To: Landowners directly affected by the proposed Constitution Pipeline
We are writing to you because the gas pipeline companies, Williams and Cabot, are proposing to build the Constitution pipeline through our lawns, fields, forests, wetlands and streams. People from along the proposed route – all 120 miles from Pennsylvania to Schoharie County – have formed a coalition to try to stop them. We invite you to join us.
Williams and Cabot may have told you that this is a done deal, that cooperating with them is to your advantage, and that if you do not cooperate, they will use eminent domain to get on your land, and “take” it. Although these statements may become true at some point in the future, they are not true now.
We believe that if we join together to resist this proposed project, it is less likely to happen. At this point, we can just say NO to these private corporations that want to take our land so that they can make more money at our cost. Here’s why:
In order to get the power of eminent domain, Williams and Cabot have to receive a certificate of public need from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). That cannot happen for well over a year – and it may take much longer. They do not have the power of eminent domain now.
Williams and Cabot “pre-filed” an application on May 21, 2012, and do not plan to file their real application until next year. Basically, they are testing the waters to see if property owners will cooperate with them and to find out what problems they might encounter if they choose to move forward. Every bit of information they get from you will help them – and make it more likely that they will take your land.
FERC wants to know how many landowners have given Williams and Cabot permission to do surveys. If we do not cooperate, it makes the project look bad, and they may not be able to complete an adequate environmental review this year. To stop the pipeline, we must work together. That means that the affected landowners have to join forces with each other and with the general public, a majority of whom do not want hydrofracking. As Williams and Cabot admitted at their meeting in Franklin on May 17th, all interstate pipelines are required by law to be “open access.” That means that they must accept gas into the pipeline by their competitors. Since there is a strong link between pipelines and hydrofracking, there must be an equally strong link between landowners who do not want their property destroyed by a pipeline with those who do not want their health, water, air, and communities destroyed by fracking.
You may have heard that Governor Cuomo and the NYS DEC may begin issuing permits for hydrofracking in NYS in five counties in the southern tier. All of them are near the Millennium Pipeline, an interstate gas transmission line that was built a few years ago. They are now trying to add compressor stations along that pipeline in order to accept more gas. If the Constitution pipeline is built, the counties that border it would become Phase II of the state’s hydrofracking plan. That means that even though Williams and Cabot have contracts to< “fill the pipeline” with gas from Pennsylvania now, they would add gas from NYS after it is built, just as is being proposed for the Millennium Pipeline. They add gas by increasing the pressure with new compressor stations. This scenario is supported by information Williams gave to its investors on May 22. When they talk to their investors, Williams says they will be able to gather gas from the region, but when they talk to us, they say they have no such plans. We do not believe that there is a real need for this pipeline, as there is currently a huge glut of gas in the United States. Indeed, there is currently so much gas that there is no space to store all of it. Williams has told their investors that they intend to use the pipeline to export the gas to countries where it sells for five times more than in the United States. Should private companies be able to take our land in order to sell gas to foreign countries? Why should our properties be devalued so that companies can increase their profits?
If it is eventually determined that there is a need for an additional pipeline, there are many existing pipeline easements that could deliver gas to the northeast. We have enclosed a map showing some of these possible alternative routes along existing interstate gas pipeline easements. Williams and Cabot do not have to run a pipeline through our area to get their gas to the market they want to serve.
Our partners in this coalition, members of the general public who do not want hydrofracking, do not see I-88 as a good alternative. Although they understand that it would help us as landowners, it would enable hydrofracking to begin in our area in the near future. Therefore, in the bigger picture, the I-88 alternative would not be a good solution for our communities. We ask you to strengthen the coalition against the Constitution pipeline by not talking to or negotiating with Williams and Cabot at this time. Please help strengthen our coalition by clearly indicating to these companies that you are not in favor of the construction of the pipeline and do not want the pipeline to go through your property.
(Fill out form below to be added to the list of community members opposed to the Constitution Pipeline.)