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Keystone Veto Won't End Pipeline Woes In New York

PHOTO: As President Obama prepares to veto a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline, New York landowners are gearing up for a fight over a different pipeline. The Constitution Pipeline could cut right through their backyards. Photo courtesy of Public Citizen.
PHOTO: As President Obama prepares to veto a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline, New York landowners are gearing up for a fight over a different pipeline. The Constitution Pipeline could cut right through their backyards. Photo courtesy of Public Citizen.
February 20, 2015

NEW YORK, N. Y. — As President Obama prepares to veto a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline, New York landowners are gearing up for a fight over a different pipeline - one that could cut right through their backyards.

The Constitution Pipeline would carry gas through 126 miles of forests and waterways in central New York. Anne Marie Garti, a lawyer fighting the project, says the pipeline would devastate people who live in its path.

"They're losing their land. They're losing what their land means to them, because once this pipeline goes through it - in some cases very, very close to people's homes - nobody will ever want to buy this land again," Garti says. "Who wants to live next to a ticking time bomb?"

The Constitution Pipeline Company has reached agreements with some landowners to build the pipeline on their property, but others are holding out.

Attorney Michael Faherty represents property owners who aren't interested in a deal with Constitution. He says the company has asked for a court order allowing it to use property without permission, under the power of eminent domain.

"What they're seeking is to have the judge rule, essentially, that there are no barriers to them having possession of the property rights immediately," explains Faherty.

He doesn't expect a ruling for at least several weeks. In the meantime, the Constitution Pipeline still needs permits from state regulators.

Garti says the pipeline would require the company to cut down thousands of acres of trees and cross hundreds of streams and wetlands. Her organization, Stop the Pipeline, is urging the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to reject it.

"It is total madness to propose to build a pipeline in this part of New York state," says Garti.

The Constitution Pipeline Company says it intends to pay landowners for any easements it receives under its eminent domain claims.

Derek Hawkins, Public News Service - NY