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DEC, Thruway Authority to share lead role on pipeline review

Dec 22, 2015 6:20 am

William J. Kemble is reporting in the Daily Freeman the New York State Thruway Authority and the state Department of Environmental Conservation on Mon., Dec. 21, announced they will split the role of lead agency in the pending environmental review of the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline. The declaration was made in letters from both agencies, and comes as dozens of communities have expressed open opposition to the Thruway Authority taking the lead due to conflicts of interest. The Thruway Authority contends the best interests of the Authority would be served by allowing it to be in charge of the environmental studies. “This extensive, regional project, which spans from Albany County to Rockland County, necessarily implicates numerous significant impacts relating to Thruway maintenance and operations, including future use of the Thruway, which the authority possesses exclusive knowledge of,” Thruway Authority Executive Director Robert Megna wrote. Under the proposal, one pipeline would be used to move 200,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil each day from Albany to Linden, New Jersey. The second pipeline would carry the same amount of refined materials north. State Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Deputy Commissioner Thomas Berkman stated his agency is better suited to identify issues involving private property and environmental regulation. The decision was met with concern from Citizens for Local Power co-founder Jennifer Metzger. Metzger noted the state Thruway Authority, which is seeking to find a revenue source to pay for work on the Tappen Zee Bridge, has declined to say what Pilgrim Pipeline officials would pay for a lease along the highway. “It seems really clear there’s a conflict of interest there,” she said. Ulster town Supervisor James Quigley was also troubled by the decision. He said, “I’d feel more comfortable with the DEC having the full responsibility for the environmental review." The proposed 178-mile Pilgrim Pipeline would run through Albany, Greene, and Ulster counties, largely along the I-87 corridor. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.