Local legislators say no to Kinder Morgan pipeline project
A group of local and regional lawmakers has gone on record as formally opposing a proposed gas pipeline Kinder Morgan seeks to build across northern Massachusetts.
In a statement released Friday, the lawmakers base their opposition on "environmental, economic, public safety and public health" concerns. It follows dozens of meetings around Massachusetts and in Boston -- with utility companies, Kinder Morgan representatives and constituents -- attended by each of these lawmakers.
The proposal "is not in the public interest" and "we can and should do better," according to state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, and state Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington.
State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, was not named in the statement. She could not be reached for comment.
Pignatelli, in an Eagle interview, said the tide in his district flows in one direction.
"Since [the proposal was made], I've received hundreds of emails, dozens of phone calls and met scores of people during my travels," he said. "One person total has told me they support this pipeline. The rest are opposed.
"And after months of diligent work and meetings with Kinder Morgan and Berkshire Gas and talking to local people, I see no benefit whatsoever in this proposal for the people of my district," he added.
The proposed high-pressure natural gas pipeline -- 250 miles long, including offshoots -- would extend from upstate New York to Dracut in northeastern Massachusetts. It is expected to go before federal regulators in September through a "pre-filing" application from Kinder Morgan, parent company of Tennessee Gas Co.
Pignatelli said he repeatedly pressed Kinder Morgan representatives to enumerate the advantages of the company's proposal, but "never got a straight answer."
"They've been very evasive, in my opinion," Pignatelli said. "It didn't hold muster with me."
Cariddi described a similar experience.
"For us to consider this, we needed to see where the benefits not just to local consumers but to municipalities," Cariddi said. "We did not."
Other issues naturally come into play: the environment, and Gov. Deval Patrick's forward-looking alternative energy goals.
Natural gas is pitched as a bridge fuel to cleaner energy, but Cariddi questioned how many decades are expected to pass before the proverbial bridge is crossed.
The lawmakers join 22 municipalities, potentially affected or not, whose residents have voted in favor of resolutions against the proposed pipeline.
To reach Phil Demers:
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