In Support of the Constitution Pipeline

Anti-gas activist Yoko Ono recently ran a full page ad in the New York Times urging opposition to the Constitution Pipeline. The Constitution Pipeline is a proposed 120 mile natural gas line that will bring Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania up to a distribution point in New York that will allow the gas to be delivered throughout the northeast.

Yoko Ono claims that fracking is bad for your health, bad for communities and bad for the climate and we need to block infrastructure projects like pipelines in order to prevent the industry from growing.  Like all anti-gas activists, Ono relies on the timeless method of spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt without ever offering any cost-benefit analysis.

Chief among the claims used to oppose the Constitution Pipeline are that there will be no local benefits (only local damages) and that the gas itself is destined to be exported and not even consumed in the USA. These claims are demonstrably false.

There are many local benefits to the proposed pipeline. Aside from the 1300 construction jobs that will be created and $17 million in tax revenues, there will be hundreds of millions of dollars in actual construction costs, much of which will flow directly into local cash registers. But the real benefit of the natural gas pipeline is that it is being built in response to increased demand for natural gas throughout the northeast. The Constitution is also an open access pipeline that can be tapped for local distribution in the future.

Despite the huge growth in natural gas production in nearby Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York State gas customers have seen little relief in the prices they pay. Seven of the ten US states with the highest electricity prices are in the northeast, and those high prices are largely caused by pipeline constraints that prevent gas from flowing where it is needed. New York City’s efforts to improve air quality explicitly rely on increased use of natural gas, so they need more gas coming in.

The claim that the Constitution Pipeline or other pieces of gas infrastructure will be used to deliver natural gas for export to foreign countries is a complete fiction. There are no LNG export facilities in the northeast, nor are any proposed. Gas can’t be sent to Canada unless existing pipelines are made to reverse their flow, also not being proposed by anyone but anti-gas activists.

Activists claim that eminent domain is being used to “steal” land from private owners and given to corporations. Again this is false, while it is true that eminent domain authority has been granted for the pipeline, activists seem to overlook the fact that all landowners get paid for access to their property and can negotiate for the best deals possible. No one’s land is being stolen.

Anti-gas activists routinely argue that we don’t need natural gas when we can use renewables. But renewables and natural gas are complementary, we can have them both. Natural gas is the ideal match for intermittent wind and solar, while renewables help us to sip fossil fuels instead of guzzle them. Both industries provide good jobs and pay taxes, we should encourage them both, not pit one against the other.

The Constitution Pipeline will benefit the citizens of New York, Pennsylvania and neighboring states by delivering much needed natural gas to communities that want it. Despite the fear mongering of anti-gas activists, clean burning natural gas is good for the environment, good for the economy, and good for our communities.

Appeared in the Albany Times Union, July 26, 2015