Hold-out landowners get court victory against pipeline

Local News

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB)- A New York State Appellate Court in Rochester has sided with an Allegany County landowner who has been fighting plans by National Fuel Gas to construct a new pipeline from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario.

The court ruled that a corporation can only use eminent domain if the project itself is legal, and right now it’s not.

The New York State department of Environmental Conservation says it doesn’t meet water quality standards. Although the DEC hasn’t signed off, a higher federal agency has since ruled that the State has run out of time, so National Fuel considers the project plans still in force.  

“National Fuel remains committed to this project and is pleased that we have secured agreements with more than 500 other property owners along the 97 mile proposed pipeline route,” reads a statement from the company. “At this point, we are considering our appellate options based on this ruling.” The company has until December 9 to appeal.

“We are thrilled,” said Lia Oprea, who grew up on her family’s farm in Sardinia. She’s one of the other four hold-out landowners who didn’t accept thousands of dollars from National Fuel for the right to construct the pipeline across her property. She’s most concerned about such a piplline crossing Cattauraugus Creek behind her house.

“Over 60% of the inhabitants within 320 square miles relies on that acquifer for drinking water. So, if anything should happen to Cattauraugus Creek, anything should happen to acquifer right below us here, then you’d have to reverse it and bring in water from Lake Erie, and that would be catastrophic.”

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