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Government failing on Millennium

By George Billard
June 15, 2016

Six months ago, Millennium Pipeline announced its plans to put a compressor station on a property they acquired from the Eldred Preserve. Citizens immediately and passionately spoke up and, shortly thereafter, the towns of Highland, Tusten, Bethel, Lumberland and Mamakating passed resolutions in opposition. This type of facility was already forbidden by local law. Should a private corporation be able to usurp our laws and force a toxin-emitting facility onto our community?

Documented health problems around the Minisink compressor show us that these are not the benign facilities Millennium would lead you to believe. Ignoring health impacts, they dangle promises of tax revenues, but fail to disclose that any gains will be offset by nearby residents seeking downward assessments. They coyly imply that this compressor will bring gas to Sullivan County, but building out that infrastructure is not financially feasible. Millennium continues to evade coming to town to answer questions in an open forum. What are they hiding?

What are our elected officials on the county, state and federal level doing to help? The answer is, outrageously, little.

On the county level, the legislature has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a federal agency that has the authority to overrule our local laws, to delay the permit until a health study is done. Millennium spokeswoman Michele Hook has stated that they have no intention of delaying the permitting, and that any health study can be completed within the existing application timeline, even though the independent committee has yet to define the parameters of the study.

Three of the five opposing towns are in legislator Scott Samuelson’s district. He negotiated with Millennium to pay for the health study. That sounds fine, until you dig deeper. What exactly did they agree to that gives Ms. Hook the confidence to say there will be no delay? It is not within Samuelson’s purview to negotiate with Millennium, as he is no longer chairman of the legislature. He is elected by us, not them, and his constituents have spoken loudly. We don’t want the compressor. Why isn’t that his position? Who does he really represent?

Unless a comprehensive study is done over an extended period of time (while the permitting is put on hold) and includes full monitoring of emissions—24/7 for a year at a minimum—it is nothing more than a whitewash, a cheap PR stunt meant to give Millennium and their political lackeys cover.