Among those calling for the county board to back Route M were: Robert Harlem, president of Oneonta Block Co. and a founding member of the pro-growth group Citizens Voices; Richard Downey of the Unatego Area Landowners Association; Edward Zaengle, a Maryland lawyer who works with landowner groups; and Otsego County Chamber Director Barbara Ann Heegan.
Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller also sent the board a letter in support of Route M, contending it would be beneficial to the region’s “short-term and long-term growth” and should be regarded as “completely unrelated to the decision on hydrofracking.”
Rowinski, who sponsored the resolution, said it was important that the board support the resolution Wednesday because FERC’s deadline for accepting scoping comments on the pipeline’s impact is Tuesday.
In explaining the resolution, Rowinski said, “We are not asking FERC to approve the pipeline or not.” She said the resolution was a message to FERC that the county board supports alternative Route M “should FERC grant a federal certificate of public convenience and necessity to the project.”
The resolution was highly favorable to the pipeline project. One section states: “This Board of Representatives has determined that the pipeline will produce beneficial short-term and long-term economic impacts resulting from jobs, sales, income and property tax revenue, and from potential future residential, commercial and industrial natural gas service to Otsego County residents provided by local municipalities and public utilities.”
But Colleen Blacklock, an Oneonta acupuncturist who noted she lives in Rowinski’s district and is a mother of two, questioned the stated rationales for the project. She took direct aim at her local representative, maintaining the board had not adequately researched the pipeline’s implications.
“Linda, I’m sure you have good intentions, but the road to hell was paved with good intentions,” Blacklock said. “Your proposed resolution to have the county support the so-called Constitution Pipeline is a loud signal to government and industry to open the door to gas drilling in Otsego County. Pipeline equals drilling, period.”