Bloomberg and PSC Trying to Rush Pipeline Approval

As you know, Spectra has been touting their intention to start construction in June at every opportunity. Last week, filings to FERC from the Office of the Mayor and the Public Service Commission urged commissioners to expedite a decision on the Spectra pipeline at their May session. Review had been scheduled for June at the earliest, to allow the standard 90 days for related agencies to file responses to the fEIS. Sane Energy's response letter reminds the commissioners that nearly 5,000 citizens filed comment in opposition to the pipeline (as opposed to 22 which filed in favor), and requests a decision be delayed until those concerns are addressed.

The Mayor's Office maintains that "seasonal construction period limitations" require the project to be rushed so that Spectra doesn't miss a winter heating season. The City specifically mentions its desire to convert boilers to gas as justification for the expansion of natural gas use, claiming it would prevent the loss of 120 lives each year from particulate matter.

We are definitely on the side of saving lives, and our suggestions for reducing particulate matter and toxic emissions from boilers (biodiesel, solar thermal and efficiency) are far healthier than the mayor's suggestion to switch to gas. It's a very simple equation: The more buildings that switch to gas, the more fracking will happen, the larger the proportion of marcellus shale gas will enter our supply stream, and the the faster the radon levels in our gas will rise. Higher radon levels could affect, by the estimate of Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, 11.9 million lives, with lung cancer deaths potentially reaching 30,448––not to mention the health of all the people who live within a 200-mile radius of the gas fields.

Both the City and PSC regurgitate FERC's notion that impacts from the pipeline will be "insignificant." PSC says in its filing that the timing of the projects is "imperative." and notes that "if the project does not receive its final review and decision at the May meeting, the schedule will have to change."

What does this all mean? It means your efforts are working. It means Spectra is feeling the pressure of public resistance to this pipeline. Their contract with Con Ed requires it to be in service by November of 2013, and as citizens, we will do everything possible to make sure that won't happen.

If you feel your lives and the welfare of this city are not "insignificant," you might want to let the mayor and PSC know that. The best way to do so would be to file an e-comment on the FERC website. Use docket number CP11-56 when prompted. Registering your opposition with local officials and mayoral hopefuls is important to do right now. Contact info for representatives can be found here.