BETHLEHEM A fracked gas pipeline proposed to run through Selkirk, South Bethlehem and New Scotland is drawing the ire of the community.
The pipeline is a massive undertaking, spanning five states in order transport gas fracked in Canada and the Western states to the area in an effort to bring cheaper gas to the area. In New York, 53 miles of pipeline are planned through the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan.
At one location of the proposed pipeline, the First Reformed Church of Bethlehem at 38 Church Road in Selkirk, concerned citizens have been meeting to plan for a Saturday, Jan. 23 public forum, which will be held from 2 to 4 p.m.
In November, Houston-based energy company Kinder Morgan filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the proposed pipeline.
Kinder Morgan is the largest pipeline company in North America, with 84,000 miles of pipe and 165 terminals transporting gasoline, oil ethanol and natural gas. The 36-inch, 350-mile high-pressure pipeline would originate in Pennsylvania, head to Wright, N.Y., then travel 53 miles to the Massachusetts border.
The decision will be made in Washington, D.C., where Kinder Morgan must gain approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Kinder Morgan plans to gain approval by the end of 2016 to begin in 2017 and complete by 2018.
According to the company, the pipeline will “liberate costly bottlenecks” and lower energy costs for those in the Northeast, while “delivering a clean environmentally friendly energy sourced domestically.”
Opponents however, say the risks outweigh the benefits. Climate change exacerbation and fear of leaks and explosions along the pipeline are among the greatest concerns of those against its construction.
“The more voices that are heard in opposition, the better chances we have of getting this thing shut down. If people don’t speak up, they assume we’re in agreement, but we need to voice opposition,” said Deb Weisheit of First Reformed Church of Bethlehem.
First Reformed Church of Bethlehem has partnered with Stop NY Gas Pipeline (SNYGP) in their efforts to gain that community interest. According to Bob Conners, co-founder of SNYPG, the organization has successfully partnered with churches many times in the past.
“We will be as factual as we can,” said Conners of the meeting. “Of course we’re opposed to it, but we won’t be jumping up and down screaming. It’ll just be here is the information. Generally, we find that the more people know, the more people are opposed.”
Conners said that with enough opposition, the pipeline proposal will be withdrawn. “Somewhere around 20 percent of Kinder Morgan proposals actually get withdrawn, according to our research. It’s typically market forces and public opposition that cause them to back out.”
In conjunction with public opposition, the company’s economic standing could come into play. Conners said the company has been experiencing drops in stock prices as a result of the now extremely low cost of gas, which he thought would make spending the necessary hundreds of millions of dollars to construct the pipeline more difficult. “My suspicion is that people aren’t as