FERC Scoping Document – Seneca Lake Natural Gas Storage Project

Talking Points/ Details for submitting comments re: FERC Scoping Document – Seneca Lake Natural Gas Storage Project

Comments need to be submitted on FERC’s website (NOT via email) using the eComment link if the comments are under 6,000 characters. Here’s the link:


If their comments are over 6,000 characters, they will need to create an Efiling account at:


Once you log in, there are pretty easy steps to follow to upload your comments. They should make it clear that they’re making comments on the scoping process for the Environmental Assessment.

Just so you know, we will be circulating comments that organizations, including businesses, will be able to sign on to.


FERC Scoping Comments

  1. Background
    1. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) published a Notice of Intent to conduct an Environmental Assessment (“EA”) on the Seneca Lake Storage Facility Gallery 2 Expansion Project (the “Project”) proposed by Arlington Storage Company, LLC (“Arlington”).  The Project will be located in the Town of Reading, NY on the shores of Seneca Lake, a short distance from the Village of Watkins Glen.
    2. FERC has requested comments on the scope of the EA.  In other words, FERC would like input on what important environmental impacts it should analyze when considering Arlington’s application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.
    3. The National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) requires that FERC examine the environmental impacts that could result from a project that it approves.  When conducting the EA, FERC must consider the Project’s full range of environmental impacts, including “ecological (such as the effects on natural resources and on the components, structures, and functioning of affected ecosystems), aesthetic, historic, [and] cultural” impacts, “whether direct, indirect, or cumulative.” 40 C.F.R. § 1508.8.
    4. Comments on the scope of the EA are due May 3, 2013 by 5 PM Eastern Time via FERC’s online filing system: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp.
    1. FERC must analyze all the significant environmental impacts from the construction and operation of the Project.  The area of analysis should be clearly defined for each environmental parameter.
      1. The Notice of Intent covers only two construction impacts: water quality impacts from debrining activities and effects on migratory species.  The EA also must include an analysis of the following construction impacts:
        1. Air quality from construction equipment, such as excavators, concrete trucks, and other vehicles, including the use of the compressor for debrining;
        2. Noise, including noise that is amplified across Seneca Lake; and
        3. Light and vibration impacts.
      2. The Notice of Intent covers only two operation impacts: air quality and noise impacts of the compressor and effects on migratory species.  The EA also must include an analysis of the following operation impacts:
        1. Air quality from equipment emissions and leaks;
        2. Aesthetic impacts of the facility, including degraded views from across Seneca Lake and from the Scenic Byway;
        3. Safety of the use of the cavern over the long-term;
        4. Impacts to groundwater from gas migration over the long-term and
        5. Effects on local vegetation, including agricultural vegetation.
    2. FERC must analyze the cumulative impacts of the Project, the proposed liquefied petroleum gas (“LPG”) project pending before the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”), and Inergy Midstream, L.P.’s (Arlington’s parent company) reasonably foreseeable future expansion plans.
      1. According to the Notice of Intent, FERC intends to analyze the impacts from only “existing natural gas and LPG storage in the region.”  This is insufficient.  Under NEPA regulations, FERC is obligated to consider the cumulative impacts of “reasonably foreseeable” future plans.  40 C.F.R. § 1508.8.
      2. The cumulative environmental impacts of the two proposed projects and the plans Inergy Midstream publicized in its corporate filings and on its website to develop additional storage will be significant and must be assessed.  These cumulative impacts include:
        1. Combined effects on air quality from potential overlapping construction schedules and overlapping operation.
          1. Truck and rail traffic from the operation of the LPG facility, plus the compressor from the natural gas facility, as well as emissions from future development.
        2. Traffic, including impacts on safety and vibration effects on historic landmarks.
        3. Noise from trains, trucks, and the operation of the compressor station, in combination with noise from construction and operation of future expansion facilities.
        4. Safety considerations of storing high volumes of flammable and explosive materials within close proximity.  Transporting same through community and impacts of potential accidents.
        5. Aesthetics.  Build-up of lake shore infrastructure, ruining vistas, including from Scenic Byway.
        6. Threats to groundwater and surface water quality from the combined operation of major natural gas and LPG hub.
      3. The EA also must consider the cumulative socio-economic impacts of increased industrialization on the region.
        1. The region is heavily dependent on sustainable tourism based on the beauty and tranquility of Seneca Lake’s climate.  Local sources of economic activity include wineries, bed and breakfasts, breweries, boating, fishing, and hiking.  These are incompatible with the extreme industrialization proposed by Inergy Midstream.  A limited amount of industrialization (salt mining and a small natural gas storage facility) has been able to co-exist with the area’s tourist activity, but increasing industrialization runs a significant risk of harming the region’s reputation and permanently alienating tourists.
        2. The few jobs provided by Inergy Midstream’s expansion plans, most of which would be temporary and not likely to go to locals, would be unlikely to offset the significant losses caused by the drop in tourism.
          1. In its Response to Comments, filed on April 10, 2013, Arlington admitted that all the construction of the natural gas facility will be “performed by existing personnel, ” meaning that no new jobs would be created.
    3. The EA must include a thorough evaluation of reasonable alternatives and mitigation measures:
      1. The no action alternative:  Arlington has not entered into any contracts or agreements for the storage space and does not have any firm commitments, which raises questions about the need for this particular Project, especially in the face of the identified adverse impacts to the community.  Thus, the no action alternative must be seriously considered in the EA.
      2. Alternative locations: The salt-bed formation that allows for the creation of salt caverns covers a wide area.  The EA should consider alternative locations for the Project that do not create the same risks of community harm.
      3. Constructing a new cavern using modern salt mining techniques:  The cavern Arlington intends to use is the product of old salt mining techniques that may not create the safest possible natural gas storage facility.  The EA should consider an alternative to Gallery 2 that is developed with state-of-the-art cavern construction technologies.
      4. Using an electric-powered compressor: In an effort to evade Clean Air Act requirements, Arlington intends to use a 7-year-old natural  gas-fired compressor.  The EA should evaluate the mitigation measure of using an electric-powered new compressor that would reduce air pollution and other impacts to the community.
      5. The EA should consider and FERC should require that the Project’s entire construction period fall outside the summer tourist season.
      6. If FERC fails to conduct a cumulative impacts analysis that includes the expansion plans Inergy Midstream has announced on its website, the EA should analyze the expansion plans as an alternative to the Project.
 Posted by at 10:55 am