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Dear Friends, Coalition Leaders, Landowners, and Natural Gas Supporters,

With the election coming up there are two important issues to consider. Both are propositions that will be on the BACK of your ballot. Please review the two attached files to understand the JLCNY's position, remember to vote, and remember to turn your ballot over to vote on the propositions.

Also, please consider the information in the following link when considering Proposition 3...

http://jlcny.org/site/index.php/frontpage/2694-here-is-another-warning-about-proposition-3

Please share this information with your family, friends, neighbors, and town leaders. We can gain another win for safe and responsible Natural Gas development with your support. 

Warm Regards,

Dan Fitzsimmons, President

Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.

WAWAYANDA - Federal regulators gave Millennium Pipeline Co. permission Friday to start building the 7.8-mile natural gas line that will supply the Competitive Power Ventures plant, pushing the project forward even as a dispute continues over the state’s denial of permits for that pipeline.

The notice to proceed, issued to Millennium by a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission official, was a victory for Millennium and the company building the $900 million power plant in Wawayanda, which is largely built and was due to be tested soon. The state Department of Environmental Conservation had denied Millennium’s permits for the gas pipe about two months ago, arguing the company needed to document the potential effects of the greenhouse gases that the 650-megawatt power station will release. FERC overruled that decision two weeks later, and DEC is challenging FERC’s ruling.

The DEC rehearing request, and a separate one filed by environmental groups opposed to the CPV plant, were still pending when the FERC official declared on Friday that construction may start.

Michelle Hook, a Millennium spokeswoman, said afterward that the company hopes to begin work in early November and expects to finish in about six months, depending on the winter weather.

Pramilla Malick, leader of an Orange County citizens group that has fought the power plant, called the FERC official’s decision “an unprecedented abuse of process and law,” and urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Basil Seggos, the state’s environmental conservation commissioner, “to use the police powers of the state to protect our water and prevent any construction activity.” She also asked them to suspend the CPV plant’s permits.

DEC officials had no immediate response to the FERC decision. They had asked the commission to withhold permission for Millennium to start construction while the DEC’s challenge involving the pipeline permits was pending.

 

The disputed pipeline will cross Minisink and Wawayanda and carry natural gas from the Millennium Pipeline, which starts in western New York and crosses through Sullivan County and southern Orange County. Construction is expected to cost about $57 million and will use a method known as horizontal directional drilling to avoid disturbing streams and wetlands.

Because the pipe isn’t built yet, CPV officials planned to use the plant’s secondary fuel source, oil, to begin testing the plant by next month. They told the Times Herald-Record this month that they must test the plant in order to be allowed to connect it to the power grid, but are unlikely to begin generating and selling electricity until the gas line is connected. The plant construction was expected to be done in early 2018.

“The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will seek a stay of FERC’s ruling and is evaluating all options in order to protect the environment,” said the DEC in a statement Friday. “FERC’s decision today encroaches on state’s rights, runs counter to the federal Clean Water Act, and prevents states from protecting precious natural resources.”

The latest estimate from API, the energy trade group, is that increased exports of LNG (liquefied natural gas) over the next 20 years will add nearly 500,000 jobs to the American economy and $73 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Marty Durbin, API’s chief strategy officer, stated, “This report confirms that increasing U.S. LNG exports would bring great benefits to American workers and consumers and [to] the U.S. economy. Increasing the use of U.S. natural gas throughout the world means more production here at home, cleaner air, and increased energy security for our nation and our allies.”

The revolution taking place in natural gas has been almost completely overlooked. Most of the focus is on crude oil — its drop from $100 a barrel in 2014 to under $60 today, and how that is threatening the very existence of the OPEC cartel. Indeed, lower gasoline prices get a lot of coverage, while cheaper natural gas shows up in lower utility bills, which is much less exciting.

But the fracking revolution that has transformed the development of America’s crude-oil reserves is also revolutionizing the production of natural gas. Natural gas is the country’s largest source of energy production, representing a third of all energy produced in 2016. It has been the largest source of electrical power since July 2015. And the United States has been the world’s largest producer of natural gas since 2009, when it first started outproducing Russia.

Now that technology has reduced the cost of liquefying natural gas so it can be transported around the world competitively on ships, other countries will shortly begin enjoying the same type of economic benefits.

It’s a textbook example of what happens when prices drop: More is demanded. With natural gas prices half of where they were just three years ago, coal-fired power plants are switching to natural gas. Utility bills are lower and the air is cleaner.

But things are a little more complicated in the real world. What if foreign countries don’t have the facilities to unload LNG, or transport it to where it’s needed? What if the country is so poor that, although its needs are great, it doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure?

That problem is being solved by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Total SA, Chevron, and Cheniere Energy out of Houston. Chevron, for example, just invested $80 billion to expand Australian LNG facilities so they can buy more product from them. Total SA said it’s working with Myanmar and South Africa to build out their infrastructure, including pipelines and power plants, so they can purchase their natural gas. Cheniere Energy is doing the same in Chile. Similar developments are underway in Vietnam.

In other words, Big Gas is not only producing LNG, but it's helping future customers build the facilities to use it.

There are myriad side benefits. Markets that trade LNG futures are springing up, allowing users in local markets to lock in prices in an otherwise volatile market. And there are political benefits, too. Just ask Poland, which opened its first LNG import terminal last year, lessening its reliance on natural gas piped in from Russia.

At present, there are 170 LNG tankers traversing the high seas, up from 150 just a year ago. And demand for natural gas is growing at four times that of crude oil. It’s expected that the volume of LNG — up 22 percent in three years — will rise another 21 percent by 2020.

The impact is even being felt at the Panama Canal, where which was widened in order to handle the larger LNG vessels.

The technology continues to surprise: There are now even floating LNG facilities. They cost less than permanent on-shore facilities, can be built in a fraction of the time, and can be moved to where the best opportunities lie. The first floating facility was christened in 2005. Today there are 25 of them.

And not only will the United States continue to enjoy greater economic activity as the demand for natural gas continues to increase, but foreign countries will enjoy similar benefits as LNG drives down their energy costs. Since energy is the driver of any economy, lower energy costs translate into improved standards of living.

It is the invisible revolution that is happening as free markets, improved technology, and lower energy costs work in concert to make life better for consumers around the world as well as here at home.

An Ivy League graduate and former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at badelmann@thenewamerican.com.

Here is what you will see on the ballot: 

FORM OF SUBMISSION OF PROPOSAL NUMBER THREE, AN AMENDMENT

Authorizing the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified Purposes

The proposed amendment will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific public health and safety concerns; as a substitute for the land removed from the forest preserve, another 250 acres of land, will be added to the forest preserve, subject to legislative approval. The proposed amendment also will allow bicycle trails and certain public utility lines to be located within the width of specified highways that cross the forest preserve while minimizing removal of trees and vegetation. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

This is what is omitted:

and shall not include the construction of any new intrastate natural gas or oil pipelines that have not received all necessary state and local permits and authorizations as of June first, two thousand sixteen.

Dear IOGANY member,

I bring to your attention a carefully crafted, apparent covert attempt by New York State to impede new intrastate pipeline construction across preserved forest land of the Adirondack and Catskill State Parks – a combined 6.8 million acres, which comprises more than 1/5 of the entire state! It is known as Proposition 3, or the “Adirondack Land Bank Amendment” which sounds like a great initiative, but because of one sentence, it may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

It seems there will be (at least) three Propositions at the polls this November, and Prop 3 includes language buried deep within the text that will preclude the construction of any new intrastate oil or natural gas pipeline that does not have necessary state and local permits and approvals by June 1, 2016!  http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/Elections/2017/proposals/2017StatewideBallotProposals.pdf.  See the last sentence on page 8.

Because of the way this proposition is written, most voters will naturally approve of the proposition thinking that it protects the forest land and offers options to municipalities for development such as bike trails, utility lines, etc. Here is an explanation by our friends at Energy In Depth: https://energyindepth.org/marcellus/new-yorkers-could-unknowingly-vote-on-pipeline-ban-nov-elections/

Such a proposition, if approved, will be one more attempt by New York to impede pipeline construction so vital to our ability to meet increasing energy demand across the state.  Pipelines across forest land in other states have proven valuable and environmentally safe to communities, but also they have proven to be a real boost to the wildlife through bio-diversity which, in turn, is good for the forests. Here is some perspective offered by Tom Shepstone at EID: https://energyindepth.org/marcellus/forest-fragmentation-natural-gas-development-perspective-needed/

I just spoke with the New York State Comptroller’s Office and will provide them with a position statement from industry advocating that, if this must be included, then this language must be made clear and obvious on the proposition so voters can clearly understand that they are, in fact, voting in favor of possibly impeding the ability to transport and provide natural and/or oil to vast regions of New York State where it is badly needed and desired.

If you feel the same way, remember to watch for this Proposition 3 this November and vote against it – and feel free to share this with your friends and family as you deem appropriate.

ALBANY — The stalled Constitution Pipeline project is hoping to get a new lease on life by asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue the approvals it needs to move forward after state regulators rejected its request for needed permits to cross waterways.

In documents filed with FERC this week, the pipeline company said the state Department of Environmental Conservation "unreasonably delayed and protracted the federal filing process."

The $1 billion natural gas transmission project — designed to have shale gas harvested in northeast Pennsylvania sent to a compressor station in Schoharie County, and crossing hundreds of parcels in Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie counties — has been delayed since April 2016. That is when the planners of the pipeline were told by the DEC that its water permits were denied by the state agency. 

In the legal papers submitted by Stephen Hatridge, an attorney for Williams Pipeline Services, the company that is the lead investor in the project, Constitution alleged that the state regulators took no action on the request for two years and eight months after the application was made in August 2013.

Hatridge argued that the DEC effectively waived its authority over the interstate pipeline by delaying a decision on the needed permit.

The lawyer also cited FERC's decision last month that upended the DEC's denial of water permits to the Millennium Pipeline Co.'s proposed 7.8-mile transmission addition in Orange County. The federal agency ruled in that case that the state regulators failed to make a decision on that request within a one-year deadline set by the federal Clean Water Act.

Hatridge also revealed in the papers filed with FERC that the pipeline company has already spent $380 million to develop the transmission project and has lined up all the necessary easements to complete the system.

The latest maneuvering bolstered the hopes of advocates for the Constitutional Pipeline.

"Today’s petition shows precisely why clear and consistent regulation is essential to economic growth and why proven projects should be approved," said Darren Suarez, director of government affairs for the Business Council of New York State.

Suarez called on officials in the Cuomo and Trump administrations to "come together and build this important infrastructure project without further delay."

But Anne Marie Garti, an environmental lawyer and a founding member of the opposition group Stop the Pipeline, contended there is no basis to reverse the DEC's denial of the water permits.

"If FERC follows its regulations, and its own precedent, then it must rule in favor of NYSDEC and against the Constitution Pipeline Company," she said in an email. "DEC acted within one year of the receipt of CP's April 2015 application, just as the Clean Water Act and FERC's regulations require. In addition, CP should have asked FERC about a possible waiver before DEC denied its application on April 22, 2016. Now it's too late." 

The pipeline company said in its petition to FERC that it withdrew its initial application for the water permit in May 2014 as part of a "good faith" effort to cooperate with the DEC after the agency expressed disagreement with the proposed route in its comments to FERC.

FERC awarded the project a certificate of public convenience — amounting to a green light from the federal agency — in December 2014, when it determined that all of the project's environmental impacts could be mitigated to "acceptable" levels.

The pipeline company's request to have the DEC denial overturned won the support of a trade union group.

"Not only is the project right for New York, but Constitution bent over backwards to meet the demands of state regulators years ago." said Armand E. Sabitoni, general secretary treasurer and New England regional manager for Laborers International Union of North America.IUNA.

He said the project would put thousands of people to work, though critics of the pipeline argue most jobs would be temporary and only a handful of people will still be employed locally after it is completed.

It was not immediately clear Thursday when FERC will act on the new petition from Constitution Pipeline.

Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites.

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