Constitution Pipeline project ends as builder cites ‘diminished’ return on investment

Trees cut on a Susquehanna County property in March 2016 to make way for the proposed Constitution Pipeline. The company has said it will fight a FERC order upholding New York State’s denial of a permit for the project. (Jon Hurdle/StateImpact Pennsylvania)

Trees cut on a Susquehanna County property in March 2016 to make way for the proposed Constitution Pipeline. The company has said it will fight a FERC order upholding New York State’s denial of a permit for the project. (Jon Hurdle/StateImpact Pennsylvania)

This story originally appeared on StateImpact Pennsylvania.

A pipeline builder has dropped a controversial project that would have routed fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale into New York.

The Constitution Pipeline got federal approval in 2014, and officials thought it would be delivering natural gas to New York as soon as the following year.

But regulatory setbacks and opposition from environmental groups delayed the project. In 2016, for example, New York state denied a required water permit. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the Constitution Pipeline Company’s appeal.

In September 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission later ruled that New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation had waived its right to deny the permit because it took too long to act.

But in New York, which had banned fracking and where in 2019 Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the state’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the pipeline still faced opposition. In an interview following FERC’s decision, Cuomo said, “…any way we that can challenge it, we will.”

This week, Williams, which operates the pipeline company, said the potential return on its investment had “diminished in such a way that further development is no longer supported.”

Environmental groups cheered the news.

“Defeating the Constitution Pipeline is an enormous victory for advocates who have been fighting for eight years to protect New York State and its waterways,” Earthjustice staff attorney Moneen Nasmith said in a statement. “At this critical moment for our climate, we cannot afford unnecessary fossil fuel projects that will lead to more fracking and exacerbate our climate crisis.”

The Oneonta Daily Star reported that some pro-fracking landowner groups and trade unions had supported the project.

The Constitution’s impact will still be felt on at least one Pennsylvania farm.

In Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, the company used eminent domain to take five acres of the Holleran family’s land.

Workers cut down more than 550 trees — including sugar maples used for the family’s maple syrup business.


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