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August 29, 2012

Board wants gas from pipeline

By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star

The Daily Star — The Delaware County Board of Supervisors is urging federal regulators to ensure that the natural gas that would be transported by the proposed Constitution Pipeline be made commercially available to county residents.

In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Kevin Young, an Albany lawyer representing the board, asked that the board be granted intervenor status so it can help find “opportunities” for expanding the gas distribution system in the county.

Davenport Town Supervisor Dennis Valente said the pipeline project could surmount opposition from some landowners if it can be demonstrated that the region will benefit from low prices for natural gas tapped from the pipeline.

The pipe, 30 inches in diameter, would run largely underground for 121 miles, from Susquehanna County, Pa., to two existing pipelines in the Schoharie County town of Wright.

Valente said he knows of one sawmill that could provide 30 new jobs if its owners could get low-cost natural gas.

The Daily Star reported last week that, according to the pipeline planners’ own statistics, 22.4 percent of property owners along the company’s preferred route have refused to allow land survey crews on their parcels. The pipeline representatives said 63.8 percent of the landowners are cooperating.

Among those opposing both the pipeline and shale gas extraction is musician Sean Lennon, son of Yoko Ono, who has a home in Franklin, and the late John Lennon. He argued in an essay published Tuesday in The New York Times that natural gas drilling poses serious risks to drinking water and is detrimental to those living in rural areas.

Harpersfield Town Supervisor James Eisel, the chairman of the Delaware County board, said he doesn’t think Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono, involved with a group called Artists Against Fracking, will change any minds.

“They are icons of the past who think they are going to have sway, but they won’t with the conservative rural residents of Delaware County,” he said.

The pipeline is a joint venture of Williams Partners and Cabot Oil and Gas. Critics of the project claim the Constitution Pipeline is unnecessary and the gas it would carry could be transported by existing pipelines or co-locating a new one on one of the existing routes.