The Other Keystone: Constitution Pipeline in NY State

by Rona Fried

NY State banned fracking but that doesn’t mean lots of fracked gas can’t travel through the state.

The proposed Constitution Pipeline is being called the "Keystone Pipeline of Natural Gas" because they have so much in common. It would carry gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale through NY State and into New England, and many believe the goal is to export it. 

Like the Keystone export pipeline, it would travel over very sensitive territory in some of NY State’s most treasured, protected areas. Its 125-mile route would endanger some 270 lakes, rivers and wetlands, while clear-cutting 1000 acres of forest. And also like Keystone, it would be forced on landowners without their permission.

Constitution meets an existing pipeline near Schenectady:

Constitution Pipeline

Since the pipeline crosses state lines, it was approved – many say "rubber-stamped" – on the federal level by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in October. There was no environmental review or opportunity for the public to comment. Now the decision lies with NY’s Department of Environment – they have to issue air and water permits.

"The day after the certificate was issued you have the company sending these threatening letters out to dozens of landowners along the proposed route essentially acting as if it’s already a done deal and they can now enter their land whether the landowners want them to or not and begin surveying and, by the way, sign on the dotted line or we’re taking you to court …
frankly what they’re trying to do is bully people," Daniel Estrin, the attorney representing them, told WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

The Constitution Pipeline is one of about eight interstate pipelines FERC could approve, all of which would carry gas from Marcellus Shale. FERC has rarely, if ever, rejected a pipeline or the proposed export terminals they lead to. Activists are fighting all of them.

Besides exploding trains all over the place, the US is being flooded with proposals for pipelines, compressed gas stations and LNG plants. This is what it really means to be energy independent – if we continue to rely on fossil fuels.

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