Protest against pipeline kicks off today from Richmond


RICHMOND -- Music, speakers, food and a 5.5-mile walk are in store for those planning to attend the kickoff of the "Statewide Pipeline Resistance Relay Walk" in town today.

Organized in opposition to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.’s proposed Northeast Pipeline Extension Project, the demonstration will involve teams of volunteers who plan to walk the route of the proposed pipeline, town by town, until they reach Dracut, north of Lowell.

And it all begins in Richmond, where 75 to 100 people are expected to take part.

At 11 a.m., a pre-walk meal and speaking event is scheduled at the Hilltop Orchards on Route 295, with the walk taking off from there at 1 p.m. Tickets are $12 per person and $5 for children under 14.

"I expect it will be a very special event," local organizer Melanie Masdea said.

Masdea spoke to The Eagle after leaving a Richmond Select Board meeting Wednesday night where members gave the event their unanimous seal of approval.

"That is big news for Richmond," she said. "It gives me hope. I think [the Selectmen] are starting to see [the proposed pipeline] is not going to benefit the town of Richmond at all."

Richmond residents are scheduled to vote on a nonbinding resolution in opposition to the pipeline giant’s plans at a special town meeting Wednesday.

The route to be followed today continues along Route 295 to Route 41, then hits Church Lane, Sleepy Hollow Road, Dublin Road, Lenox Road, East Road and Swamp Road before ending at Bartlett’s Orchard. It roughly follows the route of Tennessee Gas’ proposed pipeline.

Masdea said Gov. Deval Patrick, who coincidentally owns a home in Richmond, has been invited to attend. It was not known by press time whether Patrick would accept the invitation.

"This is a perfect opportunity to meet with constituents and hear their concerns," Masdea said.

Tennessee Gas documents indicate the high-pressure, 36-inch line the company wants to build would pass through portions of Richmond, Lenox, Washington, Dalton, Hinsdale, Peru and Windsor. It’s part of the 250-mile Northeast Pipeline Expansion Project extending from upstate New York to Dracut, north of Lowell.

The walk is scheduled to end in Dracut on July 26. Then, on July 30, a group of march participants will gather in Boston Common and present a petition asking Patrick to withdraw support for any new major natural gas imports or interstate pipelines, as well as the electric rate tariff. That tax is the means by which the public is made to pay the cost of the fossil fuel infrastructure, organizers say.

The pipeline proposal requires federal and state approvals. The earliest construction date for the $2.75 billion to $3.75 billion project would be April 2017 with completion by November 2018, according to Kinder Morgan, Tennessee Gas’ parent company.

To reach Phil Demers:
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On Twitter: @BE_PhilD


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