Pipe Dream

Students unaware of local pipeline controversy

Nico Santangelo

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK – A recent poll of Niagara University students shows that most are unaware of a controversial natural gas pipeline project being expanded in the area.

While 64 percent of students polled were aware of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, only 22 percent of students polled were aware of a similar natural gas pipeline addition that was recently approved in Wheatfield and Pendleton.


The Northern Access pipeline project is set to run from McKean County, Pennsylvania to Niagara County. The project will be an expansion of a pipeline that already runs through Niagara and Northern Erie Counties, as well as Southern Ontario. A new compressor station is set to be constructed in Pendleton, while a dehydrator is to be placed in Wheatfield.

Some Niagara University students, such as Taylor Dispenza, are not happy about the project.

“This pipeline will mess with my farm,” said Dispenza. “All the vibrations, noise and smell are going to upset my livestock.” Dispenza, whose family runs a farm near the proposed compressor station in Pendleton, explained that she fears that the compressor will hurt the farm’s production.

“Any change in environment is a negative for my animals who have a main priority to lay eggs and produce milk,” said Dispenza. “I don’t think it will benefit any of the farms around me either. Our animals are our life, and anything that can cause them the slightest bit of harm is an automatic problem for us.”

According to Wheatfield Town Supervisor Robert Cliffe, the compressor station in Pendleton will consist of two, 11,000 horsepower jet engines. These engines are used to keep the natural gas flowing through the pipeline.

Residents in Wheatfield are also concerned over the proposed dehydrator site set to be built on Liberty Drive.


“The concerns regarding the dehydrator include the look,” said Cliffe. “There is also a concern regarding chemical leaks, emissions, and possibly, an explosion caused by a natural or terrorist event.” Cliffe said that he has been assured by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision that the pollution from the plant will be miniscule.

Not everyone is against the pipeline. Ryan Pascall, a student at Niagara University, believes that the pipeline is better than the alternatives.

“Pipelines are actually very safe,” said Pascall. The Political Science major discovered this fact while researching natural gas and oil pipelines for a Congressional politics class. Pascall also states that pipelines have an interesting result on the climate.

“They’re actually better for climate change,” said Pascall. “The other options for transportation are coal burning trains or large trucks.”


While both residents and officials voiced their opinions on the matter, the final decision was in the hands of the FERC, as Town Supervisor Cliffe explained.

“In the end, the decision to proceed was not made by the towns,” said Cliffe, “it was made by the Federal commission.” Cliffe explained that FERC could have put the dehydrator on Grand Island. “For reasons unknown to us, they chose Wheatfield.”

For further information, please visit the Pendleton Action Team website at www.pendletonactionteam.com.


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