Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

MCA Discusses Natural Gas Expansion with Community

 


By: Jaclyn Hall

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has opened up the dialogue for community members to voice their concerns and questions about the proposed natural gas pipeline expansion. Community members are encouraged to attend the informational sessions being held. Several information sessions have recently taken place. The most recent meeting was held on October 22nd, at the Kawehno:ke Recreation. The information session began at approximately 5 pm, with several community members arriving at different times throughout the first hour.

Certain topics were discussed pertaining to the proposed natural gas pipeline expansion on Kawehno:ke, beginning with a brief history on what natural gas is and what it has to do with Akwesasne.

Natural gas occurs deep beneath the earth’s surface. Natural gas consists mainly of methane, a compound with one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. Natural gas can be used as a fuel and to make materials and chemicals.

Akwesasne has had a natural gas pipeline running through the territory for quite some time now (1962), with no benefit to the community. At the time, the pipeline was designated as serving solely St. Lawrence Gas under National Energy Board guidelines. The pipeline runs through the Kawehno:ke corridor and under the St. Lawrence Seaway Bridge (north and south spans). Enbridge and Mohawk Council of Akwesasne signed the Cooperation and Land Use agreement in 2009, with Akwesasne finally receiving financial compensation from Enbridge and the commitment to explore Natural Gas Distribution on Kawehno:ke.

The first step is to engage the community and educate everyone about the pros and cons of the natural gas pipeline expansion. Allowing community members to ask questions:

Q: Will people be coming house to house to do surveys?

A: Yes, we will be hiring community members looking for work.

Q: How many home owners have to agree, for it to pass?

A: It’s not a hard and fast number. It really comes back to survey results.

Q: What if Kanatakon wanted Natural Gas, would they have access to it?

A: No, not from Kawehno:ke. The pipes would have to be built with bigger pipes, and that would cost much more. The only way to have Kanatakon connected would be through the Southern side.

Community members were giving plenty of opportunities to voice their concerns, after hearing the pros and cons to the pipeline expansion. One of the major concerns, besides the environmental impact, was the cost to convert. It is estimated that the costs to convert to natural gas would be in the thousands per household, with the possibility for subsidies for the conversion. There is a possibility for cost savings in the long run, with approximately 50% in savings for someone switching from fuel to natural gas.

There is still a long way to go before any final decisions are made. If the community is in favor of the expansion, the project is expected to break ground by 2021. Right now, MCA is working on educating the community, with information sessions being held at the Kawehno:ke Recreation and at General Meetings, as well as focus meetings, lunch-and-learn meetings, targeted meetings with business owners, printed materials and on-line materials.

Soon, community members will be going door to door to conduct surveys with the residents on Kawehno:ke. The survey will help MCA to gauge where the community is at in regard to the expansion. No decisions will be made until the surveys are finished, in 2019.

The next information session will be held on Thursday, November 1st, at the Kawehno:ke Recreation. If you miss it, you can attend the scheduled meeting on Saturday, November 17th, also at the Kawehno:ke Recreation. Both information sessions will begin at 5 p.m.

 

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