National trade groups back appeal of NY gas pipeline permit denial

The American Petroleum Institute and four other US trade associations filed an amicus brief supporting National Fuel Gas Co.’s federal court appeal of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s denial of water quality certificates for the Northern Access natural gas pipeline project.

The American Petroleum Institute and four other US trade associations filed an amicus brief supporting National Fuel Gas Co.’s federal court appeal of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s denial of water quality certificates for the Northern Access natural gas pipeline project (OGJ Online, Apr. 11, 2017).

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and not NYSDEC, should determine whether provisions of the federal Clean Water Act have been violated, the groups argued in their July 7 filing before US Appeals Court for the Second District in New York.

NFGC submitted its appeal on June 30. It argued that NYSDEC’s rejection of their wetlands avoidance or mitigation measures lacked a reasoned basis or records support; the denial letter contained significant errors, and conflicted with NYSDEC’s guidance and practice; and NYSDEC’s rejection of NFGC’s compensatory mitigation proposal was arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law.

The Natural Gas Supply Association, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, American Gas Association, and the US Chamber of Commerce’s National Litigation Center joined API and the Albany-based Business Council of New York State Inc. in the July 7 amicus brief.

“Congress gave FERC primary authority for reviewing pipeline projects so that one state could not unilaterally veto FERC-approved projects and deprive other states’ natural gas consumers of a useful and valuable source of competitive gas transportation,” NGSA Pres. Dena E. Wiggins said.

“We are confident that the court will recognize that New York has overreached and will require swift reconsideration so that New York and other New England states can recognize their economic growth potential,” Wiggins said.

Gas pipeline such as Northern Access offer significant benefits to the US Northeast, which FERC considered during its pipeline approval process, INGAA General Counsel Joan Dreskin said.

“[FERC] also considered and addressed the project’s environmental impacts and [NYSDEC’s] comments on those impacts during the environmental review process,” Dreskin said. “Allowing the state agency to override FERC’s judgment not only undermines the commission’s authority, it also threatens to impose significant harm on the nation’s energy infrastructure.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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