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June 12, 2013

Pipeline firms eye stockyard sites

Schoharie, Otsego lots could store equipment

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Planners of the Constitution Pipeline have identified sites in Otsego and Schoharie counties that could potentially be used as temporary stockyards for equipment and supplies during the construction of the proposed 122-mile natural gas transmission system.

In Otsego County, the pipeline planners are eying a 12.2-acre parcel off State Route 7 in the town of Maryland, close to Exit 18 off Interstate 88, according to information supplied to county officials by AECOM, an international construction company with offices in Trevose, Pa.

In the Schoharie County town of Richmondville, a 14.5-acre parcel near Route 7 and I-88 is also under consideration.

The 30-inch-diameter piping as well as construction equipment could be stored in those locations if the project is approved by federal regulators.

The Constitution Pipeline LLC, a partnership of four major players in the energy industry, is expected to submit its license application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week, possibly as early as Thursday, officials said. The pipeline company is hoping to commence construction activities and wants to have the transmission system in service by March 2015.

The Maryland property is owned by Alton Travis III of Worcester. A Worcester town justice who was reached at his courtroom office Tuesday afternoon, Travis declined comment on the possibility that the staging area will be located on his parcel.

The owner of the parcel in Richmondville could not be immediately determined.

Worcester Town Board Member Dave Parker, a strong proponent of natural gas development, said he was delighted that the Travis property could be used to facilitate the construction of the pipeline.

“This is really outstanding news for our region,” Parker said. “It’s the way our economy should be running.” He called Travis “a wise entrepreneur” and suggested the stockyard could bring jobs to the Maryland area, at least for the period that the pipeline is under construction.

A senior project manager for AECOM, Gregory Hufnagel, has asked the Otsego County Planning Department to determine if there are public areas or drinking water resources on or near the parcel being considered for a pipeline construction storage area.

At a meeting of the Otsego County Solid Waste and Environmental Concerns Committee on Tuesday, Scott Fickbohm, the manager of the county Soil and Water Conservation District, said a topographic map of that area shows there is a wetland within the boundaries of that parcel.

County Planner Karen Sullivan said the town of Maryland will likely be asked by the pipeline planners to award a permit so that the land in question could be used as a temporary storage site.

The majority of the members of the Otsego County Board of Representatives had said they wanted the pipeline pathway to run through the county in hopes that gas could be drawn from it to supply the energy needs of schools, businesses and institutions.

However, the pipeline planners said they had strong reservations about co-locating the pipe along the I-88 corridor and drew a route that keeps it just outside the county, running just east of I-88 along certain stretches.

A total of 99 miles of the 122-mile pipe would be in New York. The remainder would be in Susquehanna County, Pa. The pipe would be connected to two existing pipelines in the town of Wright, Schoharie County, where a compressor station operating there now would be expanded in order accommodate the project.

Constitution Pipeline spokesman Christopher Stockton said the project will likely require a total of four or five staging areas. Rather than work from the starting area to the finish point, several construction crews will work simultaneously at different points along the pathway at work areas known as spreads, he said.

Hundreds of landowners along the proposed route or near it have urged FERC to reject the license application. A decision is expected in 2014.

Anne Marie Garti of East Meredith, an organizer for Stop the Pipeline, said construction of the pipeline would dramatically increase truck traffic on rural roads near the pathway.

“There would be huge trucks going up these little tiny roads that were not meant for anything like this,” Garti said.

The pipeline planners say the system would carry 650,000 dekatherms of natural gas per day to Wright — enough to power some 3 million homes. Opponents have FERC to require that the pipeline, if needed, be run alongside existing pipeline infrastructure.