Late last year Cuomo demanded that National Grid and Con Edison find new options when they threatened to turn off the heat of downstate customers in Westchester County and Long Island. Cuomo had shortly before shut down any hope of the Williams Pipeline supplying the gas. Cuomo to National Grid: Prepare to have your state license revoked
One of the likely options proposed by the utility giants would be to supply the gas to downstate NY, which both corporations insist is necessary, via the Iroquois Expansion by Compression (EXC) project. This project would increase the compression in three compressor stations along the Iroquois pipeline route, and cooling in a fourth.
The Federal Environmental Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Environmental Assessment for the Iroquois EXC, which was made public on September 30th, states that “the purpose of its proposed Project is to provide firm transportation of 62,500 dekatherms per day (Dth/d) from Waddington, NY to Hunts Point, NY for Con Edison, and 62,500 Dth/d from Waddington, NY to South Commack, NY for National Grid. Iroquois states that both Con Edison and National Grid have experienced demand growth on their distribution systems due to new construction in the commercial and multi-family sectors, and to meet requests for lower emitting fuels to replace heating oil, necessitating additional supply to adequately provide natural gas service. “
FERC and Iroquois make some questionable statements above; the implication that natural gas is a better alternative than heating oil being one. There are much better heating systems, like geo-thermal and air source heat pumps, especially when one considers new construction; in my opinion, older buildings are better to wait until geo thermal and other non fossil fuel systems are more financially feasible (and we need to push for that).
Reducing methane (natural gas) emissions is crucial to addressing the growing climate emergency. It is far worse as a green house gas (GHG) than CO2 from fuel oil – over 85 times worse over the first 20 years after it is emitted.
We must realize that utility corporations create a perception of demand and needs in their propaganda reports. That other options are viable is evidenced by NYS Electric and Gas (NYSEG)’s recent rate case where they agreed to stop the promotion of natural gas, opting instead to promote heat pumps, convection stoves, and other non fossil fuel alternatives. (Cheers for NYSEG for settling with the hard working peoples’ wishes).
Further reading Connecticut Lawmakers Protest Part of Iroquois Expansion | Natural Gas Intelligence
New York skeptical of Iroquois Gas compression project in FERC review | S&P Global Market Intelligence
So, in a nutshell, how would the Iroquois EXC project work? Iroquois plans to push more gas through its thirty year old pipeline by adding new turbines at three compressor stations, two in upstate NY and one in Connecticut. New turbines mean increased compression and horsepower (hp). In Athens, NY the horsepower (hp) increase would be from 10,000hp to 22,000hp, in Dover from 18,000hp to 30,000hp and in Brookfield, CT from 18,000hp to a whopping 42,000hp.
While Iroquois declares they will be installing new controls at each site to reduce emissions, we all know that from fracking field source to the end destinations of furnaces and stoves, natural gas emissions exponentially increase, and, it must be emphasized again, methane’s GHG emissions are a top contributor to climate chaos.
So how can we stop yet another fracked gas infrastructure project? One way would be to comment on FERC’s Environmental Assessment document (EA). To quote from the EA document again:
“The EA is not a decision document. It presents Commission staff’s independent analysis of the environmental issues for the Commission to consider when addressing the merits of all issues in this proceeding. Any person wishing to comment on the EA may do so. Your comments should focus on the EA’s disclosure and discussion of potential environmental effects, reasonable alternatives, and measures to avoid or lessen environmental impacts. The more specific your comments, the more useful they will be. To ensure that the Commission has the opportunity to consider your comments prior to making its decision on this Project, it is important that we receive your comments in Washington, DC on or before 5:00 pm Eastern Time on October 30, 2020.”
HOW TO COMMENT in 3 steps:
1. Go to this link on FERC site: FERC Online – eComment. Fill in required information.
2. Retrieve the link they send to your email as soon as you register. Using that link, fill in CP20-48-000 as the “docket number” for the Iroquois project.
3. Write your comments, if brief; or if they are long, write them ahead of time, then cut and paste them in. Hit send within 35 minutes.
FERC Online – eComment
Note: if you reach the maximum length, FERC will automatically start rejecting new characters you try to write, mid-word. Just cut some verbiage, keep it clear, and send.
Use your own wording. Original writing will get more attention.
One needs to be aware that FERC doesn’t necessarily pay heed to what the people write or request. Many of the 160 scoping comments made last April in the middle of the NYS covid lock-down are proof of FERC’s callous lack of concern: from page A14 of the EA regarding public commentary:
“Several commentors requested that the scoping period be extended due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Stakeholders were provided an opportunity to submit comments on the Project either online or through the mail, and stakeholders were successfully able to so, as evidenced by the filings on the docket for this proceeding….Because stakeholders were provided appropriate means to participate in the NEPA process for this proceeding, we conclude that it was not necessary to extend the scoping deadline.“
Truth be told, we were lucky to have activists who live within a mile of the Athens’ compressor station and received snail mail notices, or we would never have known about the scoping commentary period, nor been able to put out huge notices ourselves to our allies who posted most of the 160 scoping comments.
FERC declared that besides mailings to locals who lived close by, that the announcements were also in local government buildings and libraries, all closed at the time. Ignored also was the fact that in rural upstate NY, many who wish to research, are forced to use the libraries and elsewhere for the broadband access (all closed during lock-down). Ignored too by FERC are those who were severely impacted personally by COVID19 and unable to comment as they would have under better circumstances (such as not being ill or in mourning).
When one peruses the EA, one finds other areas of scant concern on FERC’s part. For example, regarding my own comment about the proximity of the Iroquois pipeline and Athens compressor station to the Central Hudson natural gas supply line (less than 800 ft.), the Athens Generating Power plant (1/4 mile) and the bomb train rail lines (1/10th mile)(among other infrastructure), FERC stated that these facilities were already in place and thus part of their baseline considerations, implying nothing to worry about. NO mention, however, regarding how increased compression and increased gas increases the danger of explosions and methane breeches which could/would be exacerbated or even created by the nearby infrastructure.
Further, FERC seems to truly ignore the Central Hudson supply line later on in the document (regarding nearby utilities) when they state: “No foreign pipelines are known to occur within the fence lines of the existing compressor stations;” Is the proximity of less than 800 ft. not cause for concern?
Similar “move along now, nothing to see here” attitudes are apparent in multiple comments regarding the Dover compressor station and its proximity to such “unconcerning” facilities as the huge elementary and high school campuses and the humongous massive Cricket Valley power plant. In fact, the EA states that the power plant is still under construction when, in truth, it is functioning (and had been prior to the release of the EA) of course poisoning the local inhabitants and the sensitive ecosystems. I personally find it mind boggling that FERC’s lack of concern extends to lack of awareness of such a massive project, isn’t that their job?
FERC’s EA on the Iroquois EXC is rife with environmental considerations air and water information, endangered wildlife and other areas of concern including historical and archeological data. It includes significant charts which I do hope folks here will take the time to search for and comment upon. The table of contents makes it not too difficult to do.
Please know that your comments will be read, but FERC may well rubber-stamp this project despite commentary, as they do over 99% of the time. However, hope does spring eternal, and to not comment gives FERC the ability to state that the people were given the opportunity to comment and protest and they chose not to do so.
I myself will be protesting the lack of due diligence on FERC’s part regarding my areas of concern and research, and ask those reading this to do so as well. Please know I am making an effort to provide other cut and paste commentary and hope to provide those in time for people to meet the October 30 deadline. (By the way, is the deadline planned by FERC in such a way as to avoid a plethora of comments as many are understandably concerned about the elections?)
I find it cynically amusing that FERC’s EA and Iroquois pipeline LLC do differ regarding what Iroquois refers to as “benefits” on their website. Iroquois proclaims there will be “Increased property tax revenue for host communities” and “Construction jobs and boost to local economy during construction”
FERC’s EA quite conversely states, that “Construction and operation of the Project would have minimal impacts on population, employment, transportation, and the local economy.” and “Given Iroquois owns the properties where the new facilities would be installed, we conclude it would not result in a significant, direct increase in tax revenues.”
Begging the question, what are the benefits for upstate in providing downstate with gas increases? Increased emissions and dangers? And how many downstate people really want the climate destroying natural gas ?
Not as many as Iroquois, National Grid, Con Ed, and FERC would have us think. —”Iroquois Expansion by Compression, not an option for the people,” Mary Finneran for The Banner