By now, it's an old story: A pipeline company says they *just* want to build a simple gas pipeline. Then later they want to add a compressor station. Just one they say. Then there's a proposal for a power plant. And another compressor. Then a larger pipeline. This story has played out across Pennsylvania and New York State, with the result being broken dreams, devalued property values, assaults on human and animal health, and the destruction of eco-systems, wildlife preserves, and farming communities, turning them into industrial zones. The Eldred compressor is a new project that Millennium expected to roll over a rural upstate community, but that community organized in record time, and is saying, "Not so fast." SCRAM (Sullivan Country Residents Against Millennium) has quickly geared up for a big fight, hosting local forums and warning locals of the toxic effects of compressors.
THE BAD NEWS:
Millennium Pipeline Co. has purchased 80 acres from the Eldred Preserve (Town of Highland) in western Sullivan County, for a new proposed compressor station. This site was a hunting club that leased to drillers early on, but the town passed an ordinance that prevented drilling (and then the statewide ban happened). Now, the local ordinance – and local community resistance – will be tested by this interstate pipeline, and the usual FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) steamroller.
This compressor is connected not just to the Millennium pipeline but to the CPV Valley power plant, the Valley Lateral pipeline (which would connect Millennium and CPV) and the Hancock compressor, where they plan to add a second compressor, plus additional work at Ramapo. Together, these changes are part of the Eastern System Upgrade, a new name for an illegally segmented project that began with the Minisink compressor.
If Eldred is built, that would make four compressors within 60 miles, which far exceeds the industry standard, and is indicative of future plans (not yet public) to expand their system further. They could be planning to loop the line (add a second parallel pipeline in same right-of-way) or connect additional future pipelines, and almost certainly will want to add later compressor stations or power plants (as is typical of recent trends).
Based on their stated in-service date of Fall 2018, they were clearly hoping to ram this through what they expected to be a sleepy rural area. However – true to the area's history as the incubator of the early anti-fracking movement – that has not been the case.
THE GOOD NEWS:
• It may be rural and underpopulated in the region but there is an already activated anti-fracking community, plus a nascent farm-to-table community, with the popular Callicoon Farmer’s market, a growing weekender population, and chefs opening new restaurants.
• Millennium can’t get building permits unless FERC overrules the local ordinance (which of course they will, but that is expected to bring a lawsuit). It will become a legal test of local ordinances that could shine the light of public attention on the project.
• In order for the Valley Lateral pipeline to get going, Millennium needs to clear trees by the end of March (or hold until Fall). State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has already issued a letter to FERC, objecting to the tree cutting.
• Scandal surrounds the CPV project: the CEO is under indictment and they are already bogged down in lawsuits. Millennium and CPV are suing the state Department of Environmental Conservation, saying they are taking too much time with 401 Water Quality permit for the Valley Lateral pipe.
• Without these compressors / compressor upgrades and the Valley Lateral pipeline, the massively polluting CPV power plant (currently under construction) would be starved for gas. This is a project with far-reaching impact; if it can be stopped, it could prevent a host of other future compressors, power plants, pipelines.
The local activists are waiting to hear if the project will be ok'd for the less stringent EA (Environmental Assessment) or the more thorough EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). Once that decision is issued, there'll be hearings, forums and actions. We'll be sure to update our subscribers whenever there is additional news. (Subscribe at the link on upper right-hand side of this website.)