“This is not about should natural gas be our ‘bridge to the future,’ it’s about should natural gas be the ‘future?'” asked Richard Hewitt of Groton’s Stop the Pipeline Coordinating Committee (SPCC) in announcing a statewide petition campaign for public hearings on the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal.
In response to Kinder-Morgan’s pre-approval filing for their Northeast Energy Direct (NED) project with the federal government, the Northeast Municipal Gas Pipeline Coalition (NMGPC), a consortium of 10 town governments, has formally requested state legislative leaders to hold comprehensive public hearings on this proposal.
“We don’t believe we have sufficient, creditable information to do our jobs of protecting our communities and the best interests of our citizens,” said NMGPC Co-Chair Steven Themelis.
In support of this and similar calls for public hearings from state legislators, Rep. Sheila Harrington and Sen. Eileen Donoghue, SPCC and StopNED, a statewide coalition of grassroots opposition groups, have initiated the citizen’s petition drive. The purpose of these hearings would be to fully explore New England’s future energy needs and how best to meet them before committing to massive, new, long-term fossil fuel infrastructure.
NMGPC’s request was sent to Sen. Cynthia Creem and Rep. Paul Linsky, chairs of their respective Committees on Post Audit and Oversight, and Sen. Benjamin Downing and Rep. Mark J. Cusack, co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Telecommunication, Utilities and Energy.
“We are asking each of you addressed in this petition to play an important role in ensuring that concerned citizens, energy ratepayers and elected officials of the commonwealth have a full opportunity to be heard in the upcoming deliberations before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC),” said Pepperell Conservation Administrator Paula Terrasi.
Kinder Morgan has pre-filed with FERC for a 127-mile “greenfield” route across the pristine northern tier of Massachusetts through public, state and conservation lands, rejecting the use of its existing pipeline right-of-way and other available existing utility and transportation corridors and needlessly threatening environmentally sensitive wetlands, endangered habitats and vital watersheds.
In addition to committing New England to long-term fossil fuel dependency, the currently proposed route would cut through priceless state and private conservation lands, drill under a number of protected rivers and have a negative economic impact on property values across the region.
“There is precious little information or unbiased analysis surrounding this proposal” Nick Miller, a concerned citizen, said. “This is where we need our state leaders’ specific help.”
We believe it is vital that accurate information regarding this proposal and its alternatives become part of the public record and included in the state’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) filings and, hopefully, ensure a fair and open FERC process that allows for real discernment and careful consideration of reasoned alternatives to the Kinder Morgan NED proposal when the final EIS is prepared.
“FERC appears predisposed to support additional gas infrastructure in New England, thus shifting the burden of proof away from Kinder Morgan, where it belongs, to those who oppose the pipeline in favor of reasoned alternatives,” said Ken Hartlage, president, Nashoba Conservation Trust.
The state Department of Public Utilities (DPU) will have an important intervenor role before FERC and could place alternative arguments before the commission based on the public hearing, including energy storage possibilities (LNG, batteries, storage facilities), alternative energy sources, competing pipeline proposals (Spectra Energy), alternate routing options along existing corridors, energy management and policy options and more cost effective funding possibilities.
“We believe thoughtful analysis and the clear presentation of other viable options would have considerable influence with FERC,” Hewitt said. “It is critical that the (DEIS) reflect a full range of alternatives, in addition to those hand-picked by Kinder Morgan. We need to think long and hard before committing to such a massive project and the resulting long-term regional dependence on a single fuel.”
ONLINE PETITION: tinyurl.com/investigate-the-pipeline
ONLINE ORGANIZATIONAL PETITION: tinyurl.com/investigate-the-pipeline-ORG
Stop the Pipeline is a group of concerned citizens, small-business owners, impacted landowners and organizations in Middlesex, Worcester and Essex Counties, and Hillsborough County, N.H., including Andover, Ashburnham, Ashby, Dracut, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, Townsend and Tyngsborough in Massachusetts, and Hollis and Brookline, N.H.
Stop the Pipeline