Schoharie County

Schoharie County towns voice concerns with planned gas pipeline

Concern for lost farm production is prompting town officials to oppose running a natural gas pipelin

Concern for lost farm production is prompting town officials to oppose running a natural gas pipeline through Fulton.

Officials throughout Schoharie County are eyeing the potential impact of paths proposed for the Constitution Pipeline, which, if approved by federal regulators, would stretch roughly 120 miles from northeastern Pennsylvania to a compressor station in the town of Wright.

The preferred route being considered shows the 30-inch pipeline entering Schoharie County in the town of Summit then going roughly 30 miles through the towns of Richmondville, Cobleskill, Schoharie and Wright. But alternative routes would pass through Jefferson, Blenheim, Fulton and Middleburgh, as well as mountainous areas requiring several passes beneath the Schoharie Creek.

In Fulton, farmers are concerned the work itself would complicate farming operations, town Supervisor Philip R. Skowfoe Jr. said.

In a June 6 letter submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Skowfoe recounts a May 14 town meeting that drew a full house of residents, mostly farmers, concerned with the impact the pipeline could have on their production.

“Some of their concerns were the effects on the land once it’s disturbed, loss of revenue caused by the delay in their planting and growing of crops, and maintenance and safety of the land and residents,” he wrote in the letter.

Skowfoe said Wednesday the town’s opposition to the alternate routes isn’t an endorsement of the primary route, either.

“I’m sure there’s people along that [route] that don’t want it either. I support what my people want,” he said.

Officials in the town of Cobleskill met with Constitution Pipeline representatives a couple weeks ago to express concerns about the pipeline’s proximity to water supply reservoirs that serve the town and village, town Supervisor Thomas Murray said Wednesday. Meanwhile, the town hired a law firm to help develop a right of way agreement to detail rights and responsibilities for parcels that could host the pipeline.

Murray said locals were able to point to alternatives that could minimize the impact of construction activities on housing, as well as on land that’s eyed for future development.

“They couldn’t have been more attentive and more helpful,” Murray said.

The pipeline hasn’t even been officially proposed yet, but Constitution Pipeline, a partnership of Williams Partners and Cabot Oil & Gas, is engaged in a pre-application process expected to streamline regulatory review by getting information out to the public and studies completed in time for a formal application to be submitted in January 2013.

Constitution Pipeline spokesman Chris Stockton said input from local governments is helping to refine the pipeline’s routes and alternatives, so maps of the proposal can be expected to change throughout the year as the process continues.

The company has been receiving suggestions that the pipeline be routed down the median of Interstate 88, and engineers are looking at that option, he said. But complications in building along a major highway may make that untenable due to the amount of space — a 110-foot-wide strip — needed for construction.

Ultimately, these evaluations will continue until a final proposed route, and alternatives, are drafted for the formal application.

“There’s a tremendous amount of flexibility, and we can try to do our best to accommodate the folks the best we can,” Stockton said.

“We’re really looking at all these routes very seriously. Hopefully we’ll be able to find the best possible route that balances the concerns of the landowners with any environmental concerns,” he said.

Constitution Pipeline will hold a public information meeting to detail plans for the pipeline from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26, at the Best Western, 121 Burgin Drive, Cobleskill. More information on the pipeline proposal can be found at

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