Pipeline developers vow to fight New York permit rejection

AP News
Posted: Apr 25, 2016 4:44 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Developers of a 124-mile pipeline designed to transport natural gas to the Northeast from Pennsylvania's shale fields said Monday they'll challenge New York's rejection of a critical permit.

The Constitution Pipeline Company said the denial letter from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation includes "flagrant misstatements and inaccurate allegations" and is driven by politics rather than science.

The DEC on Friday denied a water quality permit, saying the project fails to meet standards that protect hundreds of streams, wetlands and other water resources in its path. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the project in December 2014, conditioned on the state permit.

The company, a partnership formed by Cabot Oil & Gas, Williams Partners and Piedmont Natural Gas Company, can appeal the state decision to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Spokesman Christopher Stockton said the company is considering that option.

"In spite of NYSDEC's unprecedented decision, we remain absolutely committed to building this important energy infrastructure project, which will create an important connection between consumers and reliable supplies of clean, affordable natural gas," the partners said in a joint statement.

Among other things, DEC said Constitution failed to provide site-specific plans showing how deep the 30-inch pipeline would be at each of the 251 streams along its route. Constitution said Monday that it provided detailed drawings and profiles for every stream crossing, including depth of the pipe.

"Constitution Pipeline worked closely with NYSDEC staff for more than three years to ensure that water quality measures are met before, during and after construction," the partners said, adding that the company agreed to fund about $18 million for wetland preservation and $8.6 million for migratory bird habitats.

In response to Constitution's assertions Monday, DEC said its denial letter outlined a number of failures to present adequate information for the state to determine water quality standards would be met.

The company cleared trees along the Pennsylvania leg over the winter, but FERC denied permission for tree-clearing in New York because the water quality permit was still pending.