Despite New York state’s continued opposition to the proposed Northern Access Pipeline, National Fuel Gas is riding a wave of favorable court decisions.
Still, National Fuel Gas is looking to build the 24-inch pipeline in the 2022-23 time frame, a NFG spokesman said Friday.
“It’s been pretty clear that New York is going to oppose this project pretty much at any step of the way,” said NFG spokesman Karen Mekel. “So we’re thinking this is really a longer-term project likely in the 2022, 2023 time frame.”
The lone “win” for opponents in National Fuel’s push for the pipeline through portions of McKean County in Pennsylvania and Allegany, Cattaraugus and Erie counties in New York was an Allegany County couple’s lawsuit against National Fuel Gas over eminent domain for the pipeline route.
Joseph and Theresa Schueckler of Cuba won on appeal. Joseph Schueckler died in April. National Fuel Gas has appealed that state Supreme Court decision.
Lia Oprea of Sardinia in Erie County is continuing to fight National Fuel Gas over eminent domain. The pipeline route crosses Cattaraugus Creek onto her family’s property. The NFG right-of-way is 75 feet.
“We are still tied up in court,” Oprea said. “Everything is kind of in suspension again.”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation first denied a Clean Waters Act certification to cross 180 streams, 27 wetlands and 17 ponds in 2017.
Petitioned by National Fuel Gas, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that DEC had missed a deadline and that the DEC could no longer enforce the Clean Waters Act for the Northern Access Pipeline.
When DEC appealed the FERC ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the court said in August that DEC should “more clearly articulate its basis for the denial” of the certificate.
National Fuel Gas has asked FERC for a three-year extension of its pipeline request.
Pennsylvania has already issued a water quality permit for the project that will bring fracked natural gas from the Marcellus shale fields.
The pipeline would cross through the southwest corner of Allegany County before crossing into Cattaraugus County. It would cross portions of the towns of Portville, Hinsdale, Ischua, Franklinville, Machias and Yorkshire, following existing rights of way wherever possible.
The gas would be fed into East Coast and Canadian pipelines. The Canadian gas could be exported.
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed last week urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo not to continue to oppose new pipelines like the Constitution Pipeline that would move gas from Pennsylvania through the Southern Tier to the Albany area, as well as the Northern Access Pipeline.
Meanwhile Oprea and other opponents including NoNAPL (No Northern Access Pipeline) and Defend Ohi:Yo’ of the Seneca Nation are continuing to spread the word about the threat to Western New York waters from the pipeline.
Defend Ohi:Yo’ marched in Saturday’s Falling Leaves Parade in Salamanca and has a display in cooperation with the Sierra Club at Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village in Amherst.
The Smithsonian Museum on Main Street Program organized the Water/Ways exhibit. “We have a whole display until Nov. 17 in the Main Ballroom.” The Seneca Nation will also have a display.
NoNAPL’s display will consist of a large map surrounded by interpretive photos, Oprea said. An opening reception will be held Thursday night.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)