RICHMOND -- A group of concerned property owners plans a meeting Saturday afternoon at the Richmond Congregational Church to discuss a proposed new natural gas line in town.
The group will meet at 1 p.m. at the church at 1515 State Road (Route 41) and hear from Bruce Winn, president of Berkshire Environmental Action Team, and other speakers.
The discussion is expected to focus on concerns about environmental impacts of the new gas line entering Richmond from New York state and extending across the northern half of Massachusetts to Dracut. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. has done preliminary survey work and is making inquiries of residents in Richmond, Lenox and a number of towns in Franklin and Hampshire counties and along the tentative route, but no firm route or project plan. The company has yet to submit a plan to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a permit.
Another focal point of the meeting will be property rights and the eminent domain process if Tennessee Gas requires access for the proposed line and landowners are unwilling to sell.
Richmond already has lines that were installed in the 1950s and 1980s, and the new line is proposed along the same route initially before it branches off to the north through Lenox and beyond.
Tennessee Gas Co.'s parent firm, Kinder Morgan Inc. of Houston, has said the proposal is in response to an increased demand for natural gas in the region, including for heating and for gas-fired electric power generation facilities.
Tennessee Gas transports and stores natural gas for its customers with a pipeline from Texas and the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeast.
The new line, according to a map on a company website, would follow the existing line path east from New York into Richmond and then head north toward Greenfield and across the state just below the New Hampshire border.
Winn has been asked to speak in two or three communities across the state per week on the issue, said his wife, Jane Winn. He has cited the likelihood gas from the "fracking" process would be transported through the line, along with other environmental issues, such as methane leaks from gas lines.
Fracking involves the injection of water and chemicals under high pressure into underground rock formations to release gas trapped there.
Also speaking Saturday will be Rosemary Wessel of the Cummington-based group, nofrackedgasinmass. The group's website, nofrackedgasinmass.org, has information about grass-root organization and other efforts to oppose the project.
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