In a victory for all New Yorkers, the state has blocked a natural gas pipeline that would have threatened upstate residents’ health, water quality and communities, citing climate change concerns.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied the water quality certification to the Valley Lateral Pipeline today, a 7.9 mile, 16-inch diameter fracked gas pipeline that would have connected the existing Millennium Pipeline to the highly controversial 650-megawatt gas-powered CPV Valley Energy Center in Orange County, New York. To support its denial, DEC explained that the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) failed to consider climate change impacts in its environmental review of the pipeline. Without this key certification, the pipeline cannot move forward in New York State.
This decision comes just weeks after the DC Circuit ruled that FERC must consider a pipeline’s cumulative downstream greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of the natural gas transported by the pipeline as part of its environmental review. In its denial letter, DEC cites the decision as an impetus for its denial, stating that, pursuant to DEC regulations, DEC may deny a permit for failure to comply with any statute or regulation under which the permit is sought, including environmental review requirements. Because FERC failed to consider indirect effects of greenhouse gas emissions in its environmental review that will result from burning the gas that the Pipeline will transport to CPV Valley Energy Center, DEC has denied 401 certification to the pipeline.
NRDC opposed this project because it would harm New York State’s water quality by crossing 23 wetlands. Pipeline construction would have also cleared 117 acres of land, leading to increased runoff and erosion into nearby streams.
Moreover, the water quality impacts of this pipeline should not be considered in isolation—this pipeline is just a segment of a larger project that includes the CPV Valley Energy Center. Because both the pipeline and the power plant are just components of a project, their environmental impacts should be considered together. Notably, at this time, CPV will have no supply of natural gas without the Valley Lateral Project.
Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Basil Seggos should be commended for their bold decision to stop this pipeline from moving forward. Blocking this pipeline over its potential climate impacts is a historic breakthrough in our fight to move New York away from fossil fuels, and a hard-fought victory for grassroots leaders across the state that have been fighting these projects for many years.
This is a historic victory in the fight to protect people and communities from the impacts of fossil fuel pipelines in New York. The state is sending a clear message that we are building a future centered on clean energy—not dirty fossil fuels—in New York.
When we fight, we win. Onwards.