I wish Constitution really cared about creating jobs by providing lower-cost energy from natural gas (Mike Zagata, March 29, 2014). Constitution, in fact, chose the route least suited to this purpose.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) calls the proposed route a “greenfield route.” It crosses steep, forested hills, distant from population centers. Federal and state guidelines require that existing easements should be the first choice for locating a pipeline. Federal Highway Authority guidelines require a state’s department of transportation to evaluate the environmental and economic effects of denying this option. Yet the DEIS does not give serious consideration to the “non-greenfield route” along the I-88 corridor, the alternative that the state Department of Environmental Conservation favors.
The “greenfield” route would permanently degrade 589.6 acres of agricultural land and 1,495.6 acres of natural forest, expose 107.9 acres of wetlands to aggressive non-native plants, cause erosion and flooding, and confiscate private property from hundreds of landowners. The DEIS does not mention that the wetlands along I-88 are already disturbed and dismisses its own data that this route would cross less interior forest and prime agricultural land.
While mentioning economic benefits, it ignores the economic costs associated with the “greenfield route.” If the pipeline were built along I-88, Constitution would have to abide by stricter regulations and might have to pay annual rent to the DOT rather than confiscate private property at unfair discount prices. I don’t need hundreds of pages of befuddled text to understand that a pipeline along a “greenfield route” will cause more environmental harm than a pipeline along a “non-greenfield route.” And it’s common sense that a pipeline closer to population centers would provide cheaper energy and more jobs.
Bruce S. Kernan