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Legislature Requests Local Public Hearing on Pipeline Project

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Legislature Requests Local Public Hearing on Pipeline Project

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Legislature, by unanimous vote, requested that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hold a public hearing in Tompkins County on the proposed expansion of the Dominion Transmission, Inc. New Market Pipeline, which runs through Tompkins County, and expansion of the Borger Compressor Station, located on Ellis Hollow Creek Road in the Town of Dryden. It also requests that the DEC’s public comment period be extended, if necessary, to accommodate the request. The DEC has three public hearings scheduled elsewhere, and the Legislature notes that it would like to ensure that its residents have a similar opportunity to hear any public presentation by the DEC, and to provide comments regarding both air and water quality certification.

Before considering the measure, the Legislature heard from sixteen County residents (among them, former County Legislator Pam Mackesey), who voiced strong support for a local hearing and strong opposition to the pipeline proposal, citing environmental and safety issues, including its contribution to climate change. They urged the Legislature to couple its call for the hearing with a statement of opposition to the pipeline project.

The Legislature added language, advanced by Legislator Carol Chock, requesting that, before any permit is issued, a study be conducted of local pipeline segment capacity to withstand the proposed increased volume and pressure; and also that the DEC study greenhouse gas emissions for the length of the proposed pipeline in New York State, including that related to carbon equivalents from methane and related to methane leakage. The Legislature stopped short of indicating a position on the project at this time, or making support contingent upon conducting the studies it recommends—some Legislators, including Dooley Kiefer and Jim Dennis, suggesting that to do so at this time could be counterproductive in persuading the State to schedule a local hearing.