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Millennium Calls Foul on DEC, Asks FERC to Curb NY

delaware riverkeeper - Jim Willis reports

Jim Willis
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)

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Millennium Pipeline asks FERC to intervene and issue them a Notice to Proceed after Gov. Cuomo and NY DEC refuse to approve the necessary permits.

This is it folks. This is the case that will crush New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s blockade of important pipeline projects in the Empire State. For 19 months the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has dithered around, at the prompting of Andrew Cuomo, and has refused to grant federal Section 401 Water Quality Certification stream crossing permits for a tiny 7.8 mile pipeline spur off the Millennium Pipeline in Orange County, called the Valley Lateral Project, to feed a gas-fired electric generating plant that is now under construction.

Millennium

Statutorily, New York has 12 months (1 year) to review such an application and act on it. New York has refused to act on it. So Millennium took DEC to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In June, the court dismissed the lawsuit by Millennium, which at first blush may seem like a blow. But, it was the reasoning and opinion of the judges in dismissing the case that will change everything in New York.

The judges said there is no case because if, as Millennium says, the DEC is denying the water permits, FERC itself has the power to jump back in and simply override DEC and issue the permits. Last Friday Millennium pulled the trigger and did it—they sent an official request to FERC (copy below) that outlines their Herculean efforts to work with DEC over the past 19 months, and asks FERC to move forward with permission to build the pipeline anyway—ignoring DEC.

If FERC agrees (and we think they will), DEC is about to become irrelevant in all FERC-approved pipeline projects they are blocking, including the Williams Constitution and National Fuel Gas Northern Access projects.

In the letter below, Millennium outlines how they have gone far above the call of duty in working with DEC. Millennium bent over backwards, accommodating DEC requests, which added an extra $18 million to make DEC happy. From the letter to FERC:

Millennium’s formal application, which it filed in November 2015, contained nearly 1200 pages of analysis and construction details, including explanations of how water quality would be protected. Millennium continued to work with the NYSDEC, making revisions to the project in response to NYSDEC’s stated preferences and ultimately agreeing in the application and subsequent submissions to use horizontal directional drills (“HDD”) or conventional bores with respect to nine of the twelve required stream crossings. Of the remaining three streams, two are intermittent and expected to be dry during construction. Although the Project has a limited number of resource crossings, these commitments to use trenchless crossing methods for 90 percent of the perennial streams ensured that the Project has minimized potential Project-related impacts to water quality. These commitments were not without impact to Millennium, increasing the project costs from an estimated $39 million to approximately $57 million.

Even though Millennium has worked with DEC for 19 months, DEC has refused to grant the water crossing permits. Therefore, Millennium made this formal request to FERC:

Millennium knows of no additional information that is needed by the NYSDEC; nor is Millennium aware of any NYSDEC concerns that have not been addressed. But, despite the limited size of the Project and Millennium’s considerable mitigation efforts, the NYSDEC failed to act on Millennium’s application. The CWA Section 401 Water Quality Certification requirements have now been waived, and Millennium provides below the required “evidence of waiver thereof.” Accordingly, Millennium has fully satisfied Environmental Condition 9, and the Director should issue a NTP authorizing construction of the Project no later than August 31, 2017, to allow Millennium sufficient time to engage construction contractors and complete land acquisition before full construction can commence.

An “NTP” is a Notice to Proceed with construction. Millennium pretty much quotes the judges in the federal case, saying New York has now waived its right to award the certificate, and FERC may now, under law, step in and do it. Looks like we will have an interesting summer ahead here in New York.

Read the full Millennium letter to FERC, requesting FERC override (and disregard) NY DEC and grant permission to move forward with the Valley Lateral Project: Millennium

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23 thoughts on “Millennium Calls Foul on DEC, Asks FERC to Curb NY

  1. Keep waiting and holding your breath to create your invasive, toxic, risky pipelines to fill our lovely countrysides,
    so you and your friends can be gassed…..
    you and Millennium and all the other pipelines keep waiting down the pike….
    it’s going to be a long wait…

    just start promoting and writing about alternatives and non-carbon energies….
    this is what is the future and it is now…

    get on board…

    and stop beating an archaic horse to death…

        • Because both are way to inefficient after 10 tears of telling everyone to go solar your hypocrisy is only out done by your arrogance but you keep up the work you do… it’s good to have people in your corner pretending their your friends…sleep well

    • You aren’t living in the real world Vera. How many miles of new interstate natural gas pipeline were granted certificates from ferc in the last year? Year before? How many applications are with ferc now? Is there a reason, other than the fact that you belong to a delusional movement , that facts matter so little to you?

      Remember the pa pipeline task force Vera? Think they met because no new pipelines will be permitted or for the exact opposite reason?

      There is a process by which pipelines are reviewed and permitted and at this point (between the surprise announcement by the DOH and DEC on fracking in December of 2014), the Constitution pipe permit fiasco (again the NY DEC) and then yet another permit denial this year, one had to be oblivious not to see that there is something incredibly dysfunctional and likely corrupt occurring in NY State with the DEC and the fracking issue.

  2. I guess accuracy is of no moment with this site, as once again Natural Gas Now is spreading misinformation.

    Let’s start with this quote:

    “FERC itself has the power to jump back in and simply override DEC and issue the permits.”

    False, as has been repeatedly pointed out, FERC cannot issue the water quality certifications. FERC can only find that DEC waived its rights to issue the certification. That is a significant difference.

    Jim also makes this specious claim:

    “If FERC agrees (and we think they will), DEC is about to become irrelevant in all FERC-approved pipeline projects they are blocking, including the Williams Constitution and National Fuel Gas Northern Access projects.”

    Even if a Court would agree that DEC waived its right to to issue the certifications, DEC would still retain the right to grant or deny certifications within the one year time period (however that is defined by the Court). If anything this would lead to even more denials issued by DEC where the agency determines that incomplete information was provided.

    Jim Willis should probably consult with counsel before writing his pieces, and Natural Gas Now would be better served by offering corrections in its “Editor’s Notes.”

    • What a pretentious snob… SOP for the left for some time now.

      The NYSDEC under cuomo is a puppet agency now run by the radical NRDC. No drilling, no pipelines, period. Criminal posers who want their energy produced elsewhere while pretending they have a magic green wand.

          • 1) Classy

            2) No, I corrected misstatements in the post. If anything I said is inaccurate please feel free to correct me. If you are unwilling or unable to do so, your comments belong is a separate thread.

    • thanks, Alphege, for some good information to better inform us…

      the Gas Industry is still stymied in their attempt to get as much gas out even beyond the need of this country so they can export it and make some money to finally have some profits to show for this coming year and the next….

      • Vera, you should really step back and look at what you say and how you think about other people. You do understand that the natural gas industry consists of people right? And you understand that it is not a secret and hasn’t been one for some time that the united States I projected to be a net exporter of natural gas?

        You understand that not all the gas (yes I realize this is not natural gas) you buy for your car comes from this country or no?

        By the way this argument about the needs of the country is sort of hogwash when you think about it Vera because one could certainly make the argument that more gas could be used instead of say coal. What’s your understanding Vera of the amount of coal being used to produce electricty in this country. Do you realize coal produces over 30 percent of the total electricty supply for this country and it is only in the present that natural gas dethroned it as the market leader?

        Vera… Your movement is a problem. There is mass misinformation in it.

        • sorry, Karen, I consider you and your supporters of gas the source of mass misinformation.

          and I consider coal just as problematic and polluting and needs to go and be replaced.

          Coal at least is not extracting next to our homes, schools, farms…like gas….

          and doesn’t require endless infrastructure to transport and export…

          but you keep trying, Karen, to convince us and others how wonderful gas is…and when you live next door to the gas wells, compressor stations, gas pipelines, water treatment plants, water and waste impoundments, then we might start to listen a little more to you and others like you.

          • The “endless infrastructure” that coal requires are the railroads and highways that are largely already in place. And those mountain-tops being mined must be close to somebody’s home and timber-farm. So those arguments are hollow.

            And compressed NG can go by road, as is being set up in NY as an “over-the-road pipeline”. But that takes diesel and drivers and presumes others will not run into them.

            Anyone with a head on their shoulders can see the inherent sensibility of pipeline transport, where an “incident” is 344 times less likely than if that fuel were transported by road.

  3. Interesting you would pick an alias with the letters “AH”. Must be a Freudian slip.

    The FERC certification for “public convenience and necessity” process boils down to a couple of points: 1) is there a need (determined by the open season process) and 2) can it be constructed in an environmentally compatible fashion.
    Both of those items have clearly been addressed as required by statute, a certificate has been issued. I am interested in the outcome of this project, but in my experience having worked on 15+ interstate pipeline projects, FERC gets the last word every time. Good luck AH, you’ll need it.

    • Actually a permit denial was successful in preventing a FERC -approved pipeline proposal across long island sound. What all of the legal back and forth involved, you would have to research.

      • Yes Karen, you are referencing the Islander East cases.

        If a state timely denies a water quality certification they certainly have the power to block a FERC-approved project.

  4. Working on those “15+ interstate pipeline projects” certainly hasn’t taught you much.

    While FERC is the lead agency, each project still needs a Clean Water Section 401 water quality certificate from the state, a Clean Water Section 404 permit from either the state or the USACE, and numerous other federal authorizations from a variety of agencies before construction can begin. Additionally, if the project triggers review by the Delaware River Basin Commission, again the project cannot move forward absent the approval of that agency.

      • Tom – I don’t understand your comment. My point was that it is more complicated than just getting a FERC certification.

    • Well I did not work on any interstate pipeline proposals but intervened in a docket with ferc as a citizen and participated in the federal docket for an lng import project that of course involved a pipeline with the coast guard and Marad. In both dockets antifracking pipeline resistance movement activists spewed nonsense, miseducated the public and reporters and a whole lot more. It is certainly true that various permits are required by law for interstate pipelines. It is also true that there is something spectacularly wrong occurring with the nydec and permits.

      • If anything I say is inaccurate you are free to correct me. You won’t find anything though. I know…facts are hard…

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