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Schuyler legislature opposes Crestwood LPG plan

The Schuyler County Legislature voted on Monday to rescind its prior support for an attempt to store liquefied propane gas in local salt mines, after reports that one of the caverns may have leaks.

The resolution was introduced at Monday’s meeting by legislator Phil Barnes and seconded by legislator Van Harp. It passed unanimously.

The resolution was authored by Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan, with input from the County Planning Department Kristin VanHorn, County Attorney Steven Getman, County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, Emergency Management Bill Kennedy and Clerk of the Legislature Stacy Husted. It repeals the county’s support pending completion of future pressure testing and subsequent review and approval by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

After the vote, Fagan said “Clearly, we have to consider the local taxpayers. We have to take their concerns seriously.”

As part of its passage, the legislature directed the clerk to send the final resolution to the Governor and other state officials.

The County Legislature took up the resolution after a May 17th letter to the DEC from lawyers representing Finger Lakes LPG Storage. In that letter, Kevin Bernstein, an attorney with Bond Schoeneck & King, asked the DEC to delay a final decision on the storage unit application until well pressure tests determine its suitability as a gas storage unit. Finger Lakes LPG Storage is a subsidiary of Crestwood Midstream Partners.

During deliberations, Legislator Michael Lausell again to that letter, and noted the need to remain vigilant to future developments in the application process, to ensure the safety of Schuyler County residents.

In 2014, the legislature voted five to three in support of the LPG storage plant, based on “submissions and compliance with all regulatory requests” that “minimized impacts to the maximum extent practicable and that the caverns to be used for LPG storage are well-suited for such use.” In 2016, after Crestwood scaled back its plans, the legislature reiterated that support, six votes to two.

In June, Toxics Targeting, a company that compiles information on toxic sites, released documents it claimed prove the DEC knew of, and failed to disclose, leakage concerns.

A complete copy of the draft resolution can be found here.

Gas Free Seneca, an organization that has been leading the effort to fight against the proposed LPG storage facility said they appreciated the Legislature’s effort. “For years, we’ve been saying that the unlined ​caverns under Seneca Lake were never engineered to store anything, let alone explosive gas,” said Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Gas Free Seneca. “We appreciate that the Schuyler County Legislature is finally looking at this situation with fresh eyes and opposing this dangerous plan.  It’s time for Governor Cuomo to reject this proposal once and for all.”

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