TICONDEROGA — Town officials in Cornwall, Vt., want their state to block a plan to build a natural-gas pipeline through their community that would serve International Paper’s Ticonderoga mill.
The Cornwall Select Board recently sent a letter to Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin attacking Vermont Gas Systems’ plan to construct the pipeline, which would run beneath Lake Champlain to reach Ticonderoga on the New York side of the lake.
Select Board Chairman Bruce Hiland said Vermont Gas has been working with the town for almost a year but has failed to address concerns.
He dismissed assertions that the pipeline would save money and jobs at IP, calling them “pure fluff” and saying the mill is profitable without the pipeline.
Phase 1 of Vermont Gas’s pipeline-extension project would bring an existing pipeline to Middlebury, Vt., but it’s that next part they don’t like, Hiland wrote in his letter.
“As we in Cornwall discovered and Vermont Gas now unashamedly admits, Phase II is simply a convenient and calculated ploy to benefit International Paper and Vermont Gas.”
International Paper officials say the pipeline is desperately needed to provide more affordable fuel for the mill’s boilers, which currently burn fuel oil and wood products left over from the papermaking process.
IP has said the mill must reduce costs to remain viable for the future and that using natural gas would save about $15 million annually.
HELPFUL TO RUTLAND
Steve Wark, a spokesman for Vermont Gas Systems, said in a statement that the Phase 2 project for the mill is also good for Vermont. Many Cornwall residents have protested the pipleine passing through their town because it benefits another state.
“Vermont Gas strongly believes that service to the Ticonderoga Paper Mill provides Vermont with a unique, $45 million opportunity to build a bigger, longer pipeline to service Rutland 15 years sooner than planned,” Wark said.
“The only way to get the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas to Rutland before 2035 is to serve the Ticonderoga Paper Mill.”
Wark said Vermont Gas worked to develop a route that would send the pipeline across only six landowners’ properties, also providing gas service to residents of Cornwall and West Cornwall.
Vermont Gas has asked the Vermont Public Service Board for approval to extend the pipeline from Middlebury, Vt., to the paper mill.
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