FERC defies DEC, pipeline construction to begin
WAYWAYANDA, NY — A staff member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice to Proceed on the 7.8 Valley Lateral Pipeline that will connect the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) power plant to the Millennium Pipeline.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) had denied to issue a water quality permit for the project because the environmental review did not take into account the project’s impact on climate change. FERC took the position that the DEC waited too long to make a decision on the permit and therefore no longer had authority to withhold it.
DEC asked for a rehearing on the matter, and instead the FERC employee issued the Notice to Proceed and construction is expected to begin this month.
Members of Protect Orange County, who have been fighting the CVP plant and the pipeline for years, have urged state officials to seek an injunction against FERC and Millennium to prevent construction from beginning. In its request for the rehearing DEC officials argued aggressively that the clock does not begin on a project until the application is complete, and that this position has precedent in federal legal cases.
A release from Protect Orange County reads, “While FERC routinely violates the due process rights of the impacted communities, this is the first time they have violated an absolute right and authority of a state. This is an act of war upon the Federal Clean Water Act and the State of New York. If our Attorney General does not immediately seek a stay in a NY Federal Court it will be a complete surrender.”
The DEC issued a statement on October 27 saying the agency “will seek a stay of FERC’s ruling and is evaluating all options in order to protect the environment. FERC’s decision today encroaches on states’ rights, runs counter to the federal Clean Water Act, and prevents states from protecting precious natural resources.”