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Columns

March 10, 2014

Local pipeline construction stirred controversy in 1964

Unlike the proposed Constitution Pipeline project, planned to bring natural gas from northeast Pennsylvania through our region to a terminal in Schoharie County, another pipeline project built from Watkins Glen to Selkirk generated considerably less local controversy 50 years ago.

What was then called Texas Eastern Transmission, based in Houston, was building an eight-inch pipeline to carry propane across our upstate region and looked to build it through a small section of city-owned property in Oneonta. Until Texas Eastern reached this area, there had been no local controversy along the path of the proposed route. That all changed, and the negotiations between Oneonta and Texas Eastern dominated the news between March and June 1964.

Texas Eastern appeared before the Oneonta Public Service Board on Tuesday, March 10, to seek a right-of-way across some property on Oneonta’s watershed on upper East Street.

“Characterizing Texas Eastern Transmission as a ‘bunch of marauders,’ Oneonta’s Public Service Board flatly rejected ‘in its present form’ the pipeline firm’s bid to secure a right of way across about 2,800 feet of city owned property Tuesday night,” The Oneonta Star reported the next day.

“Key to the rejection was the charge by Commissioner Melville Morris that the firm, utterly without permission from the city, had invaded the property and had cut down trees ranging from 1½ to 12 inches in diameter.”

Morris grilled Wayne Hook, Texas Eastern’s land acquisition agent. Morris asked if the company had eminent domain on the property, the right to survey the land, why the trees were cut and who gave the company permission to cut them.

Hook did not know, regarding each question asked, and said, “I wasn’t here then,” apologizing for the firm’s action with the trees.

“I think you are a bunch of marauders up to now,” Norris replied.

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