TICONDEROGA — International Paper’s Ticonderoga mill won a victory Wednesday night when the Addison County Regional Planning Commission in Vermont voted to support a natural-gas pipeline to serve the plant.
The 15-11 vote to endorse Vermont Gas Systems’ Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project pipeline, with a 19-mile-long spur for IP, came after strong opposition from the Addison County towns that the section for the paper mill would pass through.
Commission members who supported it said the economic-development aspect of the pipeline and its benefit to Rutland County outweighed other concerns.
Although the Planning Commission decision is advisory only, it carries weight with the Vermont Public Service Board, which will vote on the request from Vermont Gas later this year.
Before the vote, Ticonderoga Town Supervisor William Grinnell, who had brought a group of Essex County public officials with him, addressed the commission to ask that it back the IP pipeline extension — for both the economic benefit and carbon-emissions reduction.
“It (natural gas) is so much better than any alternative that could be offered, I see no logic in not letting it happen.”
Grinnell said International Paper needs the less-expensive natural gas to replace fuel oil that it burns in the power boiler and limekiln at the 600-worker plant. The savings is estimated at more than $2 million a year.
Grinnell said his contingent included Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava, Crown Point Supervisor Charles Harrington and Essex County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas.
“We were reasonably well received,” Grinnell said Thursday. “If people really want to reduce the carbon footprint of IP the benefit from natural gas is immense. It’s a no-brainer. I can’t see anyone with real knowledge of fossil fuels trying to argue that point. The majority of the board over there felt the same way.”