Local officials, representatives from pipeline company Kinder Morgan and local citizens met last week in Columbia County to talk about a proposed gas pipeline. Nearly 200 landowners across Schoharie County could be impacted by the pipeline in one way or another.
If approved, this section of the “Northeast Energy Direct” line would sit along a Columbia County corridor where three other gas pipelines are already in service.
Bob Nied is on the board of directors of the Schoharie County-based "Center for sustainable rural communities." "The Kinder Morgan pipeline is a relatively new proposal. This would run from Pennsylvania through upstate New York to the town of Wright, where there is a primary compressor station in New York, and then on eastward into Massachusetts. It is a very early proposal. The company has started having some open house meetings with the communities, but only on the eastern end of this from the town of Wright eastward through Massachusetts."
Meetings have not yet been scheduled for the bulk of upstate New York. Kinder Morgan officials have made it clear that such town meetings are NOT required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee. The Chatham Courier says Kinder Morgan representatives directed local officials, who asked about obtaining gas from the line for area residents, to approach local distributors about that. And when asked about noise pollution, the company promised its compressor stations would operate no louder than 55 decibels.
The effort to build the new pipeline has become entangled with the gas-drilling method known as hydrofracking – which has been on hold in New York as officials continue to study the prospect. The pipeline proposal is moving forward at a similar "slow as molasses" pace. Again, Bob Nied: "The building of this infrastructure is essentially setting the stage for fracking in New York State, if and when that's approved. We also know that the Kinder Morgan proposal even identifies sections of this pipeline as supply areas. Meaning that the intent is to take on gas in those areas. And those areas that they've identified as supply areas are within New York State where fracking isn't allowed. You could kind of extrapolate that maybe they think that eventually they'll have fracked gas to put into this pipe, meaning that fracking operations will occur in New York State."
Kinder Morgan did not return a request for comment in time for broadcast. An opposition movement called "Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline" is holding a public presentation 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5 at the Canaan Town Hall on County Route 5.
According to the newspaper, Kinder Morgan plans to meet with landowners "several times," provide them with information on impacts to their property and discuss property evaluation and payment. And while the company can file for eminent domain to use any property, it stresses that would be the last option.
FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen says if a project application is approved by the agency, eminent domain kicks in. "That means that the commission has found that project is in the public interest and in the public need. And so, the project can then take the land needed.”
On its website, Kinder Morgan cites growing energy needs in the Northeast as justifying pipeline installations. The company has scheduled an open house regarding the proposed pipeline 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4 at the Green Meadow Elementary School in Schodack.
According to state officials, no high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) permits can be considered until an environmental review is completed. State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Martens asked the State Health Department to review and assess the draft SGEIS. DEC will not take any final action or make any decision regarding hydraulic fracturing until after that review is completed and DEC, through the environmental impact statement, is satisfied that this activity can be done safely in New York State.