Pipeline construction halted
NEW YORK CITY, NY — A federal appeals court has stepped into the ongoing battle between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit issued an emergency stay on FERC’s “Notice to Proceed with Construction,” which it issued to Millennium Pipeline to allow the company to begin construction on the 7.8-mile Valley Lateral Pipeline. The pipeline was intended to carry gas from the Millennium Pipeline to the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) power plant in Wawayanda. The stay halts construction of the pipeline, at least temporarily, until the case is heard in court.
The issue is whether DEC acted properly when it denied a water-quality certificate to Millennium because the environmental review of the pipeline did not include a review of the impact on climate. FERC declared that DEC waited too long to act on the permit application and therefore had forfeited the right to deny the permit. The DEC argued that the one-year clock on the permit application began when the DEC determined it had a completed application, not when Millennium began the process of applying.
DEC applied to FERC for a rehearing on the matter, but instead of granting that, a FERC official issued the Notice to Proceed, which prompted DEC to take the matter to court. Activists and environmentalists have been fighting both the power plant and the pipeline and considered the stay to be a victory.