It is said that “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
So it is that opponents of the Constitution Pipeline may be cheering at the recent news that the company attempting to run this pipeline through upstate New York has pulled back on a side project that would have brought natural gas service to the Sidney, Bainbridge and Afton areas.
“We’re not going to spend a lot of money in New York until we see Constitution permits approved,” executive Michael German told The Daily Star in mid-August. “For us, it just means we’re going to build elsewhere. We’re building in Pennsylvania instead of along the Interstate 88 corridor.”
German said his Leatherstocking Gas Co., a local gas distribution company that is a joint venture of Corning and Mirabito Holdings, has also hit the pause button on plans to build an operations center in Sidney.
But, as unenthusiastic as we are about the pipeline project as a whole, we’re not ready to pop the champagne on this one just yet.
For one thing, German has a valid point when he complains about how protracted the process has been to get an answer on this project from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Certainly the DEC is in a tough spot here. If it takes too long, proponents of the project will accuse the agency of stalling because of political pressures. If it makes decisions more quickly, it stands the risk of being accused of “rubber-stamping” projects it approves, or rejecting projects without due consideration if it says no.
“Either they are being very thorough, or there is a lot of pressure on them — or both,” German said of the agency. “I would lean to both.”
We certainly want the DEC to be thorough, and to listen well. But we understand German’s frustration, which is similar to the frustration so many New Yorkers felt as we waited years to hear the agency’s decision on horizontal hydrofracking.
More importantly, however, the decision to shelve the Leatherstocking Pipeline raises the very real possibility that we may get all the headaches of the Constitution Pipeline with very few of its potential benefits. Potential customers in the Sidney area, most notably Amphenol, have been vocal about the fact that natural gas service would be a boon to their operations.
Take away the prospect of local service, and we’re left with the very scenario the pipeline foes have warned about: A pipeline traveling through our area, putting our citizens and wildlife at risk, from which we derive virtually no reward.
If there must be a pipeline in our backyards — which we would prefer not to have, all else being equal — we’d rather get something out of the deal. Putting the Leatherstocking Pipeline on hold doesn’t create any winners; only more losers.
This article was from The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.