July 19 2013 – MREPS Brief to the US Court of Appeals DC Circuit

MREPS July 19 2013 Brief to US Court of Appeals DC Circuit

On July 19, 2013, Washington, D.C. attorney, Carolyn Elefant, filed an Initial Brief (main legal case) on behalf of Minisink, NY residents in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (Docket No. 12-1481) to overturn the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) July 17, 2012 Order certificating the construction of the new 12,260hp Minisink Compressor Station in the middle of a community. (See FERC Order as well as Rehearing challenges by residents at www.ferc.gov under Docket No. CP11-515). Millennium Pipeline Company, LLC had the responsibility and ability to use its existing infrastructure for its own project before pushing a new greenfield construction in the middle of 200+ families within the first half-mile radius of the new site.

The Initial Brief seeks reversal of the FERC Order and the deconstruction of the Minisink Compressor Station. FERC will be filing their response to the Court mid-September then Millennium will file their response the first week of October. Lastly, residents will respond by mid-October with the Final Briefs due the first week in November 2013. A three judge panel will then review our case and oral arguments should be scheduled for the parties in question.

Minisink residents have argued that the FERC process has been heavily biased in favor of Millennium; thus the process has been “arbitrary and capricious.” Among the arguments supporting prejudicial decision-making by FERC are:

– The Commission did not properly take into account Millennium’s current and future plans
– Nullification of reasonable Alternatives for any natural gas project
– Inevitable upgrade to the bottlenecked 24-inch diameter 7.2-mile Neversink pipe segment
– Failing to consider the resident-backed Wagoner Alternative as the best option
– Stonewalling residents on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other material documents
– Improperly balancing the project’s benefits against adverse economic impacts
– Relying heavily on Millennium’s own engineering analysis
– Arbitrarily refusing to take a serious look at prominent pipeline engineer’s report
– Contradicting its own ruling elsewhere to support approval of the project
– Giving more weight to permanent construction over temporary disruption of the Wagoner Alternative
– Not adequately responding to the two dissenting Commissioners’ concerns

The court does not get involved with minor issues or expertise in FERC’s purview like noise, health, etc. However, the court looks at these issues if not fairly applied. This case is more than just complaints about property devaluation, noise, and health concerns. This case is mainly about due process violations by the federal government when they ignored key facts in our case like: the inevitable upgrade to the 24-inch 7.2-mile Neversink pipe segment; lack of sharing information with residents; failure to choose the only economically and preferable Wagoner Alternative; and, the arbitrary and capricious manner in which FERC decided this case in spite of the facts before them.