Lack of NY State Water Quality Permit Blocks Constitution Pipeline
Why are NJ pipeline opponents silent on Clean Water Act?
Is a Secret Strategy keeping their powder dry?
Care to be First Mover Mr. Fulop? Sweeney loves pipelines
[Update below – 3/14/16]
For many months, I’ve been calling on NJ environmental groups involved in various pipeline battles to focus on the Clean Water Act’s “water quality certificate” requirements as the way to kill pipelines, particularly pipelines that cross “Category One” waters.
I’ve written about NY State protests and provided laws, regulations, EPA Guidance, federal court cases, and an example in another state where a Governor used the Clean Water Act to kill a proposed pipeline and that decision was upheld by federal courts.
Activists in New York State understand the power of the Clean Water Act and have focused campaigns on Governor Cuomo, urging him to exercise what amounts to veto power under the Clean Water Act and deny a water quality certificate.
Yet, not one environmental group leader has even responded to my appeals, which have been met with crickets. No one has even picked up the phone to advise “Don’t worry Wolfe, we’re on top of it”. I see no evidence of a legal strategy and certainly none of a political campaign. I can only assume that the groups are clueless and nothing is getting done.
Instead of mounting a public campaign to pressure Governor Christie and the NJ DEP to deny Clean Water Act approvals, in the latest example (the third), the PennEast campaign, led by NJCF, has again spent a lot of money on an expensive consultant’s economic study, see:
Meanwhile, as NJCF PennEast activists diddle with FERC and high priced consultant economic studies, the NY State activists have achieved another victory under the Clean Water Act:
ALBANY — A proposed 124-mile pipeline to deliver low-cost gas from Pennsylvania’s shale gas fields to New York and New England has been delayed for lack of a state water quality permit.
Constitution Pipeline Co. said Thursday it’s changing its projected start of service from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the second half of 2017. The company says it won’t finish clearing trees before the end of March, as required to avoid harm to nesting birds.
The company has completed felling trees along the Pennsylvania leg of the project. But work can’t begin in New York until state regulators issue a water quality certification.
Environmental groups and some residents are lobbying New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to deny the permit, saying the pipeline will pose human health and environmental risks. (hit link above for complete story)
So, I’ll say it again: NJ’s well endowed anti-pipeline groups must spend money on water quality consultants – not economic consultants – and mount a public campaign that focuses on Gov. Christie and DEP’s powers under the Clean Water Act.
It will take an all out political campaign – not a secret legal brief – to pressure Gov. Christie and DEP to use their Clean Water Act powers – and even if it fails, such a campaign would lay the foundation for litigation and frame the issue for the next Governor and DEP Commissioner.
All the candidates vying for Gov. right now should be asked to pledge to invoke CWA power to block pipelines.
Care to be the first mover, Mr. Fulop?
[Update – 3/14/16 – just got word that the Transco stream encroachment permit was administratively appeal by PPA: