State officials have decided to ban hydrofracking within New York, but battles continue over the infrastructure projects that support the natural gas industry. One such project is the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline, which would carry natural gas from Pennsylvania to lines in New York state that run on to northeastern cities.
The project was first proposed in 2012. Federal regulators approved it in December. It would start in Susquehanna County and pass through parts of Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie Counties in New York.
The project has seen intense opposition since it began, with the group organized against it encouraging landowners along the route to refuse access to their land. New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation is now conducting its own review.
The DEC held the first of three public hearings in Binghamton on Monday. Opposition to the pipeline includes many of the people who came out against fracking in New York, but there are also landowners whose property falls on the proposed route. TheFederal Energy Regulatory Agency's approval opens the door for the use of eminent domain if landowners refuse to sign an agreement with the pipeline company.
Catherine Holleran is one of those landowners facing eminent domain.
“We don’t want it on our land and we don’t like where they’re trying to put it through," she says. They’re taking all our trees on the backside of our property and cutting through all our fields."
But the hearing also drew a large group of union members dressed in orange shirts. A truck carrying a pro-pipeline electronic billboard idled out front during the meeting. Members of the union handed out signs criticizing Governor Cuomo for the Southern Tier’s slow economy.
They loudly disagreed with anti-pipeline speakers, and occasionally cut them off when their allotted time was up. One pipeline proponent, Daniel Galagan, argued in the hallway with an organizer from Pennsylvania.
“Everything is safe. You are going to be compensated,” said Galagan.
The tension is likely to continue at the two remaining public hearings. The DEC will also accept public comments on the Constitution Pipeline until February 27th.