FERC Override of Gov Cuomo’s Pipeline Denial is an Insult to New Yorkers and their Right to Clean Water


Doug Jackson, 202.495.3045 or doug.jackson@sierraclub.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) upended Governor Andrew Cuomo’s rejection of the fracked gas Valley Lateral Pipeline. Under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, states must certify that a pipeline will not violate their clean water standards before construction on that pipeline can begin. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation previously refused to give the Millennium Pipeline Company the section 401 certificate it needed and today’s move by FERC overrides that.

Today’s federal action comes after gas pipeline opponents put together a string of wins in states and courts across the country, including on the Constitution Pipeline in New YorkThe Mountain Valley Pipeline in West VirginiaThe Atlantic Coast Pipeline in North Carolina, and the entire Delaware River Basin.

Furthermore, both of Donald Trump’s appointees to FERC, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, were asked about this very issue in their confirmation hearings. When asked whether they would respect the sovereignty of states to make energy and water quality decisions for themselves, both repeatedly professed support for the concept of state authority and a willingness to uphold existing law protecting that authority.

In response, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Director Roger Downs released the following statement:

"FERC’s reversal of Governor Cuomo’s decision is an insult to New Yorkers and our right to protect our communities and our water. States unquestionably have the authority to rule whether a dirty, dangerous fracked gas pipeline violates clean water laws, and nowhere is FERC granted the right to override that authority. For all their talk and bluster, Donald Trump and his nominees have once again proven to be nothing more than industry shills protecting corporate polluter profits over the rights of Americans to access clean water.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.