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Environmental group threatens new FERC lawsuit

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SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — The Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) has threatened to take the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to court once again if the commission doesn’t reverse a decision to block some information that DRN says it needs.

According to a DRN press release, FERC has blocked information about Millennium Pipeline Company’s Eastern System Upgrade (ESU) Project, which includes the proposed compressor station near Eldred. FERC said that it was blocking the release of the information because releasing it would harm Millennium’s competitive position in the market.

Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the regional DRN, said FERC has recently released similar information. The press release said, “As recently as October 19, FERC released identical information about the Tennessee Gas Orion Project, where FERC recognized that the DRN, ‘demonstrated a legitimate need for the information requested.’”

DRN repeated its claim that the ESU project is actually part of a much larger project. “FERC is once again misusing its authority to blatantly obstruct meaningful participation by the public,” said van Rossum. “This denial of fundamental information for expert review seems an obvious admission that this data would show that the ESU project is just a baby step toward a much larger contemplated project, which is a whole second pipeline cutting through Pennsylvania, New York, and the upper reaches of the Delaware River watershed.”

FERC denied the DRN’s request in a letter on December 6. Two days later, DRN answered with a letter asking for a reversal of the decision, and saying the organization would respond with a lawsuit if a reversal was not forthcoming.

DRN challenging economic information

Before FERC can issue permits for the ESU, it must evaluate the costs and benefits of a project, and those are typically provided by the company seeking the permit. In this case, another organization, Key-Log Economics LLC, is challenging the economic information provided by Millennium to FERC.

In a separate press release, DRN said the economic information provided by Millennium is skewed. Van Rossum said, “Among Millennium’s ignored and misrepresented impacts are harms to people’s health, property values, jobs, ecotourism and our environment. Sullivan and Delaware County New York are going to be deeply impacted, especially in the second-home and ecotourism industries that are so important to them.”

The Key-Log report (tinyurl.com/zdsh59d) found that in Sullivan County, an anticipated 104 individuals will experience odor events, 82 will experience respiratory impacts, 67 will experience sinus problems and 45 will experience sleep disturbances and/or severe headaches.

The report also says that the information provided by Millennium to FERC claims that the ESU project will not have a negative impact on property values near aspects of the ESU.

The DRN press release says, “The Key Log report debunks such ridiculous assertions and makes clear that communities can anticipate that properties within one half mile of the compressor stations proposed will experience at least a 25% reduction in their value.”

The value of several homes near the Hancock Compressor Station was reduced dramatically after that facility came online.

The Key Log report questions many of the economic assumptions of the ESU project provided by Millennium.

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