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October 10, 2013

Pipeline project receives DEC criticism

Planners of the proposed Constitution Pipeline have failed to adequately evaluate existing utility corridors and other alternate routes in proposing a pathway that would take the natural gas transmission system through forests, fields and farmland, according to a state Department of Environmental Conservation official.

In a Sept. 25 letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Secretary Kimberly Bose, Patricia Desnoyers, a DEC lawyer involved in reviewing the pipeline project, requested that the pipeline company be required to “thoroughly analyze alternative routes that predominantly use existing utility corridors and rights of way for all or most of the proposed pipeline route in New York.”

The concerns registered by Desnoyers are similar those registered by the US. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this year. Although FERC is the only government agency that can license a pipeline, both DEC and the Army Corps of Engineers play strong roles in the environmental-review process. The DEC has the power to issue or deny permits the project needs to be completed.

And both the DEC and the Army Corps of Engineers are unconvinced that the routing as proposed by the pipeline company was designed with a thorough consideration of alternates that would keep much of the project inside existing rights of way. Desnoyers also indicated that she wants to see documentation that the state Department of Transportation has discouraged placing the pipeline within the I-88 controlled access right of way.

Reacting to the recommendations made by the DEC official, Constitution Pipeline spokesman Christopher Stockton said: “We feel strongly that we have extensively explored all options for routing the pipeline in and adjacent to the 1-88 corridor. Construction constraints, along with potential impacts to communities and the environment, would be greater with the I-88 alternative than with the proposed primary route.”

He added: “The application we submitted to FERC clearly supports that conclusion.”

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