Andrew Cuomo’s Constitution Pipeline decision has now earned the emperor of the Empire State two well-deserved lawsuits from Williams.
Andrew Cuomo’s very obvious political strategy with the Constitution Pipeline was to delay, delay, delay and delay some more to allow time for opposition to build; the same tactics he employed with his fracking decision. It is a deliberate one played also by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, another NRDC stooge. Cuomo and Schneiderman are two of the nastiest, most despicable demagogues in politics today, and both are indebted to the very special interests who are behind the NRDC, which tells us a lot about the way New York works and the kind of hardball the NRDC gang plays.
These are dangerous, powerful people who will do anything. They snookered Williams by convincing it a needed certification was coming in a few months if the company would just give them another year to play with and then used that entire year to play out the politics for all it was worth. Now, Williams, having been burned, is striking back with legal action on two fronts; one aimed at the faulty decision itself, which was clearly political, and the other targeted at New York State’s very right to exercise jurisdiction over environmental matters preempted by federal law. It’s about time and the new attitude, late though it may be, is very welcome news.
Here is the Williams news release on the suits (emphasis added):
Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC today announced that it has appealed the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYSDEC) refusal to grant the company’s request for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification under the Clean Water Act. The appeal was filed with the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and contends, among other things, that the refusal is arbitrary and capricious and constitutes an impermissible challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity which was issued to the company in December 2014.
Also today, the company filed an action with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York 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.
“Upon its review of the evidence, we believe the court will agree that this permit denial was arbitrary and unjustified and improperly relies on the same failed arguments that the NYSDEC made during the FERC certificate proceeding regarding the pipeline route and stream crossings. The NYSDEC’s allegation that it did not receive the necessary information is inaccurate as demonstrated by extensive and comprehensive technical materials submitted by Constitution for the record. We believe this allegation was intended to distract stakeholders from the application of a fair technical and regulatory review of the merits of Constitution’s application for a water quality certification. We are ultimately seeking to have the court overturn this veiled attempt by the state to usurp the federal government’s authority and essentially ‘veto’ a FERC-certificated energy infrastructure project,” the project sponsors said in a joint statement.
The project sponsors continued, “We would like to express our appreciation to the many project supporters in New York who have expressed disappointment in the state’s decision, which blocks millions of northeastern consumers from accessing lower-cost energy while ultimately slowing the region’s capabilities in transitioning from coal and fuel oil to natural gas, as well as its ability to integrate more renewable energy sources into its power portfolio.”
To see what others are saying about the state’s decision, visit www.constitutionpipeline.com.
Denial of the 401 Water Quality Certification by NYSDEC further delays the potential for Constitution Pipeline to help facilitate local natural gas service to homes and businesses in Southern New York by Leatherstocking Gas Company, LLC.
The permit denial will also delay about 2,400 direct and indirect jobs that would be created during pipeline construction, generating $130 million in labor income for the region. The decision could also cost local governments approximately $13 million in annual property tax revenue.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 2, 2014 issued its certificate of public convenience and necessity for the Constitution Pipeline. In its final environmental review of the proposed Constitution Pipeline, FERC concluded that environmental impacts would be reduced to “less than significant levels” with the implementation of proposed mitigation measures by the company and recommendations by FERC.
Let’s hope this legal strategy is successful. There’s no certainty it will be, as courts are fickle things, but the new aggressive Williams posture is to be applauded. If only it had exercised similar tenacity at the front end and “punched back twice as hard” then.