February 18, 2017
By WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell
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Western, NY – International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Locals in Erie and Niagara Counties came out in force last week to voice their opinion during three separate public hearings held across Western New York concerning the Northern Access Pipeline Project, which would involve building a 97-mile, 24-inch National Fuel Gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to Niagara County to transfer Marcellus and Utica shale gas.
Lake View-headquartered Local 17 had as many as 70 of its representatives attend the public hearings that were held at St. Bonaventure University in Olean in Cattaraugus County, Iroquois High School in Elma in Erie County and at Niagara County Community College in Sanborn in Niagara County, Business Manager Gary Swain told WNYLaborToday.com. Ransomville-headquartered Local 463 had 30 representatives attend the Niagara County public hearing, Business Manager Paul McCollum told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper.
Of course, Union-represented Workers across the region are looking forward to a reported and estimated 1,600 jobs that would be created by building the pipeline that would carry natural gas from Pennsylvania to the Northeastern United States and Canada, but the two IUOE Leaders also took the time to address those who’ve spoken out against the project.
Local 17’s Swain spoke at one of the hearings, telling WNYLaborToday.com he said: “I talked about the ‘good jobs this project will create’ and a ‘lack of understanding’ by the general public ‘about’ the pipeline project. When you think about ‘infrastructure,’ it’s ‘not only’ roads and bridges that ‘wear out.’ You ‘also need to replace old’ pipelines. We need to ‘renew’ our infrastructure. I asked if they were going to be like those were against a windmill project in Allegany County, ‘complaining about a number of things’ down there.”
Local 463’s McCollum attended the Sanborn hearing, but did not speak. He told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper afterward: “First and foremost, this project will create ‘a lot of good paying jobs’ and ‘upgrade’ our infrastructure ‘at the same time.’ Some ‘don’t like’ the project because of pipeline ‘leaks,’ but this is a ‘brand new’ pipeline. This project ‘makes a lot of sense to me’ and the ‘upgrades also make a lot of sense.’ It will be a ‘good project if it gets approved.’”