BURDEN LAKE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Rensselaer County legislators unanimously voted to shut down an eminent domain bill that was drafted to protect wells and drinking water from a proposed pipeline.
The proposed Northeast Direct, or NED, pipeline by Kinder Morgan would run through parts of Rensselaer County. Many legislators and residents called the eminent domain bill flawed because the burden of water testing wouldn’t be on the pipeline company.
“The burden of proof is on the resident to go out and demonstrate their well was damaged,” Burden Lake resident Terry Nord said.
Now, the county is back to the drawing board, but residents are far from satisfied.
“We’ve been waiting since July,” Schodack resident Shelley Bennett said. “These wells are our only source of drinking water; our only sustenance. You cannot maintain life without water.”
Residents wanted the legislature to pass a bill that would have required Kinder Morgan to test well water for contamination. That version did exist at one time, but it was tabled in September and hasn’t been brought up since.
“What’s holding them back?” Nord wondered. “And that’s what I want to know, and that’s what was not answered for me, and I’m not happy about that.”
NEWS10 ABC reporter Rachel Yonkunas brought those concerns to Chariman Stan Brownwell, but he didn’t provide much of an answer when asked what legislators opposed in the earlier bill that was free of eminent domain:
“Yonkunas: Do you have any specific examples?
Brownell: I don’t at this time.
Yonkunas: You don’t want to mention what they were against?
Yonkunas: Why is that?
Brownell: Because I don’t feel like talking about it right now.”
The next public forum is Wednesday, November 4. Brownell said the legislature will have another bill drafted by that day.