New York Objects to Energy Regulator’s OK of Millennium Pipeline

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By Gerald B. Silverman

Millennium Pipeline Co.’s proposed 7.8-mile natural gas line in New York hit another bump in the road today when the state asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to stay its approval of a waiver for the project and rehear the case.

The state said FERC erroneously interpreted provisions of the Clean Water Act that gave New York one year to review and sign off on the Valley Lateral Project. The state denied Millennium water permit rights for the project, located about 75 miles northwest of New York City.

The project is needed to transport natural gas to a 680-megawatt natural gas plant owned by Competitive Power Ventures Inc. The project has been a flashpoint in the larger battle between environmentalists and companies in the Northeast that contend that more pipelines are needed to meet the region’s demand for natural gas.

FERC issued a waiver Sept. 15, overriding the decision from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that denied water permit rights. The department failed to act on a water permit within a one-year statutory deadline under the Clean Water Act, FERC said.

“Millennium would like to continue working with the New York DEC, but we stand by our argument that the Clean Water Act requires states to act within one year of receipt of an application,” Michelle Hook, a spokeswoman for Millennium, told Bloomberg Environment in an email. “We remain committed to seeing this project through by following the letter of the law.”

The central issue in the dispute between the state and FERC is interpretatation of when the clock starts on the state’s review. The state failed to act within one year of receipt of Millennium’s application, but New York, in asking for a stay, said the clock starts ticking when a complete application is submitted, FERC said.

“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 Environmental Conservation Department said in a statement. “DEC demands that FERC refrain from authorizing Millennium to commence construction of the project while DEC’s appeal is heard.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Gerald B. Silverman in Albany, N.Y., at gsilverman@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

For More Information

The New York appeal to FERC is available at http://src.bna.com/toG.

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