Appalachian Basin

Don’t Circuses Happen Under Big Tents?

Last week the New York Department of Environmental Conservation held a hearing on the proposed liquefied propane gas storage project in Watkins Glen, NY.  The hearing was designed to provide  an opportunity for the public to comment on the project and air their concerns or support.  The crowd included a mix of the silent majority supporting the project and strong supporters of Gas Free Seneca-the loyal opposition.  What was clear is that those opposing this project took what should have been a fairly routine hearing and turned it into a bit of a circus due to their tactics.   Everyone has a right to participate in a public hearing but disrespecting other  residents seeking to do the same should not be a commonplace tactic in public discourse.

The Proposed LPG Storage Facility

Inergy is proposing to use a salt cavern that was previously used to store propane from 1964-1984 to, once again, house one of the most commonly consumed energy sources in Schuyler County and the state overall.  This will be a larger facility than the one currently operating in Watkins Glen and it will help alleviate high winter heating costs, bring a substantial amount of tax revenue to the community and will provide 50 construction jobs and 8 to 10 permanent full time positions. Please watch videos below where the managers, engineers, and geologists working on this project explain it in detail. This assembled team of experts has decades of experience on working on similar projects and provided an informative overview of what is being proposed in Watkins Glen.  Also, be sure to take a look at this Fact Not Fiction sheet and this Project Description and FAQs.

Barry Cigich: Vice President Operations & Engineering for Inergy Midstream with more than 30 years experience in the oil and gas industry.

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Roland Penta: Immediate Past Chairman of the National Propane Gas Association, Past President of the New York Propane Gas Association, President of Phelps Sungas, Inc., which has served the Finger Lakes area for over 70 years.


John Istvan: Geologist for Inergy Midstream with over 50 years experience in the salt industry; served as Project Manager for the first natural gas storage facility in bedded salt in the United States.

You can also view the power point that Mr. Istvan is referring to in the video here.

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Barry Moon: Manager for Inergy Midstream with experience in well solution mining, well work-overs, well logging, well drilling, well safety controls, plant safety controls and plant operations and upgrades.


The Circus

Despite the information provided by the team of experts, the 60+ year history of safe propane storage in the Finger Lakes region, the existing harmonious relationship between wineries and industry in the community many residents oppose this project.

Hundreds of people from all over the state were present to discuss the project.  Many in opposition ranted about hydraulic fracturing, a subject not even being discussed.   The opposition presented little more than a large scale version of the Schuyler County meeting of a couple of weeks ago. Despite Inergy Bill Moler’s presentation that reiterated key points of this project, it was obvious many of the opposition were blinded by their opposition to natural gas development and were determined to push their own agendas.

What was clear is that Gas Free Seneca and the opposition managed to fill half of the auditorium and the Silent Majority, those residents in Watkins Glen who support this project, also came out in large numbers to show their support.

One thing that was a mark of distinction between the groups was the way they engaged their neighbors, colleagues and friends at the hearing.  It appeared the Gas Free Seneca crowd had little to no respect for their fellow residents that support the project.  Yes, their neighbors with which they have shared meals, stories and memories they now actively booed just because they support a project that will bring economic promise to the region.  They exhibited a complete disregard for the 80+ people who supported the project.  It was disturbing and unfortunate to witness.

Looking Ahead

One hopes the New York DEC, which has overseen underground salt cavern storage for years, will look professionally at the history of safety, the facts of this particular project and will approve this project.

If this hearing was a predictor of what is to come, we have a long road until December 12, and now more than ever landowners in support of natural gas development need to turn out in full force at the upcoming hearings. We’ll be there alongside of you through it all and help you to ensure that permitting begins in New York!



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