Gas pipeline company meets public in New Leb

NEW LEBANON–Representatives from Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) and its owner, the Kinder Morgan Company, presented their Northeast Direct Project plans to residents of New Lebanon, Canaan and Chatham last Thursday afternoon. The plans would mean adding a new, larger pipeline through properties in those three towns as well as other parts of this state and Massachusetts.

About seven representatives from the energy company attended the October 30 meeting in the New Lebanon Firehouse. Matt Abdifar, a public relations person from Kinder Morgan, ran through a Power Point slide presentation about the pipeline project for the more than 80 people who attended the meeting. Chatham Town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt and New Lebanon Supervisor Mike Benson asked questions as did Chatham Town Board member Bob Balcom. Representatives from the New Lebanon and Canaan boards attended the meeting but did not speak.

Most of the audience was made up of New Lebanon residents.

Mr. Benson introduced Mr. Adbifar to the audience and said that there have already been several meetings about what residents did not want Kinder Morgan to do. “This is the other side,” he said.

Mr. Adbifar and others from the company stressed that this project was at an early stage and that the company expected to submit a preliminary application to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) this week. They said couldn’t file for approval of the project until August 2015. “It’s a long process,” Mr. Adbifar said.

The company representatives also mentioned several times that TGP/Kinder Morgan already has three pipes in operation along the same route in the county and a compressor station in Malden Bridge that has been there since the 1950s. “TGP has been doing business here and servicing the area for 60 years,” Mr. Adbifar said.

The issue many residents brought up was having a compressor station in New Lebanon to service the new line. Residents asked about land that would be used for the building, the pollution created by the station and sound.

Mark Hamarich, the Kinder Morgan project manager, said that compressor was a “closed system” and that the company must seek approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for air quality.

Jim Hartman, from the land development department of the company, said the firm has not decided where to locate the compressor station, though when questioned by a member of the audience about surveyors seen in New Lebanon he that they are doing environmental and cultural surveying.

“The details of the project are still… evolving,” Mr. Hartman told the crowd.

The company also addressed concerns over adding odors to the gas, which would help people detect leaks. The company representatives said they would add odor to the gas. As for the strength of the pipe used, Mr. Hamarich said that steel of higher density is used in urban areas, but the less dense pipe used in rural sites like Columbia County will be safe. “There is no difference in quality,” he said of the pipes that the company expects to use in this rural area.

The company would be transporting natural gas from the region of Pennsylvania above the Marcellus shale formation where the gas deposits are located. The company representatives stressed that they are the transportation company for the gas not the ones drilling for it. Gas from the Marcellus shale is obtained through the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

“We’re not in the fracking business,” said Mr. Hamarich, the project manager.

As for the gas itself, Allan Fore, the vice president of public relations for the company, described natural gas is “a bridge” to renewable energy sources. “Without the market, we wouldn’t need this project,” said Mr. Fore. He said that the company is looking at the customer base now to see if the demand is there.

Mr. Hamarich said market demand will also decide whether or not the pipe is 30” or 36” in diameter, but the pressure will be 1460 pounds per square inch (psi) he said, compared to 760 psi that currently flows through the pipes in the county.

The company representatives also pointed out that the firm pays $21 million in taxes in New York State, annually, which is divided up by the length of the pipeline within each taxing jurisdiction, like towns and schools in that area. No one from the company knew the amount of tax payments that TGP/Kinder Morgan pays in this county.

A resident who would have part of the pipeline on her property pointed out during the public question section of the meeting that, “when you say you’re paying the taxes, that’s just for the pipe. I’m still paying the property taxes on the land.”

The company is hosting an open house December 4 at the Green Meadow Elementary School in East Greenbush. Representatives also said they said they would host additional meetings in Columbia County.

There is information about the pipeline and the project on the company’s website www.kindermorgan.com.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .  

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