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Commissioner Tony Clark Statement
July 17, 2012
Docket No. CP11-515-000
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Millennium Pipeline Company

“I concur with the decision to grant Millenium’s requested authorization. The Commission’s review of applications for certificates of convenience and necessity by natural gas pipelines must be guided by our jurisdiction under section 7 of the Natural Gas Act. In addition, the Certificate Policy Statement provides guidance for applying our statutory authority, thereby assisting us in determining whether there is a need for the project. As a general matter, I believe that it is necessary to review an application based on the appropriate standards and, if the application meets those standards, to approve the certificate.

“Additionally, under the National Environmental Policy Act, we perform a comparative review, under which we examine reasonable alternatives to the proposed action, including a no action alternative. But that review is intended to supplement our evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed project, not to create a test by which we compare the full costs and benefits of every alternative. We do perform a balancing test, but that balancing is primarily one of balancing the public benefits of the project against the economic and environmental impacts of the project.

“To deviate from these principles could create a precedent wherein the Commission is asked to serially consider alternate sites for a project, and applicants are expected to file applications under a constantly moving target of requirements. The question is whether the Commission is required to determine the minimum impact site, or whether it is required to approve an acceptable site that produces minimal adverse impacts. I find that the latter interpretation most closely hews to the statute.

“I am concerned that to choose otherwise could also result in an unfortunate public policy outcome. Consumers who would benefit from a needed project could be denied those benefits indefinitely. Applicants may be held to ever changing standards. And local communities might become pitted against one another in an ongoing, perhaps vain, attempt to determine the minimum impact site, as opposed to a site that meets all standards for minimal adverse impact.

“In this case, our review leads to the conclusion that this project satisfies the criteria established under the Certificate Policy Statement for determining that there is a need for the proposed project and that the project will serve the public interest. In addition, our review of the potential environmental effects of Millennium’s proposed project, including a review of the Environmental Assessment and the entire record leads to the conclusion that if constructed and operated in accordance with the application and the conditions imposed in our order, the applicant will have met all standards required by law and rule.

“Based on the applicable standards and the outcome of our review, I concur with the result of granting a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing Millennium to construct and operate the Minisink Compressor Project, consistent with the order.

“Accordingly, I respectfully concur.”