Last-ditch appeals made to stop compressor expansion

| 04 Mar 2015 | 07:52

By Anya Tikka
— Two appeals — one federal, one state — were filed March 2 in a last-ditch effort to stop the expansion of the Milford compressor station.

Work is already in progress at the site on Fire Tower Road, despite protests by local environmental groups and overwhelming public opposition at hearings last year.

Milford residents — including Alex Lotorto, Stephanie Jo Snyder, Justin Snyder, Robin Schneider, Greg Lotorto, Marie Cohen, Marie Liu, and Bess Moran — filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) objecting to its approval of the Air Quality Plan submitted by Columbia Gas Transmission LLC, which owns the station. The expansion violates residents’ constitutional right to clean air and a clean environment, the appeal argues.

It also says that the best available technology is not being used in the expansion, contrary to the state's own regulations. Best practices would include using electric motors, not using blow downs to vent gas, and not installing volatile gas capture systems on tanks and storage vessels, in accordance with federal Environmental Protection Agency laws that went into effect this year.

The appeal also says that monitoring plans and emergency plans are not enough, and that Columbia Gas has failed to obtain the local permits required by law.

Clean Air Council challenges federal review

Pennsylvania members of the Clean Air Council asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to hold a re-hearing over the whole Columbia Gas Transmission LLC project to build and operate pipelines and compressors in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Maryland. Known as the East Side Expansion Project, the pipeline will send natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania all the way to Maryland. A quantity of the gas will be compressed at the expanded Milford station.

The Clean Air Council says the project violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and faults the previous environmental review.

FERC gave permission to the whole length of the project, rather than examine the potential impact of individual sections. FERC allowed Columbia Gas to abandon existing structures in Milford, build an expanded compressor, and construct a 700-foot, 12-inch diameter pipeline to connect Line 1278 and Tennessee Gas.

FERC’s Environmental Assessment "still falls far short of the analysis required by NEPA," says the Clean Air Council.

The council further says that FERC failed to:

Consider indirect effects of the project that require environmental review

Adequately review air quality impact

Adequately analyze the cumulative effect of the project

"Meaningfully evaluate" the impact on climate change

Consider the "no-action" alternative

Serve public convenience or necessity

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