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Bald eagles vex power plant

WAWAYANDA, NY — The Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) power plant, and more specifically the Valley Lateral Pipeline (VLP), which will carry gas from the Millennium Pipeline to the power plant, have been plagued by setbacks since the beginning. The latest hurdle is an eagles’ nest found near the path of the VLP, and the question whether workers who want to build it will be allowed to do so.

The question was headed for a court hearing on December 5. Attorneys for CPV said the discovery of the nest has meant that any pipeline work within 660 feet of the next must be finished by December 31 to protect eagles that might live in the nest, but a federal judge has blocked construction of the pipeline. That blockage is due to differences between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) who disagreed over whether DEC had the authority to withhold a permit and whether the environmental review of the VLP project was adequate.

CPV attorneys have said that if construction of the pipeline is not completed by December 31, it may take many months for the company to get a new permit to move forward, and if that happens, CPV’s financial backers could force CPV into bankruptcy.

Members of Protect Orange County have long been battling the power plant and the pipeline project and have now joined the effort to protect the eagles’ nest, and the eagles that, according to some, call it home. Others say the nest is unoccupied.

The chairman of FERC, meanwhile, is expressing frustration that environmentalists are having some success in slowing some projects. According to a press release from the Sierra Club, on November 30, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee told the American Gas Association’s Natural Gas Roundtable that more focused and sophisticated resistance from environmental organizations was slowing down the approval process for gas infrastructure. Chatterjee specifically said the environmental groups “hire good lawyers,” who file “clever lawsuits” that force FERC to “devote significant resources to responding to arguments and ensuring a robust record that can withstand subsequent court challenges.”

The press release said, “Chatterjee also mentioned nuns and ‘C-list movie stars’ being involved in the resistance to these pipelines, apparently referring to a group of nuns in Pennsylvania who filed legal challenges to a pipeline there and the appearance of Oscar-nominated actor James Cromwell at a recent protest.” Cromwell and local activist Pramilla Malick have been the most visible opponents of CVP and VLP.

 

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