By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — The federal agency that will determine if the proposed 124-mile Constitution Pipeline is licensed released documents Friday showing where more than 20 permanent roads would be built near the route to facilitate its construction and maintenance.
The 30-inch in diameter pipe, if approved, would run underground from Susquehanna County, Pa., through the New York counties of Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie before connecting to two existing pipelines in the Schoharie County town of Wright.
The company’s latest document submission to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission included maps of the access roads that would be constructed, several of which are in the towns of Franklin and Davenport in Delaware County.
Critics of the project said the construction of so many new roads will increase the environmental impacts from the project and create more headaches for landowners, many of whom have refused to sign easement agreements with the company and have refused to allow their parcels to be surveyed.
“These roads will run across fields, farms and wetlands,” said Anne Marie Garti, a lawyer from East Meredith who is affiliated with the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic and the grassroots group Stop the Pipeline.
She said the inclusion of the roads will likely increase the intense scrutiny the project is already getting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The pipeline will need to acquire permits from both agencies for the project to move forward , she said.
Christopher Stockton, a spokesman for the pipeline company, downplayed the significance of the maps showing the proposed roads across privately owned parcels. He said the construction of those roads would have no impact on any of the company’s existing easement agreements with landowners.
“FERC had requested last year that we supply the agency with the alignments for the rest of the access roads that extended off the current set of alignment sheets that were filed,” Stockton said. “These access roads are the same access roads identified in the Environmental Resource Reports in other formats.” As an example, he listed topographic maps.
But Bruce Kernan of South Worcester, whose family owns a parcel consisting of nearly 1,000 wooded acres in Harpersfield, said the company was only providing the maps now — on the eve of the release of a draft environmental impact statement — because the Army Corps of Engineers insisted they be part of the public record.
The late development, said Kernan, a forester who with his siblings control the Henry S. Kernan Land Trust, is an example of the Constitution Pipeline company being “less than completely honest and forthright with the public whose environment the proposed pipeline would so seriously and irreversibly affect.”
The pipeline company said the transmission system would transport 650,000 dekatherms of gas a day, enough to power 3 million homes. Advocates for the project say it will benefit the local economy and provide a new revenue stream to local governments.
The company — whose partners include Houston-based Williams Partners — says on its web site that “the proposed route avoids populated areas where possible, while minimizing impacts to wetland, riparian and other high value wildlife habitat areas. The route also minimizes river and stream crossings to reduce environmental impacts.”