The Proposed I-81 Pipeline

On May 8, 2013, the Millennium Pipeline Company (“Millennium”) announced a non-binding Open Season seeking customers and suppliers for a new pipeline, called the “Millennium Phase-1 North-South Upstate Pipeline Connector”. We call it the I-81 pipeline. As shown in the map below, the proposed I-81 pipeline would roughly parallel the highway and would connect to several existing pipelines that run east-west through New York State: the Millennium Pipeline, the Dominion Pipeline, and the Tennessee Pipeline. Millennium proposed building the I-81 pipeline along rights of way that were established for the Sun oil pipeline, no longer in operation. The company has announced that the 60 mile-long proposed pipeline will be at least 24” in diameter, 1200 psi, and will be supported by at least one compressor station.


Pipeline route map from Exhibit A of Millennium’s Open Season Announcement (Click to enlarge)

Based on the map published in Millennium’s Open Season announcement (see above) and the route of the abandoned Sun oil pipeline, we know that the proposed I-81 pipeline would affect the following towns:

Onondaga County:

  • Onondaga
  • Lafayette
  • Tully

Cortland County:

  • Preble
  • Homer
  • Cortlandville
  • Virgil
  • Lapeer
  • Marathon

Broome County:

  • Lisle
  • Nanticoke
  • Maine
  • Union

Please visit our Maps page to see close-ups of the proposed route through each town.

Our Position

We oppose the construction of the I-81 pipeline through our communities and are working to resist deceptive company tactics designed to exploit landowners.

We recognize that:

  • Pipeline companies attempt to negotiate permanent right of way agreements (easements) for as little money as possible, offering you only the market value of the strip of land in the easement without compensating you for negative impacts to use and/or value of the property as a whole.
  • Pipelines can endanger your homeowners’ insurance coverage and your ability to mortgage or sell your property.
  • Across America, pipeline spills, fires, and explosions are all too common. These risks are particularly disturbing in light of the fact that the Millennium Pipeline and the company that operates it, Columbia Gas Transmission, have bad safety records.
  • The construction of pipelines and associated infrastructure like compressor stations will give the natural gas industry a stronger foothold in our region, increasing the danger of fracking taking place here.  Fracking almost always increases near pipelines, because the proximity reduces the distance and cost of gathering lines.  The chances of fracking near pipelines will increase when the new EPA regulations for “green completion” take effect in 2015.
  • The proposed route for the I-81 pipeline runs through geologically unstable and ecologically sensitive areas, further increasing the risks to public safety and the environment.
  • Pipeline companies tout natural gas as an environmentally-friendly energy source. In reality, modern extraction methods and transport through pipelines create a lot of air pollution (including VOCs and methane, which is 105 times worse for climate change over a 20 year period than carbon dioxide), thus making the use of fracked shale gas worse for climate change. Moreover, the gas industry is perpetuating our reliance on unsustainable fossil fuels.
  • Millennium has already made the false claim that this proposed pipeline “is designed” to bring gas to more rural customers along its route.  This is simply not possible for a number of reasons. Firstly, the 1200 psi pressure is many times greater than the low pressure (about 3 psi max) that can be piped into a home.  Also, the gas in interstate pipelines is not “cleaned” or separated from other gases, and so must be processed before home use.  Finally, an odorant must be added before residential use. In summary, customers will not be able to obtain gas from the I-81 pipeline unless supporting pipelines and facilities are built, further industrializing and polluting the landscape.
  • The most likely market for this fracked gas from Pennsylvania will be for export, as the gas can be sold for 5 to 6 times more in Europe and Asia.  National Grid, one of the three companies that own Millennium, is a British corporation with a business model that includes a heavy reliance on importing gas into England and Europe.  Additionally, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (the northernmost pipeline to which the proposed I-81 pipeline would connect) supports the export of gas. The eastern end of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline in is Everett, Massachusetts, at a liquid natural gas terminal that is owned by Gas de France–obviously a French corporation.  The US Department of Energy has already approved three gas export permits for this terminal, with a couple dozen more permits awaiting approval. The western end of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline is in Niagara Falls, where it connects with a Trans Canada pipeline.  This Canadian corporation is heavily involved in tar sands exploitation and transportation of tar sand crude; they are the promoters of the Keystone XL pipeline. Fracked gas is essential for the exploitation of the tar sands, due to the tremendous amount of heat that is needed for strip mining and deep well extraction activities.

Next Steps

Millennium’s Open Season closed on May 31, 2013. As the proposed pipeline is larger than the former Sun Oil Pipeline, Millennium will approach landowners to re-negotiate easements. Click here to learn what to do if you’ve been approached by a landman. Millennium must apply to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a certificate authorizing the pipeline’s construction. FERC has the ability to approve a proposal without modification, order changes to the project, or reject the project. As part of its review process, FERC studies the environmental impacts of the proposed pipeline and may hold public meetings. Throughout this process, landowners and other concerned community members have opportunities to make their voices heard. Click here to learn more about how you can get involved.

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