Friday, April 15, 2011

Gas storage on the front burner in Watkins Glen, NY

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - A proposal to use salt caverns on the shores of Seneca Lake to store propane and natural gas is drawing a lot of attention - most of it negative.

The proposal is by a mega-corporation called Inergy (LINK:Inergy website) to use the caverns owned by its subsidary, U.S. Salt, to keep propane and natural gas - and become the transportation and distribution hub for gas for the entire Northeastern United States.
U.S. Salt (Photo by Observer-Review)

The proposal currently under discussion seems relatively modest and the company has been pedaling it hard with local government officials.

But many local residents believe that if Inergy gets the approval to do this, it will be a case of the camel getting its nose into the tent.

Increases in heavy truck traffic, noise, water and air pollution are all cited as reasons to oppose the project.

And those factors are especially important to local residents who have watched the area bloom in the past 10 years as a major tourist destination for central New York.

Watkins Glen has a gorgeous downtown area, a world-class race track, natural attactions like the Watkins Glen waterway and Seneca Lake.  Added to that are more than 50 wineries around the lake that draw thousands of people ever weekend, nearly year round.

A gas-based industrial project - one that would send heavy trucks rumbling down the only highway through the center of Watkins Glen - would seem at odds with that.

Complicating the issue is the ongoing proposal to extract natural gas in the area using the 'hydrofracking' method that has been an environmental disaster in nearby Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Many local residents fear that if hydrofracking is allowed in New York (it is currently being studied), that the gas will end up being storde by Inergy on the shores of the lake.

Some believe that Inergy's project is actually counting on hydrofracking being approved as part of its business strategy for doing the project in the first place.

William Moler
An interview with Inergy's point man on the Seneca Lake project, William Moler, would seem to give pretty strong evidence that Inergy is banking on the gas from hydrofracking become part of its storage.
"The development of the Marcellus Shale has steadily increased the interest and value in its storage and transportation assets in a region that critically needs energy infrastructure to efficiently allow the Marcellus to proliferate," Moler told the Pipeline and Gas Journal last July in an interview.

The full interview and more comments about the connection between Inergy and the possibilities for hydrfracking in New York can be read here: LINK: Marcellus Shale and Inergy

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