- Associated Press - Thursday, May 8, 2014

SHOREHAM, Vt. (AP) - Critics and supporters of a plan by Vermont Gas to extend a natural gas pipeline through parts of western Vermont to New York aired their opinions about the project at a packed public hearing in Shoreham.

The Public Service Board hearing Wednesday was on the second phase of the project, which would run under Lake Champlain to International Paper in Ticonderoga, New York.

Opponents said the project will add to the problem of global warming and could potentially pollute Lake Champlain.

George Klohck of Middlebury, a Methodist minister, expressed concern that the people affected by the project were not being heard, the Rutland Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1ittaBC ).

“First is the rush to run a pipe through our beautiful valley and under our precious lake,” he said. “Who is listening to the desperation of those whose lives are being torn apart by the threat of a pipeline driven across their land, close to their homes, through their farms, crushing their hopes and dreams, leaving them with a nightmare?”

The first phase of the project extending the pipeline from Colchester to Middlebury was approved by the PSB in December.

Supporters said the paper plant, which employs 600 people and would be the primary customer of the second phase of the project, is critical to the economy of the North Country and Vermont. The plant employs Vermonters and buys goods and services from Vermont businesses, such as loggers, the newspaper reported.

A third phase would extend the line south to Rutland County.

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