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EMPIRE STATE PIPELINE RESPONDS TO CRITICISMS

The proposed Empire State Pipeline would contribute $112,800 a year in tax revenue to Grand Island and would reduce the price of natural gas in Western New York, the company said Wednesday.

More than 200 Grand Island residents protested the proposed pipeline at a hearing about two weeks ago. A competing proposal announced by National Fuel met with equally strong community opposition last week.

Claiming that Empire had no opportunity to respond to public concerns during the Jan. 10 hearing, the company addressed a six-page "open letter" to the residents of Grand Island on Wednesday.

Its principal points are that the natural gas transmission line would be safe, compatible with its natural surroundings and beneficial to local communities. A Grand Island citizens' group has collected about 4,500 signatures opposing the line.

The high-pressure line, part of a 155-mile route from the Canadian border to Syracuse, would be built by a subsidiary called ANR Pipeline, according to the open letter.

Responding to fears that pipeline construction might damage existing drain tiles, the company said it would try to avoid such damage. "If we do damage to any drain tiles, we will repair or replace them at our expense," it said.

Empire added that the original route across Grand Island has been altered to avoid a forested section on Harvey Road. "Where it is necessary to cut some trees, we will reimburse landowners for that loss," according to the letter.

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