The local chapter of the National Audubon Society will intervene in the federal review of the application to construct and operate the proposed 122-mile Constitution Pipeline through central New York State.
The Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society (DOAS) retained Earthjustice, a public-interest environmental law firm, to represent it in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proceedings and in potential legal action challenging the environmental review of the pipeline project. The Audubon group is concerned about environmental impacts from the pipeline, particularly threats to local birdlife, according to DOAS Co-President Andrew Mason.
“The pipeline as planned will fragment some of the best remaining bird habitat in the region,” said Mason. “Many species already in decline will suffer further losses from this corridor that will break up their breeding territories and allow predators and nest parasites into the forests.”
The Audubon group had earlier submitted comments to FERC regarding environmental issues, including damage to forests, wetlands, and water quality—as well as other wildlife—along with threats to public health and safety and local economies. With the sponsors of the pipeline project now having filed their formal application and presented their final environmental reports to FERC, DOAS found it necessary to become an intervenor, said Mason. “The company plans to put the pipeline through state forest land, as well as a designated Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA),” he said. “Clearly there is little regard on their part for sensitive environmental areas.”
The Audubon IBA designation goes to those areas found to be key sites for the conservation of bird species, according to Mason, and specific criteria must be met for an area to be eligible. The Cannonsville/Steam Mill IBA in Broome, Chenango and Delaware Counties is on the finalized route recently announced by the pipeline company. The site has been recognized as an IBA because of a large number of nesting Bald Eagles, and for an assemblage of forest birds that are vulnerable to impacts from forest fragmentation.
The local Audubon group expects to provide supporting information on bird and wildlife impacts throughout the FERC proceedings, said Mason. DOAS members know much of the proposed pipeline route well, and recently sponsored a bird walk to a property targeted by the company in Delaware County. In addition, Auduboners surveyed many of the pipeline areas during the 2000-2005 state breeding bird atlas, in conjunction with the NY Department of Environmental Conservation.
Motions for intervention are due to FERC on Wednesday, July 17, 2013.
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