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Gas pipeline opponents rally in Albany

WBFO file photo

The fate of the Northern Access Pipeline Project could be decided within a couple weeks. On Monday, people from across the state who oppose National Fuel’s natural gas pipeline converged on Albany to express their concerns.

Many Western New Yorkers participated in a rally that included a march from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to the state capital building.  Joe Gibson, community organizer with Clear Air Council participated in the event. WBFO talked with Gibson as he and other participants headed to the rally by bus.

“We’re going to Albany to urge DEC to deny the 401 water quality certification permit, which it denied for a very similar project, the Constitution Pipeline,  last year that was proposed for downstate.”

The DEC has until April 7 to decide whether to approve or deny the permit for the Northern Access Pipeline Project. Governor Cuomo ultimately has the power to approve or reject the project.

Opponents said construction would see the 24-inch-diameter pipeline go through many water sources.

“The biggest concerns are the water crossings,” Gibson said. “It’s going to cross 192 streams, 270 wet lands and 7 ponds. A vast majority of those crossing will be through trenching, which is the most damaging way to cross a water body.”

Gibson added that 185 of the springs would be crossed by trenching.

The gas pipeline would start in McKean County, Pennsylvania, making its way through Allegany County, Cattaraugus County and Erie County, New York. It would meet with an existing pipeline in Elma, making its way to a new compressor station in Niagara County. It would go to a hydration facility in Wheatfield. The gas would eventually travel under the Niagara River to Grand Island, and then to Canada for exporting.

“People are concerned that this is another addition of dirty fossil fuels that we don’t need, because the gas is actually not being used by Western New Yorkers,” Gibson said. “It’s going through to Canada.”

National Fuel has insisted that the project will have a $930 economic impact. The company said the $455 project is  an “important next step”  in its ability to continue to invest in essential pipeline infrastructure that’s required to service its markets.

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