Four Mass. Lawmakers Describe Upcoming Fight Against Kinder Morgan Gas Pipeline: Audio

oil-pump-300x200Mass Live

By Mary Serreze

FITCHBURG — At a statewide “Stop the Pipeline” summit Saturday, a panel of Massachusetts legislators discussed the potential role of Beacon Hill in fighting the proposed Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas “Northeast Energy Direct” project.

Kinder Morgan submitted its initial “pre-filing” with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Sept. 15, kicking off a lengthy review process for the interstate natural gas pipeline proposal. The permitting is largely outside the realm of state regulators.

Rep. Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington), Sen. Eileen Donaghue (D-Lowell), Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), and Rep. Sheila Harrington (R-Groton) described a successful campaign earlier this year to persuade Gov. Deval Patrick to back away from his early support for the project. They also discussed plans and strategy for the upcoming legislative session.

The four are among a group of state legislators on record as against the pipeline plan.

Northeast Energy Direct would transport natural gas from the Marcellus shale fields of Pennsylvania to a distribution hub in Dracut, Mass. The 412-mile, 36-inch high-pressure interstate pipeline would carry up to 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas daily. Kinder Morgan’s preferred route shows the pipeline crossing 39 northern Massachusetts communities, with compressor stations in Deerfield and Townsend.

The project faces faces vigorous opposition, with residents across the state saying the pipeline is an “oversized response” to the region’s future energy needs. Opponents say the project would require land takings from hundreds of property owners, disturb pristine natural resources, and lock New England into long-term fossil fuel dependency. They also charge that most of the gas would be slated for export, citing the project’s massive proposed capacity.

Proponents insist the additional gas capacity is needed to meet New England’s energy needs and keep prices competitive, assertions refuted by advocacy groups such as the Conservation Law Foundation.

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