February 24, 2018

FERC Will NOT Overrule NY’s Denial for Constitution Pipeline Permit

FERC decision supports New York State DEC
By Robert Walton, UtilityDive, January 12, 2018

Finally, a FERC decision that does NOT support the oil and gas industry!

Dive Brief:

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday declined to overturn a New York decision to reject a water quality certificate for Constitution Pipeline after determining the state acted on the application in an appropriate timeframe given changes to the application.
  • FERC did overrule the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) denial of a water quality certification to a Millennium Pipeline lateral last year. Constitution’s backers had been hoping for a similar outcome, but the two cases are significantly different, federal regulators concluded.
  • 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.

Dive Insight:

Federal regulators say the situations surrounding Millennium’s Valley Lateral and the Constitution Pipeline are significantly different: Even though FERC overruled New York’s denial of a water quality certificate for Millennium it will not make the same decision for Constitution.

In September, FERC overruled New York’s denial for Millennium after finding the New York Department of Environmental Conservation waited too long to make a decision and had “waived” its authority on the matter. The Clean Water Act requires a decision from DEC within a year, and project developers for Constitution say they were forced to withdraw and resubmit their application over the course of almost three years.

But FERC concluded the situation was not analgagous, though it did find reason to examine the situation.

“We continue to be concerned, however, that states and project sponsors that engage in repeated withdrawal and refiling of applications for water quality certifications are acting, in many cases, contrary to the public interest and to the spirit of the Clean Water Act by failing to provide reasonably expeditious state decisions,” the commission noted.

FERC noted the statute “speaks solely to a state’s action or inaction.” The developer had given New York regulators new deadlines by withdrawing its applications before a year finished, the agency concluded.

The Constitution Pipeline has faced many delays and is planned to run almost 125 miles; if constructed, the line would move 650,000 Dth/d of gas production out of Pennsylvania.