Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Today is the LAST DAY of this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

TODAY is the last day to meet our goal -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year.

Calling it "amazing news" and a "huge victory" for New York residents and the planet as a whole, the decision by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on Friday to reject the controversial Consitution Pipeline project was welcomed as a timely gift by those who fought hardest to oppose it. (Photo: Stop the Pipeline)

Fabulous Win for Anti-Fracking Movement as Another Major Pipeline Bites the Dust

Following energized grassroots campaign, state of New York rejects permit for controversial Constitution Pipeline

Jon Queally

For the second time in less than a week, climate activists and fracking opponents in the northeast find themselves celebrating.

The latest applause comes after a state regulatory agency on Friday—which happened to be Earth Day—announced it was denying a permit for a major fracked-gas pipeline in the state. Just days earlier, another similar project was halted in New England.

Calling it "amazing news" and a "huge victory" for New York residents and the planet as a whole, the decision by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to reject the controversial Constitution Pipeline project was welcomed as a timely gift by Frack Action, a state coalition opposed to hydraulic drilling and further expansion of fossil fuel projects in the state.

"It’s time for fossil fuel industry enablers and apologists to step aside and let the rest of us continue the work necessary to solve the climate crisis and transition our society to 100 percent renewable energy."—Moneen Nasmith, EarthJustice

In a statement explaining its decision, the DEC said the project "fails to meet New York state’s water quality standards."

"Thanks to Governor Cuomo and the DEC, over 1800 acres of beautiful rural farmlands and forest, 277 streams, rivers and waterways, over 700,000 trees and the properties, health and lives of hard-working New Yorkers are protected from being destroyed by the Constitution Pipeline," said Julia Walsh, campaign director of Frack Action. "This Earth Day, New York State lived up to our role as a national environmental leader."

Because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had already approved the 124-mile pipeline, designed to pump gas from fracking sites in Pennsylvania to the eastern part of New York, a state permit was the final hurdle before construction could begin. However, after heavy grassroots lobbying from landowners, conservationists, and climate activists in the state, the DEC specifically cited environmental concerns when announcing its rejection. Agreeing with one of the central arguments of opponents, as the local York Dispatch noted, "The agency said the project's construction would affect 251 streams and 500 acres of valuable forest as well as extensive wetlands."

Mark Ruffalo, the well-known actor and New York resident who also serves as advisory board member of New Yorkers Against Fracking said it was "incredible" for the news to be delivered on Earth Day. "Thank you again to Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation for putting the protection of our precious water and the public health and safety of New Yorkers ahead of the special interests of the oil and gas industry," Ruffalo said. "This is what real climate leadership looks like."

According to Moneen Nasmith, a staff attorney for EarthJustice, the timing was also striking given that world leaders were gathered in New York City to officially sign the international climate agreement struck during Paris talks in December. Nasmith made a contrast between actions proving that leaders understand the threat posed by fossil fuels and others who continue to ignore the warnings of the scientific community about human-caused global warming and climate change.

"World leaders and our leaders in New York State are doing what’s necessary," she said. "Unfortunately their efforts are undermined by rogue agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission which is failing to do its job and evaluate the environmental and climate impacts of the massive fossil fuel infrastructure projects it approves. FERC is an outlier agency that, with every day, is exposed as being drastically out of step with its peers. It’s time for fossil fuel industry enablers and apologists to step aside and let the rest of us continue the work necessary to solve the climate crisis and transition our society to 100 percent renewable energy."

The permit denial for the Constitution Pipeline comes just days after another major gas pipeline was also defeated in the northeast region of the country.

As Common Dreams reported on Thursday, a project being pushed by Kinder Morgan in nearby New England states, known as the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline, was halted after the company—also facing stiff local opposition across the region—said the project was no longer financially viable.

In a company statement, Constitution spokesman Christopher Stockton said the company was "very disappointed" by the DEC's decision and is now considering how to move forward. 

"We remain absolutely committed to building this important energy infrastructure project," Stockton said. "We are in the process of analyzing the stated rationale for the denial. Once that review is complete we will assess our options, which may include an appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

TODAY is the last day of our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·

'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·

'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·

As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo