Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed an objection to Williams starting tree clearing along the Constitution Pipeline route; just more stall tactics by the anti’s.
This one was easy to predict. Last week we told you that Williams had asked, and received permission from the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), to begin clearing trees along the path of the Constitution Pipeline in upstate New York. Anti-fossil fuelers went squealing like petulant three year-olds to their favorite “parent,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, asking daddy to stop Williams from killing trees. And, so last Thursday Schneiderman filed an objection to the tree-clearing plan with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to placate the petulant three year-olds that are his favorite constituents.
The question now is, will FERC put a halt to the tree clearing, which must happen before April 1st when it becomes bat season and companies can no longer clear trees for fear of roosting Northern long-eared bats.
New York’s attorney general filed objections Thursday to the Constitution Pipeline Company’s request to cut trees along the proposed route of its 124-mile natural gas pipeline, citing the lack of a state water quality permit and pending requests for a rehearing of the federal agency order that cleared the way for the project.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the pipeline in 2014 with certain conditions, including a water quality permit from the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation. No timetable has been given for a decision on a water permit.
In objecting to the company’s request, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked FERC to deny permission to start any work until a state water quality permit is issued and the commission decides on numerous motions on rehearing its 2014 decision. Several of those requests argue that FERC failed to conduct an adequate environmental review. Schneiderman also said the planned clearing of trees could cause irreparable harm to thousands of acres in New York.
Constitution Pipeline Company, a partnership formed by Cabot Oil & Gas, Williams Partners and Piedmont Natural Gas Company, asked FERC last week for permission to cut trees along the pipeline right-of-way from Pennsylvania’s shale gas fields to upstate New York.
It said that for the company to meet a commitment to complete the pipeline by the end of this year, tree-cutting has to be finished by March 31 to avoid harm to birds and bats during the spring and summer breeding season. Regulators set the condition that the company can only clear forest land between November and the end of March.
The company said earth-moving and pipeline construction wouldn’t start until all permits are in place, and asked FERC to make a decision on its tree-cutting request by Friday.
Pipeline spokesman Christopher Stockton said Thursday that if the tree-cutting request is denied, the project won’t be able to meet its goal of going online during the fourth quarter of 2016.
MDN Note: The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) is hosting a “New York Can’t Wait for the Constitution Pipeline” event in Afton, NY on Saturday, Jan. 23. Details here.
Editor’s Note: I love how Jim so adroitly lays out the bare-bones truth of what’s happening here, comparing AG Schneiderman to the parent of a spoiled child – an enabler of “affluenza,” if you will. He’s absolutely correct. We’ve previously profiled Schneiderman’s NRDC connections here and the guy might as well be wearing an NRDC gold embroidered shirt to work each day and he has a strange connection to the phony Damascus Citizens for Sustainability outfit from Manhattan, too. He should, if he isn’t already already, be under Preet Bharara’s gaze. He is the third AG in a row from New York with that same nasty demagogic mindset for which the state’s voters seem to be suckers. It’s been showtime every second of the day as these guys have used and abused the top legal position in the Empire State as a perch from which to ascend to the Emperor position.
You can find the affluenza enabler’s filing with FERC here and, to make it easier to spot the chicanery, I have highlighted the important parts in yellow. You’ll notice at the outset the laughable contention that Schneiderman “takes no position on the merits of the proposed pipeline,” even though he later acknowledges previously intervening in an attempt to derail the project with more studies and his timing this time was in direct answer to the requests of pipeline opponents. Such is the duplicitous world of New York politics and law, apparently.
It gets worse when you get into the arguments though. He says “Cutting down trees in the Pipeline corridor constitutes construction.” Really? Well, maybe some of those landowners who happen to favor the pipeline they’re getting paid to accommodate should go out and cut the trees themselves. They’re perfectly entitled to do so and no one would call it construction under those circumstances, which is really the test of Schneiderman’s legal argument and it doesn’t stand.
Then, there is this (emphasis added):
Second, numerous intervenors in the Commission’s on-going licensing proceeding have filed requests for rehearing of the Certificate Order pursuant to the Commission’s rules for licensing proceedings under the federal Natural Gas Act. Under that statute, until the Commissioners complete their review of the Certificate Order on rehearing, that order is neither final nor subject to judicial review, and thus does not constitute the agency’s record of decision.
Putting it in lay terms; “as long as we and our radical enviro friends keep objecting you can’t act.” This is what substitutes for common sense in the legal world of demagogues and affluenza enablers such as Schneiderman.
Next, the guy has the nerve to say this:
Constitution has applied for but not yet obtained a Section 401 certification from the NYSDEC. NYSDEC issued a notice of complete application on April 29, 2015.
There is no mention, of course, of this being the second application for 401 certification, after way more than the permissible one year of deliberation on the part of the State on the identical first application, or the fact the second was filed as a courtesy to give the State more time to act. This is outrageous in every respect – a total abuse of authority statewide, as we have noted here and here, and one that should not be tolerated. Now, the AG wants to pile on and make it worse. No wonder New York is slowly being emptied (which, of course, is exactly what Schneiderman and his NRDC gang friends want).
The AG also reveals, on page 8 of his filing, that we’re talking about “487 acres that will be permanently converted to non-forest,” which, put in perspective, is next to nothing. The DEC chart tells the story: New York State added an average of 275 acres of forestland per day between 1875 and 2000 and the growth continues, especially upstate, but Schneiderman, playing to the pipeline wacko crowd, says converting 487 acres would “potentially cause adverse environmental impacts and irreparable environmental harm” and complains FERC did not assess the environmental impacts of cutting the trees.”
It makes you want to throw up, doesn’t it? Schneiderman lays it on even thicker later when he argues “the FEIS assumed that felled trees would be promptly removed from the Pipeline corridor and thus does not examine the environmental impacts of leaving them in place for an indeterminate period of time until construction resumes.” He claims this is a potential fire hazard and even attached an Extension Service piece about keeping the forest clean of debris. It’s child’s play at best – legal obstruction and blackmail, really.
It’s all so utterly fake. It’s also more than disgusting to think the Attorney General of a state with massive corruption and crime issues is wasting time participating in this sham attempt at delaying a much needed project with such nonsense. It perfectly explains why both money and people are leaving New York as fast as they can run but, in the meantime, this sorry lot does need gas and so the rest of us labor under the burden of dealing with their theatrics to provide it.