October 16, 2013

Editorial: Support IP pipeline

Some people across the lake don’t want Vermont Gas Systems to build a pipeline that would supply International Paper’s Ticonderoga mill with natural gas.

The utility has proposed a pipeline extension from Middlebury, Vt., to the paper mill located just across Lake Champlain from the Green Mountain State.

That irked some Vermont officials and residents, who don’t want the pipeline passing through their pristine communities to serve an industry in another state.

The reaction takes us back to Vermont’s “we’re small and special and unique” cliché, which New York state tourism officials have been hearing for years, especially when they want Vermont to pay its share of joint tourism projects.

Vermont used to issue Lake Champlain maps that showed the entire lake to be in their state. That gives you an idea of what they think of their neighbor to the east.

The most extreme reaction to the pipeline extension plan came from the chair of the Cornwall Town Select Board, who sent Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin a letter attacking the project.

He said the IP mill was profitable without the use of natural gas in its operation, that the emissions reduction would be slight and that any cost savings would just benefit International Paper’s corporate headquarters in Memphis, Tenn.

The guy seems to think he knows a great deal about the inner financial workings of the Ticonderoga mill.

The bottom line is that without the approximate $15 million in annual savings from the use of natural gas, the mill may not be around some day in the not-so-distant future.

The Ticonderoga mill is the most expensive to operate in the IP group, and the papermaker has already closed mills in Corinth and Erie. It is imperative that the local mill be able to take steps to reduce its operating and energy costs.

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