Constitution Pipeline Interventions by legal non-profits 7-17-13


July 17, 2013


Stop the Pipeline, Anne Marie Garti, 718-316-0322

Earthjustice, Bridget Lee, 212-845-7379

Riverkeeper, Tina Posterli, 516-526-9371

Catskill Mountainkeeper, Wes Gillingham, 845-901-1029

Clean Air Council, Matt Walker, 215-567-4004 ext. 121

Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, Andrew Mason, 607-652-2162

Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Maya van Rossum, 215-369-1188 ext. 102

Sierra Club, Atlantic Chapter, Roger Downs, 518-426-9144

Sierra Club, Pennsylvania Chapter, Thomas Au, 717-234-7445

Hundreds Intervene in Proceedings over Federal Review of Constitution Pipeline Project

120-mile natural gas pipeline through NY and PA attracts scrutiny and controversy

WASHINGTON, DC – 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 people who live here do so by choice — for the rural lifestyle, clean air, pure water, and abundant wildlife. They understand this pipeline will lead to an industrialization of the area, and they are not going to give up their land — and everything else they love about country living — without a fight,” said Anne Marie Garti, a founder of Stop the Pipeline, a grassroots organization formed by landowners and citizens who oppose the pipeline.

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) last year opposing the proposed project, and 35 percent of the property owners along the pipeline route have refused to allow project personnel onto their land.

“My wife and I bought land, and built our house by hand, in order to enjoy the tranquility of the countryside,” said Dan Brignoli, a lifelong resident of Delaware County. “Last year they wanted to put the pipeline 200-feet from our home, but we wouldn’t let them on our land. Now they’ve moved it up the hill a hundred feet, just over the property line, but it could still pollute our water, or kill us if there were to be an explosion. The government shouldn’t let them take our land when there isn’t a real need for this pipeline. They just want to make more money — and lay down the infrastructure for fracking in New York State.”

But in spite of local objection, the companies proposing the project are pushing forward with plans, and filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in June. Today is the deadline to intervene in the FERC proceedings, resulting in filings by more than 300 residents; Stop the Pipeline, represented by the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic; Riverkeeper; and a coalition of environmental groups — Catskill Mountainkeeper, Clean Air Council, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and the Pennsylvania and Atlantic Chapters of Sierra Club — represented by the nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice.

“This 122-mile Constitution pipeline, planned to run through five counties and two states, is the sort of massive infrastructure project that will lock the region into continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels at a time when we need instead to be speeding the transition to clean renewable energy,” said Earthjustice attorney Bridget Lee. “The law requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to give careful consideration to the pipeline’s impacts on people, communities, and the environment. Foresight and common sense dictate that FERC officials consider foregoing the project altogether.”

“Pipelines that have cut through our region have inflicted incredible damage — destroying forests, cutting through creeks, irreparably transforming wetlands, causing more polluted runoff, and decimating habitat critical to creatures in our region, said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. “The harms to the ecology of the region are devastating, but so are the harms to the people — damaging ecotourism, harming recreation such as hunting and boating, destroying the peace and beauty of communities during and after construction, forever changing what it means to live in these communities, and increasing the drilling and fracking that are destroying communities elsewhere and making this country even more dependent on dirty fossil fuels.”

The 122 miles of pipeline and additional miles of access roads will cut across forests and watersheds.

“The proposed project poses a substantial threat to ground and surface water resources in both New York and Pennsylvania. The 122 mile pipeline has the potential to impact and potentially contaminate multiple public drinking water sources and an untold number of private drinking water wells that lie within the Project area. The pipeline itself proposes to cross hundreds of streams and wetlands by literally digging a hole through them,” said Kate Hudson, Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper. “These impacts alone demand that FERC take a hard look at the project’s environmental effects. Any project that jeopardizes multiple water resources in two states is clearly against the public’s interest.”

The project also includes two compressor stations, posing a threat to air quality and public health.

“The so-called Constitution Pipeline could emit hundreds of tons of harmful and climate-disrupting air pollution in Pennsylvania and New York each year, yet the Application ignores these real threats to public health,” said Matt Walker of the Clean Air Council. “The Project also is likely to create more demand for increased fracking and transmission infrastructure, all of which will cause even more air pollution and more health impacts for the people who call the surrounding communities home. Given the potentially serious risks to public health and air quality, the Council urges FERC to deny the Application for this ill-advised project.”

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.

“The pipeline as planned will fragment some of the best remaining bird habitat in the region,” said Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society Co-President Andrew Mason. “Many species already in decline will suffer further losses from this corridor that will break up their breeding territories and allow predators and nest parasites into the forests.”

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.

“If this project goes forward, the big winners will be the stockholders of the natural gas companies and the big losers will be the rest of us, said Wes Gillingham, Program Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. “There is no public necessity for this project. This is clearly a case of the gas industry trying to push through a project to increase their profit margin at the expense of the people along the route. This is the start of a massive web of gas infrastructure — the beginning of the industrialization of New York we have all been warned about.”

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.

“FERC must acknowledge that the proposed Constitution Pipeline is not primarily a natural gas conveyance from point A to point B but a facilitator of fracking along the way,” said Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “The Western Slope of the Catskills and the Upper Susquehanna River Basin are protected from fracking simply because there is no infrastructure to transport the gas to market. The Constitution Pipeline will be just that inducement — transforming this storied landscape into an industrial grid work of well pads and gathering lines.”

Attached is a press release announcing the entrance of the legal nonprofits into this battlefield.

Below a list of some of the public interest, nonprofit interventions and comments filed as of 4 pm. The positions of the NYS DEC, US Army Corp of Engineers, and Department of the Interior (US Fish and Wildlife) are currently aligned with the public interest law firms, and nonprofits.

Anne Marie

Motion to Intervene by Stop the Pipeline. Submitted by the PACE ENVIRONMENTAL LITIGATION CLINIC under CP13-499.

Motion to Intervene of Earthjustice on Behalf of Catskill Mountainkeeper, Clean Air Council, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Sierra Club in CP13-499.

Comments of Catskill Mountainkeeper, Clean Air Council, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Sierra Club, and Riverkeeper, Inc. under CP13-499-000.

Motion to Intervene of Riverkeeper, Inc. under CP13-499.

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited submits Petition to Intervene re the Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC under CP13-499.

Motion to Intervene of Center for Sustainable Rural Communities under CP13-499.

Motion to Intervene of Otsego 2000, Inc. under CP13-499.

Motion to Intervene of Town of Davenport, New York under CP13-499.

Motion to Intervene by the Town of Meredith under CP13-499.

Motion to Intervene of Town of Franklin, New York under CP13-499.

Motion to Intervene of New York Public Service Commission under CP13-499.

Motion to Intervene of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation under CP13-499.

Motion to Intervene of U.S. Department of the Interior under CP13-499, et. al..

Comments of the US Army Corps of Engineers regarding preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Constitution Pipeline Project under PF12-9.


Constitution Pipeline

Constitution Pipeline

June 29, 2013

Pipeline filing sets stage for FERC

By Joe Mahoney Staff WriterThe Daily Star

Area wells tested for contamination » Local News » The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY – otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Area wells tested for contamination » Local News » The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY – otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports.

Clarification of Home Rule will help communities preserve our NYS constitutional rights of municipal self government. Without protections, the gas industry just keeps coming at us with their annual 100+ million dollar PR & lobbying budgets.


Clarification of Home Rule will help communities preserve our NYS constitutional rights of municipal self government.

Without protections, the gas industry just keeps coming at us with their annual 100+ million dollar PR & lobbying budgets.


I hope some points I make in this letter can help a wider audience. My Letter to the Editor was just published in today’s (1/12/12) FREEMAN’S JOURNAL.

John Kosmer
Sustainable Otsego
Otsego County Rep, District 8 (Cooperstown & the Town of Otsego)

They Lie, Cheat, Steal


Otsego County Rep, District 8

During “privilege of the floor” at my first Otsego County Board meeting, open to anyone wishing to speak, I witnessed a food fight over considering a resolution supporting Sen Seward’s Home Rule clarification bill. The pro-gassers offered up red herring and baloney. The anti frackers offered up organic home grown food, yogurt and beer.

The red herring was the claim of “unintended consequences” in other commerce areas, when the bill actually applies solely to mineral extraction. The baloney was that passing it would send the message NYS was “closed to business.” Chip Northrup, a Texas oil man who summers here emailed me countering, “All of the major O&G producing states – notably Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado are Home Rule states.” Clearly those states are “open for business.”

Anti-frackers offered organic food as a growth industry dependent on clean water. They also offered the job expansions of Chobani and Ommegang, dependent on clean water for beer and uncontaminated grazing fields to provide milk for Yogurt. 

Pro-gassers do not understand that the gas industry is like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. It eats everything. It eats the good guys. It eats the bad guys. Pro-gassers will not be spared. The gas industry won’t deal with them. Gas companies want leases for next to nothing and simply want enough leased acreage to compulsory integrate the adjoining acreage without paying any sign-on bonuses.

Simply put, the gas industry lies, cheats and steals. It lies like it did in the Traverse City, MI area, where it promised sign-on bonuses per acre to those willing to lease, then walked away after drilling a dry hole without paying a cent. It cheats as a successful class action lawsuit in Virginia demonstrated where they shorted lease holders the full amount of gas royalties they were due. It steals as it does in 5 year leases they signed with landholders that actually have clauses that allow them to keep the mineral rights forever.

Clarification of Home Rule will help communities preserve our NYS constitutional rights of municipal self government. Without protections, the gas industry just keeps coming at us with their annual 100+ million dollar PR & lobbying budgets.

Otsego County Democrats urge Cuomo to ban fracking and back home rule » Breaking News » The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY – otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Otsego County Democrats urge Cuomo to ban fracking and back home rule » Breaking News » The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY – otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports.

Gastem: Marcellus Shale Fracs in New York State Successful

The Industry Wins

Gastem: Marcellus Shale Fracs in New York State Successful.  Press Release 12/21/10

The Earth and Humans Lose:

Comment from Chip Northrup on Community Impact

—- Forwarded Message —-” <>
Sent: Sun, September 12, 2010 6:25:33 AM
Subject: [sustainableotsego] Julie’s speech to the Otsego County Board of Representatives, July 21, 2010 and how close the gas well is to the NYC watershed and the Susquehanna River

For those who are interested, this is my prepared speech to the Otsego
County Board of Representatives, July 21, 2010. Due to the meetings
time constraints, it is not exactly word for word as I said it.

Julie Solloway, Maryland, NY. My house is about one mile from the Ross1
natural gas well.

We used to have GOLD on Crumhorn Mountain. We called it WATER. It
tasted great and was abundant.

Numerous times before the permit was given, and before drilling began,
we said there was no way they could drill on the Ross property on
Crumhorn Mountain, Maryland, NY, and not contaminate the water,
forever- especially our farm.

Water IS more valuable than gas.

I know of 8 water wells, including ours, that have been adversely
affected since the drilling of the Ross1 natural gas well began.  And,
there is concern about a ninth one.

This is the first natural gas well drilled with this technique, in New
York State. Water wells were showing adverse affects shortly after the
drilling began, which was about 2 ½ months BEFORE they fracked.

We can not drink our water anymore. People, pets and animals have been,
and are, sick since shortly after the drilling began. My family is only
using the water to flush the toilet and that is causing health
symptoms. Often times there is a chemical smell in the bathroom.

Having been forced to experience the new technique of natural gas
drilling first hand, I give you some of my experiences:

Within a month of the drilling starting, I was violently ill after
drinking our water. (Some of the symptoms were blurry vision, severe
stomach cramps and collapsing.) This is a water well that we had never
had a problem with, or been sick from, since it was drilled. After
this, I only used the water to wash my hands or shower. My clothes were
also washed in it.

Later, I also had a severe reaction after taking a shower. My nose and
the roof of my mouth burned so badly, that at first, I didn?t even
realize my tongue was swollen.

On the day of the shower incident, I waited three hours, before taking
a shower at another house to try to wash the contaminants off me.
During this time, the County Health Department contacted the State
Health Department and others, trying to find a doctor for me to go to
who could help me. They could not come up with any. Both the County and
State Health Departments told us no local doctor or emergency room
would know what to test me for, or treat me for, concerning chemical
exposure, in regard to a natural gas well.

Because of the severe reaction after taking a shower, the State Health
Department made the gas company test our water. My mother and I had
reactions after the gas company ran our tap water full blast 30-45
minutes before they took water to test. When questioned as to why they
ran the water like that, they admitted it didn?t have to be run at all
because it was a self-cleaning artesian well.- (Their words.) At that
time, we asked the gas company if they would be testing for all the
chemicals, substances, etc., they used and/or could encounter while
drilling the natural gas well. They said No!- they were only doing a
baseline.  Now they are claiming they have tested for all the chemicals
all along.

Some of the symptoms we, and others affected, have had, or continue to
have, are: headaches, sore throats, weird body aches and pains, rashes,
abnormal hair loss, blurry vision, collapsing, severe stomach pains,
bloody noses, intense ear pressure, varying degrees of dizziness,
burning in the nose and throat, and exhaustion from the 24 hour 7 day a
week activity that went on for months.

Noise was a huge problem.
A lot of people were scared by the violent, thunder-like noises.
There was a lot of noise from the tremendous truck and vehicle traffic.
The intense noise from the drilling site was so bad that you couldn?t
sleep, and if you did manage to fall asleep, you were awakened by the
noise and couldn?t get back to sleep.

Among the many noises, was a noise like a very low flying plane
hovering over-top of us. This was a different aggravating noise than
the almost constant droning noise that you also couldn?t get away from.

Explosions occurred anytime day or night. These ranged from muffled to
so loud we thought a huge jet was going to hit the house. They also
shook the house.

The air pollution, including the stink, was so bad at times it burned
noses and throats. The horses didn?t want to go out of the barn.
Sometimes you would go outside to do something, and the obnoxious
stench was so bad you had to go back in the house. Going back in the
house didn?t necessarily mean you got completely away from the awful

There were a lot of unidentified and unfamiliar offensive odors. Smells
that were, and/or are still being experienced, include a wide degree of
varying sulfur smells, along with smells something like: rotten egg,
swamp, matchhead, egg sandwich, nail polish, formaldehyde, and
hydrochloric acid, among others. There can be, has been, and for those
still doing laundry at home, continues to be, an awful smell while
doing laundry. People stink after taking a shower.

There was tremendous truck and vehicle traffic, day and night. They
often deviated from their agreed upon designated route for heavy
vehicles.  Local residents experienced tailgating, interrupted flow of
traffic, being forced off the road, and were often woken up by the

Other negative impacts, noticed since the drilling began, include, but
aren?t limited to, dead animals, peculiar looking and odd growing
plants, shockwaves, and strange looking water, such as discolored,
and/or odd things throughout it from surface to bottom.

We were unable to do very much of our haying last year because of the
gas drilling. The little we did, we all had symptoms shortly afterwards.

Symptoms were also experienced after repairing, for an hour, the fence
that is only about 15 feet from Potato Creek.

The horses didn?t want to, and many times refused to, drink the water
from Potato Creek, even when it was brought to them in a bucket.

Since shortly after the drilling began, I have been dealing with sick
dogs, sick horses and sick people, including me.

I thought allowing the drilling of the Ross1 natural gas well would be
devastating. I didn?t realize how bad it would be, the magnitude of the
affects, or how quickly water contamination would occur.

I used to say, the more you learn about natural gas drilling, the worse

The State Health Department has given us, and others affected,
ridiculous excuses of causes of health symptoms such as: it must be
your shampoo, it must be the sink traps, it must be dust. At another
household, the State Health Department claimed they had used too much
water. This was last year when we had all that rain. The State Health
Department and the gas company both insist there isn?t any reason why
we can?t drink the water.

Several people, including a New York State Health Department worker,
said it is very likely that the chemical or substance I am reacting to,
will not show up in a water test; i.e. there is not enough of it to
show up in a water test, but there is enough of it to cause me to have
a reaction to it. I will never be able to use our water again.

Would you let your kids and grandchildren drink my water? I won?t.

I hope no one in this room has to go through what we are going through.

We don?t call our WATER gold anymore. We call it POISON.

Thank you.

This is relevant to a lot of New York State and beyond. It concerns
people besides those in Otsego County.
Note: The Ross1 natural gas well is approximately 11.5 miles from the
Catskill/Delaware (NYC) Watershed. The closest adversely affected water
well we KNOW about, is approximately 9.5 miles from this watershed. The
Ross1 is also about 1.8 miles from the Susquehanna River. On the other
side, it is about 1.4 miles to the Schenevus Creek, an A rated trout
stream that empties into the Susquehanna River. A small, unnamed creek
which originates at the pond/wetland bordering the Ross1 wellpad, and
Potato Creek flow into Schenevus Creek.
Also note, the proposed Ross2 site is at least 3 miles closer to this
NYC watershed, than the Ross1. It will probably be within 8.5 miles of
the watershed. The proposed Ross2 is very close to Schenevus Creek and
a propane pipeline. This pipeline blew up in the hamlet of North
Blenheim, March 13, 1990, killing two people and demolishing ten homes.
(1-6) On January 25, 2004, an explosion caused by a leak in a valve, in
this same pipeline, blew up a house and caused an evacuation in
Harpersfield, NY. (3, 4, 6, 7) On August 27, 2010, a leak in this same
pipeline caused an evacuation near Gilboa. NY. (5) In July 2010, the
gas company was taking baseline water tests in preparation for drilling
the Ross2. As far as we know no permit has been granted or applied for
to the DEC.

Work Cited Links