A federal agency's request that Tennessee Gas consider yet another route for its natural gas pipeline is an acknowledgment of problems with the current plan. Still, the need for a pipeline hasn't been addressed.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wants the company to consider following the Massachusetts Turnpike in bringing gas from Pennsylvania to northeastern Massachusetts. The company has rejected this route for reasons of environmental impact and construction difficulties, but FERC is plainly concerned with the controversial route through much of Central Berkshire County.
FERC also wants the company to respond to a number of challenges to the pipeline, including one from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey that challenges the proposal at its essence. A recent report from the AG's office concluded that there will be insufficient demand for natural gas to justify the intrusive pipeline, arguing instead for increased energy efficiency. The pipeline threatens the environment in the towns it passes through and transports fracked gas, which will contribute further to the global warming the nation and world must reduce.
While FERC, to its credit, is not rubber-stamping the proposal by Tennessee Gas parent Kinder-Morgan, and is hearing opponents, the agency doesn't appear able to bring itself to the obvious conclusion. Even if there was a demonstrated need, the pipeline project is too big and too destructive to be justified. And there is no demonstrated need.