Kingston Common Council Meeting
Kingston City Hall 420 Broadway Kingston, NY
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.
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.