A pipeline company with plans to hook up to a power plant under construction in Orange County says eminent domain proceedings remain against a handful of landowners. More from WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne.
Millennium Pipeline Company’s eminent domain proceedings began in November, shortly after receiving approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its Valley Lateral Project. The project involves the installation of about 7.8 miles of 16-inch diameter pipe between Millennium’s mainline and the CPV Valley Energy Center under construction in Wawayanda. The combined-cycle gas power plant is expected to produce 650-megawatts. Michelle Hook is spokeswoman for Millennium.
“And so once we received our FERC certificate saying that there was, in fact, a purpose and a need for this project, we went ahead and decided to file the eminent domain proceedings so we could move forward with the project,” Hook says.
She says after various settlements with landowners, there are currently four proceedings, including some involving multiple parcels. She says one the four landowners is Orange County.
“But that is more what we refer to as a friendly condemnation meaning that they would rather us go through the eminent domain proceeding though it is not contentious in any way with the county,” Hook says. “We have discussed this with them at length.”
In an emailed statement, Orange County Attorney Langdon Chapman says it made more sense to see if Millennium gets all of its required permits before granting an easement over county land which, in this case, is a railroad bed. Chapman says it struck him as putting the cart before the horse otherwise. Hook says Millennium still needs some state permits.
“Even if we get the land for eminent domain proceedings, we still have to wait to get our state permits before we could begin any construction,” Hook says.
Hook says the company has reached agreement with 83 percent of landowners for the pipeline route. Pramilla Malick is chair of Protect Orange County, whose members include landowners impacted by the pipeline and CPV plant.
“So this is clearly not a case of public need but rather corporate greed. Millennium and CPV are basically trying to short circuit the process because they don’t actually have all of their permits yet,” Malick says. “And it’s typical of Millennium’s bullying tactics. They’ve been bullying us since 2006 in our community.”
Malick has been fighting the CPV plant for years and has environmental concerns about Millennium’s pipeline project.
“There’s a number of ecological concerns. We have endangered species habitat. We have wetlands. Wetlands are critical to water quality,” Malick says. “And when you put a pipeline in, it doesn’t just impact that landowner, it impacts the entire community because we all depend on groundwater resources. So if the pipeline contaminates the groundwater, it impacts all of us.”
Hook says Millennium will use horizontal directional drilling, or HDD, on all of its pipeline construction on landowners’ property.
“And what that means is we start way back from the landowner’s property and actually go under the property so we’re not digging up and trenching anyone’s yard if that’s the image that people might get when they think that we’re putting pipe there,” Hook says. “There will be no disturbance and, in many cases, no real knowledge that we’re even there going about six feet under these landowners’ homes and properties.”
Malick says she knows the landowners in the eminent domain proceedings. And she urges the following.
“It’s extremely important that the water quality certification proceed with complete and full evaluation of the impacts before any approvals are issued,” Malick says.
Hook says Millennium uses eminent domain only as a last resort after failing to reach agreements with landowners.