A federal appeals court in Manhattan denied a petition by Constitution Pipeline LLC to rehear its lawsuit against regulators in New York State over their refusal to issue a crucial water permit for the embattled natural gas pipeline project, which would serve the Marcellus Shale.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Thursday denied Constitution's request to rehear its case against the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for denial of a Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The appellate case is Constitution Pipeline Co. LLC v. DEC et al [No. 16-1568].
A three-judge panel from the same court declined to compel the DEC to issue the permit in a ruling on Aug. 18. Constitution had asked the court to either have a panel rehear the case, or, as an alternative, to have a rehearing en banc. Both ideas were rejected by the court.
The Constitution Pipeline, which would provide 650,000 Dth/d of takeaway capacity, is owned by subsidiaries of Williams Partners LP, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Piedmont Natural Gas Co. Inc. and WGL Holdings Inc. The 124-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline would transport Marcellus Shale gas produced in northeastern Pennsylvania to Schoharie County, NY, where it would connect with existing interstate pipelines Iroquois Gas Transmission and Tennessee Gas Pipeline.
"We remain steadfastly committed to the project, and we are continuing to pursue the necessary regulatory approvals so that Constitution may proceed to construction," Williams spokesman Chris Stockton told NGI's Shale Daily on Monday. "The pipeline will provide opportunities to improve regional air quality by using cleaner-burning natural gas to achieve the stated objectives of New York and the New England states to reduce their carbon footprint -- including helping New York achieve its Clean Energy Standard through the delivery of reliable, affordable American-made energy."
Stockton pointed to Constitution's petition to FERC earlier this month that the fight over denial of the WQC is far from over. In an Oct. 11 filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [CP18-5], the company argued that the DEC had waived its authority to issue the permit because it exceeded the one-year period required under the CWA.
A central part of Constitution's argument is a FERC order that was issued last month over a similar dispute. The Commission ruled that the DEC took too long to consider a WQC for Millennium Pipeline Co. LLC's proposed Valley Lateral Project [CP16-17], and had therefore waived its authority to issue the permit under the CWA. The DEC responded on Oct. 13, asking FERC for a rehearing and stay of the order.
Constitution initially was proposed in February 2012, and sponsors began the pre-filing process with FERC two months later. A formal application to FERC was filed in June 2013 and approved in December 2014.
Three months after winning FERC approval to begin construction, a federal court ruled the pipeline could proceed. The company then resubmitted a DEC application for the WQC in April 2015, but the agency denied the permit one year later. Constitution subsequently filed its appeal with the Second Circuit in May 2016.