New Yorkers Could Unknowingly Vote on Pipeline Ban in November Elections

When New Yorkers head to the polls in November they will have the opportunity to cast their vote on three matters – one of which includes a ban on new intrastate pipelines on preserved forest lands. Problem is, the average voter will likely have no idea they are voting on such a ban, since it appears the measure won’t include that information on the ballot.

How is that possible? Well here’s the language that will appear on the ballot:

Authorizing the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified Purposes

The proposed amendment will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific public health and safety concerns; as a substitute for the land removed from the forest preserve, another 250 acres of land, will be added to the forest preserve, subject to legislative approval. The proposed amendment also will allow bicycle trails and certain public utility lines to be located within the width of specified highways that cross the forest preserve while minimizing removal of trees and vegetation. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

The description would seem to indicate that this land will offer municipalities more ability to use preserved land, provided they designate the same amount of land to be added to the preserve, and that they’ll be able to add bicycle trails and utility lines to the acreage.

Sounds pretty straight forward, right? Not quite. That’s because the actual language of the proposition specifically excludes pipelines from the “utility lines” allowance referred to in the above ballot language. And of course, no one seeing the above blurb for the first time on their ballot is going to know that.

After all, at no point in that description does it mention the fact that the amendment also “prohibits the construction of a new intrastate gas or oil pipeline that did not receive necessary state and local permits and approvals by June 1, 2016.”

That’s an entire land use – and a pretty important one at that – which is conveniently left off the ballot.

Either the New York Board of Elections accidentally overlooked some pertinent information laid out in the proposal or this is one more attempt by the State of New York to block pipeline infrastructure that’s needed to meet the increased demand for natural gas across the Empire State. Regardless, it’s clearly something that needs to be corrected before Nov. 7 if New Yorkers are expected to have all of the necessary facts to make an informed decision on a ballot proposal that could impact their daily lives.

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