February 20, 2018

Community Groups Voice Opposition to Millennium Pipeline Compressor

Compressor project raises a lot of questions about emissions, noise, air and water quality
By Kaitlin Carney, Sullivan County Democrat, February 23, 2016

Community opposition to the planned Millennium Compressor in Eldred was voiced loud and clear on Saturday, February 20th with area groups Highland Concerned Citizens and Sullivan County Residents Against Millennium (SCRAM) hosting a session at the Eldred Junior/Senior High School.

Over 100 people attended including Legislator Luis Alvarez, representatives of the Town of Highland and neighboring communities, and residents of the immediate area and neighboring townships.

The focus of the session was to provide interested residents information about the potential impacts of the proposed Millennium/Columbia Gas Compressor station on Route 55.

Carol Roig from Highland Concerned Citizens introduced the panelists and thanked the Eldred Central School District for making space available. “Almost five years ago to the day we gathered here for a presentation by Helen Slottje. Over the following five months our neighbors and our town passed ordinances through zoning prohibiting high industrial uses and fracking. ”

Roig gave an overview of the proposed project: construction of new compressor on property purchased from the Eldred Preserve. On January 19th Millennium filed with FERC for pre-filing review. “It’s not what it looks like that we are concerned about … the project raised a lot of questions about emissions, noise, air and water quality. Long term health impacts, impact on property value, impact on hospitality and tourist, regulatory regime that doesn’t seem to be responsive to concerns.”

Dr. Larysa Dyrszka, a founding member of Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development, or SACRED, is also a board certified pediatrician. She gave an overview of the potential health impacts from the compressor. “We know about pipelines but not compressor stations. There isn’t an inventory of compressor stations like PHMSA [Pipeline Safety Community] has of pipelines. There is concern because a lot of these things coming on line have a high level of emissions. … A recent Harvard health study linked Autism spike to air pollution.” She explained that the potential health risks are what resolutions, passed by many local townships, have been asking to be measured and assessed through health impact studies.

Dr. Richard Malenky an ecologist and resident of Lumberland gave an overview on the potential effects on wildlife in the area. “I am not an expert in technical aspects of compressor stations, but I am an ecologist. I can suggest the likely ecological impact of the pipelines. I am adopting the position of Forest Advocate … a healthy forest defines our life here. Something we need to sustain ourselves and families.”

The third speaker, Stephen Metts, outlined the community mapping that he has offered to complete, free of charge. “Decisions are made on quantitative data and water is a very big issue for FERC. We are interested in counter mapping.” Metts explained that the mapping for the project will be completed by TRC, a company based in Maine that completes everything digitally and will never visit the site. His proposal would take the parcel database and overlay aquifers, schools, cultural resources, environmental resources, wetlands, forestry, homes, etc. “They are willing to put sites near people, they are clear about this. This corridor is an absolute gem. There is nothing else like it we know that as people who live here. We have to protect it.”

Maya K. van Rossum, an attorney with Delaware Riverkeeper gave an overview of the FERC process, as well as the potential and necessity of community involvement. “There is a bigger picture battle we are taking on here … Everyone is going to have to contribute and work on items.

“You can sign up and be privy to any communication that is filed. Pre-filing number is PF16-3. You can subscribe to the docket so that anytime there is a document filed you can be notified. … Highland has a very strong law in place that FERC supersedes. FERC is the friend of the pipeline. … We have litigation ongoing with FERC, and the only successful challenge to FERC, if we are going to posture to bring litigation we have to have members in the community to do so.”

Van Rossum explained that anyone can log in and “put things on the record” of the docket filing, “If it comes to your mind and you’re concerned about it, write it down and make sure you submit it on the FERC document. … Then it can be used in future advocacy and potential litigation. … NIMBY is not a winning strategy. This is all of our backyard. We all need to join together to battle this project. If it becomes a battle of neighbor vs. neighbor, then we all have lost and Millennium will have won.”

Final speaker George Billard, a founder of the SCRAM group, discussed the social media strategy and how everyone can participate. “Everyone knows health matters, it’s the most important thing. We as a community cannot gamble with the health of our fellow citizens … This is David vs. Goliath, but they can be beaten … Social media is our slingshot.” He urged participation via Twitter, Facebook, the newsletter, etc. “With Twitter you can direct your tweets. Introduce our town not just to FERC but to the decision makers all along the way. Twitter counts in Washington. It’s metrics.”