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Writer asks: Do residents want a compressor station?

April 17, 2013

At a [Town of Delaware] planning board meeting last spring, Tom Shepstone, the town’s planning advisor, stated that compressor stations, unlike fracking, are open to town regulation. FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) is the federal agency designated to place compressor stations. Since the Millennium Pipeline goes through the Town of Delaware , the town could be selected. Shepstone said that regulations could be created, e.g., enclosure requirements, noise levels, which, FERC history suggested, would be honored.

This seemed reasonable at the time, in spite of Shepstone’s relationship with the gas industry, which I view as a conflict of interest. Subsequent events suggest a Trojan horse. Members of the board have made clear that they would welcome a compressor station in the town, and proposed new regulations make a compressor station a permitted special use in the rural (RU) and Callicoon business districts.

Do the town’s residents really want a compressor station? I don’t. Who would benefit from it except the landowner and the workers who come in to build it and then leave?

The proposed new regulations do not cover all the possible problems that have been associated with compressor stations—fouled air quality from stack emissions, low-frequency noise that has sometimes caused serious illness, accidents that have driven people from their homes. If a compressor station has a fire or an explosion, our rural volunteer fire departments are not equipped to fight that kind of a fire.

If the regulations are to become town law, more safeguards must be appended to deal with all the problems, not just the most obvious. At the very least the owner of the station should put a substantial amount of money in escrow to cover losses—to individuals or the town—just as the town has required from other kinds of developments.

To avoid conflict of interest, board members and our town’s paid planning advisor should disqualify themselves from personal gain from the placement of a station.

Kate Kennedy
Kenoza Lake, NY