Update on Constitution Pipeline

pipes-699346_1280DOAS has been involved in legal action regarding the proposed Constitution Pipeline as an intervenor in the proceedings. We are represented by the environmental law firm Earthjustice, along with the Sierra Club, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Riverkeeper, and others. Our Chapter submitted extensive testimony on the impacts on birds from pipeline construction and operation, focused on the large scale fragmentation of forests that will come about if the project proceeds.

Although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the pipeline, there are still conditions in place that have kept construction from starting. Primary is a water quality permit from the NY State DEC that is still pending. Also, tree removal can only take place from Nov. 1 to March 31, due to potential impacts on the Northern Long-eared Bat, an endangered species; and clearing is prohibited during breeding bird season.

The company recently sought permission to fell trees along the pipeline right of way, but was denied in NY, although did receive approval to proceed in Pennsylvania. Presently, we are seeking to halt or stay construction in federal court. Our argument is that the environmental impact statement prepared by Constitution did not fully or accurately assess the impacts of the project, including those on breeding birds such as Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, Black-throated Blue Warbler and others. If our case can be heard before a judge, a rehearing of the project may be ordered, and these issues looked at again.

In any case, it appears that construction will be delayed this spring and summer, setting back Constitution’s plans to have the line in operation in 2016.