By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — A town-wide survey of Davenport residents has determined there is significant public opposition to the proposed Constitution Pipeline, prompting town officials to seek intervenor status with the federal agency that will decide whether the project is licensed.
Davenport Town Supervisor Dennis Valente, who has remained neutral on the pipeline, said he “mildly surprised” that most residents whose property would not be traversed by the natural gas transmission system are opposed to it.
Valente said he has been impressed with what he called the effective organizing tactics of the grassroots group Stop the Pipeline in the public debate over the $683 million project.
“This group really knows how to disseminate its side of the story,” the supervisor said. “It seems as though the deck is stacked against them, but they’re undeterred.”
Davenport resident Eleanor Moriarty said the survey drew a 24 percent response rate, and 77 percent of those who did respond were opposed to the pipeline. Among those who said they would be directly impacted by the project, there was a greater response (48 percent) and a higher rate of opposition (87 percent), Moriarty said.
Valente said many Davenport property owners with principle homes either downstate or outside New York are apparently unaware that the pipeline is even being proposed to run through a long stretch of the county. The transmission system would stretch 122 miles, sending gas harvested in northeastern Pennsylvania to the town of Wright in Schoharie County.
Some proponents of the pipeline, such as Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have said it has the potential to become a source of low-cost energy for businesses, institutions and residents in the region of the system.
But Valente said he and many residents are skeptical that any of the gas that will be transported through the system will be channeled to local residents via feeder lines.
Moriarty said the opponents cited safety concerns, the possibility the project could lower property values, environmental impacts, the eminent domain authority the pipeline company would acquire and the potential that the project would invite hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.
Two other Delaware County towns are seeking intervenor status, Franklin and Meredith. The state Attorney General’s Office, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Department of the Interior have also intervened.