WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Westchester Legislator Pete Harckham (D-North Salem) called for an extended comment period regarding the proposed Algonquin Incremental Market Project.
The project is an infrastructure expansion that will replace and build new gas pipelines, including 1.2 miles of new pipeline to be installed beneath the Hudson River using a horizontal directional drill, to transport Marcellus shale gas to markets in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Additionally, Harckham, the Majority Leader of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) who represents District 2, expressed strong concerns in a letter sent earlier this week to Kimberly D. Bose, secretary of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), about how the project will impact public safety and the environmental impact. He also emphasized the need for the BOL to be recognized as a stakeholder in the project.
“As a matter of transparency and good governance, it makes sense to give Westchester residents and business owners ample opportunities to comment on this major pipeline project, especially since it will greatly affect the county’s northern communities,” Harckham said in a statement. “I have asked that the period for scoping comments be extended by a minimum of thirty days, and preferably sixty days, because many of my constituents became aware of this project only just recently.”
Harckham stated that the BOL needs to be as a government agency stakeholder for the AIM Project as part of the proposed pipeline will traverse across Westchester County, with pipeline construction planned to occur on several miles of the County’s Blue Mountain Reservation, a popular hiking area and recreational facility.
According to the parent company, Spectra Energy/Algonquin Gas Transmission, the AIM Project will provide the Northeast with cost effective, domestically produced natural gas to help meet increasing demand. Prior to filing a formal application for the project’s approval, Algonquin Gas Transmission must first move through the “pre-file process,” and this includes gathering public comments.
Concerns have been raised that the proposed construction for the AIM project will cross several residential neighborhoods in the Towns of Cortlandt, Yorktown, and Somers and the City of Peekskill.
“The public safety for these residents is paramount during construction activities on a high-pressure gas pipeline,” said Harckham, who added that the resource reports and environmental impact statement should provide specific details on safety procedures that will be employed during rock blasting and construction in residential areas.
Other outstanding issues that need to be addressed, Harckham noted, involve watershed impacts, greenhouse gas emissions along the pipeline, impact to the Hudson River and environs caused by the horizontal drilling under the river, soil compaction and how it may affect septic systems near the pipeline, increased traffic caused by the project, plus air quality and noise issues, and potential impacts to residential and commercial wells.
“People should know there’s a lot to look at and discuss about this project before the approvals are all set up,” concluded Harckham. “This means paying attention to the kinds of details that may well affect the quality of life here in Westchester.”