After Congress Gutted Propane Market Reform, Industry Doubles Down on Secretive Storage Plan

Propane trucks load at Teppco’s terminal in Watkins Glen

After failing to convince Congress to fix the root causes of propane shortages and price spikes that rocked the Midwest and Northeast last winter, the U.S. propane industry is now throwing its full weight behind a secretive underground storage project in western New York. Industry’s renewed support for that private sector option comes after Congress gutted a 2014 bill to scope out and fund regional propane storage sites.

Now even the make-do private solution is in serious jeopardy. State regulators have already taken five years to evaluate Crestwood Midstream’s plan to store 88 million gallons of liquid petroleum gas, or LPG, in abandoned salt caverns near Seneca Lake. They are still, at a minimum, months away from deciding whether to grant the storage permit. Continue reading After Congress Gutted Propane Market Reform, Industry Doubles Down on Secretive Storage Plan

LPG Storage in NY Salt Cavern Linked to Salinity Spike in Drinking Water

Hundreds gathered on an icy January day in Geneva to protest Crestwood Midstream’s proposed LPG storage project at the other end of Seneca Lake. (Photo: Peter Mantius)

For decades, scientists have puzzled over why Seneca Lake, the largest of New York State’s Finger Lakes, is by far the saltiest of the 11 glacier-carved water bodies.

Now a Nevada hydrologist claims he’s solved the mystery. Tom Myers, who was hired by opponents of a plan to store liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in salt caverns at the southern end of Seneca, pins the blame on LPG storage in the same group of caverns between 1964 and 1984. “The risk of saline influx to the lake from LPG is very high and should be avoided,” Myers wrote in January.

Formed as ice age glaciers retreated only 10,000 years ago, Seneca Lake was named for the westernmost Native American tribe in the Iroquois League. Running north and south, it is nearly 40 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. The state’s deepest lake, Seneca consistently holds 4.2 trillion gallons of water. That’s more than the current 3.6 trillion gallons behind the Hoover Dam in drought-plagued Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir. Continue reading LPG Storage in NY Salt Cavern Linked to Salinity Spike in Drinking Water

Maryland Politics Trumps Science on Fracking

Gov. Martin O’Malley

Two ambitious Democratic governors in the East faced the same tough choice late last year on whether to allow energy companies to extract natural gas from shale formations through high-volume hydrofracking. One said yes. The other said no.

Neither state has much natural gas to tap at current market prices. Even so, the decisions by Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York have national implications because they sat in judgment of the importance of the latest independent science. While environmental and medical experts were pointing to dozens of new peer-reviewed studies showing explicit health and safety risks, the energy industry was clinging to its assertions that all fracking risks are manageable. Continue reading Maryland Politics Trumps Science on Fracking

New York’s Ban on High-Volume Fracking Rocks the Foundations of ‘Shale Revolution’

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo greets supporters and anti-fracking demonstrators after casting his ballot, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Mount Kisco, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Emboldened by mounting scientific evidence and shifting poll data, Gov. Andrew Cuomo veered sharply away from America’s conventional wisdom about the wonders of high-volume hydraulic fracturing of shale formations when he banned the practice in New York State on Dec. 17. While the oil and gas titans hope to contain the uprising to one state, the environmental advocates who masterminded it are quietly optimistic that it represents a tipping point, signaling impending decline for fossil fuels’ decades-long hegemony. Continue reading New York’s Ban on High-Volume Fracking Rocks the Foundations of ‘Shale Revolution’