Editor, The Spotlight;
An important environmental issue that could affect Bethlehem residents needs action now by our Town Board.
Texas-based Kinder-Morgan wants to build a larger pipeline alongside its existing natural gas pipeline to bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New England. In Albany County, this pipeline passes through the towns of Bethlehem, New Scotland, Berne and Knox. In Bethlehem, the pipeline runs close to the Vly Creek Reservoir. That reservoir supplies some of our town’s drinking water. It is important to take steps to make sure that blasting does not contaminate this water supply, as well as residential wells in the vicinity of the blasting.
As an environmental watchdog in the Town of Bethlehem for over 25 years and the founder of Clearwater for Bethlehem, I am disappointed that the Town Board has taken no action in response to these potential problems. One important step would be to support the new Drinking Water Protection Law that was recently passed unanimously by the Albany County Legislature. It is highly unusual to see a bill receive 100 percent support from both Democrats and Republicans. Prior to passage, the bill received significant input from the County Health Department and the Albany County Soil and Water Protection District. The language of this new law addresses a concern raised by Bethlehem Councilman Bill Reinhardt by ensuring that farmers and small businesses that need to drill new wells will not be impacted. The Drinking Water Protection Law is a good law.
Resolutions in support of this law were also passed by Berne, Knox and New Scotland. Bethlehem is the only exception. For reasons that elude me, Bethlehem continues to stand alone as the only impacted town not in support of the new Drinking Water Protection Law. The issue is serious enough that a similar bill is about to be introduced in the state legislature.
There are many environmental concerns about Kinder-Morgan’s pipeline expansion to move gas generated by fracking through Albany County. When local governments help address those concerns, they will find that Kinder-Morgan is responsive. Several communities in Massachusetts have recently passed resolutions against the pipeline. That opposition caused the Texas company to change its mind and not route the pipeline through those towns.
It would be reassuring to see that the Bethlehem Town Board is doing all that it can to protect our drinking water supplies from blasting by Kinder-Morgan.
Linda Anne Burtis