03.28.16

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND URGE FERC TO OPEN NEW PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD FOR NATURAL GAS STORAGE FACILITY IN SCHUYLER COUNTY– SENATORS SAY RESIDENTS SHOULD BE GIVEN A SECOND OPPORTUNITY TO VOICE CONCERNS IN LIGHT OF COMPANY’S EXPIRING FERC AUTHORIZATION AND NEW, PENDING ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY REGULATIONS

With FERC Authorization Set to Expire In May, Pending Arlington Project Would Expand an Underground Gas Storage Facility Near Seneca Lake

Schumer, Gillibrand: Subsequent Events and Information Have Increased Significant Community Concerns & Residents Deserve to Have Their Voices Heard on Major Project That Could Impact the Environment and Their Quality of Life

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to open a new public comment period for the Arlington Storage Company’s proposal to expand its underground gas storage facility near Seneca Lake – the largest glacial lake of New York’s Finger Lakes region, a source of clean drinking water to over 100,000 residents in the area, and one of the most trafficked tourist destinations in the region. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand explained that since the original two-year authorization given in 2014 is set to expire in May and new federal consideration of regulations for gas storage facilities are on the horizon, the community should have another opportunity to comment on the project prior to any decision by FERC regarding a proposed extension.

“When it comes to evaluating the impacts of this project – which would expand underground natural gas storage in Upstate NY – there is no need to rush. The expiration of this project’s authorizations in May, is an opportunity to ensure that all relevant and current information is considered by FERC. Public input is a critical component to the regulatory process and those who call Schuyler County home have well-founded and legitimate environmental and quality-of-life concerns, and they deserve to have their voices heard. That’s why I am urging FERC to grant an extension of the public comment period before it renders a decision regarding the extension of this authorization,” said Senator Schumer.  “Doing so is the only fair way to ensure that the most stringent safety standards are considered and that the concerns of residents, the business community members and local officials are heard.”

“The public deserves a second opportunity at an open dialogue to discuss the current situation of the Arlington project,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “There should be additional time to answer the community's questions and concerns about the project and its environmental impacts. With the project’s authorization set to expire this May, a comment period would be essential to provide the public with the most updated information on the project and additional insight on environmental safety regulations.”    

The Senators explained that approving the Arlington project extension before the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) determines whether improved safety standards for underground gas storage are necessary is unwise, and could result in prematurely moving forward without the best standards to minimize or eliminate any negative environmental and health impacts for residents in the area.

A copy of the Senators’ letter to FERC appears below:

Norman Bay

Chairman

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

888 First Street, NE, Room 1A

Washington, DC 20426

Dear Chairman Bay,

We write regarding an underground natural gas storage project slated for construction in New York’s Schuyler County. We understand that the Arlington Storage Company is requesting a two year extension of the two year timeline the company was allotted in 2014 to construct the Gallery 2 jurisdictional facilities. Since the Commission's issuance of the construction certificate in 2014, our constituents have raised significant concerns about the adverse impacts this project could have on public health, safety, the environment and quality of life currently enjoyed by our constituents in this area. In addition, the federal government is considering new regulations to address the safety of natural gas storage that, if applied to this facility, could have substantial impact on a variety of constituent concerns and the way this facility would operate. In light of the new federal regulations and the significant public opposition to this project, we urge FERC to schedule a public comment period that allows the community the opportunity to weigh-in on both their significant concerns and the potential impacts of pending new regulations.
 
Arlington’s project is located in salt caverns adjacent to Seneca Lake, the largest glacial lake of New York’s Finger Lakes region. Seneca Lake provides clean drinking water for 100,000 residents living in the area, and is relied on for recreational opportunities in one of the most highly-trafficked tourist destinations in upstate New York. We continue to hear well-argued concerns about the economic effects this project could have on the region, including the burgeoning Finger Lakes wine industry, which has become a major driver of the region’s economy and tourism.

Originally, the project scope was open for public comment, but it appears as though FERC will not evaluate public comments prior to a rendering a decision on whether to grant the extension.  Given the? significant public opposition? to this project, it is imperative that a public comment period is opened before FERC makes a final decision on the extension. The Commission's comment periods are the only mechanism by which the public can participate in the decision making process, and we ask that FERC continues to allow the concerned citizens the opportunity to make their voices heard.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.  We ask that you give all this letter and all the concerns brought forth by the community your full attention as the Commission makes its decision.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer                                                                

United States Senator

Kristen Gillibrand
United States Senator      

 

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