Blogs > Don't Frack with New York > You spoke, NYS listened. DEC challenges federal overreach on pipelines

You spoke, NYS listened. DEC challenges federal overreach on pipelines

UPDATE, Oct. 16: Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation heard you loud and clear! After more than 800 emails and phone calls from Riverkeeper members and supporters, New York stood up to the Trump Administration’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and its federal overreach of states’ rights. On October 13, DEC filed its “request for rehearing” of FERC’s aggressive waiver of New York’s denial of a water quality certification for the Valley Lateral Pipeline.

On the same day, Riverkeeper and local community group Protect Orange County also filed requests for rehearing. This is the first step in protecting New York’s authority to protect clean water from the impacts of fracked natural gas infrastructure, like the Valley Lateral Pipeline and related CPV Valley Energy Center.

What’s Next?

The move by DEC and Riverkeeper are an important step in protecting citizens and wildlife from the overreach of Trump’s new appointees on FERC. We urge FERC’s commissioners to grant New York a rehearing and ultimately affirm the authority of New York to confirm or deny water quality certifications for fracking infrastructure. If FERC denies the requests, New York could seek review by a federal court.

Riverkeeper –


Constitution Pipeline

On Thursday October 13, 2017, five environmental organizations sent the letter below to Governor Cuomo, Attorney General Schneiderman, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Seggos and DEC Deputy Commissioner & General Counsel Berkman. The signatories include Riverkeeper, Catskill Mountainkeeper, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter and Food and Water Watch.

Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
The Capitol Albany, New York 12224

Eric T. Schneiderman
New York State Attorney General
NYS Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12233-1010

Commissioner Basil Seggos
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233

Thomas Berkman
Deputy Commissioner & General Counsel
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233

Re: Valley Lateral Pipeline Project, DEC Application ID 3-3399-00071/00001
Request for New York State to Apply for a Rehearing of FERC’s Declaratory Order Finding Waiver Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act

We, the undersigned, are writing to thank you for denying Millennium Pipeline Company’s water quality certification application for the Valley Lateral Pipeline Project, and to ask you to take additional action in support of your denial. We request that New York State apply for a rehearing of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) determination that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) waived its authority to issue or deny that certification, and that New York seek a stay of construction on the Valley Lateral Pipeline.

As you know, the proposed Valley Lateral Project includes the construction of a new, 16-inch diameter natural gas pipeline extending from Millennium’s existing pipeline system in Minisink to the CPV Valley Energy Center in Orange County, New York. According to Millennium, the purpose of the Project is to transport 130,000 dekatherms per day of natural gas to power the 650-megawatt gas-powered CPV Valley Energy Center. Notably, the Project is just one segment of the larger Eastern System Upgrade Project, which includes the construction of a new compressor station in Sullivan County, as well as additional infrastructure and upgrades to existing facilities.

Your administration correctly denied water quality certification for the pipeline because, as DEC noted, the federal environmental review of the project was “inadequate and deficient.” Thank you for taking that very important step in protecting New York’s waterways, and for recognizing the importance of evaluating the foreseeable climate change impacts of burning fracked natural gas that would be transported by the pipeline in the environmental review of this project.

We urge you to stand by us now and continue to protect New York’s air and water.

FERC’s override of DEC’s denial of a water quality certification for the Valley Lateral Pipeline Project is an improper reading of section 401 of the Clean Water Act, and infringes on New York’s right to regulate water quality impacts. It could also open the floodgates for other pipeline projects, allowing them to bypass state permitting requirements with a federal waiver.

New York must fight back against the Trump Administration greenlighting the Valley Lateral Pipeline despite New York’s denial of the project’s water quality certification. This overreach by Trump’s new FERC Chairman requires a forceful response by your administration.

Governor, thank you again for your leadership on this very important issue. Let’s stand up to the Trump Administration by directing DEC to seek rehearing of FERC’s decision. In addition, please take legal action to prevent the pipeline from being built while the necessary additional environmental review is undertaken.

We look forward to supporting you as you continue to fight this harmful project.


Paul Gallay

Kathleen Nolan, MD, NSL
Senior Research Director
Catskill Mountainkeeper

Laura Shindell
New York Organizer
Food and Water Watch

Roger Downs
Conservation Director
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter

Mark Izeman
New York Program Director and Senior Attorney
Natural Resources Defense Council

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