The tone and depth of a letter regarding the proposed Hancock Compressor project was discussed at a meeting of the Project Review Committee of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) on March 27.
A four-page draft letter, written by UDC resource specialist Travis O’Dell, was presented, which contained some specific concerns and suggestions as to how those concerns could be met. For instance, one sentence read, “We believe that to provide the most un-biased, thorough inspection, the on-site environmental inspector should be employed by a third party, not by Millennium Pipeline Company, L.L.C.”
The letter drew some fairly sharp criticism from UDC alternate member George J. Fluhr, who said, “It seems to be again an example of extreme environmentalism; it’s a serous situation in this area now, and I don’t know that the council should be really getting too deeply into this kind of thing. At this point, the county needs jobs and energy and money and here’s somebody who is doing something about all three of them… The only result we can get in something like this is a delay.”
Fluhr also noted that the location of the project was outside the river corridor and, therefore, perhaps not something the UDC should concern itself with.
Sean McGuinness, the National Park Service (NPS) superintendent of the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River, agreed that the compressor station was needed by the pipeline company and the location is outside the corridor, yet, he said, it could have an impact on the river.
He said the environmental assessment filed by Millennium with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) addresses many concerns. However, McGuinness said, “It does not address the fact that the location is under 5,000 feet from the boundary of the Upper Delaware River Corridor. So if we don’t take the opportunity to at least write a letter to them and say ‘we have this awesome river that is designated Wild and Scenic, which isn’t even mentioned in the EA, and that we have some concerns about noise, air pollution and cumulative impacts in the future with more compressors and pipeline coming to the area,’ if we don’t at least say ‘could you at least take a look at this project in relation to the river and the corridor and the quality of life we have here,’ we would be remiss in protecting the river.”
He said NPS sent a long letter regarding the matter to FERC addressing concerns about noise, light and potential cumulative impacts.
Larry Richardson, chair of the committee, said at first glance he thought the letter was a bit “nit-picky,” but he added that the concerns McGuinness listed are valid. He said, “Still I think we could get the point across without maybe getting into all the detail.”
The consensus of the committee that emerged was that the letter would be re-written and sent out to members for approval before the April 1 deadline.
Two members of the public commented on the letter and urged the committee to make it a strong letter that will protect the environment and the river.