Federal Court Rules Against Constitution Pipeline Appeal

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Constitution Pipeline Co. LLC was handed another setback Aug. 18 when a federal appeals court ruled against the project. The project developers filed the case after the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) rejected a required permit for the project in April 2016.

The Second U.S. District Court of Appeals rules that the NYSDEC acted properly when it turned down Constitution’s application for a required water quality certificate for the controversial project. The state concluded that project developers didn’t provide the department with sufficient information on alternative routes, as was requested. Constitution sued the state in federal court to appeal the decision to block the proposed 125-mile natural gas pipeline that was granted federal approval in December 2014.

The pipeline project was designed to connect natural gas production in Pennsylvania to northeastern markets, with a capacity to transport 650 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas. The 30-in. pipeline would extend from Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, to the Iroquois Gas Transmission and Tennessee Gas Pipeline systems in Schoharie County, New York. The project is owned by subsidiaries of Williams Partners LP, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Piedmont Natural Gas Co. Inc. and WGL Holdings Inc.

RELATED: Constitution Challenges NY Decision to Block Pipeline

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the pipeline a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity in December 2014. However, on April 22, 2016 — Earth Day — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced that the NYSDEC had refused state permitting for the project.

The project stakeholders announced May 16, 2016, that Constitution Pipeline has appealed the NYSDEC’s refusal to grant its request for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification under the Clean Water Act. The appeal was filed with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and contends, among other things, that the refusal is arbitrary and capricious and constitutes an impermissible challenge to the FERC certificate.

The company also filed an action with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York seeking a declaration that the State of New York’s authority to exercise permitting jurisdiction over certain other environmental matters is preempted by federal law.

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