Score one for the local landowners and residents of Western New York.
Following three public hearings and over 5,700 comments, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has denied a required water quality certificate to the National Fuel Gas Company for its proposed Northern Access Pipeline.
The pipeline would’ve carried hydraulically fractured (“fracked”) natural gas from Sergeant Township in southern McKean County, PA, through Allegany, Cattaraugus, Erie and Niagara counties in New York, and eventually up to Canada. Construction would’ve cost an estimated $455 million and would’ve impacted a number of New York farmlands and waterways.
On April 8, 2017, the DEC sent a letter to National Fuel denying its permit request “due to the project’s failure to avoid adverse impacts to wetlands, streams, and fish and other wildlife habitat.”
“In particular, the Project fails to avoid or adequately mitigate adverse impacts to water quality and associated resources,” wrote the DEC. “Crossing multiple streams and wetlands … causes a negative cumulative effect on water quality … If allowed to proceed, the Project would materially interfere with or jeopardize the biological integrity and best usages of affected water bodies.”
One landowner quoted by WKBW Buffalo was delighted by DEC’s decision to disallow construction. “It feels as if a tide is turning in the right direction and our voices are finally being heard,” she said. “When a fuel company comes to you with threats to condemn your fourth-generation farmland under eminent domain for a pipeline right-of-way, it can be very intimidating. It has been a long fight. You don’t get much sleep when your land, your livelihood, your heritage and your future is on the line.”
National Fuel had reasoned that the pipeline would bring an affordable fuel source to New Yorkers, but some identified ulterior motives. “They say it’s going to benefit Western New York,” said one resident quoted by WKBW, “but it seems to me they’re going to put it on the open market through Canada. And all of that is going to raise the price of gas.”