COOPERSTOWN — Yielding to critics of the proposed Constitution Pipeline, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decided Tuesday to extend the period for public comments on the environmental impact of the gas transmission system to Nov. 9.
The cutoff day for comments had been Tuesday, but opponents of the $750 million project have argued many landowners had only been informed in recent weeks of an alternative pathway — dubbed Route M — that would put a stretch of about 30 miles of the pipeline in Otsego County near Interstate 88.
In another concession to the opposition, the federal regulators said they will hold a fourth scoping hearing on the pipeline from 7 to 10 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the Foothills Performing Arts Center in Oneonta.
The first three hearings were held in Afton, Schoharie and in Susquehanna County, Pa. Pipeline critics said those locations were so far away from Otsego and Delaware County residents that it made it getting to the events difficult.
Reacting to the FERC decision, Constitution Pipeline spokesman Christopher Stockton said in an email to The Daily Star: “There were a number of public comments requesting another scoping hearing in this area. I think this is a good example of how the FERC listens to and takes those public comments very seriously.”
Robert Nied of Schoharie County, a member of the grassroots group Stop the Pipeline, welcomed the FERC decision.
“Giving people additional time to offer comments is absolutely critical,” Nied said. “We still need to some meetings in Delaware County. We have people just coming up to speed on this. We should give them an opportunity to get their hands around the issue and make appropriate comments to FERC.”
He also said the FERC decision underscores the criticisms lobbed last week y pipeline foes against the Otsego County Board of Representatives for endorsing the Interstate 88 pathway before the federal agency acted on the request to hold a local scoping hearing.