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Stephentown Speaks Out Against NED Pipeline

Stephentown Board

Proposed gas pipelines in our region have been proving the old adage that all politics is local. The Stephentown Town Board held a public hearing Monday at Stephentown Volunteer Fire Hall. Discussion revolved around an interstate transmission line that would carry hydrofracked natural gas.

The public got an opportunity to comment on a proposed pipeline that would pump highly-pressurized fracked gas through parts of Albany and Rensselaer Counties. Some 250 people packed the Stephentown Volunteer Fire Hall, several standing up to address the board during a two-hour meeting.

At its previous meeting, the town board promised to more thoroughly research the issue. The body documented negative feedback on the proposal that would bring the pipeline through Stephentown, southeast of the Capital Region on the border with Massachusetts. 

Sandra Nathan is a leading figure in what she describes as a "grassroots effort" to stop "NED," the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline, proposed to be routed from Pennsylvania through New York and New England.  She says no one at the gathering stood up in favor of the pipeline.  "Although Kinder Morgan is being coy, it appears that most of the gas being transmitted is probably for export. New York will have no benefit from this pipeline because it is not for New York consumption at all. The gas that's being transmitted is fracked gas. The energy industry concedes that these pipelines leak, and when they leak, they are leaking methane, a greenhouse gas, along with whatever toxins are used in the fracking process. Not all of them have been identified because of the 2005 Haliburton loophole, which protects companies from disclosing the ingredients in the fracking mixture, but some have been identified as carcinogens and other things that people don't want in their soil, in their water, in their air."

107th district state Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin told the group he didn't see any community benefit: there would be no tapping into the gas, no lower utility bills, no jobs resulting from the pipeline. Similar concerns have been raised in communities along the proposed pipeline path across state lines.

Town Supervisor Lawrence Eckhardt informed the crowd the board will make a decision at its next meeting April 20th.   "We'll have a resolution from our town, in opposition. Just knowing what the rest of my board has been talking about, we'll have a resolution in opposition. We will partner that with the other communities..."   Eckhatdt referring there to groups in the Berkshires also opposed to the pipeline.

A Kinder Morgan spokesman tells WAMC the company has “answered all the questions before" and noted all pertinent information is available on the company's website. Richard Wheatley added "it's no secret" the company will move Marcellus Shale gas, and he expects the project to go forward.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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