Northern Access Pipeline Court Case Further Threatens NY DEC

NY DEC is on legal precipice

A new threat against the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s authority over pipeline projects is coming from yet another federal court. Last month MDN brought you the huge news that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Millennium Pipeline against the NY DEC for delaying a decision to authorize a 9-mile pipeline Millennium wants to build from their main pipeline to an under-construction natgas-fired electric plant in Orange County, NY, called the Valley Lateral Project. Which may, at first blush, seem like a defeat. It was anything but a defeat. The justices, in their decision, said that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the right and responsibility to step back in and issue the water crossing permits themselves, overruling the NY DEC, if FERC so chooses (see DC Court Tells Millennium FERC Can Override NY DEC Pipeline Delay). A second court case in a different federal court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, is now progressing. That case was brought by National Fuel Gas Company in April against the NY DEC for a similar reason: delay and denial of federal 401 stream crossing permits for NFG’s Northern Access Pipeline project (see NFG Sues NY DEC in Fed Court re Northern Access Pipe Rejection). That case is now advancing and the lawyers for NFG are quoting the decision from the Millennium case as precedent for a ruling by the 2nd Circuit Court that the DEC cannot arbitrarily stop a federally-permitted pipeline project…

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