Pipeline

The stalled Constitution Pipeline in New York State has once again failed to start.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has declined to overrule New York State, which has denied a needed water certification for the natural gas pipeline, Kallanish Energy reports.

Last October, Constitution Pipeline Co. filed a petition with FERC, asking the commission to find the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had waived its authority to issue the needed water permit by failing to act within a statutory time limit.

Constitution had argued NYSDEC had exceeded the one year period allowed for acting on applications because the cumulative time period of three different applications — two were withdrawn before deadlines — amounted to more than a year.

FERC last week unanimously denied the company’s petition in a 13-page ruling. It ruled the state had acted within an appropriate timeframe given changes to the application, and that NYSDEC’s action with four days left on the final deadline was valid. A one-year deadline for state action on pipelines is appropriate, the federal agency said.

The company issued a statement after FERC’s action: “While the decision by the FERC to deny our petition is disappointing, we firmly believe that the Clean Water Act does more than impose a strict ‘one-year test’ on state agencies and, accordingly, we believe the order erred by failing to find that Section 401 was waived due to New York failing to act within a ‘reasonable period of time’ on Constitution’s Clean Water Act application.”

It continued: “We are planning to seek rehearing and, if necessary, appeal this decision in order to continue to develop this much-needed infrastructure project, designed to bring natural gas to a region of the country that has recently experienced demand resulting in the highest natural gas prices in the world. Constitution remains committed to constructing and placing into operation this critical piece of energy infrastructure.”

In a statement, New York’s DEC said it was “gratified” by FERC's decision.

The company had filed its New York application in April 2013. In April 2016, New York rejected the application for the $1 billion project, effectively blocking the 121-mile natural gas pipeline designed to move Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeast Pennsylvania into New York to connect to pipelines to New York City and New England

The project had been approved by the FERC.

The pipeline is a joint project by the Williams Co., Cabot Oil and Gas, Piedmont Natural Gas and WGL Holdings. It would run from Dimock, Pa., to Schoharie County in New York, and transport 650,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day, or enough natural gas to heat 3 million houses.

Last August, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled against the pipeline and supported the state’s actions. Last fall, FERC had overruled NYSDEC on a water permit for the Millennium Pipeline’s Valley Lateral, but the federal agency said there are major differences between that case and the Constitution Pipeline.

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