Minisink Heads to Washington to Challenge Federal Approval Of Controversial Gas Project Before D.C. Circuit Court


Contact Pramilla Malick



April 30, 2014

MINISINK, N.Y. : Dozens of residents from the town of Minisink, N.Y., along with many supporters, will travel to Washington D.C. on Thursday May 1st as their case challenging the approval process of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) goes before the second highest court in the country, the United Stated Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit., 333 Constitution Ave. N. W. Washington D.C. The case known as MREPS v Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can have significant impact on how pipeline projects are approved, amidst a natural gas boom across the country

This small middle-class community has fought an unprecedented battle for the past three years against billion-dollar gas pipeline company, Columbia Pipeline Group, formerly known as NiSource, over the siting of a 12, 260 Horse Power Gas Compressor station by its subsidiary company, Millennium Pipeline.   The station is now operational in the middle of an otherwise protected agricultural district with over 200 families living within a half- mile of the facility.

The petitioners, Minisink Residents for Environmental Preservation and Safety, are represented by D.C. based Attorney Carolyn Elefant. The heart of their case rests on a community proposed alternative plan deemed environmentally preferable by two dissenting Commissioners; whereas the 3 Commissioner majority deferred solely to the interest of the pipeline company. This 3:2 split is unprecedented at FERC. Petitioners believe the decision of the majority was biased. They argue that FERC’s 99% approval rating for gas infrastructure projects is clear evidence of a completely one sided decision making process. Moreover, they argue that FERC’s own rules require that it reject a project with both significant adverse impacts and a viable alternative.

The stakes for the community are very high. Along with a growing body of scientific studies indicating the likelihood of adverse health impacts, a prominent pipeline engineer has concluded that pressure created on the pipeline from the station makes the facility “unsound” and creates a serious safety hazard for nearby residents. If successful they will be the first community in the nation to force the shutdown and deconstruction of a federally permitted natural gas project.

Oral arguments will begin before the three judge panel exactly at 9:30 am. All observers must be seated by 9:20 am. After the hearing residents from Minisink, along with their attorney and supporters, will assemble outside of the courthouse on the Plaza facing Constitution Avenue to brief reporters, and give statements/interviews.