The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

January 17, 2013

Pipeline planners' timetable delayed

By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star

---- — An application to federal regulators for a license to construct the proposed Constitution Pipeline won’t be submitted until the spring, a company representative said Wednesday.

The statement from John Faso, a veteran of New York politics hired by the company to build support for the project, is the first public acknowledgement that the $750 million project has been delayed from an initial schedule targeting this month for license filing.

Before meeting with the Schoharie Board of Supervisors on Wednesday night, Faso told The Daily Star he is confident that the pipeline’s application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will make a compelling case that the transmission system is both needed and in the public interest.

“That will be all documented in the filing,” he said.

Asked about claims submitted to FERC by a grassroots group of pipeline foes, Stop the Pipeline, that the gas could be transmitted in existing pipelines, Faso said, “That is simply not true. There is a need to enhance the distribution through a multitude of entryways into the metropolitan (New York City) area.”

Constitution Pipeline executives have said the ultimate destination of the gas will be the New York City and Boston markets, where it would be routed after the transmission system links with two existing pipelines in Schoharie County.

Faso likened claims that the gas should instead by funneled by existing natural gas infrastructure to requiring that all traffic to New York City be routed over a single bridge and through a single tunnel. That simply wouldn’t be feasible, he said.

Anne Marie Garti of East Meredith, an organizer of Stop the Pipeline, said she was not surprised that the pipeline project has run into a delay. She said the fact that scores of landowners along the proposed primary route are refusing to allow the company to send surveyors onto their property suggests the project has an uphill road ahead of it.

“I don’t think they will build the pipeline if New York state doesn’t approve gas drilling” involving the controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing, Garti said. She argued the proposed siting of the pipeline suggests that the pipeline developers covet gaining access to the rich deposits of gas thought to be underlying the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.

Garti’s group also claims that the gas industry wants to export the gas being extracted in Pennsylvania to the international marketplace to maximize profits. The pipeline company insists the gas would go to customers in New England and New York City.

Another opponent of the project, Robert Nied of Richmondville, director of the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, said the pipeline planners were caught off-guard by mounting opposition from landowners.

Nied, who attended the Board of Supervisors meeting in Schoharie, said Faso’s job was to “do damage control.” As more landowners refuse to allow the surveys, he said it will make it more and more difficult for the pipeline planners to persuade FERC to award a license to the project.

If the license is awarded, the company would have eminent domain power to gain easements to properties along the route, even over the objections of landowners.