On August 18, 2017, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied a petition from Constitution Pipeline Company and, in the process, upheld the authority of states to reject projects that impact state water quality standards. This victory is an important reminder to all states that they have the power to stop harmful pipeline projects.
The pipeline company sought to overturn the New York State DEC’s denial of a “Section 401 Water Quality Certification” for the Constitution Pipeline. Section 401 of the Clean Water Act reserves authority to the states to determine whether a federally-approved project will adversely impact water quality. If the project will not cause or contribute to violations of state water quality standards, the state issues a “401 Certification” allowing the project to go forward. The proposed Constitution Pipeline was a 124-mile natural gas pipeline that would have impacted 251 streams, nearly 500 acres of forests, and over 85 acres of wetlands in New York State.