Oct 3, 2014

Officials decline to take stance on Algonquin pipeline

[Well, 3 out of 4 officials anyway...]


Despite a spirited and well-informed request from a group of Lewisboro women asking the Town Board to pass a resolution that would require much more stringent environmental assessment of plans by Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC to expand compressor stations and a gas pipeline and infrastructure operations around the tri-state region, including Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam counties, officials gave a thumbs down.

After hearing from Lewisboro residents Lisa Silver, Jennifer Lahey and Elizabeth Meyer-Gross on Monday night, Town Board members said the activities were not within the town of Lewisboro and therefore not a matter for a Town Board resolution.

Speaking to The Ledger on Tuesday, Deputy Supervisor Peter DeLucia, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Town Supervisor Peter Parsons, said the Town Board traditionally has not taken stances on issues outside the town of Lewisboro.

“We work on things that affect us directly,” he said. “In addition, we had just received the resolution presented Monday night and found it very lengthy and somewhat adversarial in tone.”

Officials agreed with Mr. DeLucia, saying the matter had already received attention from New York state and they believed the state was handling it properly.

Requests for a resolution

Lisa Silver, who said she lives only a few miles from the proposed gas pipeline, said the entire project was increasing in size and scope and was ultimately connected to the fracking industry in Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Lahey said: “We are talking about fracking and if this happens it will impact our community. Whether or not it goes directly through our town it will still impact us. The number of gas pipelines in the area is growing into an intricate web and much better oversight is needed.”“The draft Environmental Impact Statement for this is incomplete in several areas,” she said. “We urge the Town Board to join with other nearby towns to get a comprehensive and transparent EIS in advance of the issuance of a building permit. We need strong health and safety protections from this dangerous project.”

Elizabeth Meyer-Gross asked board members to show solidarity with the several other towns in northeastern Westchester that have passed resolutions asking for more stringent review of the project.

“Towns have been ruined by the gas industry,” she said. “Let’s find out how this could harm us and attempt to get restrictions. Right now we need a better environmental study.”

Town Board member Dan Welsh said he believed the technology proposed for the project was basically outdated and “there is always the possibility of a blow-down from the pipeline. None of this is being developed in a vacuum. Once done, it will involve fracking. The pipeline will drive additional production and I agree more scrutiny is needed.”

The resolution was put on the floor, but did not get a second.

Mr. Welsh later asked for a simple statement of support for a better Environmental Impact Statement but the group demurred.

[end article]

My further comments in the Ledger online

A this stage in the game, we know very well that the overall investment effectiveness is much higher for efficiency measures, and clearly renewables are the correct path for energy development. We see big carbon projects like this because a) its big and centralized and so project developers and financiers can make their money up front, and b) the costs to society - safety, pollution, climate change are externalized - the investor foists them off on the rest of us, and especially future generations and the less fortunate, out of sight and mind of Westchesterites.

Our commercial, legal playing field fails to account for these failings. In our area, Sustainable Westchester is working on programs such as Community Choice aggregation which are designed to help make up for these. In the meantime, public pressure is a legitimate tool to help influence the discussion.