Stop The Pipeline Declares Victory – But Is It Final?


Stop The Pipeline

Declares Victory

– But Is It Final?

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

The Constitution Pipeline was planned to cross 125 miles from Northeastern Pennsylvania’s fracking fields, skirting southern Otsego County, to connect with the Iroquois pipeline in eastern Schoharie County to transmit natural gas to the NYC metropolitan area.

The Stop the Pipeline website declared “ding-dong, the witch is dead” after receiving the news in an e-mail sent out overnight by by attorney Anne Marie Garti of Stop The Pipeline.

It declared: “Williams, the major investor in the proposed Constitution Pipeline, has written off its investment and stated that it has halted its investment in the project.”

She added, “After almost eight years of effort, Stop The Pipeline has won this epic battle.  Our next task is to make sure the easements are removed from landowners’ deeds.”

Garti, of East Meredith, was reacting to a report to investors that Williams, the Houston-based pipeline company, issued Wednesday, saying its EBITDA, the calculation used to value the company, was “negatively impacted by a $354 million impairment of the Constitution Pipeline project, of which Williams’ 41 percent share was $145 million…”  Impairment, in this context, means a write-off.

The company sent out a press release today: “Williams – with support from its partners, Duke, Cabot and AltaGas – has halted investment in the proposed Constitution project. While Constitution did receive positive outcomes in recent court proceedings and permit applications, the underlying risk adjusted return for this greenfield pipeline project has diminished in such a way that further development is no longer supported.”

“Our existing pipeline network and expansions offer much better risk adjusted return than greenfield opportunities” like the Constitution, the press release continued, “which can be impacted by an ambiguous and vulnerable regulatory framework.”

However, the company spokesman did not reply to followup questions:  Is this decision final, or a shortterm accounting strategy?  If the state lifted its fracking ban, would Williams reconsider?  What resources does the company have in-state:  For instance, the easement.  What if FERC’s decision last summer allowing the pipeline to proceed without state water-crossing permits is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court?

Reached a few minutes ago, Garti said the Supreme Court decline to hear Stop the Pipeline and its allies’ challenge to the Hoopa Valley decision, but that the opponents filed a new challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.  That challenge is now on hold, due to this week’s developments.

Williams has a certificate to move forward, “but that’s isn’t going to go on forever.”  She said it would expire at the end of this year.

“It’s over.  We won,” she emphasized.

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