You are here

8/1/17 Statement from Senator Fred Akshar on the NG Advantage Compressor Station Project in Hillcrest

I've said from the beginning that I'm pro-economic development, pro-business and I've supported Natural Gas development in New York State from the start.

In everything I do as State Senator, I try to take a bottom-up approach. I've spent hours meeting with stakeholders and listening to all sides of the Town of Fenton compressor station issue, from community residents to local government officials to school district representatives to representatives of NG Advantage.

Let me be clear, the State Legislature has no legal authority to challenge or overturn local planning board decisions. Right now everything is in the Court's hands and I cannot and would not attempt to influence that outcome in any way. I've never been a supporter of government overreach and that isn't going to change.

But it's my job as Senator to thoughtfully listen to the people I represent, no matter what side of an issue they fall on. It's my job to try to work with everyone, no matter their party affiliation or their personal political leanings, to find solutions.

I personally visited NG Advantage to tour their facility in Vermont. I was very impressed by the sheer number of safeguards and precautions in place to protect the workers, the environment and the surrounding community.

I've taken a pragmatic approach in listening to my constituents from Hillcrest both in my office and face-to-face at their homes. I hear them loud and clear. They are strongly opposed to NG Advantage's location and I share their concerns. I support natural gas expansion and I support businesses getting the affordable energy they need, but a bad location is a bad location.

This is not a pro-natural gas or anti-natural gas issue. The hundreds of residents opposing this location are not part of a far-left, anti-gas organization. Almost every single resident of the community I spoke with also supports natural gas in New York State, but they feel this location simply isn't a good fit, with substantial negative affects on the neighborhood, school and traffic congestion and I agree.

I would ask that NG Advantage consider other locations in the 52nd District. Many communities across my district would readily welcome NG Advantage's project with open arms. However, the current dispute is a legal issue and I have the utmost faith in our judicial system to resolve it.

No matter how the courts rule, I cannot and would not persuade or change the outcome of any judicial review, nor would I try to influence any independently elected local or state official regarding this issue. My role as state senator and representative of this community does not and will not ever include strong-arming local officials or state agencies toward specific outcomes or into actions beyond their jurisdictional reach.

I do wish the local officials and NG Advantage had taken a bottom-up approach from the start and they might not be in this situation. When you engage stakeholders at the beginning of any process, it might take longer to arrive at a solution, but when you do arrive at a solution, it's usually a sustainable solution that works for everyone.

More importantly, New York State needs better energy policies that allow for the transportation of natural gas via pipeline. Efforts to block projects like the Constitution Pipeline have directly resulted in alternative transportation projects like this.

The overwhelming majority of residents heat their homes with natural gas. Business is starving for access to natural gas to allow them to grow and expand.

If natural gas could be easily transported to our rural communities via pipelines, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.


Emmanuel Priest
Director of Public Affairs
Senator Fred Akshar