By Rebecca Martin UPDATE: Kingston did it! Both the City of Kingston Mayor and Kingston’s Common Council (unanimously) voted to send letters to both the NYS DEC and Thruway Authority. VIEW the letters.
Because Involved Agencies have been waiting for some resolution of the disagreement, expressed by 29 towns, cities and counties, with Thruway’s November 21, 2015 proposal that it serve as sole lead agency, some might have thought that the co-lead agreement between DEC and Thruway was final. But it isn’t. It is simply 2 involved agencies making a new proposal for who should serve as lead agency for the environmental review of Pilgrim Pipelines project. SEQR regulations require that all involved agencies be given the opportunity to respond to this new proposal, which they can choose to consent to or reject.
Furthermore, the reasons cited by 29 Involved Agencies that rejected the NY Thruway Authority’s proposal to be Lead Agency in the SEQR process in the first go-round : that Thruway stands to gain monetarily from Pilgrim Pipeline to use their right-of-way and that they are not equipped or experienced in managing an environmental review process for such an incredibly large and complicated project, remain true.
The bottom line is that the NY Thruway Authority’s bid to take on the lead agency role was overwhelmingly rejected to begin with and yet they are still in the running. Also perplexing is that on the NYS DEC’s own website, they dissuade co-lead roles in SEQR and instead advise that “a single lead agency be established with the other agency actively involved in the process but not as co-lead agency” and for good reason. What would occur if the two leads differed in opinion somewhere down the line? Which agency would trump the other for a decision to be made?
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) decision to share the environmental review responsibilities with the NYS Thruway Authority for the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline project was a big disappointment to us all at KingstonCitizens.org.
“The three cities who are “involved” in this proposal – Kingston, Newburgh and Albany – all rejected the Thruway Authority’s request.” said Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of KingstonCitizens.org. “We count on the DEC to uphold their responsibility to protect the environment and our public, and a co-lead in an environmental review process is not a good compromise. From what I know, it is an unprecedented decision and in my opinion, the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal is the wrong project to test out a shared leadership role. We need the lead to be fully unbiased and do not accept one that shares to gain monetarily in anyway. How is the public to trust that it isn’t tainted otherwise?”
When we were looking to purchase a car, it was important to us to find not only one from a company that was environmentally friendly, but also in an age of better technology, to purchase a car that had lower emissions while doing better on gas milage. Of course, an electric car is perhaps the way to go, however the choices currently are limited for what we need, and very costly too.
So we opted for a Volkswagen (VW) Diesel which promised as we understood it lower emissions and up to 40 mpg + on the highway.
As the world now knows, cars like ours are being recalled. “It’s been dubbed the “diesel dupe”. In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that many VW cars being sold in America had a “defeat device” – or software – in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results. The German car giant has since admitted cheating emissions tests in the US.” according to a report by the BBC.
When I first learned of this, I called my dealership in Kingston straight away – requesting to surrender the car. I didn’t want to be driving around with an engine “emitting nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above what is allowed in the US.” But due to it being a lease and with low mileage, I was told that VW wouldn’t take ours back. That it was “cheaper to fix a newer model then it was to replace it.”
THIS JUST IN: A new public hearing on the Microbead Ban will occur on 1/19/16 and vote by full legislature sometime before the end of January. It has been tabled for tonight. More information coming soon. But please plan to attend to encourage the legislature to pass the remaining three other resolutions.
For the past month, KingstonCitizens.org has been following and working towards the public being more aware of the importance to understand the impacts in Kingston of both the Pilgrim Pipeline and proposed Microbead ban proposal – all up for vote tonight at the Ulster County Legislature Meeting located at 244 Fair Street, 6th floor in Kingston. Public comment will begin at 6:30pm. * THIS JUST IN: Plan now is for new public hearing on 1/19/16 and vote by full legislature sometime before the end of January. TONIGHT’S vote will only include the below three resolutions.
We have attached information below on each of the resolutions with some key points for you to research before you speak. Please keep your speech to 3 minutes or less.
8:03 – 10:00
Introduction of Proposed Shooting Range project. New information regarding the application including a membership makes it not possible for the planning board to take an action this month. The planning board will reconvene a public hearing on January 11th, 2016 meeting.
10:05 – 17:02
Scott Dutton of Dutton Architecture and Dr. Soyer
On Monday, December 14 at 6:00pm (VIEW KingstonCitizens.org’s Facebook event invitation) , the Kingston Planning Board will host a public hearing on the Proposed Shooting Range project. The sponsor of the project Dr. Adam Soyer, an orthopedic surgeon from Kingston, is looking to build a membership based indoor gun range and gun shop at 90 and 92-94 Prince Street by next fall. The range would be meant for mostly short-range handgun target shooting, with a plan that would host five lanes for shooting as well as a room for education and a gun shop. It has been reported that gun rentals may also be available.
The concerns of citizens who are opposed to the project include not only questioning whether or not the location – in the heart of midtown – is best suited for a shooting range where many renters, businesses and schools are located, but also environmental factors such as proper lead disposal (known as “projectiles” or ammunition), safety/quality of life issues such as potential stray bullets, gun sales and rentals and the upcoming adoption of Kingston’s Comprehensive Plan and an imminent citywide zoning overhaul that will follow to clarify the highest use of property in our Midtown area based on years of public input.
After the Lead Agency determination deadline on December 16th, KingstonCitizens.org urges the community to stay informed on the many upcoming phases of the SEQR review for the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal as it pertains to Kingston. We are anticipating a large scoping effort next. Please SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MAILING LIST, and join our growing citizen base to become better informed, educated and effective.
The following quotes were crafted by Iris Marie Bloom from Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines (CAPP):
Last night, the Kingston Common Council passed a memorializing resolution rejecting the Thruway Authority’s request to be Lead Agency in SEQR for the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline proposal.
“I’m thrilled it passed unanimously,” said Julie Noble, Chair of the Kingston, New York Conservation Advisory Council, after the Kingston Common Council’s 9-0 vote last night.
“Once again the City of Kingston is helping to lead the charge, as we continue to move in an environmentally sensitive direction, providing leadership locally, regionally and worldwide,” Kingston Alderman Matt Dunn said in his public testimony. “Many organizations here tonight have helped us take this stand against the Thruway Authority’s attempt to inappropriately lead the environmental review.”
Jennifer Schwartz-Berky, legislator-elect as an Ulster County legislator and member of KingstonCitizens.org, thanked the Kingston Common Council for taking this step in her public testimony in favor of the Resolution last night. “We’re not going to accept deals made behind closed doors. It’s clear there’s a conflict [of interest] with the Thruway Authority. There’s a lot at stake here.”
“Kingston’s Climate Action Plan, in 2012, set goals of reducing fossil fuel dependency and increasing renewables by 2020. That’s one of the reasons Kingston passed the Resolution Opposing Pilgrim Pipelines in January 2015,” added Julie Noble, who is also the Environmental Educator for the City of Kingston’s Parks and Recreation Department.
“Your forward thinking in January 2015, when you passed the Resolution Opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline, helps to guide us now,” said Rebecca Martin, of KingstonCitizens.org. “Almost 10 months later, the Thruway wants Kingston, one of only three cities along the pipelines’ direct path [the other two are Newburgh and Albany], to allow it to be the lead agency. Kingston is declining this request, and acting swiftly.”
Kingston Alderman Brad Will said, “I strongly support tonight’s resolution,”adding,“Our next step will be looking at the oil trains barreling through our city.” Pilgrim’s proposed crude oil pipeline would increase, not decrease, the number of oil trains coming through New York State, research has shown. *** (see below)
Oil trains in New York State would increase, not decrease, if Pilgrim pipelines are built, according to analysis by the organization Riverkeeper and by Stephen Shafer, MD, MPH.
Millions of people in New York and New Jersey would have their drinking water put at risk by the proposed Pilgrim pipelines. This includes those who drink water drawn from the Ramapo River, the Hudson River, the Karst Aquifer, the Passaic River Basin, and many other rivers, streams and aquifers.
More on these and other topics including eminent domain; climate; the Koch Industries relationship to Pilgrim pipelines; and the type of oil Pilgrim may use, see attached “New Background.” For broader factual background and overview, see attached “Backgrounder.” For arguments against Pilgrim pipelines by the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines, see FAQs at www.stoppilgrimpipeline.com
Where: Kingston City Hall 420 Broadway Kingston, NY
When: Tuesday, December 1, 2015 Sign-up to speak at 7:20pm. Common Council meeting begins at 7:30pm. Public comment starts at around 7:35pm.
Why: The Kingston Common Council votes to pass through a resolution denying the Thruway Authority’s request (or not) for Lead Agency in the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) regarding the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal. Requests, instead, that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) assume the role.
In January of 2015, the Kingston Common Council passed through a memorializing resolution of the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council’s opposition of the bi-directional Pilgrim Pipeline proposal, stating that “the proposed pipelines potentially threatens the health, safety and welfare of the community; could decrease the values of homes located along its route and in surrounding neighborhoods; and could negatively impact future development in the City of Kingston.” The Council’s early position was important in preparation of the direction our council and community would take for what is now the start of the environmental review process.
The City of Kingston is an ‘Involved Agency’ in SEQR for the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal in NYS, and that is because the two pipelines would run underneath at least one of our city streets. Because of which, we have a ‘discretionary decision’ to make in SEQR and therefore, a say in who we feel is the most qualified “Lead Agency” in the SEQR process in this case.
On November 16th, the Thruway Authority sent “Lead Agency” letters out to all municipalities (Supervisors and Mayors) who are ‘Involved’ agencies with their intention to take on that role. That date is significant, because there is only a 30 day window in SEQR to determine Lead Agency once letters are dated and distributed. That gives municipalities only until December 16th to respond, which is not very convenient.
Proper process for decision making at a minimum is two months. This sort of timeline really places a strain on our local governments to come up to speed on the issue, craft resolutions and move them through proper channels to vote. If an ‘Involved Agency’ does not respond, then it is simply seen as consent for the one requesting the Lead Agency role.
That is why we appreciate the City of Kingston’s cooperation and swiftness here – in the midst of many transitions, holidays, tough proposals and budget hearings. Since word of the Lead Agency request only last week, our Conservation Advisory Council and Common Council acted swiftly. Letters from our Mayor’s office were released rejecting the Thruway Authority’s request for Lead Agency and instead, asking that the DEC take on the role as well.
On Tuesday, December 1st – our common council will discuss a proposed resolution to officially deny the Throughway Authority the role of ‘Lead Agency’. Help them to do so by speaking in support of this decision. If you plan to speak on Tuesday night, we ask that you keep your points succinct, three minutes or less – and remember to show your support to Kingston’s Common Council and thank them for their swiftness in responding to this matter. Ask that they REJECT the Thruway Authority’s request to be Lead Agency in SEQR and instead, that the DEC take on that role.
Here are four reasons why the DEC is the better choice for Lead Agency of a proposal such as the Pilgrim Pipeline.
1. The proposed pipeline threatens numerous resources of state-wide concern within the DEC’s jurisdiction, including the Hudson River and such important tributaries as the Rondout, Esopus, and Catskill Creeks and Wallkill River, State-regulated wetlands, the Karst Aquifer Region (a priority project designated in the NYS Open Space Conservation Plan), and other resources that the DEC is responsible for protecting.
2. NYS DEC, as the state environmental agency, is best suited to guide the environmental review of this large, multi jurisdictional project that has the potential to impact environmental resources in six New York counties and 29 towns, and is the agency with the power and the expertise to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated review.
3. NYS DEC has statewide responsibility for mitigating climate change and helping to ensure that New York will meet the targets set in the 2015 New York State Energy Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 below 1990 emissions levels. The Commissioner’s Policy mandates that DEC must consider climate change in all its actions, including permitting. This proposed project to construct the first crude oil pipeline in New York must be evaluated within the context of the Energy Plan and state energy objectives, and the DEC is best positioned to ensure the comprehensive evaluation that is needed.
4. The pipeline will traverse and impact private lands and resources both inside and outside of the New York Thruway right-of-way, and the evaluation of those impacts should therefore be led by an agency independent of the Thruway Authority, particularly given that the Thruway Authority has a potential financial interest in this project owing to any revenues that could be collected for use of the right-of-way.
Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo to the Thruway Authority LETTER
Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo to the DEC LETTER
TIMELY ACTION: Please attend the next Kingston Common Council meeting on Tuesday, December 1st at 7:30pm and sign-up to speak in support of the City of Kingston passing a resolution that rejects the Thruway Authority’s request to be Lead Agency in SEQR for the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal and, that the DEC take on the role of Lead Agency instead.
On November 16, 2015, municipalities in NYS that are ‘Involved’ agencies in the Pilgrim Pipeline SEQR process were informed by the Thruway Authority (by letter) requesting to be Lead Agency. With only the allowed 30 day window to respond (which, in this case, would be December 16th, 2015) – hardly any time at all – municipalities are forced to have to act swiftly. At this early stage, all appear to be in agreement that the Thruway Authority should not be leading the environmental review process and that instead, the DEC should take on that role.
Why is the DEC the better choice for Lead Agency of a proposal such as the Pilgrim Pipeline?
The proposed pipelines threaten numerous resources of state-wide concern within the DEC’s jurisdiction, including the Hudson River and such important tributaries as the Rondout, Esopus, and Catskill Creeks and Wallkill River, State-regulated wetlands, the Karst Aquifer Region (a priority project designated in the NYS Open Space Conservation Plan), and other resources that the DEC is responsible for protecting.
NYS DEC, as the state environmental agency, is best suited to guide the environmental review of this large, multi jurisdictional project that has the potential to impact environmental resources in six New York counties and 29 towns, and is the agency with the power and the expertise to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated review.
NYS DEC has statewide responsibility for mitigating climate change and helping to ensure that New York will meet the targets set in the 2015 New York State Energy Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 below 1990 emissions levels. The Commissioner’s Policy mandates that DEC must consider climate change in all its actions, including permitting. This proposed project to construct the first crude oil pipeline in New York must be evaluated within the context of the Energy Plan and state energy objectives, and the DEC is best positioned to ensure the comprehensive evaluation that is needed.
The two pipelines will traverse and impact private lands and resources both inside and outside of the New York Thruway right-of-way, and the evaluation of those impacts should therefore be led by an agency independent of the Thruway Authority, particularly given that the Thruway Authority has a potential financial interest in this project owing to any revenues that could be collected for use of the right-of-way.
I am pleased to report that Kingston took immediate steps upon learning of the Thruway Authority’s intent, and tonight the Public Safety Committee passed through a resolution created by Kingston’s Conservation Advisory Council requesting that they refuse the Thruway Authority’s request, and press that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) take on the role instead.
The resolution will now come up in front of Kingston’s Common Council to vote on TUESDAY, December 1st at 7:30pm. This is a great opportunity for the public to speak during public comment, to urge that the resolution pass and that a notice to all necessary parties be sent ASAP and prior to the December 16th “Lead Agency” request deadline.
VIEW: The city of Kingston’s memorializing resolution opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline.
As you probably read in the papers yesterday (Daily Freeman, 11/18/15), Pilgrim Pipeline, LLC has filed a ‘use and occupancy’ permit application in NY to construct the Pilgrim Pipeline. According to the papers, the pipeline would run under at least one of Kingston’s roads (as it follows the Thruway).
Because of which, the City of Kingston is an ‘Involved’ agency in SEQR, which means that Kingston will be able to have a voice in determining who is Lead Agency of this project.
This is now incredibly timely, as the Thruway Authority (TA) has sent out “Lead Agency” letters to all “Involved” agencies, which means that one has probably arrived by now at City Hall, and the City of Kingston will need to respond by DECEMBER 16th. What’s important to note here that during this process, municipalities must respond by this date. Having no response is a supportive nod “yes” to the one requesting Lead Agency status.
As you may recall in January of 2014, the City of Kingston unanimously passed a memorializing resolution #21 of 2015 ‘in support of the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council’s Recommendation to Oppose the Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline” that was sponsored by the Council’s Public Safety Committee and that passed unanimously.
Why is it important that city of Kingston right now decline the Thruway Authority as Lead Agency, and instead – request that the DEC take on that role instead? First, the proposal may in fact violate New York State Energy and Climate policies firmly in place. READ: Energy/Climate Programs: NY’s Climate and Energy Portfolio. Additionally, here are five points so clearly outlined by Jennifer Metztgar who resides in the Town of Rosedale, also an ‘Involved’ agency in the proposal. We changed the municipality to reflect our own.
1) More than 20 New York municipalities, including the City of Kingston, have passed resolutions (both memorializing and otherwise) of opposition to this project after concluding that the risks and costs to our communities far outweigh any potential benefits, and that the project contradicts local and State energy goals;
2) The proposed pipeline threatens important resources of statewide concern, including the Hudson River and major tributaries, such as the Rondout, Esopus, and Catskill Creeks and Wallkill River, State-regulated wetlands and other resources that the DEC is responsible for protecting and is best equipped to ensure a full and adequate evaluation of environmental impacts.
3) The DEC is one of the State agencies responsible for State efforts to mitigate climate change, and is best positioned to lead an evaluation of this project’s potential impacts on climate.
4) DEC, as the state environmental agency, is best suited to guide the environmental review of this large, multi jurisdictional project that has the potential to impact environmental resources in 6 New York counties and 29 towns, and is the agency with the power and the expertise to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated review,
5) The pipeline will traverse and impact private lands and resources outside of the Thruway right-of-way, including lands within the City of Kingston, and it is therefore more appropriate for the DEC than the Thruway to play the lead role in evaluating the impacts to those lands and resources.
Inside of Kingston, we’d like to thank Kingston’s elected and appointed officials for the hard work they have already put into the Pilgrim Pipeline issue inside our community. We are now faced with our first critical item – so to help support them, we are working on a direction for our community to speak in response to this initial request. It will come about swiftly, so please stay tuned to learn what you can do to in support a Kingston request the DEC be Lead Agency in SEQR on the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal.
Citizens in the City of Kingston spoke regarding the proposed Shooting Range in Midtown, Kingston. Some requested a public hearing, and it appears that the Planning Board has determined it to be appropriate to hold one.
More details shortly. Part three of the video, by the way, will be available later on today. Please review the video below.
“Rebecca Martin, founder of KingstonCitizens.org, said the decision was an important one. The group has been a strong proponent of the measure. “Congratulations to the citizens of Kingston for taking this important first step in protecting their water by voting ‘yes’ on the water sales referendum,” Martin said via email Tuesday night. “KingstonCitizens.org wishes to thank the leadership of the city of Kingston’s Common Council and our partners, including Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper, Kevin Smith of the Woodstock Land Conservancy and Mary McNamara of the Esopus Creek Conservancy.” – The Daily Freeman
Vote YES on the Water Sales Referendum on Tuesday, November 3rd by TURNING OVER THE BALLOT where you will find the referendum.
The Niagara Bottling proposal came out of the blue for Kingston citizens (VIEW the timeline). After extensive work by a growing coalition of residents and stakeholders to bring as much information to the public forward as possible, Niagara abandoned their proposal on February 15, 2015. Elected officials acted quickly afterwards, and the City of Kingston’s Common Council unanimously voted (twice), with the Mayor’s approval, to support a Water Sales Referendum that would give the public a say in municipal water sales outside of Kingston’s corporate boundaries to be placed on the ballot this fall. It’s an unprecedented and critical opportunity.
Some have asked, will this impact agreements already set in place? The answer, is no. This referendum impacts any contracts moving forward. The process will have to be determined, but it will allow the council to collaborate with the Water Department to set some real criteria to its decision making as should be the case.
Here are four important points made by KingstonCitizens.org’s Jennifer Schwartz Berky in our piece “In Their Own Words“.
During the Niagara Bottling proposal last year:
#1 You had no say about whether to sell our limited supply of safe, high quality drinking water to a billion-dollar corporation for a fraction of the rate that you pay.
#2 You had no say about the use of your tax dollars going toward the attraction of a polluting industry.
#3 You had no say about how this would limit further residential and commercial development in Kingston.
#4 You had no say regarding whether this was environmentally detrimental to our community.
If you vote “YES” for the Water Referendum, you will for evermore have a say. Say “YES” to include Kingston’s Common Council – and the public – to the Water Board’s decision making process in the sale of our precious municipal water.
The referendum will appear on the back of your ballot. Make sure you TURN IT OVER when you vote on Tuesday.
* Kingston Water Department issued a ‘Will Serve’ Letter to Niagara Bottling, welcoming them to Kingston before the public had any knowledge of the proposed deal on 9/15/14. Lets make sure that doesn’t ever happen again. READ
* In Their Own Words. Citizens, elected officials and stakeholders share their views on why citizens should vote YES on the Water Sales Referendum. READ
* The Mayor of Kingston appoints Water Board Commissioners solely. Who are they, and what experience do they have to help steward our municipal water source? What is the selection process? It has all been handled out of the public eye until we started watching last year, and we will continue – as the Water Department, though currently independent, is still a part of Kingston City Government. The Charter states that Water Board Commissioner’s terms are five years, though there are still members who have served since 1981. Why? READ
At the last Water Board Meeting, a board member made a motion to “Make sure that those who record meetings notify us prior to doing such action and that we have a record of those doing such.”
In other words, you can’t record their meetings unless you alert the board in advance and then, submit some form of paperwork to be determined. It passed through unanimously and their Lawyer, Bill Cloonan, clarified and obliged (see video below. Starts at 7:31 and ends at 9:18).
What the board and their lawyer may not have realized is that what they requested was against NYS Open Meetings Law on recording devices.
Jennifer Schwartz Berky, KingstonCitizens.org’s Policy and Planning advisor, called Albany to confirm that this was the case, and crafted a letter to the Water Board requesting that they overturn the motion based on judicial precedents (see below).
Citizens have the right to record all city meetings, and as it pertains to the water board – we will continue to do so until the end of time. Or until at least the City of Kingston does it themselves. Water management is just too important for us not to.
We hope that this instance helps to inform the public on their rights in this case.