Settlement moves pipeline from residential area
By Jim Fitzgerald

Associated Press
6 May, 2002

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (AP) The last several miles of the Millennium Pipeline will be installed in a largely industrial section of Mount Vernon instead of the residential area originally proposed, national and local officials said Monday.

Sen. Charles Schumer said an agreement approved Monday by the City Council would prevent ''ripping up neighborhood after neighborhood, street after street, simply for the convenience of the pipeline company.''

Residents had complained that the 425-mile natural gas pipeline from Canada came too close to homes, schools, churches and a hospital in its proposed route through Mount Vernon, which borders the Bronx.

Under the agreement, the pipeline will run down MacQuesten Parkway for almost all of its length in Mount Vernon, rather than take a much longer and meandering route through the city. It would connect with Con Edison equipment in the Bronx at a different point than originally planned.

County Executive Andrew Spano said the Mount Vernon agreement ''does not change the county's plans to continue fighting the pipeline, which is not needed and would cause significant environmental damage to the Hudson River, towns and villages.'' He repeated a pledge to deny approvals to bring the pipeline across any county road or land.

Mayor Ernest Davis said Schumer and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as Reps. Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel, had fought for Mount Vernon's concerns alongside residents and clergy. He said negotiations were ''adversarial, at first, to say the least.''

Michael Zarin, the city's top lawyer on the project, said the original layout was ''a fundamental violation of the precepts of environmental justice.''

Brent Archer, a spokesman for Columbia Gas Transmission Corp., the main company behind the pipeline, said Columbia was ''very happy and very comfortable'' with the revision.

The $683 million pipeline is to run across a dozen counties along the southern tier of New York state from a connection beneath Lake Erie.

Opposition to the pipeline continues elsewhere in Westchester County, where residents have criticized its route across the Hudson River, through the New York City watershed and beneath some treasured parkland. Schumer and Clinton promised to continue fighting for residents' concerns.

Protesters from Briarcliff Manor demonstrated outside Monday's news conference, claiming the pipeline would come too close to a school there. Archer said the company would do its best to accommodate other communities.

Environmental concerns have also surfaced at the western end of the pipeline, where some say it should go around Lake Erie instead of under it.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission tentatively approved the entire route in December except for the final few miles through Mount Vernon.

The commission said that while a few ''environmental challenges'' would have to be overcome, the benefits of the pipeline outweigh any possible adverse impact.

It said the line is needed to meet expected future demand for natural gas in the Northeast, especially in the New York City metropolitan area.

Clinton, in an apparent reference to the campaign to close the Indian Point nuclear power station, said, ''We do need energy, especially of we're going to meet some of the tough decisions that lie ahead.''

Archer said pipeline construction was unlikely to begin until 2003.

Copyright Associated Press

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