Who should be doing the environmental review of an oil pipeline through our watersheds … the folks who pave a big road and plow snow?

New York State has an extensive review process mandated by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) to consider the impact of large projects such as the proposed 178-mile-long trench that Pilgrim wants to fill with two pipelines.  The logical choice for the agency to lead the environmental review is the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), since they have the expertise to evaluate a project’s impact on our water supplies, wildlife, and other environmental concerns.

However, since much (but not all!) of the proposed route in New York is along land controlled by the New York Thruway Authority (TA), the TA wanted to act as the lead agency for the review.  Aside from being experts at snow plowing rather than snowy owls, paving rather than pure water, the TA stands to gain a large financial windfall if Pilgrim builds its pipelines and pays land use fees to the TA.

Outraged by this prospect, 29 towns, cities, and counties along the route objected to designating the TA as the Lead Agency.  Nevermind that: the DEC announced in December that both the DEC and TA would be co-Lead Agencies, despite the fact that this arrangement is explicitly discouraged by the DEC’s own rules!

But that is not the end of the story.  Municipalities along the route still have an opportunity to force this decision to be reconsidered, but they have to act fast.  To see an excellent description of what you and your town can do, see what the citizens of Kingston are doing by clicking here.

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