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January 15, 2014

Land trustees ask FERC to shift pipeline route

An attorney for an Otsego County family in control of nearly 1,000 wooded acres held in a land trust wants federal regulators to reroute the proposed Constitution Pipeline away from the parcel, contending the project will cause “permanent” environmental damage to wetlands and other sensitive areas.

The lawyer, Carolyn Elefant of Washington, D.C., said in a new filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that the pipeline planners have “ignored” pleas from those controlling the Henry S. Kernan Family Trust to shift the pipeline out of the Charlotte Forest.

The land was given that name by retired forester Henry Kernan, now 97 years old and residing at a Cooperstown retirement home.

His children have pleaded with the pipeline company to keep the pipeline out of the property, which is located in Harpersfield and was purchased by Henry Kernan nearly 70 years ago.

Elefant said in her letter to FERC Commissioner Kimberly Bose that the Kernan Trust suggested a proposed route alternative to the pipeline company in September and November.

“As part of the discussions, Constitution sought permission to enter the Trust’s lands to survey the property,” Elefant said. “The Trust agreed, provided that Constitution agreed to survey the alternative routes. Constitution refused. Shortly thereafter, in November 2013, Constitution informed the Trust that it would no longer consider any alternatives to its preferred routes and terminated further discussions.”

The 124-mile pipeline, if approved by FERC, would impact more than 1,000 landowners between northern Pennsylvania and the town of Wright in Schoharie County, where it would tie into two existing pipelines. While some landowners have signed easement agreements with the company, many have refused to allow survey crews to go onto their parcels and have urged FERC to refuse to license the project.

Elefant told Bose that FERC has an independent obligation under the National Environmental Policy Act to evaluate all project impacts that surface during the scoping process “along with viable alternatives.”

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