Records maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection show that drilling of wells in the Marcellus Shale increased by nearly 400 percent between 2008 and 2009, from 195 wells to 768 wells.1 The increased development is not limited to the drilling of wells. FERC has reported that 5.6 billion cubic feet per day of pipeline capacity was constructed in the Northeast in 2008 and 2009, and an additional 1.2 billion cubic feet per day will have been constructed in the region by January 2011.2 According to FERC, “[m]uch of the new pipeline capacity in the area is targeted at improving the access of shale gas to markets.”3 Thus, the proposed Project is both a product of the development of the Marcellus Shale and a likely catalyst for further gas development. The impacts of the Project cannot be understood apart from the totality of the past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions associated with Marcellus Shale development.
FERC must require a full Environmental Impact Statement that analyzes the extensive and egregious impacts the Project threatens on water resources, forest ecosystems, habitats, air quality, and parks and open space. The NEPA document must assess cumulative and secondary impacts. To do so, the analysis must be thorough and objective.
There is also evidence that pipeline construction and operation could significantly impact habitat for the highly endangered Indiana Bat. Bat populations in our region have plummeted as a result of White Nose Syndrome and the pipeline will pass near and through some of the few remaining areas where this endangered species exists. ....Elsewhere we have seen pipeline rights-of-way impacted and eroded by all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use. Illegal trespass by ATV users is epidemic in our region. Our organization’s wildlife sanctuary has suffered from these high impact machines. The pipeline corridor will invite more illegal ATV use in our area by providing easy access to private land. The impacts from this activity must be considered.
The Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society’s position on the process of high volume, slick water
hydrofracking is to ban this dangerous polluting technology, which does not benefit the greater good,
but promotes corporate profit. The proposed construction of the Constitution Pipeline through local
regions of the Marcellus Shale will provide the infrastructure necessary to support this invasive
technology in the New York counties it would cross.
DOAS further believes that the construction, maintenance and other activities associated with the
Constitution pipeline on the preferred route and the alternative M route will have an irreversible
negative impact upon deciduous and mixed forests, wetlands such as bogs, marshes, swamps,
moving and standing water including rivers, streams, and woodland ponds or vernal pools -
considered the “coral reefs” of the Northeast Forests.
Three state parks will be impacted by the proposed alternative routes of the Constitution Pipeline Project.
Max V. Shaul State park
Mine Kill State Park
Robert V. Riddell State Park
We find that insufficient evidence has been provided to support a determination of public need for this project.
... the proposed pipeline route, and attendant infrastructure, would very likely disturb or negatively impact significant historic, cultural and archaeological resources related to the early settlement of our country and the westward expansion of the American frontier. While Otsego County is arguably one of the most documented counties in New York State with regard to historic and cultural structures, sites and landscapes, it still has only about 20% of its historic resources documented.
...Whether or not the applicant acknowledges it as an objective, hydraulic fracturing is a reasonably foreseeable result of permitting a new pipeline corridor within this region of upstate New York underlain by the Marcellus and Utica shale layers.
Given the proximity of the oroject to known critical rattlesnake habitat, we recommend that a timber rattlesnake habitat assessment be conducted in the project area, in the project segment skirting Taylor Hill (NE of Susquahanna) between Canawacta Creek and Starucca Creek, by a PFBC recognized/qualified timber rattlesnake surveyor.
Trout Unlimited strongly urges the Commission to include the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of the proposed Constitution Pipeline project on coldwater resources, in the list of environmental issues for consideration in the scope of the EIS.
We recommend a thorough analysis of environmental impacts for ALL viable alternatives, including upgrades to existing pipeline facilities...For each alternative, we recommenf that wildlife habitat be adequately mapped so that impacts to the various cover types can be assessed.
... We note the the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is known to occur aloing the Susquehanna River and nearby areas...we recommend that surveys for this species be coordinated with the Service.
In summary, we recommend FERC and the applicatant provide a RIGOROUS environmental review of the Constitution Pipeline Project prior to project approval.
Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic (PELC) scoping comments on behalf of Stop The Pipeline.
PACE ENVIRONMENTAL LITIGATION CLINIC, INC urges attorneys for Constitution Pipeline to immediately retract the “Saul Ewing Letter,” and urges CP to cease and desist from any additional misleading attempts to bully and intimidate New York citizens and landowners into giving up land that rightfully belongs to them.
While some people are trying to convince you that FERC’s certificate means the pipeline
company can now proceed, this is far from true. All of the following conditions must be met
BEFORE construction can start.
Many of these conditions are within the landowners’ control. If you do NOT allow access to
your property, these conditions cannot be met, and construction cannot begin.
Eminent domain proceedings can be challenged until all of these conditions have been met. Read more
By Julia Reischel 12/3/14 - 12:58 pm
The Constitution Pipeline received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a 124-mile natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania through New York's Delaware and Schoharie counties on Tuesday, Dec. 2.
FERC's certificate of public convenience and necessity gives the Constitution Pipeline the power of eminent domain, which allows it to force landowners along the route to accept the pipeline's path through their property.
The pipeline's new powers are setting it up for a fight in the Catskills. Over half of the landowners along the route haven't agreed to allow the pipeline across their land. If they continue to resist, the pipeline can take them to court.
Construction can begin as soon as the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issue permits for the project, which could happen early in 2015.
According to its backers, a group of energy companies that includes Williams, Cabot Oil & Gas, Piedmont Natural Gas, and WGL Holdings, the Constitution Pipeline will create a large number of temporary construction jobs, a dozen full-time jobs after it is built, and millions of dollars in tax revenue for the counties it passes through,
It will also bring natural gas hookups to some communities and businesses in the Catskills, including Amphenol, the county's largest employer.
Eminent domain: "Ultimately, it's going to go to court"
Since first proposing the pipeline in 2012, Constitution Pipeline officials have signed easement agreements with over 50 percent of the landowners along the route.
Chris Stockton, a spokesman for the company, said that the pipeline is in dialogue with the "vast majority" of the rest of the landowners along the route. In other pipeline projects, Williams has used eminent domain powers to force easements on about 5 percent of property owners, he said.
"Now that we have the FERC order, we'll go back and make an attempt to sit down with them and reach an agreement," Stockton said. "If we can't reach an agreement with them, then ultimately it's going to go to court. That's something that we're going to try to avoid."
The pipeline will compensate any landowner forced to accept an easement in an eminent domain proceeding.
"Unprecedented resistance," opponents say
"There's going to be a lot of people forced into court," said Robert Nied, a member of the board of the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities in Schoharie County, which opposes the pipeline. He said that it's unusual for a pipeline project to have only half of the landowners along its route signed up at this stage of a project.
"The grassroots are building unprecedented landowner resistance in this case," Nied said. "Somewhere between 40 or 50 percent of the landowners have refused to sign easements."
The eminent domain power is one of the many controversial aspects of the pipeline project, which has been opposed by private individuals as well as groups like the Sierra Club, Catskill Mountainkeeper, the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Stop the Pipeline. They argue that the pipeline will reduce home values, raise homeowners insurance, increase truck traffic on rural roads and harm the environment.
FERC: Public benefits outweigh costs
In its Dec. 2 order, the four FERC commissioners noted that they have received over 800 comments about the proposed pipeline, and that Constitution officials had changed about half of its proposed route in an attempt to respond to complaints.
"[We] find that the projects, if constructed and operated as described in the final [environmental impact statement], are environmentally acceptable actions," they wrote.
The public benefits that the Constitution Pipeline will provide "outweigh any adverse effects on existing shippers, other pipelines and their captive customers, and on landowners and surrounding communities," the commissioners added.
The pipeline plans to break ground on the project early in 2015, Stockton said.
But there are several more hurdles to clear before construction can begin. The DEC is expected to hold public hearings on the Constitution Pipeline in early 2015 before issuing any permit, and the chronically understaffed agency could take months to analyze the comments.
FERC's approval, as FERC itself points out, is "conditional." This means the approval is conditional in regards to the fact that the NY State DEC must issue a 401 permit before work on the ground can begin, among other, as of yet unfullfilled conditions. The DEC will also announce a schedule for public hearings and open an official comment period on granting this permit. This all needs to happen before the DEC can make a decision on granting it's 401 permit.