Opinion: Cornwall shouldn’t compromise

Editor’s note: The following was submitted as an open letter to the Cornwall selectboard.
First I want to thank you for the hundreds of hours of work you have put in trying to deal with the proposed gas pipeline issue. All of this was imposed upon you by Vermont Gas, who with their limitless resources have used their ability to deprive you of so much of your personal life to try to wear you down to acquiescence to their proposed pipeline.
I continue to share the opinion of the majority of other Cornwall citizens that we must oppose the proposed gas pipeline through any portion of town in its entirety. The town should enter no agreement of understanding with Vermont Gas no matter what promises financial and otherwise, that allows the pipeline to cross Cornwall.
We have already seen their willingness to alter the facts and change their promises at their will. Even if the town were to negotiate a legally binding agreement dictating the terms and compensations to the town for your allowing the pipeline to cross the town, the agreement’s long-term viability is questionable. They are a corporation, responsible only to their shareholders. They can go bankrupt, be sold, petition the PSB for a variance on their agreement, or abandon the project leaving Cornwall scarred with the skeleton of a pipeline.
If, as I learned at the mid-December meeting, there is no power of eminent domain over town property, why is the Cornwall selectboard not remaining firm against the pipeline simply by refusing to permit it to cross any town roads?
I do not feel you should compromise on the grounds that the PSB approved the Phase I pipeline. The Phase II pipeline is unique among any previous proposals brought before the PSB. First by the unproven technology of drilling under Lake Champlain with the inherent dangers to the health of the lake either by disturbing the International Paper toxic sludge beds, or a gas leakage. Second, the fact that the proposed pipeline’s purpose is to serve an out-of-state entity, the use of eminent domain in this circumstance is in violation of state statute.
Finally, at a time when Vermont Gas is proving itself so incompetent and financially unreliable in the construction of Phase I, it is unwise and inappropriate for Cornwall to grant agreement to Phase II.
Thank you for your work.
Timothy Fisher

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