Governor Corruptocrat’s bow to the NRDC gang in refusing a Constitution Pipeline permit is being challenged in Federal Court. FERC has weighed in on it.
Readers are aware of the sordid New York DEC record on the Constitution Pipeline. A relatively routine water quality certification was denied at the direction of Governor Andrew “Corruptocrat” Cuomo. He and his DEC Commissioner, NRDC gang member Basil Segos, did so at behest of the gang member Catskill Mountainkeeper and friends. The Mountainkeeper, of course, is the son of the Rockefeller lackey and NRDC founder John Adams. The Constitution Pipeline company has challenged the DEC’s servile action in Federal Court. Now, FERC has weighed in on the matter and essentially told the court to end the BS.
You can read the FERC brief here. Like most legal documents, it’s loaded with citations, interpretations and much other mind-numbing legalese. The summary also focuses on procedure, rather than substance. Still, it’s not hard, if one reads beyond the summary, to decipher the message; cut the crap. It targets two opponents of the Constitution Pipeline, Catskill Mountainkeeper and Stop The Pipeline, not to mention DEC. Here are some of the most poignant observations (emphasis added):
Balancing the need to meet continuing demand for domestic natural gas with potential adverse impacts on landowners and surrounding communities is a challenging task, but one ultimately entrusted to the Commission by Congress. Here, the Commission satisfied all of its statutory responsibilities in approving the Constitution Project. The Commission examined and balanced the many competing interests at stake, as it must under the Natural Gas Act, ultimately finding that the need for the Project to serve demand for natural gas in New York and New England outweighs any unmitigated impacts to landowners and surrounding communities. 43 conditions imposed by the Commission after its comprehensive environmental review, combined with mitigation measures required in other federal and state authorizations, ensure that the impacts of the Project will be reduced to less-than-significant levels …
Each of Petitioner Catskill Mountainkeeper’s and Stop The Pipeline’s objections to the Commission’s conditional authorization of the Project invites the Court not only to reorder this process, but to effectively conduct a de novo review of Project impacts. But this is unnecessary and at odds with the Court’s deferential review under both NEPA and the Natural Gas Act.
Stop The Pipeline’s objections to the Commission’s assessment of market need are unpersuasive: two binding contracts for the full capacity of the Project adequately demonstrate market need for the Project. In the absence of evidence of affiliate abuse – and the Commission found none here – and as the D.C. Circuit recently confirmed, the Commission will not look behind contracts to evaluate shippers’ needs …
Catskill Mountainkeeper and Stop The Pipeline attack the Commission’s comprehensive EIS from multiple directions, challenging the evaluation of the impacts on natural gas production, water quality, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, as well as the Commission’s determination that its environmental review of the Project was not improperly segmented from another potential pipeline project.
The Commission indeed assessed impacts on each of these resources, in significant detail, and included the potential project in its cumulative impacts analysis. But the Commission reasonably drew the line where Petitioners sought information and analysis that would not meaningfully inform or improve the Commission’s decision-making. In multiple, recent challenges to natural gas infrastructure approvals in the D.C. Circuit, that court has rejected such efforts to “flyspeck” the Commission’s NEPA review by requiring discussion of impacts that are not caused by the Project, or reasonably foreseeable, or by insisting on speculative analysis with tools not intended for this purpose. This Court should do the same.
That’s pretty easy to understand, wouldn’t you say? But, there’s more:
… Constitution proposed to locate the pipeline within or parallel to existing rights-of-way where feasible … The Commission also considered several alternatives to collocate the Project with other existing or proposed pipeline systems, but rejected those alternatives based primarily on findings that each would result in greater total land disturbance, impacts on more landowners, and greater total environmental impacts relative to the proposed pipeline …
No additional evidence is necessary where, as here, market need is demonstrated by contracts for 100 percent of the Project’s capacity … And, Stop The Pipeline neglects to mention that the Commission required Constitution to “execute firm contracts for the capacity levels and terms of service represented in the signed precedent agreements,” notably “prior to commencing construction.” … As the D.C. Circuit has twice held in recent years, Stop The Pipeline “identified ‘nothing in the policy statement or in any precedent construing it to suggest that it requires, rather than permits, the Commission to assess a project’s benefits by looking beyond market need reflected by the applicant’s existing contracts with shippers.’”
… The State of Connecticut commented in support of the Project, explaining that constrained natural gas supplies contribute to high electricity prices in Connecticut, and the Project would significantly increase Connecticut’s access to “dependable, less costly, and cleaner energy” which is “needed to heat homes, run businesses, and generate electricity in the region.” … Likewise, the New York Public Service Commission commented that, if the Project is approved, the New York Commission “would expect enhanced reliability and competition as a result of adding an additional interstate pipeline carrying 650,000 dekatherms per day of capacity.”
… Stop The Pipeline offers inadequate justification for the Commission to depart from well-established policy and precedent here … Stop The Pipeline essentially advocates a different model of pipeline development, requiring that all shippers must be local distribution companies, or that an applicant must guarantee downstream transportation rights with the development of any pipeline providing access to new supplies … But nothing in the Natural Gas Act or Commission precedent requires such a model … The Commission’s actions here and elsewhere make clear that it will not approve a transportation project based on speculation alone …
Catskill Mountainkeeper claims that the Commission refused to consider effects of potential increases in natural gas production arising from the Project … Catskill Mountainkeeper overstates its case. The Commission did not ignore potential increases in natural gas production, or “bury its head in the sand.” … Indeed, the Final EIS evaluated the environmental impacts of gas production in the region of influence around the Project facilities, and included this analysis in its cumulative impacts analysis … Catskill Mountainkeeper does not challenge the sufficiency of the Commission’s cumulative impacts analysis, but claims that the Commission should have considered the impacts of potential increases in gas production as an indirect impact …
And, so it went, with FERC offering this very keen perspective on the Catskill Mountainkeeper’s drivel:
Nonetheless, Catskill Mountainkeeper claims that the Commission was required to build upon this speculative analysis with yet more speculative analysis … But the Commission examined the reports and tools referenced by Catskill Mountainkeeper and others and found that they are “broad generic reports that do not show where or when additional development will occur because the projects were approved.”
There’s still more, but it’s already clear from just these excerpts that FERC recognizes the Catskill Mountainkeeper and Stop The Pipeline crap for what it is; a shovelful of the stuff against the wall to see what might stick. It’s the standard strategy of radical special interest groups geared toward simply stopping and delaying. It’s how they pursue their ultimate goal of making a wilderness of Upstate New York.
It’s all funded by the NRDC gang and friends using shill organizations run by trust-fund kids who’ve never had real jobs and it’s costing years of delay and hundreds of millions in higher-energy costs for the forgotten man. FERC, at least, has not yet forgotten its mission and it’s good to see it reflected in this brief.
May justice prevail as this case moves forward so this important piece of infrastructure can be completed, despite the NRDC gang and its arrogant, condescending toadies.