For over three years, landowners and ordinary citizens have been blocking construction of the 121-mile long “Constitution” Pipeline. Hundreds of parcels of private property have been forcibly seized, and if the project is permitted to go forward a thousand acres of forested land will be clear-cut, and hundreds of protected wetlands, pristine trout streams, and critical drinking-water supplies will be disturbed and inevitably degraded.
Last year the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a so-called “independent” body, which functions as a captive agency of the oil and gas industry, did what it always does—it rubber stamped the pipeline company’s license application, permitting it to transport fracked gas from Pennsylvania’s declining shale gas fields to upstate New York.
At this point, there’s only one thing still standing in the way of the bulldozers—the pipeline company hasn’t been able to obtain a certificate from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation stating that the project will not threaten New York’s water resources.
To make such a determination, the DEC would have to ignore a mountain of evidence. The grassroots group Stop the Pipeline has documented the devastating impacts that the Constitution Pipeline will have on New York’s water resources.
It will cut through eleven-miles of protected wetlands and trench hundreds of waterways, disrupting sensitive ecosystems that are critical to preserving water quality and preventing flooding.
The pipeline will only be built to withstand five-year flood events—in a region that has recently experienced three one hundred-year floods.
Over thirty miles of stream banks will be clear-cut, increasing erosion and exacerbating flooding.
Increased turbidity due to erosion and elevated water temperatures due to streamside shade removal will harm trout populations and violate several DEC regulations.
Buried at a depth of only five-feet, and running under scores of creeks and streams, the pipeline risks being exposed, and possibly ruptured, by racing floodwaters.
What happens now all depends on one man, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Will he succumb to pressure from gas industry lobbyists—or will he order the DEC to follow the facts and kill the pipeline once and for all by rejecting the application for a water-quality certificate?
The Constitution Pipeline is Andrew Cuomo’s Keystone XL. If built, this unwanted, unneeded, pipeline will increase our reliance on a climate-wrecking fossil fuel at a time when the whole world knows that we need to be investing in sustainable energy systems.
Last month, President Obama helped shape his legacy by rejecting the Keystone Pipeline saying, “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change, and frankly, approving this project would have undercut that leadership.”