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ISLANDERS MAP FIGHT AGAINST GAS PIPELINE RECOMMENDATION FOR ISLE ROUTE EVOKES ANGRY RESPONSE

Grand Island officials are up in arms over a report made public Tuesday in which state Administrative Law Judge Walter T. Moynihan recommends that the state Public Service Commission approve the construction of a natural gas pipeline across the island.

"We will continue to fight the issue," Councilman James H. Pax said Wednesday. A special meeting to protest the recommendation will be held at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall, he said.

The route recommended by Moynihan would enter the United States at Grand Island, move in a northeast direction and cross the East Branch of the Niagara River into Wheatfield.

That is the route originally proposed by Empire State Pipeline, which seeks to construct the 155-mile pipeline that would end north of Syracuse.

Grand Island residents, led by the Citizens Against the Pipeline Committee, argue that the island is too heavily populated and the pipeline would lower property values and harm the environment.

Pax noted that a town delegation, including County Legislator Charles M. Swanick, who represents the island in the County Legislature, met in April with representatives of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission in Washington to outline Grand Island's opposition to the project.

A petition signed by 4,500 island residents in opposition to the Grand Island route was filed at that time.

Briefs on Moynihan's recommendation are to be filed by July 12 but no decision is expected to be reached by PSC until early in the fall.

Empire State also must receive approval from the federal government for the location of the entry point into the United States.

Meanwhile, Pax said, "there will be no letup in our effort to "prevent a gas line from crossing Grand Island -- Empire's or anyone else's."

National Fuel also has applied to the federal commission for permission to build a gas pipeline across the town.

Empire State Pipeline estimates that the project will cost $85 million and says it already has received commitments for 80 percent of the line's capacity.

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