Case Number # 2480
A coalition of environmental groups, along with more than 300 residents are intervening in proceedings over a 122-mile natural gas pipeline proposed to run through portions of New York and Pennsylvania, subjecting the already unpopular project to an added layer of controversy.
The flurry of intervention filings is the latest sign that residents and advocates are prepared to fiercely challenge infrastructure projects that will allow more fracking-enabled gas development in the region.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which has raised concerns over the environmental impacts of the project, has also intervened in the federal proceedings, indicating that the state agency intends to scrutinize the federal approval process.
The Constitution Pipeline Project—a joint venture between oil and gas company subsidiaries Williams Partners Operating, Cabot Pipeline Holdings, Piedmont Constitution Pipeline Company, and Capitol Energy Ventures—is proposed to transport natural gas from Susquehanna County in Pennsylvania through Broome, Chenango, Delaware, and Schoharie Counties in New York to two existing interstate pipelines. Concerned about their property rights, as well as environmental and public health impacts of the project, approximately 1000 people submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2012 opposing the proposed project, and 35 percent of the property owners along the pipeline route have refused to allow project personnel onto their land.
The 122 miles of pipeline and additional miles of access roads will cut across forests and watersheds. The project also includes two compressor stations, posing a threat to air quality and public health. The project will disturb hundreds of acres of land—with access roads and industrial equipment cutting across forests and watersheds. The project potentially will affect both threatened and endangered species, including the Indiana Bat, migratory birds, and special protection waters.
Aided by the controversial high volume hydraulic fracking process and state and federal deregulation, gas drilling in Pennsylvania has increased exponentially in recent years and New York residents are fighting to protect their state from an impending gas drilling rush.
The pipeline will spur the already frantic pace of gas drilling and fracking in Pennsylvania—along with the air, water, and climate pollution that accompanies such development—and would lay the groundwork for industry to operate in New York. The impacts associated with this industrial activity include: spills of diesel fuel and fracking chemicals, methane migration into groundwater; contamination of major rivers with fracking wastewater, forested landscape pockmarked with well pads and access roads and pipelines cutting through forests and fields.