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Both Sides of Constitution Pipeline Debate Seek Action Before Deadline


Proponents of the Constitution Pipeline are calling on New York State to give it's final approval to the project before it's too late.

New York must grant what's called a 401 water certification before construction can begin in the state. The state has until the end of the month to grant the certification. The roughly 124-mile pipeline begins in Susquehanna County in Pennsylvania and runs through the Southern Tier into Schoharie County. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission - or FERC - approved the project in December of 2014.

"Right now I have over 200 people who are out of work waiting to go back to work. This project actually would employ about 200 of my laborers. This project would mean full employment if we could get it underway," said David Marsh, Business Manager of Laborers' Local 785.

"There are over 300,000 miles of interstate pipeline running across the country delivering the energy we need. This pipeline will deliver over 750,000 decatherms a day, enough energy to heat over 3 million homes. Obviously in the Southern Tier and across New York state we see that growing demand for energy," said Mike Atchie, Manager of Public Outreach at Williams Companies.

If New York doesn't grant the certification FERC could have the authority to move the project forward. The company wants to begin construction this summer to have service ready in the second half of 2017.

Not everyone is in favor of the pipeline project. One critic says a recent report by State Comptroller Tom Dinapoli and his own research show the state has been lax in oversight of pipelines and cleanup when things have gone wrong. He says the state can't grant the 401 water certification unless it can guarantee the pipeline project will not harm water quality, something he says is not possible.

"All the existing transmission pipelines have had problems including at least 114 fires, explosions, toxic discharges, massive ruptures that have caused water quality hazards that were never cleaned up," said Walter Hang, President of Toxics Targeting.

Hang has sent letters to the five remaining major-party Presidential candidates asking them to clarify their position on the pipeline. He feels it could be an issue during the April 19th primary if the race tightens before then.