Mayor and Residents Speak Out Against Constitution Pipeline
Mayor Matt Ryan of Binghamton, NY, residents from New York who stand to be affected by the Constitution Pipeline and Pennsylvania residents who have been negatively affected by similar pipelines detailed objections to the Constitution Pipeline at a press conference this morning. If built, the 120-mile long Constitution Pipeline would run through pristine territory, from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY. Speakers at the press conference raised concerns of eminent domain and public health endangerment.
The pipeline is currently in the midst of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) pre-application public scoping process, with a public hearing to be held on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Foothills Theatre at 24 Market St. in Oneonta, NY. Nevertheless, for a pipeline that stands to affect many communities along its route, there has been insufficient public awareness and involvement to date. One of the goals of the press conference today is to encourage people to go to the public hearing and make comments to FERC online.
"Considering the heavy impacts on air and climate from the Williams Compressor Station—the beginning of the Constitution Pipeline in PA—and considering the devastating impacts on water, public health and communities in all six counties, FERC should deny this permit altogether," said Iris Marie Bloom, executive director of the Philadelphia-based grassroots nonprofit organization Protecting Our Waters. "FERC must extend the permit process by at least six months, and hold hearings in each affected county, or stand accused of shutting the public out of the permitting process. Informed residents are saying loud and clear: 'Stop the Constitution Pipeline!'"
The group raised concerns about the planned use of eminent domain to secure the land for the pipeline if it is approved. The Constitution Pipeline is a proposed project of companies Cabot Oil & Gas and Williams, both out-of-state companies that are heavily invested in fracking in the Marcellus Shale. Organizers noted that both companies have terrible safety records. Cabot Oil & Gas and Williams are currently in a pre-application filing stage with the pipeline.
Craig Stevens, a Pennsylvania resident who has firsthand experience with similar pipelines said, "The United States Constitution protects us from taking of property by eminent domain, but the Constitution Pipeline seeks to do exactly that, with no benefit to the general public."
The pipeline poses a serious public health risk to the communities through which it would pass. Similar pipelines and development have come hand-in-hand with accidents, spills, leaks and other risks. Speakers noted that the pipeline is part of an infrastructure build out for fracking, an inherently dangerous process.
Vera Scroggins, resident of Silver Lake Township, PA said, "The build out of pipelines represents the expanding footprint of infrastructure which precludes fracking. This is disturbing as the drilling process is illegal in New York, due to serious health and safety concerns."
Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper whose organization is experienced with pipelines and accompanying infrastructure, said, "Looking at the fundamental lack of need for the Constitution Pipeline, the environmental harm it will cause simply can't be justified, period. The pipeline will induce gas well development, not follow it, making this project a speculative venture of the worst kind— it's the classic 'build it and they will come' but it's on our backs as taxpayers and at the expense of the environment and public health."
Learn more about pipelines by watching this video:
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
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