New York State turns down the permit application for the 124-mile Constitution natural gas pipeline.
The proposed Constitution natural gas pipeline designed to transport natural gas from shale fields in Pennsylvania 124 miles into New York State ignited a legal battle between environmentalists and various industry leaders that has become a significant test of the environmental policies of New York and its governor, Andrew Cuomo.
Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act requires that all projects affecting “navigable waterways of the United States” must obtain certification from the states in which a project is located.
The proposed route for the pipeline will cut through over 200 streams, and a considerable amount of old growth forest. Based upon this fact, and over 15,000 public comments regarding the project, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has declined to issue the construction permit requested by Constitution Pipeline Company.
Although the project has been approved in Pennsylvania, New York’s decision puts the pipeline on indefinite hold.
This is a major victory for environmentalists and a major defeat for pro-development interests in New York and throughout the country.
Constitution Pipeline and its supporters argued that the natural gas supplied by the pipeline would provide fuel and power for millions of people living in eastern New York. This is probably an accurate calculation.
But, according to the DEC, Constitution failed to provide it with detailed information demonstrating that construction of the pipeline would not have a negative impact on the environment. This, and the overwhelming adverse public response to the project, doomed the permit application.
Construction of the pipeline would have created a significant number of good paying jobs. This is a setback for the construction industry in the short term.
The challenge for our industry is to develop construction technology that will allow for the construction of pipelines and other projects in fragile natural areas without damaging the environment. This will benefit everyone in the long term.