The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave interim approval for construction of the Millennium Pipeline Project to transport natural gas from Canada to the northeast United States, mainly the New York City area. A certificate of public convenience and necessity was granted by the Commission to Millennium Pipeline Company, L.P. and Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. to construct and operate approximately 424 miles of interstate pipeline, compressor stations and related facilities to transport gas from the U.S.-Canadian border near Lake Erie, New York to near Mount Vernon.
Despite opposition to every aspect of the Lake Erie crossing, and well-organized and vocal community opposition in downstate New York, the Final Environmental Impact Statement stated the all-too-familiar: The proposed project, with mitigation, would have “short-term” and “limited adverse environmental impact.” It is unimaginable how unknown repercussions of this precedent-setting project would have limited, short-term impacts in an ecosystem that is alarmingly characterized as “deteriorating from an acceptable state” in the recent binational “State of the Lakes 2001” report. Further, the FEIS included a new statement that would grant Millennium proponents almost 800 acres of permanent right-of-way under Lake Erie. This concession invalidates the proponent’s use of 100-year-event assessments to deflate the risk of pipeline rupture from ice scour or seismic activity.
The approval of this project appears to be in direct violation of FERC’s own policy against using cost as a basis for routing, as well as providing opportunity for public input. Many comment letters and petitions submitted in response to the EIS and FEIS have not been received after FERC halted mail from the U.S. Post Service during the Anthrax outbreaks.
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