Saturday protest to oppose Kinder Morgan pipeline through Otis State Forest


A coalition of groups opposed to Kinder Morgan's Connecticut Expansion Project that would include a new four-mile natural gas pipeline through Sandisfield have unveiled details of their public "celebration of solidarity" set for this Saturday.

A federally-required water quality certificate was issued recently by the state Department of Environmental Protection, removing another hurdle for the project that would cut through 2.3 miles of Otis State Forest along an existing pipeline route.

A memorandum issued by Berkshire Superior Court Judge John Agostini on May 9 becomes final on July 29, although there is a 60-day window for appeals to his order allowing the project to proceed.

The opposition groups will stage a noon rally this Saturday in Great Barrington at the gazebo behind Town Hall on Main Street. Area musicians including David Grover and Bonner McAllester as well as the PachaMama Puppets Children's Theater troupe will perform.

Speakers include Jane Winn of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team and conservationist Cathy Kristofferson.

The second portion of the rally is slated for Lower Spectacle Pond in Otis State Forest, off Cold Spring Road in Sandisfield, from 2 to 4 p.m. Regional musicians Kate O'Connor, Steve Adams and Ben Grosscup are among scheduled performers.

Speakers include Rosemary Wessel of the No Fracked Gas in Mass. opposition group and Susan Theberge of Climate Action Now. A flotilla of canoeists and kayakers will form on Lower Spectacle Pond starting at noon, according to rally organizers.

Agostini delayed putting his ruling clearing the way for the project into effect until July 29 to give state lawmakers the opportunity to act on legislation to protect the woodlands under an amendment to the state constitution, but no votes have been scheduled and the legislative session ends on July 31.

Tennessee Gas Co., the Kinder Morgan affiliate that would construct the pipeline extension to serve three utilities in Connecticut, won its court argument that it had the right to take the land by eminent domain under authority of the 1938 U.S. Natural Gas Act.

The state had acquired the woodlands, including a 400-year-old Eastern hemlock forest, for $5.2 million in 2007, with assistance of Mass Audubon.

Apart from the incursion into the state forest, opponents have expressed concern about potential damage to Otis and Sandisfield roads from pipeline project trucks as well as the company's plan to use Spectacle Pond within the state forest to flush the new natural gas line.

The lead sponsor of Saturday's rally, "On Spectacle Pond: Resisting the Pipeline," is The Sugar Shack Alliance. Co-sponsors include Sandisfield Taxpayers Opposed to the Pipeline (STOP), the Massachusetts Sierra Club, the Berkshire Environmental Action Team and several others.

For more information on the events, contact Susan Triolo at 413-665-8246.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.


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