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Legislature Requests State Study of Large-Scale Gas Pipeline Effects

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Legislature Requests State Study of Large-Scale Gas Pipeline Effects

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Legislature, by a vote of 10-3 (Legislators Jim Dennis, Mike Sigler, and Glenn Morey voted no: Legislator Kathy Luz Herrera was excused) requested that New York State assess the health and environmental risks associated with large-scale new natural gas pipelines and compressor stations.  The measure, recommended by the Legislature’s Planning, Energy, and Environmental Quality Committee, supports a position taken in June by the American Medical Association advocating legislation to require a comprehensive health impact assessment regarding what the AMA cites as the health risks of such natural gas infrastructure.

The recommendation states that “Tompkins County joins the AMA in recognizing the potential impact on human health and the environment associated with natural gas infrastructure and requests New York State to perform an assessment regarding the health and environmental risks that are associated with natural gas pipelines.”  At committee, proposed language was struck that would have also called for a moratorium on such pipeline development while such risks were investigated.

Prior to the vote, four members of the public addressed the Legislature, speaking in favor of the proposed action, among them local physicians Dr. Rob McKenzie and Dr. Adam Law, who also noted that they would support stoppage, or a pause, in development of such pipelines until health risks are assessed.  Legislator Carol Chock, as she did at committee, stressed that this measure focuses on large-scale interstate pipelines, not smaller local pipeline projects.  Legislator Martha Robertson called this a “very good start” on developing needed information and said such a request is “certainly timely.”  Legislator Sigler criticized the measure as vague and misdirected, questioning what its scope should be.  Legislator Dennis said that, while he recognizes the need to check and better regulate aging pipelines, he called the action a real “feel good’ resolution that is “too wide and varied” and will have no impact on those in a position of power.