Little Agreement On NYRI Ground Rules
Published: March 16th, 2007
By: Michael McGuire

CHENANGO COUNTY – Four stipulations pertaining to certain evidence required of New York Regional Interconnect in its expected power line case were scarcely accepted Wednesday, following over a month of meetings between pro, neutral, and anti-<a href="http://www.evesun.com/topics/news/NYRI/">NYRI</a> players to establish the ground rules.

So far, of the roughly dozen official parties that were involved – including the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Transportation – only NYRI and the state Public Service Commission staff signed-off on all four documents. The required studies and their stipulations are in regards to routing alternatives, threats to endangered species, visual impacts, and the power line’s effect on the Millennium natural gas pipeline downstate.

A lawyer for Communities Against Regional Interconnect, who participated in the hearings, said he was “disappointed” with the final stipulations and didn’t sign.

“The agreement doesn’t adequately define what will be studied or how it will be studied,” said CARI attorney John Kluscik, a lawyer with the Syracuse-based law firm Gilberti, Stinziano, and Heintz. “I’m disappointed that the Public Service Commission would enter into an agreement that principally defines a process, rather than defining the inquiry and analysis that will have to be undertaken.”

NYRI opponent David S. Smith, an attorney at Smith Campbell LLP in Manhattan, agreed.

“Three of the four stipulations relate directly to environmental issues, but the New York Department of Environmental Conservation didn’t sign on to any of them,” said Smith, also of the 1,000-member stopnyri.com group based in Sullivan County. “That speaks volumes about how these studies can’t be counted on to adequately address environmental concerns.”

The DEC was contacted late Thursday afternoon and did not return comment by press time.

The 32 pages of stipulation agreements came as a result of several Public Service Commission mediation hearings that occurred in Albany between January and February. The gatherings aimed to define the power line developer’s responsibilities in completing additional or inadequate studies related to its Article VII transmission line review application. Besides <a href="http://www.evesun.com/topics/news/NYRI/">NYRI</a> and the PSC, the Millennium Pipeline Company agreed to one stipulation that is related to its project. Parties that did sign an agreement can not require <a href="http://www.evesun.com/topics/news/NYRI/">NYRI</a> to provide more or different information than what is set forth in its guidelines.

City of Utica and Village of Sherburne attorney Dan Duthie, who also participated in the mediation, said by not signing, some parties will have more flexibility in asking questions of NYRI.

“All the active parties that did not sign are not bound by the scope of those agreements,” Duthie said. “In the litigation stages they’ll have all their options open.”

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