Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
According to a Bloomberg analyst, the Constitution Pipeline is “favored to prevail” in a legal challenge to New York State’s opposition to the project.
We have been making the point, loudly, for the past year, that IF New York State blocks the Constitution Pipeline, as they have now done, the state runs the very real risk of having the federal government strip away their right to make such decisions about any federally-approved pipeline project. We’ve previously warned that New York is in grave danger of losing their power by attempting to block the Constitution.
We wrote the following in October 2015: When MDN editor Jim Willis attended the Shale Insight conference in Philadelphia in September, he 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 NY 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 it’s likely FERC (and Williams) will need to take the DEC to court. The DEC frankly 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. And now we get to brag about how prescient we were.
Williams did indeed have to take New York to court, and now a Bloomberg analyst has written an article expressing essentially the same sentiment we expressed last year (see it below), saying Williams, the builder of the Constitution Pipeline, is “favored to prevail” in one (if not both) legal challenges they have filed. A victory by Williams will result in neutering New York’s authority to block this and other similar projects.
Williams Partners LP and its co-developers in the $925 million Constitution natural gas pipeline are favored to prevail in one of two legal challenges to New York’s opposition to the project, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
The developers argument that the project can go forward even as permits are pending before the state favors “a company win,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Brandon Barnes wrote in research published Monday. In a case before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, Constitution is challenging the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s decision to require permits relating to impacts on wetlands.
Constitution and other proposed pipelines are facing opposition from environmental groups and landowners as the nation’s network of gas links expands to accommodate booming production from shale basins. Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has approved the 124-mile (200-kilometer) pipeline from the Marcellus shale region in northeast Pennsylvania to markets in New England and New York, granted developers a two-year extension to Dec. 2, 2018.
It’s “a defensive move geared toward putting a fence around the delays,” Barnes wrote. “Constitution seeks a declaration from the court that requiring other state permits as a condition precedent to construction is an overreach.”
In a separate proceeding, the developers are challenging New York’s denial of a water-quality permit before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The water-quality permit alone is required for the project to move ahead, Barnes said.
Sean Mahar, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Conservation, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
Williams applied more than three years ago to build the pipeline.
“We believe the court will agree that the NYSDEC’s permit denial was arbitrary and unjustified,” Williams spokesman Chris Stockton said Monday by e-mail. “We are optimistic the court will overturn this veiled attempt by the state to usurp the federal government’s authority and essentially ‘veto’ a FERC-certificated energy infrastructure project.”
Other partners in the Constitution pipeline include Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Piedmont Natural Gas Co. and WGL Holdings Inc.
The case is Constitution Pipeline, LLC v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, et al.
The brilliance of Williams’ move was to file the case in U.S. District Court. In New York’s higher courts the judges are appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. They want to get reappointed, so they do their master’s bidding. Yes, we are accusing them of malfeasance and dereliction of duty. In particular the judges of the New York State Court of Appeals (NY’s highest court). Williams kept the case out of New York’s incestuous court mess and filed it in federal court. Good for them!
The Bloomberg article was noticed by Williams. Williams spokesman Mike Atchie issued this email dated Aug 10, 2016 – Subject: Constitution Pipeline – Update:
I want you to know that Constitution Pipeline remains committed to providing millions of northeastern consumers with access to lower-cost energy. That is why we appreciate your continued support and ongoing interest in the project.
As you know, last spring we filed an action in federal court seeking a declaration that the State of New York’s authority to exercise permitting jurisdiction over certain other environmental matters is preempted by federal law. While we continue to navigate through the legal appeals process, we found the following Bloomberg News article very encouraging.
As you can read here, Williams Partners LP and its co-developers in the $925 million Constitution natural gas pipeline are favored to prevail in one of two legal challenges to New York’s opposition to the project, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. While media reports can provide no guarantee as to the outcome in a legal proceeding, we are nonetheless encouraged by the conclusion reached in the independent assessment of the legal challenge brought by Constitution.
The NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Andrew Cuomo should be ashamed. They will leave the state with a legacy of diminished authority, all in a bid to gain political favor with kook radicals on the left.