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New York is on FERC's turf in complaint against Constitution Pipeline

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Six trends shaping the industries and sectors we cover in 2021

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Essential Energy Insights - January 2021


New York is on FERC's turf in complaint against Constitution Pipeline

FERCfound problems with a New York request to hold Constitution Pipeline Co. LLCaccountable for tree clearing along the route of its stalled natural gaspipeline project, and the commission refused to stop the project as the statehad asked.

Thecommission did say, however, that it would have its staff look into the requestto see if it has any merit.

"Whileprocedurally-deficient as a complaint and petition, the May 13 filing [by theattorney general of New York] may constitute a valid request for investigation,pursuant to section 1b.8 of the commission's regulations, of Constitution'salleged affirmative acts," FERC said. "Accordingly, the commissionconstrues it as such and refers this matter to commission staff for furtherexamination and inquiry as may be appropriate."

Inthe May 13 filing, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman kept up thestate's effortsagainst Constitution by asking FERC to bring enforcement action against thecompany for alleged violations involving tree clearing and other constructionactivities and to stay the December 2014 order from FERC that approved the124-mile pipeline between northeastern Pennsylvania and New York. In April, NewYork declined toissue a required Clean Water Act certificate to the Constitution pipelineproject, a move that halted development on the project even though it hadreceived FERC approval.

TheConstitution pipeline, estimated to cost $683 million, is a joint project ofWilliams Partners LP,Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.,Piedmont Natural Gas Co. Inc.and WGL Holdings Inc.

FERCsaid Schneiderman made a mistake when he called his filing a complaint and apetition. The filing should have been submitted as a request for investigation,the commission said. If it was a complaint, the agency would have rejected itbecause it did not clearly identify the actions behind the alleged violations.The filing also did not include specific facts to support allegations thatConstitution had authorized, encouraged or failed to stop the cutting ofvegetation and other ground disturbance, FERC said.

FERCsaid "the filing fails to demonstrate that justice … requires a stay."(CP13-499)