PENDLETON, N.Y. (WIVB) — A meeting in two weeks will no doubt draw hundreds to the community center in Wheatfield. The topic: The construction of two facilities that will transport natural gas from the south through New York to Canada.
The fight by residents has been a long one. And though they feel they’ve won some battles, some realize they may have lost the war.
“We just want to be safe,” said Barbara Ciepiela, of Pendleton. “Safe and healthy.”
Their fight has been as long as it’s been loud.
Residents in Niagara County’s Pendletown and Wheatfield communities have shown up en masse to forums, information sessions and public hearings on the construction of a dehydrator and compressor station for the nearly half a billion dollar Empire Pipeline.
They all with the same message: Not in our back yards.
“If we just stay quiet and we do nothing, then we get what we deserve,” said Holly Dawson of Pendleton. “But at least if we stand up and make our voices hear, at least if this happens, I’ll know that I could possibly do to prevent it from happening.”
But those at the tip of the spear say they’re feeling dulled, as the construction is all but a sure thing.
“This is our lives and our children’s lives,” said Ann Marie Paglione, of Pendleton. “We’re all very committed to this. But we all do feel helpless. I mean, we’re working and working.”
Many from Wheatfield and Pendleton have been there every step of the way, voicing their opposition to the plans of National Fuel, the Empire Pipeline and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.
“I teach history for a living and I’m constantly talking about the government of the people, and the rights that we have,” Dawson said. “And I’ve continually told that to FERC and say, you know, we’re the people.”
Another meeting takes place next month. And though he’s promising to stay positive, Mike Alianello says he’s already anticipating the outcome, a natural gas dehydrator about 2,500 feet from his back door.
“My backyard is like a haven to me,” he said. “I like to hang out in the backyard with the family. We have picnics, we have a pool. But if we’re going to be out there and we’re going to be fighting over the noise, what fun is the backyard going to be?
“I just hope that National Fuel looks at us as people and not just as dollars and cents,” he said.
National Fuel has said they have amended plans to keep noise and light pollution to a minimum. Representatives said the gas could be used in the WNY region, but since they’re the transportation company, that’s a decision not up to them.
National Fuel and Empire Pipeline will host a public information forum to discuss the proposed dehydration unit at 6 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Wheatfield Community Center, 2790 Church Rd.
Seating is limited and advance reservations are required. Those interested in attending should RSVP by emailing their name, address, a telephone number and the number of people in their party to Corpcomm@natfuel.com. Reservations will be confirmed by an email or telephone call.