New York attorney general asks FERC to review pipeline authorization

New York Atty. Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman (D) asked the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate whether Constitution Pipeline’s construction along portions of its right-of-way in the Empire State violated federal law, regulations, and authorizations.

Schneiderman’s May 13 petition also asked FERC to stay its December 2014 order, which conditionally approved the pipeline until the investigation and enforcement action was completed, and until the natural gas pipeline project had all additional approvals required under federal law.

His action came after the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied a water-quality certificate required for the proposed pipeline’s construction, saying it failed to meet the state’s water-quality standards (OGJ Online, Apr. 25, 2016).

Constitution Pipeline LLC immediately said in a statement that it remains committed to the project after working for more than 3 years with DEC to ensure that water-quality measures were met before, during, and after construction.

“Contrary to [DEC] statements, the company was not informed of any outstanding issues that it had not agreed to address as a condition of the permit,” it said. “In fact, during the past 9 months, weekly inquiries were made to the department to ensure no additional data was needed. Those inquiries were either ignored or responded to in the negative.”

The May 13 petition, which Schneiderman said was based on evidence his office collected since early March, alleged widespread clear-cut tree cutting along the project’s ROW in New York before Constitution received the necessary construction approvals.

It also charged that Constitution’s management expressly or tacitly authorized, encouraged, or condoned landowners to undertake this construction activity and failed to advise them of the project’s accurate status.

Schneiderman noted that because the project and its sponsors are legally responsible for ensuring that no construction activity occurs before the necessary permits have been secured, and because of evidence that they expressly or tacitly authorized, encouraged, or condoned such activity, his office does not seek, and would oppose, any FERC enforcement action against the involved landowners.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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