Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
Representatives from the approved Constitution Pipeline met with Cuomo’s top aide to answer questions about the held up project nearing the April deadline.
The Constitution Pipeline is a badly needed natural gas pipeline that would run ~125 miles from the gas fields of Susquehanna County, PA up into New York–all the way to Schoharie County, NY–where it would intersect with the Iroquois Pipeline and the Tennessee Gas Pipeline. The $683 million project would pump 650 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of PA shale gas to markets throughout the northeast and potentially into New England.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project in 2014. Pennsylvania cleared the way for the pipeline in 2015. New York is holding it up–the tail wagging the dog–by not issuing stream and swamp crossing permits. We have repeatedly called on Williams, the main sponsor of the project, to take New York to court to strip them of their right to have any say in the matter since Cuomo is intentionally stopping the project for political reasons.
We’re just now hearing that representatives from the Constitution met with a top Cuomo aide in February to answer questions. The clock is ticking and Cuomo is almost out of time. New York has until April 29 to issue the permits or the application made to the state one year ago will expire. Perhaps that will be the triggering event for a massive lawsuit against the state.
In September 2015 MDN editor Jim Willis attended the Shale Insight conference in Philadelphia. Jim listened to a panel discussion of midstream (pipeline) experts, including a former FERC commissioner. He got to ask a question and the question, roughly, was this: “The New York DEC is currently holding up the FERC-approved Constitution Pipeline. What if the DEC refuses to issue the necessary permits? What happens next?” The answer Jim got was, “It depends.”
The bottom line seems to be that if the DEC refuses to grant the permits, Williams will need to request a waiver from FERC and both FERC and Williams may well need to take the DEC to court at the end of the day. The DEC has no legal right to prevent a federally approved project from being built. That’s the bottom line. It may take a court to force the DEC (and Gov. Cuomo) to act, but in this matter the law is on our side. This is not a question of “if,” it is a question of “when” the pipeline will get built.
We’ll go out on a limb here and say that if NY does not grant the stream crossing permits by April 29, very soon after Williams will file a waiver request with FERC and/or a lawsuit against the state to force the issue. There’s no way Williams and Cabot and the other partners in the project are going to walk away from it.
Executives of investors in the Constitution Pipeline have met with a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said pipeline spokesman Christopher Stockton. Stockton said executives met with Bill Mulrow, the secretary to the governor and a former director at asset manager Blackstone, in February to answer questions about the project.
Constitution Pipeline resubmitted its application for a New York water quality certification permit on April 29, 2015. That means the state must take action by April 29, 2016.
Supporters say the pipeline will create jobs, bring in more tax dollars to local governments and supply needed energy to manufacturers and power producers along its route. Environmental groups are concerned about the impacts of the construction process and the long-range implications for climate change of increased fossil fuel use.
Opponents of the pipeline plan to rally in Albany on April 5 to call on Cuomo to reject the pipeline.
It would be great if pro-pipeline supporters also showed up on April 5 in Albany to carry signs supporting the Constitution Pipeline.