FERC Might Offer Hope for Williams Cos. and its New York Gas Pipeline

Tulsa’s Williams Cos. still might have a foot in the door in its legal fight with the state of New York over plans to complete the Constitution Pipeline to carry natural gas from Pennsylvania.

One report indicated Williams had petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to overturn New York state regulators who had denied a permit under the Clean Water Act even though the pipeline plan had been approved by federal regulators. FERC also decided to extend its review of the project.

New York decided not to issue a permit on the grounds that an alternate route with less environmental harm might exist.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently denied an appeal of the case from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. The denial created another roadblock for Williams.

But the company is hoping FERC might overturn the New York actions. FERC did the same thing last year in overruling New York when it denied a water quality permit for construction of the Millennium Pipeline. A federal appeals court also upheld the FERC decision.

But the New York case raises concerns that environmentalists fighting any energy project might use the Second Circuit case to continue their causes against future pipelines. The case could also be used by other states to deny projects involving interstate natural gas pipeline development. It could be a sign of things to come, despite the efforts of the Trump administration to make a priority to support domestic energy production.

Natural gas supporters use the case to point out that New York and its liberal government are to blame for the state being the nation’s leader in population loss. They also say such denials of projects like the one from Williams Cos. only hurts the state’s economic growth and job opportunity.

Here’s the scenario that could happen with Williams. If it gets FERC approval for the Constitution Pipeline, opponents would still have another opportunity to challenge it in court.

In the meantime, compressed natural gas is being hauled by truck from Forest Lake Township, Pennsylvania to a pipeline already in place in Herkimer, New York.

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