Friday, January 11, 2008

Unsurprisingly FERC Says Yes to Broadwater, Which Leaves the Real Decision Up to New York and Maybe the Courts

People might be outraged but nobody who is honest is surprised that the staff of FERC thinks Broadwater is a good idea, as FERC announced today when it released the final environmental impact statement for the project. As I've said before, expecting FERC to say no to a big energy project is like expecting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shut down a nuclear power plant: it's not going to happen because that's not the business they're in.

So the questions now are whether New York State will live up to its history of courageously rejecting bad projects -- like Davids Island in the western end of the Sound and the Iroquois pipeline crossing of the Hudson River and the St. Lawrence Cement plant near the city of Hudson -- and reject Broadwater too. I think it will.

But if it does, will Broadwater prevail in federal court, which is no doubt where it will go, arguing that the federal energy act trumps the federally-authorized state coastal zone laws? We'll see.

Read more from FERC about today's announcement, here.

It's not a surprise that the staff of FERC thinks Broadwater is a good idea. Back in May Judy Benson in The Day explained why we shouldn't be surprised at the announcement, here.

And the commision itself of course won't reject Broadwater. Among other reasons, one of the commissioners used to be a partner in the law firm that represents Broadwater, as Denise Civiletti pointed out back in July (here):

Joseph Kelliher, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the federal agency that decides if Broadwater gets approved, was previously a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm representing Broadwater before FERC: LeBeouf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. According to the firm's Web site, it's been "intimately involved" in representing clients before FERC for 30 years.

A lot of news stories about the announcement moved this afternoon. Here's The Day, in which Adrienne Esposito says she's not surprised. Here's Denise Civiletti, who characterizes the FEIS as a major hurdle -- perhaps, but if so, it's a low one. Here's the Journal News blog. Here's Jodi Rell saying the FEIS is a travesty (as if she's read it), Richard Blumenthal saying he'll sue on Connecticut's behalf if he has too, and Chris Dodd saying the project is too dangerous and disruptive to be approved.

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Blogger Sam said...

Don't mean to bomb your blog, Tom, but Broadwater still needs federal and state permits as well as a conformity decision document, and that is a long way off. Of course FERC would approve it. But they don't know PSD increments, TMDL, and things like that. It is a hollow decision. /sam

10:30 PM  

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