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Supreme Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has upheld a similar denial in the case of another pipeline.

On Friday, the court backed the DEC’s denial of water permits for the Constitution Pipeline, a proposed project from The Constitution Pipeline Co. The company seeks to construct 100 miles of pipeline to carry natural gas from northern Pennsylvania into central New York.

“Our actions are based on the merits and we’re pleased this ruling upholds this principle and specifically this agency’s work to uphold New York’s strict water quality standards,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos on Friday. “We hope this sends a loud message that New York will not rubber stamp any project that fails to protect public health and our environment.”

The Constitution pipeline would cross more than 250 streams and 80 plus acres of wetlands, according to a release from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office.

“It would be unacceptable for a pipeline or any project to pollute our waters and undermine New Yorkers’ health and water resources,” Schneiderman said. “(Friday’s) decision marks a major win for New Yorkers and for the state’s right to take the actions necessary to protect the public and our environment.”

Like the Constitution Pipeline, the Northern Access Pipeline was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission prior to being denied the water permits. The Northern Access Pipeline would run from McKean County, Pennsylvania through the southern tier and Erie and Niagara counties.

The DEC said in April that its decision was based on the project’s “failure to avoid adverse impacts to wetlands, streams, and fish and other wildlife habitat.”

However, National Fuel is fighting back. A couple of weeks after the DEC’s water permit denial, National Fuel announced that it had filed an appeal with the same court that on Friday denied similar permits for the Constitution Pipeline. The company argued that the agency “completely ignores” National Fuel’s history with pipeline installations.

“Further, it attempts to set a new standard that cannot possibly be met by any infrastructure project in the state that crosses streams or wetlands, whether it is a road, bridge, water, or an energy infrastructure project,” said National Fuel CEO Ronald Tanski in April.

The DEC hosted three public hearings in communities along the route of the proposed pipeline before making its decision. Over the course of the meetings,
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the DEC fielded about 5,700 public comments. A meeting held in February at Niagara County Community College became especially heated with debate from concerned residents and environmental activists on one hand, and union workers and National Fuel employees on the other.

Shortly after the court decision was issued, Constitution Pipeline issued a response saying that the project “transformative opportunity” to benefit the economies of New York and New England. The statement also noted that the decision referenced a clause of the National Gas Act that gives jurisdiction in such matters to FERC. Court of Appeals will take the same stance on the Northern Access Pipeline. However, Schneiderman has stated that his office plans to continue fighting to “preserve New York’s water resources.”

“My office stands ready to continue to vigorously defend New Yorkers’ right to a safe and healthy environment from all who may harm it,” he said.

The Northern Access Pipeline stirred public concern locally over the last few years since the project was been announced. In Niagara County, this has been particularly true in neighborhoods adjacent to the proposed gas compressor station in Pendleton and a dehydration station in Wheatfield, both associated with the project.

A number of protests were held near the proposed sites of the stations, at local appearances by Gov. Andrew Cuomo at town halls and in front of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s officers in downtown Buffalo. Critics of the pipeline worry about several potential issues, including possible explosions, dangerous emissions, quality of life and more.

Meanwhile, proponents of the project, represented mostly by union workers and National Fuel employees at February’s hearing at NCCC, argued in favor of the project, saying they believe it will create jobs and improve the region’s energy infrastructure.

“The court’s decision is a blow to the tradesmen and women who are waiting on the good paying jobs that the Constitution Pipeline will create,” said Armand E. Sabitoni, general secretary treasurer and New England regional manager of the Laborers International Union of North America. “American produced natural gas will make New York more affordable by offsetting the cost of nuclear subsidies and renewables development. The Constitution Pipeline will achieve and sustain Governor Cuomo’s clean energy agenda,
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and I can tell you that we have thousands of New Yorkers ready to go to work and build it.”