Gas Free Seneca denied re-hearing request by FERC

On January 6th, 2017 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied a request for a re-hearing submitted by Gas Free Seneca on Crestwood’s underground natural gas storage expansion project in the salt caverns beneath the shores of Seneca Lake. Gas Free Seneca submitted the request in June 2016. Under New York law, Crestwood cannot proceed with construction of the project until it receives the underground storage permit from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Gas Free Seneca has written to Governor Cuomo asking him to deny that permit because the unlined salt caverns on Seneca Lake were never engineered to store anything, much less highly pressurized volatile gases, and they fail to meet the new federal regulations.

This was the second request Gas Free Seneca submitted to FERC. The coalition originally asked FERC to deny the extension request and require Crestwood to resubmit its application so that it could be evaluated after the release of federal rules pertaining to the construction and operation of underground gas storage facilities. The Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued those rules on December 19, 2016 in response to last year’s massive natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon storage field in Porter Ranch, California. As applied to the proposed Seneca Lake facility, the new rules take effect on July 18, 2017, and require minimum standards for construction and operation of underground facilities storing natural gas. The project proposed by Crestwood in Schuyler County does not, as proposed, meet some of the minimum safety requirements as laid down by the regulation.

“FERC continues to ignore the safety and environmental risks posed by this project. If Crestwood is allowed to construct this facility before the federal rules take effect, it will be built without meeting minimum federal safety standards,” said President of Gas Free Seneca Joseph Campbell. “Such an outcome is unacceptable. FERC’s failure to evaluate this project’s risks according to industry recommended practices and now federal safety rules show once again that FERC upholds the interests of the natural gas industry to the exclusion of the health and safety interests of local communities. Since FERC won’t protect the safety of New Yorkers, we are counting on Governor Cuomo to step in.”

32 municipalities, including major towns, cities, and villages throughout the region representing 1.2 million New Yorkers oppose Crestwood’s proposal to store gas in salt caverns along the shores of Seneca Lake. The plan poses serious environmental and safety risks to the region, especially given Crestwood’s track record of EPA and DEC violations.

“FERC’s denial of our request is not unusual,” said Vice President of Gas Free Seneca Yvonne Taylor. “In its long history, FERC has never granted a rehearing request submitted by the public. However, we are looking into avenues for an appeal of this decision with the Circuit Court.”

The above is a republished press release from Gas Free Seneca and was not written by FingerLakes1.com. Click here to submit press releases, community announcements, or news tips to the FingerLakes1.com team. Newsroom inquiries can be sent by clicking here.

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