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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Showing posts with label pipelines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pipelines. Show all posts

Non-Profit Groups Call on DEC to Deny Pipeline Permits

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

The non-profit Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, in partnership with Otsego 2000, has submitted formal comments to the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), NY State Department of Health, and Governor Cuomo highlighting the potential public safety risks created by siting natural gas pipelines in areas subject to severe flooding.

Citing an advisory issued by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in which the agency underscores how flooding, river scour and river channel migration can result in the catastrophic failure of pipelines, the two organizations are urging the DEC to deny water quality and crossing permits for new gas pipelines proposed for areas that have experienced historic flooding events. 

Robert Nied, Acting Director of the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities called the siting of the proposed Constitution and Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipelines in areas devastated by flooding “irresponsible and shortsighted.” Mr. Nied said that it was incumbent on all agencies involved to “act with due diligence and protect the rural residents of Upstate NY from what could be a double disaster of flooding and pipeline failure.”

If approved, the Constitution Pipeline would cut through hills, valleys, forests, and wetlands, intersecting over 270 waterways along a 124 miles corridor. As proposed, nearly all of those waters would be crossed by burying the pipeline in shallow trenches. “This creates precisely the problem that the federal PHMSA advisory warned of where floodwaters can expose a pipeline or wash away its supporting  soil and cause a rupture” said Nicole Dillingham, President of Otsego 2000. “These are dangers with potentially catastrophic results that DEC must not ignore.”

The joint letter also includes a link to video footage by Dan Brignoli of severe damage caused by torrential flooding where the Constitution Pipeline is now proposed. Brignoli, whose property is in the proposed route, said, "Constitution wants to locate this pipeline in the very same place where roads have been repeatedly washed away. If the DEC approves this project, it will be a disaster."

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: Lopez - Too Little, Too Late on Pipelines

Written By Cicero on 4/7/15 | 4/7/15

Dear Editor,
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.  
Bob Nied

Anti-Pipeline Group Seeks FERC Rehearing

Written By Cicero on 3/31/15 | 3/31/15

Stop the Pipeline (STP) filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, to force the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue an order on STP's request for rehearing. FERC habitually grants itself more time than allowed by law, which prevents groups from seeking judicial review of FERC's orders.

"FERC uses delay tactics to keep projects they approve out of court," said Anne Marie Garti, a founding member of STP, and an environmental attorney working with the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, Inc. on behalf of the group. "While the Commission blocks us from appealing their order, they let the Constitution Pipeline Company take people's land through eminent domain proceedings."

FERC issued an order on December 2, 2014, granting a conditional certificate of public convenience and necessity, which the pipeline company relied on to file over 120 complaints in condemnation in the Northern District of New York. STP requested rehearing within thirty days, claiming FERC violated the Clean Water Act, the Natural Gas Act, the National Environmental Policy Review Act, and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, but FERC refuses to issue a ruling on it.

"This situation is totally unfair," said Dan and Laura Jean Brignoli, who just received a letter from the company saying it "has been awarded possession of the land rights needed to construct. . . " the pipeline. "They shouldn't be able to take our land until they have the required permits." Like other landowners, the Brignolis were bombarded with reams of legal papers and hauled into court before STP could challenge FERC's certificate in federal court.

 "The Natural Gas Act requires parties that are aggrieved by FERC orders to seek rehearing within thirty days, or waive their right to later seek judicial review," explained Daniel E. Estrin, an environmental law professor at Pace Law School and Supervising Attorney of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, which represents STP. "FERC routinely denies requests from members of the public for extensions of time to request rehearing, claiming that it lacks authority to extend the time limit set by Congress. Yet, the Commission routinely grants itself extensions from the thirty-day time limit for it to rule on such rehearing requests, which is found in the very same section of the Natural Gas Act. By delaying its ruling and blocking STP from challenging the certificate of public convenience and necessity it has issued to the pipeline company, FERC thumbs its nose at plainly-expressed Congressional intent while depriving American citizens of their constitutional property rights without due process of law."

Stop the Pipeline is a grass roots organization of landowners and citizens who are committed to preserving the pristine Northwest Catskills and Central New York from the countless negative impacts of the proposed 30-inch, 124-mile high-pressure gas transmission line that would run from Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania to Schoharie County, New York.

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.

Citizens Groups Deliver 5,000 Comments to DEC Concerning Proposed Pipeline

Written By Cicero on 2/28/15 | 2/28/15

The non-profit Center for Sustainable Rural Communities and the grass roots citizens group Stop the Pipelineheld a joint press conference today, February 27, 2015, at the Legislative Office Building in Albany to announce the delivery of over 5,000 comments to the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) concerning the proposed Constitution pipeline. 

The Center’s spokesperson Robert Nied criticized elected officials for “turning a deaf ear and blind eye” to the plight of residents facing condemnation by the pipeline company. Mr. Nied said that Assemblyman Pete Lopez, Congressman Chris Gibson and Senator James Seward “have equivocated or remained silent, lacking the political courage to place the rights of their constituents and the health of the environment above the profits of big oil and gas.”
During the press conference the group identified multiple environmental impacts that would result from the pipeline including an increase in erosion and flooding, damage to fish spawning areas, increases in invasive species,  clear cutting of nearly 1,000 acres of mature forest, a loss of productive farmland and damage to important wetlands and urged the DEC to deny the pending 401 Water Certification that is necessary for the pipeline company to proceed with construction.

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