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U.S. denies N.Y. rehearing request on Constitution natgas pipe permit

Dec 16 (Reuters) - U.S. energy regulators have denied New York’s request for a rehearing on its decision that state environmental regulators waived their authority to issue or deny a water quality certification for Williams Cos Inc’s Constitution natural gas pipeline:

* The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week reaffirmed its prior decision, which New York had challenged. FERC had ruled that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC), because it took more than a year to reach a decision, waived its authority under section 401 of the U.S. Clean Water Act.

* Officials at the NYDEC and Williams were not immediately available for comment.

* Analysts at Height Capital Markets in Washington, D.C., said “the project still has a long road ahead given New York’s resistance to fossil fuel infrastructure development.”

* Constitution and other gas pipelines into New York have been stuck in a nationwide battle between energy companies seeking more pipelines and environmental groups and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who favor boosting investment in energy efficiency and renewables.

* In addition to Constitution, other gas pipelines have also been held up due to state opposition, including National Fuel Gas Co’s Northern Access from Pennsylvania to New York and Williams’ Northeast Supply Enhancement from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York.

* Constitution is designed to transport 0.65 billion cubic feet per day of gas 125 miles (201 kilometers) from the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania to New York. In 2018, New York state consumed about 3.7 bcfd of gas, up from 3.4 bcfd in 2017, according to federal energy data.

* FERC approved construction of Constitution in December 2014, but the project has been held up primarily because of the battle over the state water permit.

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

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

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by David Gregorio