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Saturday, February 13, 2016
MILLENNIUM TO HIGHLAND:
YOUR LAWS DON’T APPLY TO US
Tell FERC to respect our local laws!
LIKE Sullivan County Residents Against Millennium (SCRAM) on Facebook, the organization leading the fight against the Highland compressor station.
In 2012, the Sullivan County Town of Highland adopted new zoning ordinances that explicitly prohibit fracking and gas-related infrastructure projects, including compressor stations. Despite this clear expression of the community’s will, the Millennium Pipeline Company has announced that it intends to build a large (22,400 horsepower) compressor station right in heart of this rural township that borders the Delaware River.
Millennium can override Highland’s local laws because a 2015 federal court decision determined that infrastructure projects licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are free to ignore local laws and ordinances. This ruling would be troubling even if FERC exercised some discretion about licensing infrastructure projects, but it doesn’t—virtually every oil and gas related project that comes before the commission is routinely approved without regard to its impact on communities, the climate, or the environment. FERC’s blatant disregard for the consequences of its actions led the Environmental Protection Agency to ask FERC to alter its approval process by clearly stating the purpose and need for each project and by addressing the impact it will have both locally and on climate change.
The Highland compressor station is part of Millennium’s so-called Eastern System Upgrade, which also entails building another compressor station on Hungry Hill Road in the Delaware County Town of Hancock. This second compressor station is liable to further depress the value of properties in the vicinity. Last year, Hancock tax assessors reduced the value of three homes because of their proximity to the compressor station, and Millennium ended up relocating one family that experienced a 50 percent reduction in the value of their home.
So what’s behind the Eastern System Upgrade? Why does Millennium need to transport increased quantities of gas? Millennium isn’t saying, but one part of the “upgrade” offers a clue. The company intends to build a seven-mile pipeline extension in Orange County that will connect to the Algonquin Gas Transmission line, which in turn connects to pipelines leading to a proposed LNG export terminal in Canada. This terminal was recently authorized to ship American gas overseas.