Williams Responds to Public on Constitution Pipeline
Williams held an informational session in Oneonta, New York (Otsego County) late last week. The company held other public outreach meetings prior to last night to get the public’s opinions and concerns about the Constitution Pipeline. The major concerns it received at these earlier meetings revolved around the route. Much of the public thought the pipeline should run straight along the I-88 corridor.
So, Williams took all the public comments and developed a new route for the pipeline to travel, not too surprisingly, right up the I-88 corridor. The company has demonstrated a desire to work with the public and do their best to satisfy concerns regarding the route. This approach has served it well although, of course, such accommodation wasn’t enough for some of the natural gas opponents who attended the meeting. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as these folks will be satisfied with nothing less than a complete shutdown of natural gas development. Fortunately, they were, and are, a distinct minority.
The pipeline will be about 120.6 miles in total length when complete. It will be 30 inches in diameter and run through Susquehanna (Pennsylvania), Broome, Chenango, Delaware, and Schoharie counties and will connect with the Iroquois Pipeline and the Tennessee Pipeline, distributing natural gas to New York City and Boston markets.
Williams is still in the pre-filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and is now conducting an environmental review. It will be a long process and it could potentially be three years before the pipeline is complete, because FERC regulates every step of the process to ensure public safety and that environmental issues are addressed. The formal application has yet to be filed because Williams is still soliciting input from the public. FERC representatives were at the public outreach meeting, nonetheless, to answer any questions the public had about the process.
FERC is encouraging citizens to send them comments using their website and e-file program located here. The agency has already received several suggestions, but is encouraging everyone to comment and express their support and/or concerns regarding the proposed new route. It is a very transparent process.
Williams hopes to file its official application in January, 2013. FERC will create a draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS) once the application is officially filed. The public will also have a chance to comment after this step has been taken.
The meeting in Oneonta went very well with numerous people discussing the details of the new planned route with Williams representatives (see short video following). There were, of course, a handful of natural gas opponents complaining more about that subject than anything else and nary a mention of the Constitution Pipeline. This is despite the company having made it clear, numerous times, it is in the natural gas distribution business, not development.
It was no surprise natural gas opponents were there protesting natural gas development at a Williams pipeline meeting. Our friends on the other side view every such meeting as a target of opportunity, as a handout I was given at the meeting and which you can view below, demonstrates. This is how misinformation is being spread. It is nothing less than fear mongering.
A small group of natural gas opponents gathered outside, where they handed out this flyer, promoting the false idea a pipeline intended to deliver more inexpensive energy to the northeast, which consumes more of it every day, will somehow be a detriment because it will make the area attractive to gas companies doing development. Pipelines go through all sorts of areas, of course, to deliver natural gas and many of them have no natural gas or are marginal at best (Schoharie County, mentioned in the flyer, being in those categories). Development doesn’t follow the pipeline – the pipeline follows development and takes the gas to market, which benefits all consumers and all those who believe in American energy independence and softening our carbon footprint.
You can also see, in the video below, a group of natural gas opponents holding “No Drill, No Spill” signs which, let me point out again, are completely irrelevant to a pipeline project. Moreover, a “No Wheels, No Wrecks” poster to protest highway development because accidents will happen, makes just as much sense.
The next video shows a bit of hypocrisy we can’t help pointing out. Williams, in a sincere attempt to provide a comfortable opportunity for public input on their project, rented out the Holiday Inn space for the meeting and provided refreshments. The opponents who came, none of whom asked any questions, enjoyed the cookies and drinks while they were busy protesting the company who paid for what they were enjoying. Now the point of public input isn’t just to agree with the party seeking it, but is too much to ask that the partakers of the food and drink at least ask a question and speak to the subject at hand?
Representatives from Williams and FERC took time to come to Oneonta and discuss the Constitution Pipeline with local residents to answer any questions people had. What they got instead from some who attended was off-topic signs and propaganda spreading misinformation about natural gas, hydraulic fracturing, and, as an afterthought, pipelines. Fortunately, others did have real questions and real suggestions, which made the event more than worthwhile for those who came to learn and participate. Others came, well, for the refreshments, I guess, and what they thought was a glorious opportunity to kick a gift horse in the mouth. The Williams horse, however, had galloped by when they weren’t looking. You can’t hold back a horse heading to the barn, after all, or natural gas headed to consumers who want it and know what a bargain it is.