Schoharie County supervisors on Friday rejected a motion to voice a county-level opinion on the controversial Constitution Pipeline proposal following a discussion that magnified mixed feelings on the biggest construction proposal the county has seen in decades.
Constitution Pipeline is preparing a formal application for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking approval to build a 30-inch natural gas pipeline stretching 120 miles from Pennsylvania to the Schoharie County Town of Wright.
The company is engaged in a “pre-filing” process established to streamline applications. Company contractors are conducting surveys and environmental studies on several possible routes that could lead to Broome, Chenango, Delaware and possibly Otsego county hosting part of the line.
Constitution officials contend the new pipe would address insufficient infrastructure and enable the transport of 650,000 dekatherms of gas daily, enough to supply 3 million homes, to eager Northeast markets such as Boston and New York City.
Some municipalities in the proposed pipeline’s path have submitted positive input on the proposal including Delaware County, and the mayor of the village of Sidney, Andy Matviak, in Delaware County.
While several Schoharie County towns or their officials have voiced opposition to the pipeline passing through their borders, including Middleburgh and Richmondville, Schoharie County government has remained silent on the proposal.
It was clear Friday that’s because there’s no consensus on the part of the county’s Board of Supervisors.
Like individual property owners, some see the project as a potential to draw business and boost employment, others envision explosions and spoiled natural beauty.
Fulton Supervisor Philip Skowfoe called for taking the resolution, titled “Schoharie County Support for the Constitution Pipeline,” off the table.
“I do not think this resolution should even be on the floor,” Skowfoe said.
Skowfoe said any opinions on the matter should rest in the hands of individual towns, not the county, staying in line with New York’s long tradition of “home rule.”
Jefferson Supervisor Daniel Singletary said he believes the county government should engage in a dialogue about the proposal because people he’s been speaking with in his southern Schoharie County town are eyeing the project as a potential economic development tool.
“This pipeline needs a discussion much further than we have given it. There are people who are looking for jobs. The county has to take a look and say ‘how friendly are we to business,’ ” Singletary said.
Cobleskill Supervisor Thomas Murray said federal regulators will ultimately make the decision and he believes whatever the county does, it should make sure it looks “business friendly.”
Carlisle Supervisor Larry Bradt said he agrees with the idea that individual towns, not the county, should make any statements regarding the proposal.
Carlisle has been hosting part of the Iroquois and Tennessee gas pipelines for decades without incident, Bradt said, and “people get used to that.”
Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone, who is not in favor of the pipeline, said from the look of current pipelines, there are few local jobs as a result beyond the initial construction phase.
Milone is pushing for another county resolution that would avoid contention among “some towns that want it and others that want nothing to do with it.”
The resolution would ask Constitution Pipeline to take into account each town’s comprehensive plan and zoning regulations.
“It couldn’t be any simpler,” Milone said.