A new proposal to ship fracked gas across New York

The proposed pipeline. (click here to view full map)
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ALBANY—A proposed multi-billion dollar pipeline would ship natural gas fracked in other states across the Capital region of New York and into New England.

The 250-mile Northeast Expansion pipeline would cross Albany, Rensselaer and Columbia counties before it enters Massachusetts, according to a map of the project obtained by Capital.

The application is still in the planning stages and has not yet been filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which would have oversight of the project, said Richard Wheatley, a spokesman for Kinder Morgan, the company that has proposed the pipeline. Kinder Morgan has already begun approaching landowners in Massachusetts and will soon do so in New York, Wheatley said.

The proposed pipeline would connect to a pipeline in Schoharie county and cross to Berkshire County in Massachusetts. Wheatley said customer and shipping commitments are needed before the project moves forward. He cautioned that the first draft of the maps do not show the exact route yet.

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“It's a generalized depiction we can discuss with elected officials and other key stakeholders,” he said.

If the pipeline is approved by the federal government, landowners along the route would be compensated for their property, while those who refuse could have their land taken by eminent domain. The cost for the project could exceed $2.5 billion.

Wheatley said the gas would be coming from the Gulf Coast and Louisiana, but would connect to gas producers in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region as well as Ohio's Utica Shale formation. Both of those shale formations extend through New York, where fracking has been under a moratorium for five years, with no signs of a resolution coming soon.

The pipeline would mark a significant expansion of fracked gas to the Boston region. If approved, it would be in service by November 2018. There is an increasing demand for natural gas, which is cheaper than oil and has lower emissions than coal, in the Northeast. Even as Cuomo delays New York's fracking industry, he recently pushed for a coal-burning power plant in Western New York to be converted to natural gas.

In New York, the maps depict the pipeline following an existing right of way, but crossing new tracts of land across rural Massachusetts.