By Jeff Platsky
May 1, 2018
Another court appeal and another loss for Constitution Pipeline sponsors.
The U. S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an attempt to overturn a lower federal district court decision that allowed New York to shoot down the project because of environmental concerns.
Constitution Pipeline was scheduled to transport gas from the newly fracked natural gas deposits in northeastern Pennsylvania to a hub southwest of Albany.
By rejecting the hearing, the nation's highest court left intact a ruling by the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit in favor of the state, and against the pipeline.
"The Court rightfully denied the Constitution Pipeline's attempts to use the federal justice system to force New Yorkers into a pipeline we don't want and don't need," said Wes Gillingham, associate director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, a Livingston Manor environmental advocate.
The 124-mile pipeline was built up to the Pennsylvania border, and was scheduled to traverse Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie counties to connect with another natural gas pipeline in northeastern Schoharie County.
Pipeline sponsors still have one possible remedy to New York's objections. It has requested that the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency overturn the New York's decision to reject the project.
"We continue to believe that this FERC-approved project should be allowed to proceed with construction," a statement from the pipeline's sponsors said. "The Constitution Pipeline is much-needed energy infrastructure designed to bring natural gas to a region of the country that this past winter experienced the highest natural gas prices in the world.”
The DEC said the project would have infringed on 250 streams. The agency contended the project's owners, led by gas company Williams Partners LP, didn't provide a comprehensive analysis of the environmental impact of the pipeline's burial.
Yet another rejection of the project comes as a blow to industries and communities along the line that had been counting new natural gas service. In particular, Amphenol in Sidney and the Raymond Corp. had hoped spurs from the Constitution Pipeline would allow the two companies to tap an inexpensive supply of natural gas, allowing them to lower expenses.
Some have said the advent of "virtual pipelines" — trailers loaded with compressed natural gas that deliver the product where no pipeline is available — are a direct result of the absence of the Constitution Pipeline. An operation has been built in Forest Lake Township, Pennsylvania and transports Marcellus natural gas from a pipeline to another pipeline in Herkimer, New York in specially equipped trailers traveling along New York's roads.
A similar operation proposed in the Town of Fenton was recently rejected in the face of fierce community opposition.
Just before the pipeline was rejected, wide swaths of forest and land was cleared along the right-of-way in preparation for the project.
Environmental groups pressured Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the DEC to reject the pipeline, saying the $700 million project included cutting down trees and disturbing nearly 1,900 acres of land. New York's role was to decide whether to grant a water quality certificate under the Clean Water Act.
If built, the pipeline would transport 0.65 billion cubic feet per day of shale gas. New York uses nearly six times that each day, according to Reuters.