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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Showing posts with label Constitution Pipeline. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Constitution Pipeline. Show all posts

Citizen Groups Demand Transparency from New York State DEC on Constitution Pipeline

Written By Cicero on 5/13/15 | 5/13/15


Albany - On Monday, May 11th, leading state and regional organizations sent a letter to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens calling for full transparency in its review of the Constitution Pipeline (CP).

A decision on the proposed 124 mile long project to carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania into New York and beyond now lies in the hands of the DEC, which must either approve or deny permits for trenching and blasting through nearly 300 rivers, streams, and wetlands in the project's path.

Facing stiff opposition from New Yorker's who are opposed to increased dependency on fossil fuels and landowners who have had their property rights taken by eminent domain, CP withdrew and resubmitted its application on April 29th so that the state would have more time to review the project. However according to a press release issued the same day by DEC, a decision from the state could be just around the corner.  The same announcement said the public would have only 15 days to comment on the resubmitted application —despitee the fact that land surveys are still underway and significant information has not been released.

"This is a serious problem," said Mark Pezzati of Stop the Pipeline, the grassroots organization leading the fight against CP. "DEC appears to be on the brink of deciding whether or not to grant permits for this fracked-gas project, yet we've been told that the public only has a couple more days to comment on information that nobody has seen."

According to the company website that readers are directed to in DEC's press release, the last time CP updated its application to the state was in August of 2014. 

"That's even before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) prematurely released its Final Environmental Impact Statement," said Wes Gillingham, Program Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. "CP has conducted surveys since then, but no one has shared information from those surveys with the public."

In fact data collection is still underway. The pipeline company only recently gained legal access to over 100 parcels of land, and is now gathering information about streams, wetlands, and species that would be impacted.

"This project, if built, will have major impacts on the habitat of birds and other wildlife," said Andy Mason, Conservation Chair of the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society. "How can we provide input on those significant natural resources if the comment period is shut down before data collection is complete?"

Nor has the company provided information on changes made in recent months.

"CP now wants to trench through thousands of linear feet of streams and wetlands that it previously proposed to drill underneath," said Keith Schue with Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy. "Where is the analysis of those additional impacts and mitigation?"

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has also raised numerous unanswered questions of CP regarding unsurveyed parcels, threatened and endangered species, lack of restoration, steep slopes, alternatives, and cumulative impacts.

"These are major concerns that DEC ought to share; we want to know what data will be used to evaluate them," insisted Robert Nied with the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities. "Rushing to judgment without facts betrays the public trust."

"By granting a few short days for people to comment on an incomplete application, DEC is following in the flawed footsteps of FERC," said Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club. "We implore Commissioner Martens to step in."

In their joint letter to Martens, the groups call on DEC to post all information that CP has submitted to the agency and hold the public comment period open until at least 60 days after all of the information DEC will use to make a decision has been collected.

"This project stands to forever diminish the quality of New York's waterways and environment, threaten the safety of residents, undermine the character of the northern Catskill region, and damage the legacy of the Governor's administration," stated the letter.

The groups await a response from Commissioner Martens.

Constitution Pipeline Seeks Permits in Mburgh

Written By Cicero on 4/13/15 | 4/13/15


The Middleburgh Town Council has no interest in entertaining representatives of the proposed Kinder-Morgan pipeline, but at the same time it has no choice but to deal with Constitution Pipeline as they move forward in their project. 

Town Highway Superintendent Dale Nunamann informed Town Councilpersons on Thursday evening that Constitution Pipeline is seeking two driveway permits to access acquired easements off of Keyser Road in the municipality.  

Originally slated to cut through Keyser Road to place the pipe, Mr. Nunamann reported that the natural gas company is going to instead bore underneath the road so that the pipe can just be slid in without disturbing the surface. 

Having received the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's blessing in December, Constitution Pipeline has been busy obtaining the necessary easements and permits to move forward with its controversial 124-mile pipeline.

On a related note, representatives of Kinder-Morgan reached out to Town of Middleburgh officials about potentially meeting to discuss town projects the energy giant may be able to assist the municipality with in the future. 

Uninterested in their assistance, Middleburgh council-members voted unanimously to not meet with any representatives of Kinder-Morgan. The motion was made by Councilman Frank Herodes and approved 4-0.

In other business, town council members:
  • Voted unanimously to move up the monthly May town board meeting from Thursday, May 14th to Thursday, May 7th in order to avoid conflict with the 2015 Lincoln Day Dinner.
  • Referred three potential Joint Town and Village Planning Board appointees to Planning Board Chairman Steve Coonradt for the board's recommendation in filling a vacancy. The three interested applicants are Joe Conneely, John Diaz, and Betty Wayman. 
  • Heard from Town Highway Superintendent Dale Nunamann that the highway department is planning to "go over top of what we got" and resurface town roads this summer to stay ahead of road deterioration. 

Letter to the Editor: Pipeline to Reduce Quality of Life

Written By Cicero on 4/6/15 | 4/6/15

Dear Editor:


It is no surprise that people are fleeing Schoharie County and many more will follow if they could only sell their houses. Just take a ride around our beautiful County and you'll see more real estate signs than cows. There are many factors for the population decline, most of the upstate region has been in a downward spiral for years. The Times Journal front page story "Sinking To New Levels" cited lack of jobs, hurricanes, and floods. I agree the floods devastated the County and a lack of good paying full time jobs are always a negative especially when people are looking to purchase a house and relocate to an area. The once great State of New York is not so appealing any more. It has taxed, tolled, and surcharged many decent people right out. Also the political culture is rancid in New York and the insufficient representation from our elected officials doesn't help much. This brings me back to the Times Journal story and the genius of one of my elected officials. Why of course it is Assemblyman Peter Lopez, doing what he does best "TALKING." Pete just once please say something meaningful or maybe something we don't know. One of Pete's quotes, "We have so much to offer when it comes to quality of life." Hey Pete you're absolutely right, that was the biggest factor when Jerry and Michelle Fiore decided to move to Summit 18 years ago. We wanted to raise our young daughters in a beautiful safe place and it has been everything we've dreamed it would be. But not anymore as we now will be having a 30 inch gas pipeline coming through our land and another one soon to follow. I don't think our quality of life is so good anymore, do you? So Pete, next time you trip over yourself to get in front of a microphone, tell us something we don't already know.

Regards,
Jerry Fiore Summit

Tennessee Gas Announces Public Houses to Address Second Pipeline

Written By Cicero on 3/13/15 | 3/13/15


Laying the groundwork for a second natural gas pipeline to come through Schoharie County, Kinder-Morgan's North East Direct (owned by Tennessee Gas) has announced a series of public houses to address the public's concerns on their project. 

Slated to follow a similar path of that of Constitution Pipeline, which has received the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's blessing, Tennessee Gas has begun the process of plotting their own gas transportation route to reach new energy hungry markets.

Two public houses are scheduled to be held in Schoharie County: April 6th in Schoharie at the Days Inn & Suites and April 14th in Richmondville at the Radez Elementary School. Neither date has an announced time as of publication.

Center for Sustainable Rural Communities representative Bob Neid told The Schoharie News in an email exchange on Wednesday that, "I believe this is not just an environmental issue it is an economic and class issue as well. "

He would further comment that he thought, "Low income rural communities with little political clout are being exploited and abused."

The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors has taken a series of stands against the incursion of additional pipelines in recent months, with one resolution being passed just last month signaling their opposition to the use of eminent domain against county residents.

County Board Says No to Eminent Domain by Pipelines

Written By Cicero on 2/24/15 | 2/24/15


SCHOHARIE - A divided Schoharie County Board of Supervisors voted Friday afternoon to oppose efforts by natural gas companies to utilize eminent domain as a means to secure easements through the properties of county residents for a series of unpopular pipelines. 

Introduced by Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone, who had advocated against the expansion of natural gas pipelines since coming on the board in 2012, the measure was hotly debated by legislators, but ultimately approved by a healthy 10-4 margin. 

It was opposed by the following supervisors: Sandra Manko of Sharon Springs, Leo McAllister of Cobleskill, Phil Skowfoe of Fulton, and Harold Vroman of Summit. Neither supervisors Amber Bleau (Wright) nor William Smith (Broome) were present at the vote.

The resolution, citing efforts by both Constitution Pipeline and Tennessee Gas Pipeline to expand their presence in Schoharie County, will be sent by the county board to Assemblyman Pete Lopez, State Senator James Seward, Congressman Chris Gibson, and FERC. 

Sending an email to supporters on Saturday morning heralding the news, the Richmondville based Center for Sustainable Rural Communities applauded "those who stewarded this resolution forward and the members of the County Board who supported it."

Correction: this piece originally accredited Blenheim Supervisor Shawn Smith with introducing the resolution, when it fact it was Gene Milone. It has been corrected. 

Letter to the Editor: Where is Lopez, Seward on Pipeline?

Written By Editor on 2/5/15 | 2/5/15

Who let the pitbulls out of their cages? I see Senator Seward and Assemblyman Lopez are running loose, growling and ready to take a bite out of Governor Cuomo's leg over his education policy and rightfully so. Yet when it comes to the big gas companies taking our land and turning Schoharie County into an interstate for pipelines, not even a whimper.I wonder why? Mr Lopez has called on the public to help him fight Mr Cuomo's policy via letters to the Governor and also the editor. Thats just what the  opponents of the pipeline have been doing for the past couple of years, maybe you have read a few of those letters Pete? The Assemblyman will use his membership on the Education Committee to lead the charge against Cuomo. Mr Lopez also is a member of the Assembly's Enviornmental Conservation Committee. But I have never heard him speak out or use his membership on that committee to take a stand against the Constituion Pipeline. The destruction of our land and the denuding of the forests is a criminal act It will cause irreversible damage to the environment. I hope the pit bulls will still have some fight left in them, when Kinder Morgan comes calling looking to take more of our land for a second pipeline and easement. But I expect by that time they will both be locked up back in their kennels.

Regards,
Jerry Fiore Summit

Letter to the Editor: When We Talk About Pipelines

Written By Cicero on 1/30/15 | 1/30/15

When people talk about pipelines they often repeat vague statements they have heard in the press – pipelines are safe, pipelines are dangerous, we need the gas, we need to switch to renewables. By reiterating those statements, people keep the issue at a distance; It is less personal and less real.  For dozens of families in our area pipelines are very real and very personal because they have been confronted in their driveways and church parking lots by strangers: process servers shoving packets of legal documents in their hand and retreating quickly while announcing ominously and dispassionately “you’ve been served.” In recent days residents have been startled by sheriff deputies knocking on their doors to serve court papers, informing the recipients that Constitution pipeline is moving to condemn a portion of their private property in order to force an easement for their proposed 30” high-pressure gas pipeline that will transport gas from the fracking fields of Pennsylvania to Canada and ultimately to overseas export markets.  This sad scenario has been playing out since just before Christmas and is continuing right here in Schoharie County.
I have spoken to many of those who have been served or are looking over their shoulders knowing they will be next. Many are elderly and living on fixed incomes. Some are in poor health. Almost all are frightened, angry and depressed. None of them deserve it.
They are learning not only about a horribly unjust system that allows a corporation to raid the private property of average citizens but also prevents most people from defending themselves. For these landowners the condemnations will play out in Federal Court where the rules prevent landowners from recovering the cost of their legal defense. Consequently, few can afford to hire attorneys that charge $250-$300 per hour to fight eminent domain.  So most of the landowners will give up and watch their land devalued and the dreams they had for their properties extinguished. After that, they get to live next to a pipeline build by companies with horrific safety records. I have listened to the heart wrenching story of a an elderly woman who promised her late husband that she would preserve the land he loved in its natural state only to learn that her promise will be forcibly broken by a pipeline company who will clear cut a nearly 100’ wide swath through her woodlot, gardens and meadow. I have heard the story of the retiree who saved his entire life to build a modest home in the country – on the spot that may be a pipeline right-of-way kept barren for the next 30 years by regular applications of herbicides. As the unfortunate ones watch the machines clear their land, they won’t be able to take solace in the knowledge that the assault will be over soon. Instead, a second pipeline is poised to serve them with legal papers and take even more of their land.
When I talk about pipelines I talk about the disgrace of a corporation seizing private property – something that should not happen in a free country. I also talk about apathy or political cowardice shown by most of our elected officials who ignore the reality of pipelines and mindlessly tout “jobs” that won’t materialize or repeat meaningless phrases like “energy independence” which ring so hollow as to be insulting.
When people talk about pipelines they should talk about those who will be harmed. They should calculate the cost of a pipeline not in steel and earth moved but in how much people and community stand to lose and never recover. They should at least try to put a price on people made ill by the anxiety and fear of condemnation or the consequence of feeling helpless and unable to protect their home, investment, quality of life or the safety of their family.   

-- Robert Nied

Letter to the Editor: Time to Stand Up to Pipeline

Written By Editor on 1/29/15 | 1/29/15

I see where the Constitution Pipeline has created its first jobs for the county. Schoharie County Deputies are out serving papers notifying landowners that they now have become defendants and their land will be confiscated from them. Following right behind constitution is another land grabber Kinder Morgan who wants to run a pipeline through the same towns and they want a seperate easement. That means between the 2 pipelines a football field wide swath will have to be cut through our properties, woods, fields, and backyards thus bringing a pipeline even closer to our homes and drinking water. I can only hope the Schoharie Supervisors will not remain silent again as its residents get put through another nightmare Maybe with the new leadership on the board, they will take a stand and say enough already. Do we really want our county to become an interstate for pipelines? Chairman Lape did state that his number 1 priority was to protect the health and saftey of our residents. Well here is your chance Mr. Lape back up your words. Also Assemblyman Lopez before you start thinking about the next rung on the political ladder and riding down 95 south to Washington, HELP US!

Jerry Fiore
Summit

Letter to the Editor: Continue Fighting the Pipeline

Written By Editor on 1/5/15 | 1/5/15

Dear Editor, Neighbors and Friends,

The long awaited decision from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concerning the approval of the Constitution Pipeline comes as no surprise to many. For those of us at the local levels of government that did everything humanly possible to prevent this pipeline from running through our county, the decision is extremely disheartening. Our county board of supervisors, unfortunately, was fragmented on the issue, thus causing each town to find its own way. Our representatives at the next levels of government supported the entire concept and without their resistance the task of stopping the pipeline approval became monumental.

Our residents who are to be directly impacted by the pipeline routing understandably, will suffer devaluation of their properties as well as the constant worry that setbacks are not sufficient to insure safety in case of any compromise. Over the last 18 months I have witnessed many groups accept grant funding from representatives of Constitution and many of our land owners have signed off on easements and accepted the one time payout. For those land owners who have resisted, Constitution is now showing its true colors by mailing letters of intimidation to them. It is truly unfortunate that our county has in the past and is currently feeling the bullying powers of Big Energy because of the lack of unity among its residents and representatives.

It is extremely important for everyone to know that the effort to defeat this pipeline being placed in Schoharie County soil continues and the general public once again will be given the opportunity to voice its opinion at the upcoming public hearings to be held by DEC January 12, 2015 in Binghamton; January 13, 2015 in Oneonta and January 14, 2015 in Cobleskill at SUNY Cobleskill - Bouck Hall Theater at 6:00 PM. DEC must decide if it will issue the necessary permits for the pipeline to be built after evaluating what its possible effects will have on aquifers, ground water, storm water runoff, spring thaws and streams.

The DEC has just announced that it will prohibit hydrofracking in New York, because the Health Department has advised them that it will be quite awhile before the issue of health threats is fully researched and understood. All the dangers of leaks and pollutants in fracking also exist for gas pipelines near water sources. The people of Schoharie are so dependent on having safe, clean water and they need to let the DEC know that the issue of pipeline health impacts on water supplies also needs to be researched and understood. If people can’t make the meetings they can email their concerns to dec.sm.constitution@dec.ny.gov

Unfortunately, our nations’ economy has taken its toll on many households causing families to participate in projects of this nature, which normally they would not have. But, the fact remains that we all must fear the county becoming a corridor for pipelines carrying a product which the major portion of will be exported at our expense. Let us be reminded that there has always been strength in numbers and if we are to protect our landscape, environment and way of life, a coordinated effort between county residents and elected officials must be accomplished.

Gene Milone,
Schoharie Town Supervisor

Environmental Groups Challenge FERC Pipeline Decision

Written By Cicero on 12/31/14 | 12/31/14

Attorneys for a consortium of environmental groups, including: Catskill Mountainkeeper, Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, Riverkeeper, Inc. and the Sierra Club have filed a a request for a rehearing of the decision made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to conditionally approve the proposed Constitution Pipeline.

The request sites multiple failures on the part of FERC to adequately address the potential impacts of the pipeline. It is expected that additional groups and individuals also be filling rehearing requests and other legal actions to delay or block the 124 mile long greenfield pipeline which would cut through Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie counties. A copy of the request for rehearing can be found on FERC’s web site: http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20141230-5288

Upcoming public hearings to be convened the NYS DEC are expected to attract vocal and organized opposition to the pipeline by impacted landowners as well as community and environmental groups.

Letter to the Editor: Stand Up for Property Rights Against Pipeline

Written By Cicero on 12/7/14 | 12/7/14

The following is an open letter to property owners from Robert Neid of the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities:
Please be advised that Constitution Pipeline has received only conditional approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). They DO NOT have the right to seize your property, enter your property or conduct any activity on your property at this time.
Recent letters sent to landowners by pipeline lawyers contained inaccurate information and empty threats. The Center for Sustainable Rural Communities has filed a formal complaint about those letters with the NY State Attorney General and called for an investigation.  The Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic has demanded a retraction of the threatening letters.
Landowners who have not signed easement agreements are urged to do the following:
·         Post “No Trespassing” signs.
·         Deny pipeline crews access to your property.
·         Call the police if pipeline crews come on your property without your permission.
·         Ask your neighbors to watch your property when you are not home, photograph any unauthorized activity by pipeline crews, and call you if someone tries to trespass.
·         Document any activity by pipeline crews on or near your property – take video or photographs, and record dates, times, license plate numbers and what activity occurs.
·         Discuss your situation with an attorney experienced in eminent domain.
Please remember that before the pipeline company can attempt to seize your property through eminent domain they must take you to court, usually Federal Court. For that to happen you must receive official papers via “personal service,” which requires the documents to be personally handed to one of the property owners (“served”), not sent by FedEx or mail.
For additional information visit: www.stopthepipeline.org and/or contact the toll-free Landowner Assistance Line: 800-795-1967.
Landowners are encouraged to call the Office of the NY State Attorney General at
800-771-7755 if they have received threatening correspondence from the pipeline company or their representatives.

The above is offered for informational purposes only and is not offered as, nor should it be considered, legal advice.

Legal Challenge Fights Pipeline Decision

The Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic has launched a counter attack to the recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's decision to okay the Constitution Pipeline. Representing the local Stop the Pipeline organization, the group sent out a letter that made clear its objections.

 It reads in part:
According to your firm’s website, you specialize in eminent domain proceedings. Therefore you must know that your letter is replete with misleading information. It is apparent to STP that the intent of your letter is to bully landowners—who are already under duress from the December 2, 2014 decision by FERC that granted your client a conditional certificate of public convenience and necessity (“CPCN”)—into waiving their property rights. While we expect such unconscionable tactics from shady bill collectors, we do not expect them from a prestigious law firm such as Saul Ewing.
The law firm also challenged the legal standing the pipeline proprietors have used to support their project:
Please be advised that your misrepresentations of the facts and law to recipient landowners may violate the New York Rules of Professional Conduct. In particular, Rule 8.4, states that a “lawyer or law firm shall not: (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”
The move is supported by the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, which is calling for the NY Attorney General to investigate tactics used by backers of the pipeline project.

Letter to the Editor: Representatives Slow to Act on Pipeline

Written By Cicero on 11/24/14 | 11/24/14

Maybe our state representatives have been silent on the Constitution Pipeline because it only affects a few of their constituents. You will never see them at a Stop the Pipeline rally. They are way too busy, probably marching at some parade, at a photo op, or cutting a ribbon. Why should they care about a small group of people who will have their land taken from them by the pipeline companies? Also, their good friend John Faso is on Constitution Pipeline’s payroll. Although, they must be doing a great job as both were just reelected to another term by successfully beating Mr. Unopposed.

Jerry Fiore
Summit

FERC: Consititution Pipeline Would Have Little Negative Impact

Written By Editor on 10/27/14 | 10/27/14

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has finally weighed in on the proposed Constitution Pipeline project. After months of review, the agency believes that the project would have minimal environmental impact.

The Final Environmental Impact Study, released son Friday, believes that the method of construction would be appropriate for the local ecology:
Constitution would use specialized crossing methods for several waterbodies and wetlands, would cross other waterbodies using dry crossing methods, and would be required to obtain applicable permits and provide mitigation for unavoidable impacts on waterbodies and wetlands through coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The agency's determination read in part, "Iroquois would minimize impacts on natural and cultural resources during construction and operation of its project." This came after months of research and public comment.

It is unclear if this will directly lead to the construction of the 124 mile pipeline, but it comes as a blow to local efforts to stop the project.

Letter to the Editor: Faso's Role in Pipeline Questioned

Written By Editor on 9/6/14 | 9/6/14

John Faso was a failed candidate for NY State Comptroller. He later lost the election for governor by the largest margin of any Republican candidate in the state’s history. As a member of the State Assembly his voting record was criticized from both sides of the aisle. He was called “out of touch” by members of his own party. Mr. Faso now works for a law firm and serves as pitch man for Constitution Pipeline, a company that is threatening to seize the private property of landowners across Schoharie County.
Despite Mr. Faso’s rather dubious credentials he feels compelled to tell Schoharie County what it should do. In a recent letter to editor of the Times-Journal Mr. Faso spoke against a draft resolution before the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors that would oppose any further natural gas pipelines through the County. He also engaged in some rather transparent double talk, first reminding the readers that interstate pipelines like the proposed Constitution do not provide natural gas to local resident and then inferring that Constitution would increase the likelihood that local residents could reduce their energy costs by using natural gas.
Mr. Faso knows that the proposed pipeline is intended only to exploit Schoharie County residents not help them. He also knows that his client has repeatedly stated that they are not in the business of providing gas to Schoharie County and he also knows that the likelihood that a developer will invest millions in a distribution network for rural Schoharie County residents is so remote as to be a non-issue.
Mr. Faso suggests that Schoharie County residents should happily surrender their property rights in order to help A Delaware county company reduce its heating costs. Mr. Faso doesn’t mention that the Delaware county firm, for which Governor Cuomo proposed $20 million in taxpayer funded grants and reduced electricity costs, threatened to pull 1,000 jobs out of the area if those opposed to the pipeline are successful in stopping it. If Mr. Faso is troubled by this distasteful brand of economic blackmail he doesn’t show it.
Mr. Faso knows that the proposed pipeline will reduce property values, create a threat to the safety and security of area residents, and reduce their quality of life and their ability to use their land as they intended. He also knows the pipeline will encourage the build out of related infrastructure such as the compressed natural gas (CNG) facility now being fought by the residents of the residential/agricultural area in the Town of Duanesburg, just over the Schoharie County line. Mr. Faso doesn’t care about any of that. He cares about the profits of the company he represents and you can be sure he will be compensated very handsomely by Constitution if he convinces Schoharie County to buy what he is selling.
Bob Nied
Center for Sustainable Rural Communities

New Pipeline Pitch Divides Supervisors

Written By Editor on 7/21/14 | 7/21/14


Supervisors were divided Friday morning as representatives of Kinder Morgan, which operates the existing Tennessee Gas Pipeline that cuts through the northern part of the county, pitched the creation of a third potential natural gas transportation route in Schoharie County; one that would mirror the proposed Constitution line.

Describing it as an expansion of an already existing system, Kinder Morgan Director of Public Affairs Allen Fore detailed the natural gas transportation company's proposed Northeast Energy Direct route that would span from northern Pennsylvania to the Wright Compressor Station and finally to Dracut, Massachusetts.

The proposed NED route would impact one hundred and ninety five landowners in Schoharie County across the Towns of Cobleskill, Jefferson, Middleburgh, Richmondville, Schoharie, Summit, and Wright; with approximately seventy of the ninety-five miles of pipeline being co-located at the existing Constitution route.

Cautioning Kinder Morgan officials to respect landowners in his municipality, Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone questioned how exactly Schoharie County had become a central point of transportation for pipelines in New York, to which Wright Supervisor Amber Bleau quipped, "we have a pump station; that's why."

Sounding a friendlier note, Ms. Bleau commented that Tennessee Gas had been, "excellent neighbors," and encourage her fellow legislators to visit the pump station in her township. Esperance Supervisor Earl VanWormer disagreed, stating that they [Tennessee Gas], "haven't been good people in Schoharie County."

Questioning the necessity of their proposal, Middleburgh Supervisor Jim Buzon asked Mr. Fore why Kinder Morgan had not looked into sharing capacity with the already planned Constitution pipeline. Fore responded that, "on a base level, we're two different companies," and that FERC would need to rule if the project was in the public interest.

Schoharie County Board Chairman Tony VanGlad invited Kinder Morgan representatives to return in October or November to update Supervisors on the project's status, which is expected to be in the pre-application stage this fall. The company is not expected to begin the permitting process until fall 2015 at the earliest. 

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

Letter to the Editor: Residents Need to Remain Vigilant on Pipeline

Written By Editor on 6/13/14 | 6/13/14

Dear Editor:

For almost two years residents of Schoharie County have faced the possibility that a large, high-pressure natural gas pipeline would cut through the heart of the County while landowners in its path would face the seizure of their property under eminent domain or be forced to settle for a small one-time payment in exchange for giving up control of their property to Constitution Pipeline Company forever. At the same time many read news stories about the terrible safety record of the very companies proposing to build the pipeline, with almost monthly reports of fires and explosions, all to facilitate the export of fracked gas to Canada and ultimately overseas.

To their credit, many area residents organized and resisted bullying by the pipeline company, while simultaneously, the NY State DEC and other agencies called the pipeline company’s proposal inadequate and potentially harmful to the environment.  As a result, the Constitution Pipeline approval process has been significantly delayed and the project may never be built.

But before beleaguered landowners could breathe a sigh of relief they now have a second pipeline proposal slashing through many of the same properties. It is clear Schoharie County is a target for exploitation by gas companies who think they can do what they want to rural communities and ultimately, build an infrastructure that will help them frack our farms, fields and backyards.

The only way to stop them is to refuse to allow them to survey, to refuse to sign your rights away. Constitution is in trouble because the residents of our region have said “no” in large numbers. So far Schoharie County has been stronger than the drillers and the pipeline companies. We need to continue to be strong and not allow the dangerous industrialization of our rural communities.

If you receive a letter from a pipeline company return it to them with a registered letter denying them permission to come on your property.  If they knock on your door, send them away without permission to survey. If, at any time, you are harassed, threatened, intimidated or trespassed upon by pipeline representatives call the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities toll-free Landowner Response Line at 1-800-795-1467 and we will stand with you and help you protect your rights.

For additional information visit the Stop the Pipeline web site: www.stopthepipeline.org and consider attending the Stop the Pipeline meetings held monthly in Oneonta.

Bob Nied
Board of Directors
Center for Sustainable Rural Communities

Letter to the Editor: Citizen Blasts Constitution's "Grants"

Written By Editor on 3/11/14 | 3/11/14

Dear Editor:
The people behind the Constitution Pipeline have been very busy applying enormous pressure to landowners along the proposed route, continuing to insist that the pipeline is inevitable and that giving up and giving in is better than fighting. They have been aggressive, telling residents that if they don’t give Constitution what they want, Constitution will simply take them to court and take their land. At the same time they are engaging in a public relations campaign to convince regulators and naive members of the public that they are just nice folks.
They recently doled out a new set of “grants” that included money to the Richmondville Emergency Squad, which took the money despite the many residents in their town who will face seizure of their land and who will live near a pipeline built by a company with a terrible safety record. They took the money despite being in a town that has passed a formal resolution opposing the pipeline. They took the money despite being in a community that has overwhelmingly spoken out against the pipeline.
So why is taking the money a bad thing?
By taking the money they are helping the pipeline get built and are helping to ensure that their neighbors will lose their land, their property values and their safety. By taking the money they help Constitution pretend that they are just out to help the community while they exploit it. By taking the money they help Constitution get approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Iroquois Museum also took the money. Despite insisting they are dedicated to highlighting the culture and history of Native peoples, they conveniently forgot that having land taken away is a terrible part of Native history. They don’t seem to care that patrons and neighbors of the Museum will lose their land to Constitution.  They also conveniently ignore the fact that not far from here the Onondaga Nation is waging a bitter battle against their own pipeline threat and helping activists in Schoharie County fight the very pipeline from whom the Museum has taken the money.  They have blindly cashed a check from Constitution to fund a museum dedicated to indigenous peoples while indigenous peoples around the world are actively fighting exploitation by the same gas and oil companies that are behind the Constitution Pipeline.
It is often said that everyone has a price and so it seems that some in our community indeed have a price. I am deeply proud of those who do not have a price and who have said no to the bullying tactics of the pipeline company and no to the sleazy efforts of that company to buy community support with payments that represent a ridiculously tiny fraction of their enormous profits.  I am deeply proud of those landowners who have stood up to protect the land of their parents and the land of their children. I am proud of every non-profit, fire company, emergency squad and struggling museum that has refused to sell out their neighbors.   I am also committed to fighting an arrogant pipeline company that thinks all it takes for a community to surrender is a few dollars in one hand and the threat of eminent domain in the other.
Bob Nied

Local Opposition Persists to Pipeline, Despite New Right of Way Leases

Written By Editor on 2/18/14 | 2/18/14


With public opposition quietening in recent months over Constitution's proposed natural gas pipeline that would complete its approximatly 124 mile journey in Schoharie County, the company has been busily working under the radar to negotiate right of way leases from local landowners.


The proposed pipeline, which would originate in Pennsylvania and end in the Town of Wright, passes through seven local townships: Jefferson, Summit, Richmondville, Cobleskill, Middleburgh, Schoharie, and Wright. Thus far, roughly 50% of property holders have granted easements, leaving Constitution in an unfavorable position to justify federal approval.

However, since the New Year, the company has obtained eleven new right of way leases according to the Schoharie County Clerk's Office. The new batch of leases are primarily in the Towns of Schoharie and Summit, including one costly $10,500 contract that secures Constitution passage through Shaul Farms property near the Schoharie Days Inn and Suites.

But despite recent successes local opposition is still present, as demonstrated by the Blenheim Town Board's unanimous decision to ban any form of natural gas production within their boundaries, and the release of an anti-fracking documentary by filmmaker and Village of Middleburgh Trustee Bill Morton. 

Still, to the distress of advocates and supporters alike on both sides of the controversy, little can be done locally to resolve the situation; as that power rests solely with the federal government.

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