The controversy of the Iroquois pipeline continues as Ulster County residents protest potential compressor stations from being built in both Dover and Athens, NY. A compressor station is a facility that handles the transportation process of natural gas from one location to another.
“The Iroquois pipeline was built over 30 years ago. When they built it, it was shoddily built and they actually got the second highest fine next to the Exxon Valdez oil spill,” said co-founder of Frackbusters New York Mary Finneran. “It actually starts in Canada at the Trans Canada pipeline and the Trans Canada pipeline company owns the Keystone XL.”
“It runs all the way from Canada into New York City. It pumps natural gas and as far as I know, it’s been there for a while supplying gas to the city. In recent developments, the Iroquois company wants to add a compressor station,” said first-year Environmental Protection Project Leader for NYPIRG Brianna Rodriguez.
“A compressor station would increase, sort of, the amount of gas that is pumped through the pipeline. Their reasoning for this would be to supply more gas to New York City,” said Rodriguez. “The problem with compressor stations is that a lot of methane gas, carbon dioxide and fine particulate matter and just a lot of bad things are released into the air, a lot of harmful substances.”
The compressor stations that will potentially be placed in Dover and Athens will put these communities at risk for not only health concerns, but also at an economic disadvantage.
“Compressor stations are extremely loud and extremely polluting to wherever they’re built, they’re a nuisance and the sites where they’re proposed are either in or adjacent to communities that are considered to be disadvantaged or have a harder time economically,” said Laura Shindell, an organizer with Food and Water Watch.
“Where the compressor station will be placed is considered a disadvantaged community in the climate log that NY state has passed,” Rodriguez said. “Those communities are typically lower income communities of color.”
Shindell explained that since environmentally disadvantaged communities have less political power, “it’s easier to get [compressor stations] approved, but then it’s always folks that end up with the brunt of asthma and health outcomes and lower property values and every negative outcome that comes with polluting infrastructure.”
“We see all too often that polluting infrastructure gets placed in disadvantaged communities and you see worse health outcomes, higher rates of asthma, higher rates of cancer and less money to be able to deal with those health impacts after the fact,” Shindell stated. “It’s easier for the industry to place polluting infrastructure in disadvantaged communities, because they usually have a little less political power, less bandwidth to engage in their political process.”
Fracking has been a hot topic concerning climate change and the overall wellbeing of communities. Fracking causes an abundance of health concerns, including asthma and heart disease, as well as exposes pollutants to groundwater and the rain cycle.
“Right now 90-something percent of all gas is extracted by fracking. New York State has a ban on fracking, but they only have a ban on high value. So there’s a loophole,” said Finneran. “There’s other kinds of low value fracking, but right now, at least, almost all gas is virtually fracked.”
“The pipeline expansion would, if approved, would have ratepayers pay more money to get locked into fossil fuels for the lifespan of the pipeline, another 30 to 40 years,” said Shindell. “And if we’re locked into more reliance on fossil fuels, there’s less movement towards renewable energy. It takes us further away from meeting our emission reduction goals.”
Not only does the pollution from the pipeline poison essential natural resources, but the means by which industries frack oil also dissolves fresh water aquifers.
“It’s also a poison to the water and the main thing that I’m concerned about is what’s working for every single time they drill, and they’ve drilled millions of times, they use five million and more gallons of fresh water and they say it has to be fresh,” Finneran said. So they are using all the water. The Ogallala Aquifer is down to nothing. All the water in the West is down to nothing and they’re saying oh, it’s climate change, but it is also the fact that they’ve been fracking so much and they’ve just kept sucking the water and the thing is it takes it out of the rain cycle.”
The age of the pipeline also plays a role in the impending risks and dangers of pumping more oil through these new compressor stations. “Pipelines are inherently dangerous and this one is old. And pushing a lot more gas through it was not safe for the communities along the pipeline. Particularly this pipeline in the compressor station intersects with the Indian Point nuclear power plants in the pipeline,” said Shindell. “There’s all of this interconnecting infrastructure that more pressure through the pipeline makes it inherently risky. New York legislators say New York is leading the way on climate, so that should be enough to say ‘no’ to more fossil fuel infrastructure.”
Advances in technology make it so there is significantly less of a reliance on using natural resources, such as oil, for heating and fueling. Sustainable means of heating and fueling are encouraged and essential to protecting the environment. “So it’s kind of like there is no need. It’s only for greed. We say ‘no need over greed, no profit over people.’” said Finneran.
For more information against the implementation of local compressor stations in the Hudson Valley area, refer to actionnetwork.org.