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October 25, 2012

Sparks fly at local pipeline hearing


His fellow county Rep. Gary Koutnik, D-City of Oneonta, also argued that FERC should consider the pipeline project as being linked to the energy industry’s appetite for expanded hydrofracking, pointing to statements earlier this year by the chief executive officer of Williams, Alan Armstong.

Armstrong, he noted, was quoted in a Williams press release aimed at the investor community as stating: “We’re putting together the kind of infrastructure that makes drilling in the Marcellus (Shale) even more desirable for producers because we provide large-scale infrastructure solutions that connect producers’ natural gas and natural gas liquids to the best markets.”

The county board that includes Koutnik and Kosmer earlier this month backed a resolution proclaiming support for the economic benefits that the county could accrue if the pipeline were to be partially built in Otsego County near the I-88 corridor. The two opposed the resolution. Two members of the same board who favor the pipeline, Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, and Pauline Koren, R-Milford, were in the audience Wednesday nigh but opted not to take advantage of a protocol that allowed elected officials to speak before other citizens.

Milford Town Supervisor Chris Harmon, a Democrat and a farmer who rode into office last year on an anti-fracking platform, told FERC that his town board this month passed a resolution in opposition to the pipeline — even though the proposed pathway would not run through the town.

Darla Youngs, executive director of the Otsego County Conservation Association, urged FERC to consider alternatives to permitting a new pipeline, such as promoting greater development of wind and solar-power projects. She said the federal agency should examine the implications such a project would have on property value and the ability of property owners to to maintain their insurance policies.

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