|Map depicting the south end.|
[First draft Nov. 5. Updated with some additional detail.]
Word is trickling out from both pro- and anti-drilling sources regarding a plan from EmKey Resources to significantly expand upon a sequence of on-paper natural gas pipeline easements originally pulled together by predecessor Norse Energy. The points of expansion include longer length, potential throughput interconnections, fatter diameter, and therefore, bigger transport volumes.
As will always be the case, not all those affected, or potentially affected, have yet been fully informed about the ultimate plan, or have gotten on board with it.
Who should be paying close attention? The route as initially proposed runs north to Morrisville from Windsor — so citizens of, and officials in, and media who do their best to cover, the Townships of Eaton and Lebanon in Madison County; Smyrna, Plymouth, Preston, Smithville, Oxford, Coventry, and Afton in Chenango County; and Colesville and Windsor in Broome County.
Needless to say, folks in the larger universe of New York's ongoing shale gas battle — those who say "no" versus those who say "grow" — are also likely to see this development as another good place to jump in and start spinning.
I've embedded between paragraphs here a copy of the developer's preliminary Point And Click Show (there's another map on page 5) announcing this project. I'm told Chenango County leaders first quietly glimpsed it just last week. I got my hands on it through my non-resident connection with some of the most resourceful landowners in all of Upstate — those who participate in the CNY Landowners' Coalition Discussion Forum, and who are committed to the free flow of useful information (even when it inevitably leads to yet more controversy).
Proposed EmKey Resources Pipeline — Color Version Questions:
How big? The developer says 24 inches in diameter, which is not as big as Constitution (30 inches), but still a big job. The biggest project Norse or EmKey has previously officially put forth was an 8-mile, 16-inch gathering pipeline, but without any potential south-to-north throughput connection. I interpret Norse-to-EmKey transfer documents already filed with the New York State Public Service Commission as indicating that the digging on that project hasn't started yet. EmKey appears to believe the enlarged scheme will not take the already green-lighted 16-inch plan back to Square One with state officials, though I do kinda wonder about that.
How long? The route was described (at the point in time of the Norse-to-EmKey transfer) as running 75 miles measured from the Tennessee Pipeline on the north to the Millennium on the south. Current project summaries indicate that's still the number.
How much? I heard second-hand the developer is putting out the figure of $135 million, about half of which will be in search of other investment sources.
Timing? Notification to landowners by the end of the month (October or November?), and survey work possibly to begin soon after. Preparation of an application to lead agency NYS PSC by the first or second quarter of 2013.
Is it big enough to set the stage for another round of ideological, political and land-rights conflict within the ordinarily dull, decision-making process established by the NYS PSC? I'm sorry to say I expect it is.
Does the pipeline mean consumption-level natural gas service might be on the horizon for those unserved residents, businesses, and public institutions nearby that have especially large needs, or which occupy areas that are already pretty well densely settled? That would sure seem like a promising possibility to me if I lived out in that area, hustling firewood, or paying the bills for trucked-in fuel.
Local property tax impact? Jobs impact? Better not get me started on that stuff.
What inter-connects does this pipeline intend to connect? I'm seeing potential for connections to both the only-proposed Constitution and the already-built Millennium at the south end, and for connections to the already-built Tennesee and Dominion on the north end. Near the middle, there's a previously obvious crossing with an 8-inch NYSEG line which already feeds such select, built-up areas as Oneonta, Norwich, and Oxford. (Another edgy scenario where some folks pre-disposed to work against such a project happen to live in a situation where they "already got theirs.")
Does the developer intend to build this thing, regardless of whether New York State is ever able to see the pragmatic, non-hypocritical wisdom of making way for local landowners to make deals with drillers to help feed this supply with their own indigenous shale gas? EmKey is saying no — the plan is another developmental carrot that's dependent upon New York State finally resolving to put its tortured shale gas environmental review to bed, and to open itself up for drilling. To me, the alternate scenario would be a little bit like state and local government approving private sector construction of a yogurt plant — where all the milk is supplied from out of state. But this is New York, after all.
Other sources out there so far:
Word from the Lebanon Town Board, led by a more-contentious-than-average Supervisor, that they have scheduled Stephen Keyes of EmKey to come meet with them Nov. 12.
A conversation among mostly Chenango County landowners which may be enlarged upon in the days ahead.