COOPERSTOWN — Helped by two Democrats, a united slate of Otsego County GOP lawmakers pushed through an endorsement Wednesday of a Constitution Pipeline alternative route that would put a stretch of the natural gas transmission system inside the county near Interstate 88.
The vote came after more than 50 people — most of them opponents of the pipeline project proposed by Williams Partners and Cabot Oil and Gas — weighed in on the project whose environmental impact has yet to be determined by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
After three hours of listening to those citizens and debating the project among themselves, eight members of the Board of Representatives voted in favor of the so-called Route M option, and five voted against it. Joining the six Republicans present — Rep. Pauline Koren, R-Milford, was absent — were Reps. Linda Rowinski, D-Oneonta, and Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta.
In terms of the weighted votes reflecting the differing populations of the representative districts, the backers of the pipeline had 3,621 to 1,920 against Route M. The weighted votes carried by Koren — 626 — would not have made a difference had the first-term legislator attended the meeting.
The pipeline planners have said Route M is not their preferred pathway because of the sloping terrain I-88 follows and because of the narrow work space with which construction crews would have to contend.
The representatives held their vote in the county office building. They returning there after listening to a parade of speakers on both sides of the issue in the county courthouse.
Following the vote, Adrian Kuzminski, moderator of the anti-drilling group Sustainable Otsego, said he was deeply disappointed in the actions of Rowinski and Stuligross and that he hoped to field anti-pipeline candidates to seek their county board seats next year.
“This was a litmus test for the county representatives,” he said. “They acted precipitously, and they haven’t done their due diligence and they haven’t done their homework. From our point of view, we could not support people who voted this way.”