Congress Needs to Fix State Vetoes of Federal Pipeline Projects

As we have reported, history was made last Friday when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) overruled the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) denial of a water permit for Millennium Pipeline’s tiny 7.8 mile pipeline spur from the main Millennium Pipeline to a natural gas power plant under construction in Orange County, NY (see History Made! FERC Overrules NY DEC on Millennium Pipe Permit). The DEC eventually denied the water permit, but not before taking 19 months to do it. According to federal law, states have a maximum 12 months in which to make a federal Clean Water Act water permit decision. FERC said NY took too long, and therefore waived the permit, allowing Millennium to proceed with construction of the pipeline. The federal law governing all of this was written to give states a voice, but not a veto, of federal pipeline projects. Whether or not a project gets built is NOT up to the individual states–it is up to FERC and (if necessary) the U.S. Court of Appeals. The law specifically foresaw one state denying a project that another state needs and wants. However, rogue states like socialist NY are pushing the bounds of law by denying pipeline projects authorized by FERC. So what if NY rejects a pipeline, denying a water permit, but does so within the 12 month time period? What then? The legal beagles at the Blank Rome law firm address that issue on their environmental blog. Mike Krancer (former PA DEP Secretary), Fred Lowther and Margaret Anne Hill write that it’s time for Congress to act to clarify the law and ensure NY (and other states) cannot block federally approved pipeline projects…

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