Two grassroots watchdog groups are teaming up to offer some support and an extra pair of eyes to residents uncomfortable with surveyors mapping out a route for the massive Constitution Pipeline proposal.
Federal regulators are reviewing applications from Constitution Pipeline and Iroquois Gas Transmission to build a 124-mile natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to the Schoharie County town of Wright.
The 30-inch-wide line would transport Marcellus Shale gas to Iroquois’ compressor facility in Wright, and the gas would then be delivered farther east.
The proposal sparked the creation of an environmentalist-type group, “Stop the Pipeline,” while drawing the interest and attention of the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities.
As the process continued, Center for Sustainable Rural Communities director Robert Nied said the group has received input suggesting some residents are feeling uncomfortable interacting with or just seeing surveyors on or near their properties.
The pipeline company’s spokesman this week said anybody with concerns should be contacting the pipeline directly.
“We get all kinds of reports. They’re anecdotal, and we’re going on what people tell us. They feel as though there’s an effort being made to apply a great deal of pressure on landowners,” Nied said.
In response, Stop the Pipeline and the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities established a 1-800 number for people to call and get in touch with them to set up a visit.
“Whether or not Constitution’s agents are going above or beyond, it adds up to this kind of atmosphere that landowners feel really isolated,” Nied said.
Constitution Pipeline spokesman Christopher Stockton on Thursday said there should be no discomfort on the part of residents, and if there is, they should contact the pipeline company immediately.
“We are committed to dealing fairly with each landowner and treating all landowners with respect,” Stockton said in an email.
“It remains our strict policy to only survey properties where we have obtained permission from the landowner. If there are any concerns or issues that a landowner might have with our survey process, we’d encourage the landowner to contact us immediately,” Stockton said.
Stockton said the pipeline company has responded to numerous concerns expressed by citizens, property owners and officials while developing the route for the pipeline.
So far, there’s been approximately 400 adjustments to the initial route, amounting to a 50 percent change in the initially proposed path.
Most recently, engineers altered the pipeline’s path in Schoharie to completely avoid the site of the Capital Region BOCES campus where students learn to use excavators and bulldozers by digging into the ground, Stockton said.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to land on a route that balances landowners’ interests with the engineering and construction requirements for siting a transmission pipeline,” Stockton said.
Residents seeking some support can contact the Landowner Response Team at 1-800-795-1467.
Nied said the team will not show up to start any kind of confrontation with pipeline representatives.
But they will be able to record activity as it takes place and prepare to share that information with regulators.
“If you want a witness, we’ll come and sit with you,” Nied said.
People with concerns can contact Constitution Pipeline’s Schenectady Project Office at 982-1637.
More information about the project can be found online at http://constitutionpipeline.com.