Making a Sound Investment in Energy

March 2016 E-news

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Some events over the last few weeks are a reminder that we should take pause to fully assess the energy sources that we, residents of Westchester County, are investing in.

Over the course of four weeks our backyard has endured a ‘radioactive’ water leak from Indian Point Energy Center, and a home-heating oil spill contaminating the Bronx River. Not to mention there has been the ongoing battle concerning the high-pressure natural gas AIM pipeline expansion, which has received countless calls demanding construction to be halted.

We think it is high time that we collectively take stock and reevaluate where we want our energy to come from.

Background:

Indian Point ‘radioactive’ water leak

Indian Point has been at the center of many contentious discussions for decades. The facility is aging, and for years there have been reports of cracks, spills, and accidents. On Tuesday, February 6th, it was reported that Indian Point recorded a severe spike in radioactive, tritium-contaminated water at several monitoring wells[i]. The follow-up tests done a few days later on February 10th noted that the highest concentration was 80% higher than originally reported.

This leak is a major concern; it potentially threatens the health of the Westchester’s residents and environment. Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken steps to address this issue, starting a state investigation into the nuclear facility[ii]. Entergy, the company that owns the Indian Point facility, states that this latest leak should be of no concern to the public.

Home-heating oil spill contaminating the Bronx River

On Saturday, February 28th as much as 600 gallons of home-heating oil contaminated the Bronx River[iii]when a truck delivering to an apartment complex in Yonkers began to leak.

Approximately 2,100 gallons of oil spilled onto the roadway, of which 600 gallons drained down the storm drain on the road.[iv] The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Coast Guard were notified, and are staying on top of the situation.

Let’s make a sound investment:

We know that accidents happen, due to either human or mechanical error, mistakes are a normal occurrence in our daily lives – we get it. However we also think that these latest events are a window into the real risks these energy sources pose.

Renewable energy offers significant public health and environmental benefits. Air and water pollution emitted by coal and natural gas is linked to breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attacks, and cancer; and replacing these energy sources with renewables has been found to reduce premature mortality and lost workdays, and reduced overall healthcare costs.[v]

 


 

We think it is time to seriously invest in safer, greener, renewable fuels and move away from potentially contaminating sources.

[i] Riverkeeper, Environmental and Health Organizations Call for Immediate Indian Point Shutdown (http://www.riverkeeper.org/news-events/news/stop-polluters/power-plant-cases/indian-point/environmental-and-health-organizations-call-for-immediate-indian-point-shutdown/)

[ii] LOHUD, NY to probe ‘radioactive’ water leak at Indian Point, 2/6/16 (http://www.lohud.com/story/news/politics/politics-on-the-hudson/2016/02/06/ny-probe-radioactive-water-leak-indian-point/79929984/)

[iii] LOHUD, Oil truck leaking near Bronx River, 2/27/16 (http://www.lohud.com/story/news/2016/02/27/oil-truck-leaking-near-bronx-river/81030662/)

[iv] DEC- DHSES Statement on Heating Oil Spill in Yonkers, NY (http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/NYSDEC/bulletins/1399a46?reqfrom=share)

[v] Machol, Rizk. 2013. Economic value of U.S. fossil fuel electricity health impacts. Environment International 52 75–80 (http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/renewable-energy/public-benefits-of-renewable.html#references)

Algonquin Pipeline: IN THE NEWS

AIM

Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline expansion project involves new high-pressure 42″ diameter gas pipeline sections slated to run from Stony Point in Rockland County, NY under Hudson River into Westchester and Putnam Counties in NY through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

The new pipeline expansion is routed next to homes, schools, houses of worship,through sensitive parkland, eco-systems and watersheds; and is planned to go through Westchester County Park, Blue Mountain Reservation – and construction has started.

Algonquin Pipeline Expansion opponents gain media traction


 

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View: Don’t give parkland

Journal News, Opinion
Written by FCWC Co-President, Carole Griffiths

“Enlarging this pipeline and the expansion of the easements will have negative impacts on the park. There will be permanent destruction of trees and habitat for animals. New edges will be opened a few hundred feet into the forest on either side of the expansion, which will allow invasive species to further infiltrate the park.”


e1463a_8d6976b362d54183887ec0dd5cc256c7Opponents Block Construction

Journal News, Algonquin pipeline opponents arrested after blocking construction

“We all know that we have to do everything we can to keep all the fossil fuels in the ground and switch to renewable energy, wind and solar,” Rubin said. “We’re concerned about our children’s future.”


e1463a_9b5e6d968314492b9f3337a02de848fdTrees Protest Pipeline Expansion

Blog Post, Waking Up on Turtle Island

“A grove of trees in Westchester County’s Blue Mountain Reservation in the Town of Cortlandt is staging a protest in an effort to save their fellow trees from being cut down along the 1½ mile Spectra Energy AIM pipeline route through the reservation.”


e1463a_1d0cd1f6d91a409fbeafc6fc87468a8aVideo: High Pressure in NY

The Guardian, High pressure: the pipeline that could destroy New York state

“In December 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlawed fracking in New York, citing the method as unsafe for both the health of his citizens and their surrounding environment. However, the ban did not take into account the transportation of fracked natural gas liquids through the state.”


e1463a_b54a51e80b9740d4b97650542571bfd8Video: 9 Protesters Arrested

Democracy Now!, at 5 minutes, 9 Arrested Protesting AIM Pipeline in Westchester County

“Following the defeat of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, environmentalists continue to oppose other oil and gas pipelines across the country.”


635755746381551281-347Letter from Bobby Kennedy

Riverkeeper, December 1st, 2015

“I write to bring your attention to significant issues regarding the Algonquin Pipeline expansion in New York and to seek your immediate attention and intervention in the application process…”


src-adapt-960-high-pipeline_thumb-1449518882014NYers fear gas pipeline

Al Jazeera America, NYers fear gas pipeline near nuclear reactor could spell disaster
“Whistleblowers and experts allege safety violations, inadequate oversight surrounding new project near Indian Point”

 

Getting the Facts on the AIM and Biodiversity

The Algonquin Pipeline and the Effects of ROW: A Summary of the Hudsonia, Ltd. Assessment

By Kate Munz, Member Relations Coordinator

Hudsonia Ltd., a non-advocacy not-for-profit institute for research, educates and assists decision makers in the environmental sciences by providing objective, accurate, up-to-date, site specific information – and Hudsonia has conducted studies of the proposed Algonquin Pipeline expansion.

Early this year, Hudsonia Ltd.’s Executive Director, Dr. Erik Kiviat, prepared a “Preliminary Biodiversity Assessment of the Algonquin Gas Pipeline at Reynolds Hill and Blue Mountain Reservation, City of Peekskill and Town of Cortlandt, Westchester County, New York.” The scope of the assessment was to examine the possible risks to biodiversity as related to the proposed gas pipeline expansion, which is of the utmost concern as the trajectory goes through Blue Mountain Reservation, a county-owned park.

Continue reading

Don’t give parkland for pipeline expansion

Written by Carole Griffiths, Co-President of FCWC


(Photo: Joe Larese/The Journal News)
(Photo: Joe Larese/The Journal News)

Blue Mountain Reservation is a 1,538-acre county-run park in the northwest section of Westchester County. It features miles of trails and offers challenging hikes to the tops of two large peaks, Mt. Spitzenberg and Blue Mountain. The park is used heavily by the public.

There is also a natural gas pipeline running though the park. Spectra Energy is proposing to enlarge this 26-inch diameter pipeline, installed in the 1950s, to a massive 42-inch diameter, high-pressure (850 pounds per square inch) transmission pipeline. The construction would require an expanded work easement of up to 130 feet, 55 feet beyond its present 75-foot right of way.

Enlarging this pipeline and the expansion of the easements will have negative impacts on the park. There will be permanent destruction of trees and habitat for animals. New edges will be opened a few hundred feet into the forest on either side of the expansion, which will allow invasive species to further infiltrate the park.

SPECTRA map
The route of the proposed Algonquin pipeline expansion. (Photo: Spectra Energy)

Important habitats are close to or adjacent to the proposed pipeline. These include a sizable stand of hemlock trees (mostly dead in our region), what may be an original wetland and a pond that is home to amphibians, turtles, fish and dragonflies. All are essential to preserve intact. In particular, the pond will also be affected by silt and other contaminates, killing eggs laid in the spring.

Continue reading

#StopSpectra – AIM project is Issued its Certificate

SPECTRA map
A screen shot of the map for Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Pipeline expansion proposal. Photo Credit:Spectra Energy/Screen shot

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. — The Algonquin Pipeline expansion proposal has  received approval from a federal agency that conducted an environmental review for the project.

FERC issued its Certificate for the AIM project yesterday despite safety and security issues raised by nuclear and pipeline experts, elected officials and the public.
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Call to make a public statement and help us spread the word on social media by tweeting #StopSpectra
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Please call the government officials listed below TODAY to ask them to make a public statement about FERC’s failure. 

US Senator Kristen Gillibrand 845-875-4585
US Senator Charles Schumer 914-734-1532
Congresswoman Nita Lowey 914-428-1707 or 845-639-3485
Congresswoman Eliot Engel 914-699-410
Congressman Sean Maloney 845-561-1259
Governor Andrew Cuomo 518-474-8390
Secretary Jeh Johnson, Department of Homeland Security 202-282-8000 (ask to be connected to comment line/voice mail)
Background:
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its approval decision on Tuesday with details presented  in a 66-page document that included expansions for the conclusion.
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The proposal  is from Spectra Energy. It involves replacing approximately 20.1 miles of natural gas pipeline that is 26 inches in diameter with larger pipeline material of 42 inches in diameter. An existing compressor station in the Putnam County town of Southeast would undergo several changes, according to FERC.
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The work includes adding a 10,320-horsepower compressor unit that is natural-gas fired and adding gas cooling for it, FERC notes.  The pipeline goes through Rockland County, crosses the Hudson River to Westchester and Putnam before crossing the Connecticut state line into Fairfield County.

New Independent Report on Environmental Impact of Proposed Gas Pipeline Expansion in County Park

Westchester County Board Of Legislators Labor, Parks, Planning & Housing Committee (LPPH) has received an independent report on environmental impact of proposed gas pipeline expansion in Blue Mountain Reservation.

FCWC Program Director, Alicia Molloy, reading FCWC's position statement against the Spectra Energy project.
FCWC Program Director, Alicia Molloy, reading at DEC hearing FCWC’s position statement against the Spectra Energy project.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo set a positive precedent this past year when he passed the New York State ban on fracking – we must not trade away a healthy environment for natural gas production. However, currently our environment is under threat of being compromised by the Houston, Texas-based Spectra Energy Company.

Spectra Energy has proposed an expansion project for the Algonquin natural gas pipeline; the proposed construction will replace and widen the existing pressurized gas pipe, built in the 1950s, from a 26″ diameter pipe to 42″ pipe. In the proposal for the project, there is planned construction activity to go through the County-owned park, Blue Mountain Reservation.

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been completed by Spectra Energy, but the Westchester Board of Legislators felt that it was lacking in many respects. Fortunately, Dr. Erik Kiviat, from the non-profit institute Hudsonia produced a new, independent environmental assessment of potential impacts to Blue Mountain Reservation was completed to find out the truth behind this proposed project.

On January 14 2015, the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) Labor, Parks, Planning & Housing Committee (LPPH) met to receive and discuss this new report. The conclusion of the report states, “The proposed expansion will be highly destructive to wetlands on and near the ROW [pipeline’s right-of-way], justifying comprehensive and detailed species surveys to provide information for habitats and species protection and restoration.” He suggested, and FCWC agrees with:
  • Dedicating wetlands conservation;
  • Saving and salvaging native plants;
  • Widening the ROW as little as possible;
  • Conducting a better survey of plant and animal species (especially during the growing season);
  • And ensuring that the project includes a full-funded, independent environmental monitor on-site.

Blue Mountain Reservation contains high numbers of vernal pools and sensitive wetlands essential to amphibian populations. Habitat and air quality degradation through construction and operation of the proposed pipeline will negatively affect Westchester County’s rich biodiversity.

The pipeline was the subject of two New York State Department of Environmental Conservation public hearings, January 21st and January 22nd. FCWC was one of the many participants, and presented a statement to oppose the granting of new air permits for this project (to read it in full click here).

It is imperative to maintain a united front in fighting for our health and our environment.

Written by: Kate Munz, FCWC Member Relations Coordinator


Source: Press Release (Jan. 15, 2015) “BOL Committee Receives Independent Report on Environmental Impact of Proposed Gas Pipeline Expansion in County Park