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Letter to the Editor: Officials Allowing Pipeline Endangers Residents

Written By Editor on 6/29/14 | 6/29/14

Dear Editor:
Constitution Pipeline is proposing to build a “contractor yard” along Route 7 in Richmondville on the former Sabta Farm, near Shirley’s Restaurant. Lancaster Development has signed a three year deal to lease the land to Constitution. The site would be the hub for heavy construction activity, the transportation of multi-ton steel pipe and the staging of equipment and construction activity. Constitution has announced that because of extensive shallow bedrock, large stretches of the pipeline route through Schoharie County will require blasting. The proposed contractor yard would likely serve as the storage and staging area for explosives and blasting materials. Constitution has identified the type of storage that will be used for those explosives but has not identified any security measures beyond warning signs.
The contractor yard and its associated heavy equipment activity will intersect the primary school bus route for the Cobleskill-Richmondville school district. The contractor yard will be less than a half mile from the high school and a little more than a mile from the elementary school.  Heavy trucks carry equipment and explosives will travel on the same roads and at the same time as our kids. That traffic will be just feet way from students who walk to school or run along the road for the track team. The danger to our kids is real and significant. Our organization notified the Cobleskill-Richmondville Board of Education on multiple occasions and they chose to do nothing to address these dangers.
Unlike Cobleskill-Richmondville School Board, the Schenevus School Board faced with a similar contractor yard less than a half mile from their school, took swift and immediate action. They wrote a formal comment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and to Constitution Pipeline strongly opposing the location of the yard. Constitution, presumably at the urging of FERC, cancelled plans for the contractor yard in Schenevus.  Constitution also proposed to run the pipeline through the BOCES campus in Schoharie. BOCES also took swift and immediate action and submitted formal comments to FERC and sent representatives to a FERC public hearing to vocally and assertively oppose the route. Constitution, presumably at the urging of FERC, moved the route off of the BOCES campus.
Both the Schenevus School Board and BOCES acted decisively to protect the safety of the students for whom they have responsibility, the Cobleskill-Richmondville School Board, on the other hand, failed their students miserably.
The Town of Richmondville has zoning authority to approve the location and condition of the proposed contractor yard. Our organization submitted a 60 page document to the Town detailing a blatant conflict of interest on the part of a town official with voting authority on the contractor yard and other pipeline infrastructure. The family of that official received nearly $60,000 in payments from the pipeline company yet refuses to recuse himself and has advocated for fast track approval of a permit the company is not eligible to receive.  The New York State Attorney General’s Office called the situation “an absolute conflict of Interest” yet the Town of Richmondville has done nothing to address the situation.
If families of Schoharie County are placed in danger by the pipeline contractor yard and other pipeline related activity it won’t be because a dedicated, hardworking group of citizens didn’t do everything they could to stop it. It will be because many elected and appointed officials in Schoharie County from Town Boards to Planning Boards to School Boards are disengaged, timid, inept, corrupt or all of the above. That is the shameful reality of our County for which we constantly pay the price.
Bob Nied
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Unknown said...

I couldn't agree more! It's shameful to ignore the effects of fracking on communities. It may bring in some money but money won't replace lives. It won't replace beautiful land destroyed. It won't replace drinkable usable water. We have other options.

Anonymous said...

Wow, total hyperbole based on no facts. It is in this country's bests interests to be energy independent, so we don’t have to send our youth to the middle east to die for oil. This pipeline is part of that infrastructure. There is a word for those willing to consume energy but not willing to produce it. Hypocrite: (and wind and solar is not enough, but do it all). Fracking is an old technology with a proven positive safety record and pipelines are the most environmentally friendly way to transport it.

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