“A word after a word after a word is power.” - Margaret Atwood
Dear Thirty Day commentators,
Dust off your public commenting skills. They are needed right away—before 5 pm on Tuesday (tomorrow). In Watkins Glen, the oil and gas industry is seeking to turn two empty, underground salt mines on the tranquil shores of Seneca Lake into receptacles for the storage of natural gas that is fracked out of the ground in other states. With this project come a compressor station, pipeline, and debrining facility—along with the industrialization of New York’s largest and deepest lake: the one named Seneca, a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.
Right in the heart of New York’s wine country.
The company’s name is Inergy. It’s seeking a fast-track approval of its project from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which would allow it to bypass federal environmental review.
What do you think about that? Until the public comment period closes at 5 pm on Tuesday, March 26, you can submit your opinion on this idea directly to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, using FERC’s direct on-line form. (The easiest way to make your comment is to compose it in Word and then copy and paste it into the comment field.) Make sure you data your comment and indicate the docket number
You can submit as many individual comments as you like, but it’s important that they all be substantive and unique.
Specifically, we are asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to deny the application of the Inergy subsidy called Arlington Storage Company, LLC, which seeks a Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience to allow for expansion of its natural gas storage facilities on the shores of Seneca Lake.
In other words, Inergy’s Arlington wants FERC to skip a pesky environmental review and just give its permission for a massive increase gas storage via salt cavern by July 1—less than four months from now—and we’re saying (all together now), “not so fast.”
Then you should clearly identify yourself and describe your connection to this region. Be as personal as you like. (Have you ever vacationed in the Finger Lakes? Do you enjoy New York wines? Do you like to fish?)
Next, explain why you believe FERC should deny this application. Here are a few reasons to choose from. You may have others:
1) Aids and abets fracking. The company’s claim that the project is "needed to satisfy the Northeast’s growing demand for natural gas storage services" will only encourage the natural gas industry to ramp up shale gas extraction further.
2) Economics. This project poses a significant threat to the economy of the local community, which is built around the climate, tranquility, and beauty of Seneca Lake. The financial viability of local wineries, hotels, and recreation facilities hinges on the ability to attract tourists to the area. Transforming a scenic and peaceful lakeside community into an industrial gas storage zone will drives away tourists (maybe you yourself?) and undermine the current local economy.
3) Public health. This project is a menace. Compressor stations, which exert high pressure to squeeze the vaporous gases into liquids, generate air pollution and 24/7 noise pollution. Arlington claims that it is not subject to new performance standards for air pollutants.
4) Public safety. Of the ten catastrophic accidents involving gas storage between 1972-2004, all involved salt caverns. In Hutchinson, Kansas, natural gas leaking from a salt cavern triggered a series of explosions, killed two people, and forced the evacuation of hundreds.
5) Migratory birds. Shoreline construction and industrialization will interfere with them.
6) Secrecy. The public cannot offer its informed consent because Arlington is keeping secret significant portions of its application by filing it as “Critical Energy Infrastructure Information or Privileged Information.” This includes basic geologic information about the site. How can we comment on Arlington’s claims that the cavern is suitable for natural gas storage without being able to review these documents?
Further resources:
Inergy’s application to FERC. (Type in the docket number CP13-83)
Inergy’s master plan for the west bank of Seneca Lake, in its own words.
An interview with me about my arrest for civil disobedience last Monday at Inergy’s compressor station site.
An essay I wrote about the previous acts of civil disobedience at this site:
to the unfractured future,
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