FERC rules against DEC in Millennium pipeline application

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WAWAYANDA – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled on Friday the state Department of Environmental Conservation waived its water quality certification authority concerning the Millennium Pipeline Company’s Valley Lateral Project.
That 7.9 mile, 16-inch fracked gas pipeline would connect the existing Millennium line to the 650-megawatt gas-powered CPV Valley Energy Center in Wawayanda.
The state DEC last month denied the water quality permit maintaining FERC failed to consider climate change impacts in its environmental review of the pipeline.  But, on Friday, FERC, ruled the state did not issue its decision within the required one-year time frame, therefore, waived is authority.
“The crux of evaluating waiver in the instant case is determining the triggering event that began the one-year review process,” the FERC decision stated. “Millennium argues the one-year period began when New York DEC first received Millennium’s application on November 23, 2015. New York DEC argues that the one-year period did not begin until August 31, 2016, which is the date it received a ‘complete’ application from Millennium, following the receipt of additional information it requested.”
Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus placed the dilemma square on the state. “There is no question that we need independent, American-made energy,” Neuhaus said. “However, this isn’t the government issuing a fishing license. Rather, this is a large power plant which can have serious risks and must truly meet all applicable standards. As I said a year ago, the state should have reviewed all permits associated with CPV after the arrests of people associated with the project. Rather than act affirmatively, Albany appears to have stalled, leaving Orange County to worry about the consequences.”
Attorney Michael Sussman, who has been actively lobbying against the CPV project with a number of local residents, said on Friday the FERC decision is not about the merits of the issue. “It is not a decision which says ‘it is safe to proceed’ or ‘FERC has considered the environmental issues and agrees with Millennium’.” Instead, Sussman said the decision “ducks the review process entirely on the sole ground that the DEC acted in an untimely manner.”
Sussman said Neuhaus “needs to step up to the plate and intervene in the legal proceedings sure to follow in the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.”
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Director Roger Downs was also critical of the FERC decision.
“FERC’s reversal of Governor Cuomo’s decision is an insult to New Yorkers and our right to protect our communities and our water. States unquestionably have the authority to rule whether a dirty, dangerous tracked gas pipeline violates clean water laws, and nowhere is FERC granted the right to override that authority,” Downs said. “For all their talk and bluster, Donald Trump and his nominees have once again proven to be nothing more than industry shills protecting corporate polluter profits over the rights to access clean water.