April 2016, Vol. 243, No. 4


Despite Rejected Permit, Partners ‘Committed’ to Constitution Pipeline

Constitution Pipeline Company officials said Monday they remain steadfastly committed to pursuing the federally approved energy infrastructure project, despite the recent decision by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to deny a critical permit for the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline Project.

New York environmental regulators had rejected Section 401 Water Quality Certification needed by  major natural gas pipeline projects, saying the Constitution fails to meet standards that protect hundreds of streams, wetlands and other water resources in its path.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said Friday it would not issue a water quality permit for the proposed pipe from Pennsylvania shale gas fields to eastern New York, due to potential effects to 251 streams and 500 acres of forest land and wetlands. In 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) OK’d the project in 2014, pending a state permit as required by the Clean Water Act.

“In spite of NYSDEC’s unprecedented decision, we remain absolutely committed to building this important energy infrastructure project, which will create an important connection between consumers and reliable supplies of clean, affordable natural gas,” the project sponsors said in a joint statement.

Constitution Pipeline Company, a partnership of Williams Partners, Cabot Oil & Gas and Piedmont Natural Gas, can still appeal the state decision to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We believe NYSDEC’s stated rationale for the denial includes flagrant misstatements and inaccurate allegations, and appears to be driven more by New York state politics than by environmental science,” the project sponsors said in the statement.

Pipeline officials said the company worked for three years with NYSDEC to guarantee water quality standards would be met, adding the company had rerouted the pipeline, used trenchless methodologies and agreed to fund about $18 million for wetland mitigation, among other protective measures.

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