A company partnering in the Constitution Pipeline secured dozens of gas leases approximately 25 years ago from Delaware County owners of parcels close to what is now the preferred pathway for the proposed transmission line, according to documents sent to federal regulators.
The Delaware County leases were acquired by Cabot Oil and Gas, one of the lead investors in the $683-million Constitution Pipeline project that would run 124 miles from Pennsylvania to the Schoharie County town of Wright. Cabot is also now involved in shale gas development in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale region of northeastern Pennsylvania.
The leases were located in the Delaware County clerk’s office in Delhi by Anne Marie Garti, an environmental lawyer from East Meredith who is an organizer of Stop the Pipeline, a grassroots group seeking to derail the project. The pipeline is a joint project of Cabot, Williams Partners, Piedmont Natural Gas and WGL Holdings Inc.
“All of these parcels are within a reasonable distance of the proposed pipeline,” Garti said in a letter to FERC Secretary Kimberly D. Bose last week.
She went on to say that the pattern of leases shows that Cabot “has a clear interest in drilling for gas in Delaware County, New York.”
Her argument is one of the central themes of those resisting the project. They contend the so-called greenfield pipeline would dramatically change the region’s rural character and have dramatic environmental impacts, pose a safety risk and devalue the properties it traverses.
Christopher Stockton, spokesman for the pipeline developers, denied the pipeline route was selected to place it close to potential future drilling sites.
He pointed out that horizontal hydraulic fracturing — the technique that is being used to extract shale gas in Pennsylvania — has not been approved by New York regulators. “This pipeline is not being designed based on speculation on what may or may not happen” with regard to the future decision on fracking in New York, Stockton said.