TOWN OF MINISINK, NY — Neighborhood children lined up in front of a prosperous-looking home on a street with acres of manicured lawn and echoed the chants of their parents. “Who are we?” the young girl shouted. “Minisink,” her friends responded. “What do we want?” “Justice.”
Meanwhile, on the autumn afternoon of October 26, large earthmoving machines moved through the farm fields across the street in the early steps of the construction of a project will include two 6,130- horsepower natural gas turbine-driven compressors to increase capacity in the Millennium Pipeline.
Before the children chanted, a man with a bullhorn shouted out to construction workers across the road while more than 100 members of the neighborhood looked on. “Do you really feel good? Do you feel good about yourself, with all these people looking at you, and with what you’re going to do to our community?”
The workmen across the street did not reply.
Congresswoman Nan Heyworth showed up to address the crowd. “I’m here because you asked me to be here. I’m here to be your voice in this process. I am here to make sure that your voice is heard.”
What members of the group Stop the Minisink Compressor Station (StopMCS) want is for Millennium Pipeline to build its compressor station at a site it already owns about 10 miles away called the Wagoner Alternative, which has been used for a compressor station in the past. Millennium claims the Wagoner site will cause more environmental damage than the Jacobs Road site, which is a claim that StopMCS strongly disputes.
In Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) documents, the company also claims that building the station at the Wagoner site will cost 50% more than the Jacobs Road site, because that would require enlarging a 7.2 mile section of the pipeline called the Neversink Segment from 24-inch pipe to 30-inch pipe.
But Carolyn Petschler, a member of StopMCS said, “They’re planning to replace the Neversink Segment in 2014, and we have the documentation to prove it.” Stop MCS says the Neversink Segment is a bottleneck in the company’s gas supply operation.
Millennium spokesman Steve Sullivan disputes this, and says if the company is able to construct the compression station on Jacobs Road there will be no need to replace the Neverskin Segment.
According to Tom Collins, another spokesman for Millennium, FERC is reviewing a request for a rehearing on the approval of the compression station. Wording on a FERC document says: "In order to afford additional time for consideration of the matters raised or to be raised, rehearing of the Commission’s order is hereby granted for the limited purpose of further consideration, and timely-filed rehearing requests will not be deemed denied by operation of law."
The residents have complained that the commission is taking too long in making a decision on the matter. Now, with support from Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, residents are hoping FERC will soon come to a decision.
The senators wrote to FERC, “We are confident that you share our desire for timely and appropriate disposition of matters pending before your commission, and would urge the commission to issue a final determination on this matter.”
Two of the five commissioners agreed with StopMCS that the Wagoner Alternative would be a better site for a compressor station. If the FERC decision goes against them, the residents will take the matter to federal court, but they can't make that move until FERC makes a final determination.
Meanwhile, as of November 1, according to Asha Canalos of StopMCS, while many people in the town are without power because of Hurricane Sandy, Millennium has several large generators on site and construction continues.