Testimony from NYSDEC, August 3, 2017:
Millennium’s VLC proposal includes 3 important components:
1. The MAJORITY of the Preferred Alternative route would intersect with Orange County’s, agricultural district – historical, prime agricultural land that cannot be replaced.
2. The MAJORITY of the Preferred Alternative route would be in ACTIVE, PRIME agricultural soils. The EA estimated this impact to be 71 acres , though independent analysis indicates this is closer to 96 acres at approximately 4 miles of the alignment.
3. Millennium describes the adverse impacts as limited to ‘one growing season’. Further, they say they intend to mitigate for the permanent loss of agricultural lands according to the terms of individual landowner agreements.
Looking at the historical record of Millennium Pipeline in Orange County farmland, however, serious discrepancies emerge:
1. After 5 years of MONITORING – not SUCCESSFUL MITIGATION – Millennium’s environmental contractor AECOM found 42 of 46 fields of one farmer to be FAILING .
2. This is completely concurrent with independent remote sensing analysis, which clearly shows evident damage.
3. At every turn, Millennium has side-stepped successful mitigation. Instead, they have offered a fraction of the framer’s documented, detailed losses year after year.
4. Why should the hard working agricultural community in Orange County trust Millennium when they have already failed to uphold their promised costs for damaged lands?
The outstanding questions is NOT will there be adverse impacts, but HOW LONG, HOW BAD and HOW exactly will an individual farmer negotiate successfully ON THEIR OWN?
How will they go against a multi-national corporate entity with NO effective guidance or support from state or federal agencies?
Given this situation, NYSDEC must use ALL evidence before it in deciding whether or not to issue permits, not just abide by FERC’s optimistic conclusions related to farmland impacts.
Further, NYSDEC must protect productive New York farmers from known and demonstrated hazards to their most precious resource — their land and water.
NYSDEC should withhold necessary state permits, as Millennium has not, as promised, mitigate all farmland impacts of the Valley Lateral Project.