NY regulators rule against a natural gas pipeline for the state

New York environmental regulators on Friday denied a permit needed for the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline project to move forward.

Matt Houston/AP/File
Pipelines running from the offshore docking station to four liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanks at the Dominion Resources Inc. Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Cove Point, Md., in 2003.

New York regulators announced Friday that they will not issue a water-quality permit needed for the proposed Constitution Pipeline running through the Northeastern United States.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) rejected the permit for the 124-mile natural gas transfer project, which would run from gas fields in Pennsylvania through New York to a connection with other pipelines near Albany.

The Earth Day announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration marks a second win for environmentalists in the Northeast. Earlier this week, the Kinder Morgan Northeast Direct Pipeline, a $3.1-billion northeastern natural gas project, was put on hold because of “insufficient contractual commitments” in the New England market.

The 30-inch underground Constitution pipeline would be set to serve about 3 million homes.

In its refusal to issue the permit, the New York conservation agency said the Constitution line would interfere with water resources in its path, according to The Associated Press. Required permits in Pennsylvania had already been obtained by Cabot Oil & Gas, Piedmont Natural Gas Company, and Williams Partners, the organizations behind the venture, and trees had been cleared along its proposed path.

Times Union reported that the pipeline would cross 700 land parcels and 1,000 acres of forest, which include 250 bodies of water and hundreds of thousands of trees.

We are very disappointed by today’s decision,” the partners said in a statement released in the wake of the conservation department’s decision. “We remain absolutely committed to building this important energy infrastructure project. We are in the process of analyzing the stated rationale for the denial. Once that review is complete we will assess our options, which may include an appeal to the US Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Gov. Cuomo had previously banned the process of hydrofracking in the state in 2014, and opponents of further similar energy projects see Friday’s denial as another example of New York’s resistance to new infrastructure.

“Cuomo’s leadership could inspire a domino effect of related pipeline rejections as other states begin to put the protection of water and our climate before flawed energy projects that do not serve the public interest,” Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter conservation director Roger Downs said in a statement.

New York business leaders were “disappointed” by the decision, with The Business Council of New York State president Heather Briccetti saying the denial would “have a direct and immediate negative impact on our state's economy,” according to the AP.

The pipeline's backers can choose to appeal the decision in court, or could file a new application addressing the DEC’s complaints in the future.

According to MassLive, the Constitution pipeline is projected to generate $13 million in taxes and provide 1,300 jobs.

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