400 + unConstitution Pipeline Intervenors !

400 + unConstitution Pipeline Intervenors !.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 17, 2013

CONTACT

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.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130717-5045

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.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130717-5273

Comments of Catskill Mountainkeeper, Clean Air Council, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Sierra Club, and Riverkeeper, Inc. under CP13-499-000.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130717-5249

Motion to Intervene of Riverkeeper, Inc. under CP13-499.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130717-5205

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited submits Petition to Intervene re the Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC under CP13-499.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130715-0019

Motion to Intervene of Center for Sustainable Rural Communities under CP13-499.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130710-5164

Motion to Intervene of Otsego 2000, Inc. under CP13-499.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130717-5244

Motion to Intervene of Town of Davenport, New York under CP13-499.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130717-5133

Motion to Intervene by the Town of Meredith under CP13-499.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130717-5217

Motion to Intervene of Town of Franklin, New York under CP13-499.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130716-5118

Motion to Intervene of New York Public Service Commission under CP13-499.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130701-5138

Motion to Intervene of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation under CP13-499.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130710-5194

Motion to Intervene of U.S. Department of the Interior under CP13-499, et. al..
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130717-5222

Comments of the US Army Corps of Engineers regarding preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Constitution Pipeline Project under PF12-9.
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130716-0001
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130716-0002
 

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Things you need to know about dealing with pipeline companies

From: Mike Bernhard <mikebernhard@frontiernet.net>
Date: Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 9:57 AM
Subject: Emkey gas pipeline

Friends and neighbors:
Surveying has begun for the Emkey pipeline that will interconnect the east-to-west pipelines below and above Chenango County. This phase will involve a transmission line from Preston through Smithville, Oxford, Coventry and Oxford, as well as Colesville in Broome County (map attached). As in the case of the “Constitution” pipeline project – which runs through Afton as well as Broome and Delaware Counties- local pipeline shills are lying about the effect of these transmission lines, which will increase the likelihood of hydrofracking in these and adjacent towns, with all of fracking’s infrastructure of unregulated gathering lines and compression stations.
Together with the Compulsory Integration of unleased properties into Drilling Units, Eminent Domain provides a tool for gascorps to leverage the acquiescence of a few large (often non-resident) landowners into a public policy that favors irresponsible corporations (and to a lesser extent, those large landowners) at the expense of residents with modest properties.
If you are in the path of the pipeline, the attached letter from Bob Lidsky (copied below) deserves your careful reading. Even if you are not directly in the path of the pipeline, you should understand the pressures that gascorp brings to bear on our neighbors in the line-of-fire, and be ready to support whatever resistance they can offer. To learn from the resistance to the “Constitution” pipeline, see http://www.stopthepipeline.org/.
Please forward widely.  And stay in touch.

I own land, directly in the path of the proposed Constitution Pipeline. The

property is quite hilly and has beautiful views. There is one small area near

the top, which has a gradual enough slope to build a home.

Last December, Constitution asked for permission to survey. Their map

shows the pipeline running directly through the only area suitable for

building, siting a septic field, driveway and home. I realized that the pipeline

if built would render my property, un-buildable, un-mortgage-able, uninsurable, and nearly worthless.

I Joined Stop The Pipeline and refused permission to survey. Over the next

few months I learned a lot about Williams, Constitution, FERC, and the

politics of pipelines and eminent domain.

Then I received Constitution�s offer for their completely one-sided right of

way agreement. They say their limited-time initial offer is for 3 times the

value of the right of way. Yet it represents only 15% of the value of the

land. Their terms are ominous- a virtual minefield of legal traps. And

attached is a thinly veiled, threatening letter explaining that if I do not agree

they will take the right of way, against my wishes, by using Eminent

Domain.

SIGN-OR ELSE! What should I do?

There is no way I can or would agree. There is no way I would sign any

contract to do business with them.

I know that legally, the situation is out of my control and that they can take

their easement under federal law by utilizing eminent domain.

Their tactics attempted to make me feel helpless, and, for a while I did,

dealing with a depressing, seemingly hopeless, situation. But joining STP

helped me realize that by resisting collectively, we have a good chance of

stopping them. That was when I started to investigate and learn about what

actually happens in Eminent Domain.

Rather then simply stonewall; to refuse to sign, I decided to fight, to take

them on face-to face. So I met with the Right of Way agent for Constitution.

First we discussed the survey. Having previously denied permission I asked

how the survey was performed because in the legend it used the words

“field survey”. The agent knew that I had denied permission. I asked him if

they were illegally on my land and he said that the survey was done

virtually, using GPS coordinates from the tax map. I did not believe him, as

there were numerous sightings of surveyors by my neighbors.

I told him that he was ruining my investment. He did not argue that the

amount offered would be an insignificant fraction of the amount the property

would depreciate. He said emphatically, that the price was firm and they

would not negotiate. They do not pay more, or buy the entire parcel under

any circumstances.

I told him the route ran right through the only place on the property where I

could site a home. He replied that the route is non-negotiable.

We discussed their right in the proposed contract to cross my property to

gain access to the right of way. He denied that. I told him that he was being

misleading, showing him the access clause in the proposed agreement. He

said it wasn’t true. I told him the contract rules, not what he says. He

implied it could be negotiated.

We discussed the planned access road just to the north of my property line.

He said that permission for this was not yet granted. This is conjecture, but

I got the impression he was having a hard time getting people to sign, not

just next door, but also with others.

I brought up the prepayment for future damages clause. He said they would

pay all costs and I said that�s not true� just read the contract. He replied

that Constitution would hold me harmless. I countered with Constitution�s

right to sell or assign to anyone. Who will be the responsible party?

This led to the question of insolvency or failure or bankruptcy of

Constitution. I told him I was not going to accept this “Pandora�s Box” of

legal pitfalls at any price. His answer was to say he would check this out

with some higher-ups and get back to me. He has not contacted me.

Unfortunately I forgot to mention the inability of a landowner to get a

mortgage when an interstate high-pressure pipeline is nearby a potential

structure.

I brought up liability and insurance issues. I told him I would never sign

because by signing I was buying into an unending liability for damages by

becoming his partner in a commercial- industrial operation. I would always

have an increased insurance cost and would have to carry huge & expensive

limits for liability, if the property was insurable at all. He gave no response.

I left the most important for last. We discussed eminent domain. He said

they were reluctant to use it but then openly threatened that they would

absolutely use it if I didn’t come around and sign.

I think I shocked him when I told him my best course of action was to have

him TAKE the right of way from me by eminent domain! The court would still

award me something, but more important, I would have no liability. He said

nothing. He had no answer. He said he would get back to me. He never has.

I think this discussion of asking him to take me by Eminent Domain set him

aback. He seemed unprepared. I think he was used to forcing landowners to

sign using the Eminent Domain club. Constitution uses Eminent Domain as a

bargaining tool, but it can be put to good use against them.

Here is my laypersons view:

IF I SIGN:

1) I give away my right to sue.

2) I enter into a business deal with unknown future liabilities.

3) I have continuing extra insurance expense.

BY TELLING THEM to TAKE MY LAND:

1) Only gas can be transported, no tar sands or other liquids.

2) No future pipelines or other utilities will be allowed.

3) We gain political power when significant numbers of landowners refuse to

sign.

5) FERC�s mandate is to listen to landowners.

6) They lose their bargaining tool when eminent domain is seen as better for

me.

7) I still get paid something,

8) I have no liability,

9) I preserve my right to sue them later, in a class action for a taking of my

land,

Only the landowners can stop Constitution. WE have the power. Hundreds of

landowners have to welcome eminent domain as the best option, and as the

only way to prevail. I know there are many other landowners who believe

this. Please start expressing it in public now, in order to grow the

movement.

To stop them, we need to refuse signing, and to threaten a class action

lawsuit for the full value of our property, presenting them with a huge

political and financial problem.

Make this public! Make them walk away! ONLY by refusing to sign can we

win. It is your active resistance that will prevail. This can be done. We must

hit them where it hurts.

TELL THEM TO TAKE THAT EASEMENT BY EMINENT DOMAIN.

Robert Lidsky,

Andes, NY

July 8, 2013

FERC–INTERVENING

Short window of opportunity for residents to “intervene” on proposed pipeline.

 Impacted landowners, community members, business owners and public officials have until July 17, 2013 to “intervene” with the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) on the matter of the proposed Constitution Pipeline. Those who intervene become an integral part of the review process. While interveners have no obligation, the process of intervening established the necessary framework for taking actions, if necessary, against the pipeline company. ALL AREA RESIDENTS, BUSINESSES, AND TOWN AND VILLAGE BOARDS SHOULD INTERVENE. Those who do not intervene significantly limit their options for protecting their property, and their community, from the pipeline.

Instructions for intervening can be found on the Stop the Pipeline website: www.stopthepipeline.org

Stop the Pipeline’s Schoharie Action Committee will be conducting door-to-door visits along the proposed pipeline the week of July 8th to assist people with the intervention process.

The Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, located at 296 Main Street in Richmondville, NY will hold special training sessions to assist people wishing to intervene on Thursday July 11th from 10 AM until 2 PM, Friday July 12thfrom 6 PM until 8 PM and Saturday July 13th from 9 AM until 12 PM. The Center will provide high speed Internet access, computer terminals and volunteers to assist individuals and group in registering with FERC.

The Center for Sustainable Rural Communities is also offering consultation to Town, Village and County boards who wish to intervene. Public officials can contact the Center at 518-872-3903 or via email: info@ruralcommunities.org.

Press Contact:

Robert Nied

Board of Directors

Center for Sustainable Rural Communities

518-852-4021

rnied@ruralcommunities.org

Constitution Pipeline

Constitution Pipeline

June 29, 2013

Pipeline filing sets stage for FERC

By Joe Mahoney Staff WriterThe Daily Star