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Beware permission to survey your land by Tennessee Gas


Tennessee Gas, a Kinder Morgan company, is proposing a natural gas pipeline from Albany, N.Y., to Dracut, Mass. The proposed pipeline will go through northern Mass., including Pepperell, and many private and public properties in our town. There is also an extension to New Hampshire planned that will go somewhere from the main line near Jewett Street between Shattuck and Ames streets through Heald Orchard.

Representatives from Tennessee Gas may be coming to your door to ask your permission to survey your land for the proposed pipeline, or they may have been to see you already. You do not have to give them permission, and if you already have, you may rescind it at any time.

The town of Pepperell is aware of the proposed pipeline and has not given permission for surveys on any of the town-owned lands. The town has asked for more information about location and all other details since first learning of the proposal, but the company has not been forthcoming yet with many details.

At this time, the Pepperell Board of Selectmen has not made a public statement on the town’s position on this proposed pipeline and has not had a public meeting with Tennessee Gas. I think one was planned but the gas company backed out. Hopefully, this can happen soon. Encouragement from interested parties may help speed up the process. Also, Nashoba Conservation Trust has a position statement as well as other information on the proposed pipeline, including a form letter to rescind permission to survey, on their web site:

Last night, April 21, at a Hollis Board of Selectmen meeting with Tennessee Gas, their representatives gave a presentation of the proposed pipeline spur through the town. The meeting was packed and many residents asked probing questions. In my opinion, Tennessee Gas representatives could not always give clear and substantial answers. It was clear from the tone of the questions that many at the meeting wanted nothing to do with this proposed pipeline through their town. Hollis does have a position statement on their website:

Following are some of the reasons you, as a Pepperell property owner, may not want to give permission for this company to come onto your property to survey for this pipeline, or rescind a permission if already given. For the survey, the company will not be limited in any way but will be able to do whatever they need to do. This could include trenching, boring to discover ledge or other possible obstructions, or the use of dynamite in the process.

The current pipeline is for natural gas from fracking, but in the future you have no control over what the pipeline could be used for when the natural gas supply wells are no longer economically useful to whoever owns them. The pipeline might be used for hydrogen or some other gas under pressure, no one knows. There is no sound evidence that Pepperell residents will benefit from this gas. There are many export terminals being developed along the eastern Atlantic coast that could be used to ship this gas to Europe and beyond. You certainly won’t be able to tap into the pipeline on your property. Once the pipeline is in place, the right-of-way over the pipeline buried 3 to 5 feet underground on your property will be 30 to 50 feet wide and they will be able to keep it clear by tree cutting, with herbicides, or whatever method they choose.

The proposed pipeline route, as far as is known now, goes through many of the open spaces preserved by the town for conservation, recreation or water protection and many of the properties preserved by private land conservation organizations such as Nashoba Conservation Trust and Nissitissit Land Trust. Many of these properties have extensive wetlands and are priority habitat for threatened or endangered species in our town. Here are some of the town conservation lands that have been preserved by the public over the years and are now threatened by the proposed pipeline traversing these valuable properties: Heald Street Orchard, Gulf Brook Conservation Property, Pepperell Springs and Lawrence Street Well Water protection property.

The extension to New Hampshire will likely go through the open space corridor that Pepperell residents have preserved over many years including NCT and NLT properties and on to Beaver Brook lands in New Hampshire. Traversing open space seems to be what Tennessee Gas sees as the easiest route for their profit-generating pipeline. This is the case for the whole proposed route through northern Massachusetts rather than seeking existing utility right-of-ways in the state, likely for financial reasons to avoid expensive leases on those right-of-ways.

I urge residents to become informed about this pipeline. I just learned from the Pepperell Town Hall that Tennessee Gas/Kinder Morgan is sending a letter to town residents on whose property the proposed pipeline crosses that they will apply to Mass DPU for an order to survey properties where the owner refuses permission. This is how this company acts and certainly is reason enough to get as much information as you can. I don’t know how one can fight this, but certainly knowing the letter will come will help, and possibly, the Mass DPU website may have information.

Robert Rand

Nashoba Conservation Trust board member

Pepperell Conservation Commissioner