Proposed 22.7-mile pipeline unveiled
BY DAVID FALCHEK
Times Shamrock Writer
With some ready to embrace it and others wanting to avoid it, the proposed $750 million Constitution Pipeline was unveiled toSusquehannaCountyresidents Tuesday night.
Officials with the project, a joint venture between Cabot Oil & Gas and Williams Partners, sought feedback from the community before picking a route, signing easement agreements and asking regulators to review it.
The proposed routes, about 22.7 miles of which will be inSusquehannaCounty, just missed the property of retired schoolteacher Marvin VanCott ofNew Milford. Like many of the 125 people who came to the meeting, he pored over aerial maps looking for his property.
He praised the exploration of natural gas in the region as a boon for the nation and area.
“There’s more traffic and there’s a change from what we are used to,” he said. “But we have an abundant, cheap fuel that is driving down energy prices nationwide all while helping people in the area.”
The session was held at the Summit Restaurant, and more than 30 Williams employees ranging from engineering to environmental, were on hand to answer questions.
Not everyone was so supportive of the continued transformation of their community. Vocal gas industry critic Victoria Switzer of Dimock was upset there was no formal presentation or public hearing.
“I’m not opposed to any and all natural gas activity – I’m not a hypocrite. I like my house warm,” she said. “I’d like to see a more honest and transparent process than we had when the landmen came to town.”
Peggy Maloo ofNew Milfordwas not happy to find the pipeline’s primary and several secondary routes through her property. She refused to lease her gas rights and will refuse to sign a pipeline easement, she said, citing her concerns about potential risks. She knows she is in the minority.
“We think it’s dangerous, and we don’t see the value in it that other people do,” she said. “But everyone around us is happy and ready to sign.”
Cooper VanCott has signed several pipeline easements. He may end up signing one for 30-inch diameter Constitution, too. He would advise landowners to take their time in reviewing the agreement and have it reviewed by an attorney.
“They will want to you to sign as quick as you can,” he said. “You are best to put it off and get an attorney to look at it.”
The only third party at the informational session was the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will review the proposed pipeline. Kevin Bowman, an environmental project manager with the commission, said the impact of the line depends on the type of property. A farm may miss a crop, for example, but once installed, wouldn’t have much lasting change on the surface of the property. A forested area, on the other hand, will have to be cleared to as much of a 100-foot construction right of way. The change in the tree line could be visible for decades. Several property owners asked Mr. Bowman if they would eventually be able to tap into the line. While that’s unlikely, the line may hasten attempts by utilities to serve the area. Few homes and businesses the Marcellus region are served by a natural gas utility, a costly irony that keeps most on pricey fuel oil.
Boston, New York
In theEmpireState, the Constitution Pipeline will cut through portions of Broome,Chenango,Delawareand Schoharie counties before connecting to lines servingBostonandNew York City. The 212-mile project will cost $750 million.
This is the third major pipeline project in the county, preceded by the Springville line extending from the existing Tennessee pipeline south through Wyoming and into Luzerne County and the Laser Marcellus line which runs north into New York state.
Williams spokesman Chris Stockton called the open house the company’s chance to “put everything on the table.”
“People want to know the final route but this is very early in the process,” he said. “We want to hear concerns and address them.”
The company has four more open houses inNew Yorkstate. Williams hopes to start leasing in the fall, and applying to FERC in early 2013 and going in-service by 2015.