Dear Governor Patrick:

I wish to pay my respect to you, Governor Patrick. You have worked hard to balance the economic and environmental goals of our commonwealth in a way that shows that decisions and actions may benefit both the economy and the environment. Among your accomplishments are:

* The Global Warming Solutions Act

* The Green Jobs Act

* The Massachusetts Oceans Act

* The Green Communities Act

* Executive Order No. 484: Leading By Example -- Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings.

In addition, you've been able to:

* reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 11 percent

* increase clean energy jobs by that same amount in a very short time

* surpass your own goals for new solar installations in the commonwealth

I thank you for living up to your campaign promises and pledges in times when that is no longer expected from our "public servants."

Governor Patrick, I have deep concerns about the wisdom of the Kinder Morgan Northeast Expansion Pipeline Project, a.k.a. the Northeast Energy Direct Project. Given these concerns, I ask the following questions and welcome your response.

Governor Patrick, our elected representative:

1) Do you believe that we need natural gas so badly that it is worth the destruction and scarring of acres of Mass. Audubon sanctuaries, town conservation lands, land trust parcels, farmland, state parks and forests, and private properties across our commonwealth? Our estimate is that 3,000 acres would be clear-cut.


2) Is our need for energy so great that you must promote a project that would erase the tremendous progress you've made helping our commonwealth decrease our greenhouse gas emissions? Is that the legacy you wish to leave behind: one step forward, two back?

3) Is it the role of the taxpayers to subsidize "Big Gas," the business venture of a multibillion dollar corporation? Is subsidizing big business what the Democratic Party and our democratic system stand for?

4) Should Massachusetts be the conduit for fracked gas to spread through New England, when groundwater mapping tests, done not only by independent companies but by gas companies themselves, verify that toxic fracking chemicals leak from gas wells and contaminate America's drinking water supplies? Is it acceptable for our New England governors to solve their energy puzzle by means that have been shown to poison the nation's drinking water supply?

5) How would you advise us to best work with what has repeatedly shown itself to us to be a dysfunctional regulatory process, serving the interests of Big Business in opposition to our communities? The regulatory process as a means to defend ourselves seems to have become mere lip service.

6) How do you justify the pipeline construction that bulldozes its way over every wetland regulation in the commonwealth, knowing that Conservation Commissioners have worked selflessly for years to uphold those regulations to protect the drinking water of Mass. citizens? How would you explain to the Conservation Commissioners that their work was not done in vain? How will Conservation Commissioners have any real authority again?

Governor Patrick, our elected representative:

7) Are you telling us that the need for this pipeline is greater than the need for protection of families from the real threats of pipeline explosions and loss of life? How would you comfort the family that loses a loved one due to this pipeline? What you would say to the woman we spoke to who was filled with fear because she is facing the prospect of her family living dangerously close to the proposed pipeline? What would you say to reassure her that her loved ones won't be the next victims?

8) Is there no better way than this plan of "Big Gas" to meet our energy needs? Are you really telling us that with the overabundance of science and technology ingenuity available in our commonwealth, that this is the best plan available? Isn't there a plan that builds upon all the progress you've made to date? We refer specifically to your initiatives to accelerate the development of wind, solar and other green energies -- to your professed conviction that conservation and energy efficiency become engrained in our daily lives. Or will the interests of Big Business once again bulldoze their way through and pull us two steps back?

In summary, many people are convinced that the business of America is business. And the business ethic is continuous and unlimited growth. In medical terms such growth is referred to as cancer.

These pipelines are spreading across our country, branching out as they go.

They carry fracked gas laden with toxic residues mined by a process that poisons our waters.

They leak methane and advance destructive climate change.

They provide for our continued addiction to fossil fuels.

Big Gas interests eagerly await their opportunity to spread their pipelines further through our commonwealth.

Just as cancer harms and destroys the body tissues it invades, so these pipelines are degrading the communities they invade.

Just as we cannot cure ourselves of cancer if we allow it to spread further, we cannot heal ourselves from this toxic energy "cancer" that is sickening people and our environment if we allow it to spread further.

Few leaders, in their lifetimes, ever get the opportunity to make a decision that will change the direction of a nation. Governor Patrick, the opportunity to stop the spread of fossil fuel infrastructure has been handed to you on a silver platter. As our elected representative and "public servant," what do you stand for, Governor Patrick? What legacy do you wish to leave behind?

Emily Norton

West Townsend