July 19, 2018 / 6:10 PM / in 3 months

UPDATE 2-Williams to appeal FERC denial on Penn.-NY Constitution natgas pipe

(Recasts with comments from Williams)

July 19 (Reuters) - Williams Cos Inc said on Thursday its partners still support construction of the Constitution natural gas pipeline and they would appeal a decision by federal energy regulators preventing the project from getting built.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday decided not to revisit its decision in January that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) did not waive the state’s authority to issue a water quality certification for Constitution under the Clean Water Act.

“Now that the FERC has issued an order on our request for rehearing, we are free to proceed with our petition to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for review of the FERC’s decision,” Williams spokesman Chris Stockton said in an email.

Williams has long argued that states waive their Clean Water Act certification rights by failing to act within a reasonable amount of time.

Williams filed with the DEC for the water permit in August 2013. The company withdrew and resubmitted that application twice, both times at the DEC’s request.

In April 2016, the DEC denied Williams’ application. Williams appealed that denial in federal court all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to review the judgment of the appeals court. The appeals court concluded it lacked jurisdiction and upheld New York state’s decision.

If built, the 125-mile (201-km) pipeline would transport 0.65 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of gas. New York consumes about 3.6 bcfd.

Constitution is owned by subsidiaries of Williams, Cabot Oil & Gas, Duke Energy and AltaGas Ltd.

In addition to Williams’ federal court appeal, there is another possible path to get Constitution built.

Some federal officials, including U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, have said the federal government could look into overturning state decisions that block some pipelines for national security reasons. Analysts, however, have said such a decision would be highly controversial and would result in lengthy court cases.

When Williams proposed building Constitution in 2013, it estimated it would cost about $683 million and enter service in 2016. Delays have boosted that estimate to as high as $875 million, according to local newspapers.

Williams said it would take 10 to 12 months to build the pipeline after it receives the necessary approvals.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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