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New York communities organize against the I-81 pipeline

In May 2013, the Millennium Pipeline Company announced a proposal to construct a 60 mile-long, high-pressure pipeline that will be at least 24” in diameter and supported by at least one compressor station. Since then, community members in the Central New York region have been organizing to oppose the initiative through community presentations from the Southern Tier to Onondaga

Concerned citizens gather at a community information presentation on the Millennium Pipeline in Lafayette, NY.

Concerned citizens gather at a community information presentation on the Millennium Pipeline in Lafayette, NY.

In May 2013, the Millennium Pipeline Company announced a proposal to construct a 60 mile-long, high-pressure pipeline that will be at least 24” in diameter and supported by at least one compressor station. Since then, community members in the Central New York region have been organizing to oppose the initiative through community presentations from the Southern Tier to Onondaga.

The I-81 pipeline seeks to transport off the fracked gas from Pennsylvania by connecting the Millennium Pipeline, near Binghamton, to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, just south of the I-90 thruway. Both pipelines run east-west through New York State. Research, by the Stop the 81 Pipeline group, revealed the east end of the Tennessee pipeline is connected to a Liquid Natural Gas terminal, owned by multi-national corporation, Gaz De France. The group suspects that the I-81 pipeline would carry natural gas for use in tar sands operations in Canada and for export on the East Coast of the United States.

At a recent community presentation, Joe Heath, general counsel for Onondaga Nation, described several areas of concern.  The Tully Valley mud boils have many of the characteristics of quick-sand, churn water and sediment;  as high ground water pressure pushes the sediment to the surface. Heath shared that the ground where the pipeline is proposed is too unstable.  The pressure from the mud boils in the area would be too great to ensure that the pipeline would reside safely in the area. The pipeline is also estimated to run between two pristine lakes: Green and Tully Lakes and their wetlands, and is also very close by to Onondaga Central School.

Mary Menapace, a member of Concerned Health Professionals of New York, reminded the group that “even if you are pro-fracking, even if you want this pipeline, you should still wait to get the best deal”. She went on to explain that the primary deals do not take into account the entire value of the property;  if the Company were forced to obtain rights through eminent domain or a “Certificate of Public Convenience”, the entire property would be valued and the landowner would have more benefits than are initially offered.

The meeting closed with a Q and A from the organizers. One audience member asked, “What can we do to keep this away?” The answer from Craig Stevens, a landowner from Pennsylvania who leased his land for a pipeline installment, responded, “Talk to your neighbors, get to know them… Knock on doors, let others know about this… the more everyone knows they are coming, the easier it will be for you all to keep them away”.

If you are a landowner between Broome County and Onondaga County, please visit http://stop81pipeline.wordpress.com/ for critical information about leasing your land for the purpose of the pipeline.

Emily Bishop is the Regional Coordinator in Central New York for New Yorkers Against Fracking. Feel free to contact her at Emily@nyagainstfracking.org

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