Pipeline Opponents Want More Than Dismissal For Phase Two

Jun 8, 2015

When Vermont Gas canceled the second phase of its pipeline project in February, opponents of the proposed project called it a victory: no pipeline would be going under Lake Champlain to New York.

Some of the same people were disappointed when the Vermont Public Service Board last week dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning Vermont Gas can reapply for the permit.

Those critics wanted to see regulators sanction Vermont Gas for providing faulty cost estimates for the project, then failing to inform the board or the public for months once they knew the estimates were wrong.

"They did not inform the other parties and the other parties pursued their legal action on the basis of incorrect numbers," said Rafe Worrick, a landowner in Cornwall along the phase two route who opposed the project.

He says Vermont Gas should have been forced to compensate those parties for the legal costs associated with opposing the pipeline.

For Worrick, the decision fed a feeling shared by some Vermonters that the system designed to hold utilities accountable isn't working.

"It's a very troubling thing to feel that the Public Service Board really doesn't serve the public at all but is essentially designed to facilitate these projects for corporations," he said.

The board is now considering whether or not to reassess the first phase of the pipeline after major cost increases announced over the past year.