Shortly after Cabot &Williams announced that they intended to build a high-pressure natural gas transmission pipeline through the forests, farms, wetlands, streams and backyards of Schoharie County Assemblyman Pete Lopez held a press conference, not to oppose the pipeline, but to suggest it run along the I-88 right of way. Everyone who had any understating of interstate pipelines knew that such a route was not on the table and never would be. We all knew that Constitution would never agree and that the NY State Department of Transportation would never agree. We also saw Lopez’ proposal for what it was – a phony attempt to pretend he cared about the landowners who would be impacted by the pipeline by suggesting a route that could never happen but to which he could point as his big effort on behalf of his constituents.
For the next several years, an unprecedented political and legal fight ensured to stop the pipeline. Many of Mr. Lopez’ constituents were pressured, bullied, intimidated and eventually had their property condemned by Constitution. Mr. Lopez remained silent, unwilling to defend the voters who put him in office as they endured an emotional and economic assault by an out-of-control gas industry. As to why Mr. Lopez failed to respond there are two primary reasons: First his political and philosophical affinity for big oil & gas (witnessed by his condescending and insulting comments during the protracted fracking debate) and second is his special affinity for Constitution Pipeline, whose chief lobbyist and spokesperson John Faso has a long political kinship with Mr. Lopez.
Fast forward to a second pipeline proposal and Mr. Lopez has broken his vow of silence and has announced his opposition to the NED pipeline. We should be grateful, right? Maybe, if we didn’t once again see it for what it is - a calculated and transparent political move motivated not by a concern for the residents facing the unimaginable intrusion of a second forced pipeline easement through their properties but rather a simple expression of his loyalty to Constitution Pipeline. The second pipeline is in direct competition to Constitution.
Mr. Lopez is not opposing the NED, he is working to help Constitution as they play a high-stakes corporate game of chicken with a competitor, while landowners twist in the wind.
Mr. Lopez can deny this as his motivation and probably will. I invite him to prove me wrong by opposing not just the NED but also the Constitution Pipeline which has already violated the private property rights of his constituents and which is poised to do irreparable harm to the land Mr. Lopez claims to steward. I further invite Mr. Lopez to turn over a new leaf and be less of a shallow politician with blatant allegiances to big oil and gas and his political allies in the industry and more of a leader who is willing to stand up for those he represents. If Mr. Lopez can’t muster the fortitude to do that, he won’t be unopposed the next time he runs.