New York State DEC has struck three times now; it has just rejected water quality certification for the Millennium Pipeline extension. Time to call it out!
The New York State DEC yesterday formally denied water quality certification for a third FERC regulated pipeline project (check out EID coverage here). This time it was the short Millennial Pipeline extension to serve the already permitted and nearly complete CPV Valley Energy Center gas plant in Orange County. The nature of the decision gives further evidence the whole thing is a farce; a deliberate Cuomo strategy to force FERC to take over pipeline decisions for New York so he can claim his environmental extremist bona fides and still get the gas he needs. It’s Prince Corruptocrat at work.
A few days I wrote this about the then impending Millennium decision and a Catskill Mountainkeeper appeal for pressure on New York State DEC to deny certification:
Will DEC grant the certification? Common sense suggests it will, given the need for the power, the fact the State has already blessed the power plants with permits and it’s now nearing completion. But, I doubt it…
Why do I suspect DEC will not issue the certification? Simply because Basil Seggos, like his predecessor Joe Martens, is one of them. He’s also a former member of Cuomo’s highly political Governor’s Office staff. Cuomo will do nothing to offend the NRDC gang. Ramsay Adams would not be sending this e-mail if he didn’t have the blessing of Seggos to do so; if the whole thing had not been coordinated.
…Cuomo a/k/a Corruptocrat, the quintessential Machiavellian, wants FERC to pre-empt him on all three pipelines. He wants to look good for the NRDC gang and still get the gas. Turning down this little pipeline a few days late because of supposedly mounting opposition is the most likely route to that highly desirable outcome for him because the case for it is so strong.
It turns out, unfortunately, my expectations were correct. The last-minute Catskill Mountainkeeper letter-writing campaign appears to have been orchestrated for purposes of cover; some play-acting by a NRDC gang that includes the New York State DEC, the Mountainkeeper, the Open Space Institute and other NRDC/Rockefeller subsidiaries. There are a couple of further indications from this particular decision that give further support to my supposition and suggest three strikes may be enough to declare New York State DEC out.
First, we learn from the Times-Herald-Record story that Millennium had done something with its New York State DEC submission that the Constitution Pipeline had not; it proposed to horizontally drill over 42% of the line rather than trench it:
Millennium has said costs to build the pipeline had already increased by nearly $18 million in its effort to satisfy the DEC and avoid wetlands and waterways. The company has said it has increased the amount of pipe it would lay using a technique called “horizontal directional drilling,” which avoids digging trenches, to 42.7 percent from 12.6 percent.
The New York State DEC rationale for denying the Constitution Pipeline, of course, was that it had refused to horizontally drill rather than trench much of the line. Millennium offered to drill rather than trench and it didn’t matter, illustrating the whole thing was a phony excuse, a ruse and a New York State DEC lie when it came to the Constitution. Corruptocrat and his DEC puppets have been simply looking for any reason—any reason at all—to turn down pipeline permits so as to force FERC to act and give him the gas while looking like a hero to useful idiot fractivists and the NRDC gang, which always must be appeased, of course. Cuomo is triangulating, using his DEC Commissioner, a faithful member of the gang and a politico, as a point man.
Secondly, we also learn this from the extraordinarily flimsy excuse letter New York State DEC wrote to FERC explaining its denial of certification:
In addition, pursuant to 6 NYCRR § 621.1 O(f), an application for a permit may be denied “for any of the reasons set forth in section 62l.13(a)(l)-(6) of this Part.” Among these reasons is “newly discovered material information or a material change in environmental conditions, relevant technology or applicable law or regulations …. “(emphasis added). Here, as described in the attached Request (Exhibit A), there has been a material change in applicable law during the course of the Department’s review of the Joint Application. Namely, as further explained in Exhibit A, the Sierra Club decision found that FERC failed to consider or quantify the downstream greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of the natural gas transported by the Project as part of NEPA review. Here, just as in Sierra Club, FERC failed to consider or quantify the indirect effects of downstream GHG emissions in its environmental review of the Project that will result from burning the natural gas that the Project will transport to CPV Valley Energy Center.
Bear in mind we’re talking about a water quality certification, not an air quality certification and that New York State DEC long ago environmentally reviewed and approved the power plant where the gas will be combusted. Throwing up this excuse now is a pathetically transparent act of deception and subterfuge. DEC officials know very well air greenhouse gas emissions don’t factor into water quality certifications, that air quality permits are already issued for the combustion and that State Environmental Quality Review Standards don’t apply to FERC.
They also know full well they have no right to decide the adequacy of FERC’s environmental review. They have authority to spend a year determine whether or not to issue a water quality certification and that’s it. Their letter is an invitation with a bow on it to FERC to determine they waived their rights to decide; to effectively take over for them and allow construction as they tell the world how they tried to stop the pipeline. This is full-blown Machiavellian politics, Dick Morris style. This is New York. This is Andrew Cuomo, Prince Corruptocrat.