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October 31, 2013

Pipeline foes are creating response team|

Opponents of the proposed Constitution Pipeline said Monday they’ve created a new “landowner response team” to document interactions and alleged confrontations between agents and contractors for the $683-million project and property owners whose land would be traversed if the proposal is authorized.

“The team was established in response to complaints of property rights violations and other abuses by the Constitution Pipeline Company and its agents,” Robert Nied, the director of the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, said in a statement.

He said the complaints would be investigated by the response team if they arise in Delaware and Schoharie counties. The proposed pathway of the industrial natural gas line would run through both counties for long stretches before connecting to two existing pipelines in the Schoharie town of Wright. The pipeline would originate in Susquehanna County, Pa., before entering portions of Broome and Chenango Counties, and then running into Delaware County.

Responding to questions from The Daily Star, Nied said he knows of no specific instances in which trespassing by agents for the pipeline company have been documented.

“We have plenty of anecdotal evidence, but no one has documented this effectively,” he said, suggesting one of the goals of the new team is to document problems landowners are having with the agents.

He contended that the agents have tried to push landowners into giving permission to conduct surveys by saying the vast majority of owners have authorized them. That claim, he said, is contradicted by the large number of Schoharie County landowners who have refused to allow the surveys on their property.

“They’re telling people: ‘This is a done deal, and the vast majority of people have already signed,’” Nied said.

Christopher Stockton, a spokesman for the Constitution Pipeline, a project backed by four energy companies, said if any land owners have had problems with the land agents, they are encouraged to contact the company immediately.

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