Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
Finally, the natural gas industry is taking the offense against corrupt, demagogic governors such as Andrew Cuomo who are abusing water certification rules.
Five natural gas trade associations representing pretty much the entire natural gas industry (producers, suppliers, pipelines and local gas utilities) sent a joint letter to President Trump on Tuesday asking the President to clarify the role of states in administering Clean Water Act Section 401. Specifically, the groups want the president to slap around individual states that are abusing Section 401 to block critical pipeline projects—like how the corrupt Andrew Cuomo in New York is blocking the Constitution Pipeline by withholding Section 401 approval, substituting his own authority for FERC’s.
The five groups which collectively call themselves the Natural Gas Council, say in the letter that some states abuse Section 401 “to hijack the permitting process for pipelines that transport natural gas in interstate commerce.”
In other words, New York’s action not only hurts the residents of New York, it hurts the residents and producers in Pennsylvania that produce the gas, and potential customers in New England and beyond who would use the gas (i.e. interstate commerce).
While Section 401 gives states a say in how federally-approved pipeline projects are managed, it does not give states the right to outright reject those projects. The Natural Gas Council is calling attention to this ongoing violation and wants Trump to do something about it.
Here’s the letter they sent to President Trump on Tuesday:
It’s time for the federal government to clamp down on rogue states like New York (and New Jersey, and others) who abuse Section 401 authorizations. The current situation of litigating these ongoing violations for years is not acceptable. Justice delayed is justice denied. Perhaps Trump can rectify the situation.
Editor’s Note: Jim is absolutely correct, of course. What I like about this unexpectedly positive news is this; there natural gas industry is finally playing offense, rather than defense. It’s asking for Trump to take the initiative and end this abuse off the rules. It asks him to direct the agencies to be more forceful in interpreting the rules they’re supposed to administer.
Andrew Cuomo, Governor Corruptocrat, is effectively stealing FERC’s authority out from under it. He has been using Section 401 water quality certification provisions of the Clean Water Act to do so. Section 401 gives his state one year to provide its water quality input with respect to FERC pipeline applications. He’s using that narrow authority to usurp FERC’s entire role, involving New York in routing decisions and suggesting he, rather than FERC, has the authority to address greenhouse gas emissions, for example, under Section 401 water quality regulations.
Cuomo knows he doesn’t have that authority and doesn’t care. He’s doing this because he can, as long as he gets away with it. It’s stolen power. He aims to delay projects and corruptly sweat concessions and favors out of their sponsors in the same way his “brother,” Joe Percoco, apparently did with the CPV Valley Energy Center, securing a make believe job for the latter’s wife. That’s how Cuomo and company operate. It has zero to do with the environment. Rather, it’s about leveraging power and simultaneously positioning himself as an environmentalist while not caring if FERC wins the day, as that would give him the favors, the gas and the credit for having opposed gas.
Is the natural gas industry finally learning what its enemies are really all about? I’m not sure, but I do know it’s nice to see it taking the offense for a change. Here’s are the best parts of the natural gas industry letter:
Recent implementation of Section 401 has created much confusion and frustration and has resulted in significant delays to infrastructure projects. Moreover, some states are improperly using Section 401 to hijack the permitting process for pipelines that transport natural gas in interstate commerce.
These actions undermine the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s exclusive authority to approve interstate natural gas pipelines, and deny other states the opportunity to benefit from this infrastructure…
…lead federal permitting agencies should recognize their authority and obligation to define and implement the Section 401 process. This includes ensuring that a state is not manipulating the process through enforcement of the statutory time period and confirming state actions are related to applicable water quality standards. Where the process is not followed, the lead federal agency has the duty and obligation to find the Section 401 obligation waived for all federal authorizations required for the project. Other federal agencies must accept the waiver determination and move forward with implementing their statutory requirements for licensing and permitting of the proposed project.
This is a refreshing message. Let’s hope it’s heard.