New York prevails on natural gas pipeline denial

By Brian Nearing

May 1, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider an appeal from developers of the proposed Constitution pipeline, who last summer lost a lower federal court challenge to a state ruling that blocked the pipeline.

The highest court let stand a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit rejecting Constitution's claims that the state Department of Environmental Conservation unfairly denied critical water quality permits in April 2016.


Passing through Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie counties, the 121-mile pipeline would connect Pennsylvania fracked gas fields to the Iroquois pipeline in Schoharie County. There, owners have been considering whether to direct the flow of gas north toward Canada. From there, gas could move in other pipes, flowing toward potential export facilities planned on the Atlantic coast.

DEC refused to issue water quality permits under that act after the company ignored repeated state requests to provide plans showing how the pipeline could cross 251 streams by going under the streams, rather than digging trenches through them.

A brief DEC statement indicated that the agency was "pleased" with the ruling.

Constitution vowed to pursue another attempt to salvage the project now pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which had approved the project in 2014.

"We continue to believe that this FERC-approved project should be allowed to proceed with construction," according to a company statement. "This is a 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."

Pipeline opponents welcomed the Supreme Court's decision not to take the appeal.

"The court rightfully denied the attempt 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.

Constitution is a partnership of Cabot Oil and Gas Corp.; Williams, an Oklahoma-based energy company; Piedmont Natural Gas; and WGL Holdings.

Developers have maintained the pipeline is needed to meet state energy needs, is environmentally beneficial and will not ultimately be used to ship natural gas overseas.

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