Showing the power that activism can have, New York has blocked a pipeline that would endanger water resources, and a federal court has supported that block. Once this pipeline was built, it could have been extended later and/or other pipelines could have been built for it, so there is significance to this blockade.
Environmentalists are celebrating a federal appeals court ruling on Friday that reaffirmed New York State’s decision to block a 124-mile natural gas pipeline project.
“This project would have been bad news for New York waters and communities, and the court’s decision will help ensure that important waterways in the state, including the Hudson River and Schoharie Creek, will be protected,” said Riverkeeper president Paul Gallay.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) had the authority to deny a Clean Water Act permit to four companies planning to construct the Constitution Pipeline, which would have carried fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Eastern New York State.
The pipeline—which would have crossed waterways 251 times and run through more than 80 acres of wetlands—received initial approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal agency that regulates interstates pipeline projects. However, it was blocked by NYSDEC last year, when the state agency determined the gas companies had not provided enough information to ensure that the pipeline would comply with state water quality standards.
The ruling is being lauded as a win for state regulatory agencies to deny construction projects because of environmental impact concerns, even if they have federal approval.
“Today’s ruling confirms the independent authority and responsibility of states to protect their waterbodies from natural gas pipelines that carve through and degrade critical watersheds,” said Earthjustice attorney Moneen Nasmith.
Those celebrating the decision were optimistic that it could help to set a precedent for challenges to other proposed pipeline projects around the United States.
“This is not just a victory for the people impacted along the pipeline route,” said Gillingham, “but gives hope across the country for people facing the onslaught of oil and gas infrastructure.”