As fracking expands rapidly throughout the U.S., a vast infrastructure network is being built with alarming speed in New York State. A multitude of new pipeline and compressor station projects, gas-fired power plants, and other facilities have been approved in the last few years, with many more projects on the way. Infrastructure projects are overseen by a federal agency, FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), and local zoning laws and codes are superseded with regard to infrastructure siting. Land that is zoned residential or agricultural can be used for heavy industrial purposes and communities can do little to defend themselves. In the New York State, Minisink, on the border with Pennsylvania and southeast of Port Jervis, has been on the frontlines of this struggle for some time.
Minisink Fights Back
For nearly three years now, residents of Minisink, NY, have fought against the siting of a 12,600 horsepower gas compressor station in the midst of their bucolic, agricultural township in Orange County. Millennium Pipeline constructed the facility beginning in 2012, despite lack of a final legal determination, and by Spring 2013 the facility was on-line. The negative health effects were felt immediately, and have been ongoing among the 200 homes within a half-mile of the facility, some as close as 600 feet.
Along with the greenhouse gas, methane, compressor stations and gas-fired power plants release a mixture of chemicals used in fracking directly into the local atmosphere. Most of these chemicals are known carcinogens, neurotoxins, and some hormonal disruptor, including benzene, styrene, toluene, xylene, hexane, heptane, acetone, acrolein, propene, carbon tetrachloride, and chloromethane.
Symptoms experienced by Minisink residents- adults and children- include nosebleeds, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and disorientation, sore throats, and full body rashes.
The community of Minisink is waiting for a hearing at the U.S Court of Appeals; if successful, Minisink will be the first community to shut down a brand new compressor facility and have it removed from the community. This will empower other communities to better protect themselves with new legal precedent. Conversely, if Minisink does not prevail at the federal level, the industry will be emboldened to do the same thing to communities across NY State and the nation. You can learn more about this case here.
In the meantime, another serious threat faces Orange County. Aiming to connect to the Minisink Compressor, CPV Valley LLC is pushing forward with a plan to build a gas-fired power plant that will connect with the Millennium Pipeline at Minisink in the neighboring town of Wawayanda, NY, just 7 miles way. While Minisink residents already feel the negative health impacts of the Minisink Compressor, the “Energy Plant” is, by the industry’s own standards, predicted to emit a minimum of 10 x the amount of the same contaminants. Unfortunately, local town officials and labor unions fully support this plan.
The public meeting for Thursday, February 13th has been cancelled and will be rescheduled. We will update the information when we have it. This will an important public hearing about the approval of CPV Valley’s Wawayanda Gas-fired Power Plant in the very heart of the so-called Black Dirt Region, the food-shed closest to New York City. The hearing will be held at Orange County Community College (SUNY Orange), Library/Gilman Center, Room 130, 115 South Street, Middletown, NY, 10940.
CPV Valley LLC is petitioning for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, approval of a “Lightened Regulatory Regime” and of “Financing” connected to recently proposed rate hikes. Residents will in effect actually subsidize the the company’s build-out if they are successful.
Minisink Needs Your Comments
This is a very critical situation, we need your help! Specifically, we need informed voices of reason, as many as we can get, to lend their views and experiences to this potential crisis-in-the-making. You can find talking points here.
All written or recorded material submitted will become part of the public record. If you write or call, reference “Case 10-E-0501- CPV Valley, L.L.C.” You can comment in several ways.
- Letters can be sent to Secretary Burgess at NY Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY, 12223-1350; or
- email comments to Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, at firstname.lastname@example.org; or
- call the Toll-free Opinion Line: A summary of your comments is provided to the administrative law judge reporting to the Commission, this line is available 24 hours a day, call 1-800-335-21201-800-335-2120.
Asha Canalos is an artist, writer, organic farmer, and community organizer in Minisink, NY. Canalos co-founded Minisink Matters, We The People Matter, and is a contributor to One Billion Rising for Justice and Food Not Fracking.
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