The opposition of three Berkshire legislators and a Western Massachusetts colleague to the Kinder Morgan pipeline project strengthens the grass-roots effort that has arisen in response to the proposal. Kinder Morgan may not care, but the people at ground zero should be heard.
Signing the statement of opposition on "economic, environmental, public safety and public health" grounds are state Senator Benjamin Downing of Pittsfield and state representatives William "Smitty" Pignatelli of Lenox, Gailanne Cariddi of North Adams, Paul Mark of Peru and Stephen Kulik of Worthington (Eagle, July 27.) Both Representative Pignatelli and Representative Cariddi expressed unhappiness with their inability to get straight answers from Kinder Morgan to their questions. It is safe to say that the company knows that its straight answers would not be welcomed by the representatives or their constituents.
Recent letters to The Eagle have attempted to make the case for the natural gas pipeline, in large part by setting up straw dogs to be knocked down. For example, no opponent has claimed that the gas hydrofractured from the ground will come from fracking wells in the Berkshires or neighboring regions of New York. That the environmentally damaging fracking will take place elsewhere does not make it any more defensible. This natural gas will not lower gasoline prices in Massachusetts if it is transported to Canada and Europe as appears to be the case (this is one of the points Kinder Morgan is evasive on.
A July 17 Eagle editorial on the connection between earthquakes and fracking wells in the Midwest and Southwest generated a letter (July 21) from a representative of Energy In Depth. The letter observed that the EPA has pronounced fracking as safe, which former EPA head Lisa Jackson asserted in contradiction to her own agency’s internal reports. We hope that current EPA head Gina McCarthy, whose environmental bona fides far exceed those of her predecessor, will decide differently.
The letter also asserts that the fracking process can’t cause earthquakes because the "culprit" is the well-drilling process that drives the wastewater created by fracking deep into the earth. A preposterous argument given that there would be no wastewater to get rid of if fracking wasn’t done in the first place.
Energy In Depth is an organization described by The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch as a "PR operation" for the giant petroleum groups, among them Shell and BP (which gave us the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico) that advocate fracking. Kinder Morgan is a giant corporation backed by other giant corporations and their spinmeisters, and Kinder Morgan is confident that a sympathetic federal agency will rubber-stamp its pipeline plan from Richmond to Dracut. The "spin" for the project will certainly increase, likely in inverse proportion to the arguments against it.