ALBANY, N.Y. — The developer of a $750 million natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania into New York has threatened to seize land from reluctant landowners through eminent domain.
A letter obtained by the Albany Times Union (http://bit.ly/12SNKHQ ) tells landowners who have refused to sell rights of way for the Constitution Pipeline that they have until Wednesday to accept offered prices. After that, developers will take them to court to force such sales for possibly less money.
The letter was sent from the law firm Saul Ewing.
Project opponents filed a complaint against the letters with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. His office declined comment but confirmed receipt of the complaint.
Lawyer Daniel Estrin of the White Plains-based Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic said the letter is meant to “bully landowners … into waiving their property rights.”
Asked about the legality of invoking eminent domain prior to meeting conditions outlined in the FERC approval, Constitution Pipeline Company spokesman Tom Droege told the Times Union, “We continue to communicate with landowners along the route to seek easement agreements … We continue to work closely with other state and federal permitting agencies and remain optimistic that we will receive necessary clearances.”
U.S. energy regulators approved the pipeline project last week. It’s designed to bring cheap shale natural gas from Pennsylvania into high-priced markets in New England and New York.
The 124-mile pipeline could be operational by next winter if it gets the remaining regulatory approvals from various state and federal agencies in a timely fashion. It would run from Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna County through New York’s Broome, Chenango and Delaware counties to connect with the existing Tennessee and Iroquois pipelines in Schoharie County.
The lead partners are Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Partners LP and Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. Williams will operate the pipeline, while Cabot and Southwestern Energy have long-term agreements to supply the gas.