Oil and Gas

Constitution natgas pipe could enter service by first half 2019

Oct 13 (Reuters) - Constitution Pipeline said on Friday that its natural gas pipe from Pennsylvania to New York could enter service as early as the first half of 2019 if it gets the necessary regulatory approvals.

On Wednesday, Constitution asked the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to overturn New York’s denial of a required water permit that would allow it to move ahead with the project.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) denied a water permit for the 125-mile (201 kilometer) Constitution pipeline in 2016 for environmental reasons.

If built, the pipeline would transport up to 0.65 billion cubic feet per day of shale gas from Pennsylvania to New York. New York does not allow fracking.

Constitution said New York failed to act within a reasonable period of time on its application and that such failure constitutes a waiver of the Section 401 water quality certification requirement.

The Clean Water Act specifies that if a state agency fails or refuses to act on a request for certification under Section 401 within a reasonable period of time, which shall not exceed one year, after receipt of such request, the certification requirements shall be waived, according to Constitution’s petition.

“Here, NYSDEC clearly failed to act on Constitution’s application ... within a reasonable period of time,” the company said.

Over the course of two years and eight months, Constitution said it withdrew and resubmitted its 401 application twice at the behest of NYSDEC, the second of which contained no changes to the prior application.

Officials at the NYSDEC did not immediately comment on Constitution’s petition.

Constitution’s petition follows a FERC decision in September to overturn New York’s denial of a water permit for another project, the Millennium pipeline, in the state.

In that case, FERC said the NYSDEC failed to act within a year of Millennium’s original application.

The NYSDEC said it filed a formal challenge to the FERC decision in the Millennium case on Friday.

“FERC should not, and cannot, be allowed to undercut the state’s ability to protect our water resources by making informed decisions to ensure water quality standards are met,” the NYSDEC said in a statement.

If FERC grants Constitution’s petition, the company said it would promptly seek a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Constitution is owned by subsidiaries of Williams Partners LP, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp, Duke Energy Corp and WGL Holdings Inc. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; editing by Diane Craft)