*UPDATE* New York Denies Permit for Constitution Pipeline after Hundreds Rallied in Support
UPDATE (4/25/2016; 11:30 am ET): The Constitution Pipeline’s project sponsors have released a statement in response to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) rejection of a permit for the needed infrastructure. The press release states they “will pursue all available options to challenge the legality and appropriateness of New York’s decision” on the grounds that the claims made by DEC were inaccurate and contradictory, and the decision will delay significant economic development and thousands of jobs. From that statement:
“In spite of NYSDEC’s unprecedented decision, we remain absolutely committed to building this important energy infrastructure project, which will create an important connection between consumers and reliable supplies of clean, affordable natural gas. We believe NYSDEC’s stated rationale for the denial includes flagrant misstatements and inaccurate allegations, and appears to be driven more by New York State politics than by environmental science,” the project sponsors said in a joint statement.”
Perhaps most importantly, a need for the project has already been determined not only by the Federal Environmental Regulatory Commission (FERC), but also in the 2015 New York energy plan:
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Dec. 2, 2014 issued its certificate of public convenience and necessity for the Constitution Pipeline. In its final environmental review of the proposed Constitution Pipeline, FERC concluded that environmental impacts would be reduced to “less than significant levels” with the implementation of proposed mitigation measures by the company and recommendations by FERC.
Denial of the 401 Water Quality Certification by NYSDEC further delays the potential for Constitution Pipeline to help facilitate local natural gas service to homes and businesses in Southern New York, including the installation of delivery taps along Constitution’s proposed route to facilitate local natural gas service by Leatherstocking Gas Company, LLC to homes and businesses in southern New York and northern Pennsylvania.”
“The 2015 New York State Energy Plan specifically recognized the role of the Constitution Pipeline, projecting that natural gas usage will increase during the next 15 years, and by 2030, natural gas will provide the largest share of any single fuel source. Much of this additional natural gas will be used to help generate electricity while also enabling the state’s adoption of more renewable energy sources.” (emphasis added)
Click here to read the entire statement.
— Original Post April 22, 2016 —
Late Friday afternoon, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a statement denying the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the proposed Constitution Pipeline. This decision came on the heels of a rally held Thursday night where hundreds of New York landowners and business owners turned out in support of the project that would supply much-needed natural gas to parts of New York, revenue to communities in its path, and jobs for local unions and New York residents. The American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Executive Director for Market Development issued a statement following the announcement, stating:
“The Cuomo administration’s decision to reject permits for the Constitution Pipeline is another example of politics at its worst,” said Durbin. “This decision will cost the state thousands of jobs and is an assault on families and businesses.
“This decision impacts not only the residents of New York, but also the families and businesses in the surrounding states whose consumers currently pay the highest energy costs in the country. This region needs robust and reliable energy infrastructure built to supply the clean, reliable and affordable natural gas from the nearby Marcellus shale to fuel their communities.”
This decision once again puts the interests of activists ahead of New York’s residents. Let’s take a look in more detail at a few important facts on both the Constitution Pipeline and New York’s energy needs.
New York’s energy plan calls for increased use of natural gas
Despite New York’s politically-motivated ban on fracking, the state’s 2015 Energy Plan actually calls for a major increase in natural gas usage, with “approximately 97 percent of the natural gas supply required to meet the demands of New York natural gas customers is from natural gas supply production regions in other states.” New York State already relies heavily on natural gas, which accounts for roughly 34 percent of the state’s total primary energy use. Governor Cuomo’s 2015 plan calls for a 32 percent increase in natural gas use by 2030.
Of course, pipelines are needed to transport that gas, and the Constitution Pipeline alone can provide “enough natural gas to serve approximately 3 million homes.” Journalist Scott Waldman discussed the importance of additional pipeline infrastructure in a recent Capital New York article,
“The future of energy in New York involves miles and miles of pipelines carrying natural gas from other states, a notion that has been reinforced both by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the governors of New England states that are also pushing for more pipeline infrastructure. New York and New England are increasingly powered by natural gas, thanks to the nation’s fracking boom.” (emphasis added)
Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) had an opinion piece featured in the Syracuse Post-Standard recently that further explained how important projects like the Constitution Pipeline are for New Yorkers:
“Bottlenecks in New York’s approval process are holding up critical natural gas projects, such as the Constitution pipeline and Access Northeast – projects that will help New York meet their clean energy needs.
Fully two thirds of New York’s clean energy requirements could be met by using natural gas: without it, there is not a realistic scenario for meeting these goals. (emphasis added)
Constitution Pipeline will generate much needed jobs and millions of dollars in income, revenue and taxes.
The Constitution Pipeline has the potential to significantly benefit the local communities that the line is proposed to run through. From the Constitution Pipeline’s website:
“This vital energy infrastructure project will provide over 1,300 desperately needed local construction jobs while helping support nearly 1,000 indirect jobs in these counties. This project is expected to create nearly $130 million dollars of new local payroll in areas of the state that need it the most.”
But jobs aren’t all that the Constitution will generate:
“The project is expected to generate $17 million in new sales and income tax revenue. Constitution Pipeline projects to spend about $683 million during the initial three year planning and building process, approximately $166 million of which would directly benefit the five county region. Once operational, the pipeline’s economic impact is anticipated to result in $13 million in new annual sales, income and property tax revenue and more than $600,000 in new income in the region.
Projected Annual Property Tax Benefit:
Broome County – $2.1 million
Chenago County – $1.3 million
Delaware County – $4.9 million
Schoharie County – $4.4 million”
And that’s just the jobs and tax revenue, that doesn’t even touch on the $116,000 the project already gave out in grants last year—and more in previous years—to benefit local communities.