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Federal agency denies second hearing request

SCHUYLER COUNTY--The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied the second re-hearing request submitted by Gas Free Seneca regarding Crestwood's underground natural gas storage expansion project Friday, Jan. 6.
"FERC's denial of our request is not unusual," said Vice President of Gas Free Seneca Yvonne Taylor in a recent press release, noting the organization would be looking into avenues for an appeal of the decision with the Circuit Court.
In June 2016, Gas Free Seneca requested a re-hearing of a May 2016 order by FERC, which granted Crestwood (as a part of the Stagecoach Gas Services LLC partnership) a two-year extension of time to complete the the expansion project. This involved converting two interconnected salt caverns beneath the shores of Seneca lake, previously used for liquefied petroleum gas storage, to use for natural gas storage, and alleged the commission failed to consider critical safety concerns and information.
In a statement released by Gas Free Seneca, they are concerned new regulations that are to take place July 18, 2017 require minimum standards for construction and operation of underground facilities, and Crestwood's project does not meet some of the minimum safety requirements.
In the order released by FERC denying the re-hearing, the commission states that it carefully considered environmental and safety concerns throughout these proceedings and had good cause to grant the two-year extension.
Representatives from Stagecoach did not return a telephone call by press time.
In May 2014, FERC authorized the expansion of Crestwood's previously-approved Seneca Lake Storage Project in Schuyler County. In October Gas Free Seneca requested a re-hearing for the notice to proceed with expansion construction. The commission decided the May 2015 re-hearing order was untimely and that Gas Free Seneca's safety arguments were a collateral attack on the commission's environmental analysis, which thoroughly addressed safety concerns.
In January 2016, Crestwood requested a two-year extension of time, due to the NYDEC not acting on its application for an underground storage permit which was granted by the commission on in May.
Gas Free Seneca requested rehearing of the May 2016 order, and in its request alleged that the commission failed to consider critical safety concerns and new safety information. Gas Free Seneca also argues the commission erroneously found good cause to grant the two-year extension of time.
In June 2016, Gas Free Seneca submitted a request for a re-hearing, stating under New York State law, construction of the project cannot take place until it receives the underground storage permit from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

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