Rally to Stop Pipeline Through Northern Massachusetts Planned on the Common

Environmentalists are getting together to blast a company's proposal to place a natural gas line in the ground upstate.

Image via No Fracked Gas in Mass.

Image via No Fracked Gas in Mass.

In a time when public protests have seemingly become the norm near the State House, environmentalists and elected officials are planning to forge ahead with their own rally on the Common this week to stand against a proposed pipeline project that they claim would impact parks and farmlands in the Northern part of the state.

According to event details, the “Rally to Stop the Pipeline” on Wednesday will include support from members of the Conservation Law Foundation, No Fracked Gas in Mass., and several legislators standing in opposition of Tennessee Gas Company’s pitch to drudge up soil to install a high-pressure natural gas pipeline extending from New York and Pennsylvania and snaking through more than three dozen communities in various counties throughout the Commonwealth.

The company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, claims that the project as a whole would result in the construction of 250 miles of new pipeline, additional meter stations, compressor stations, and modifications to existing facilities to meet the increasingly high demand for natural gas resources. About 180 miles of that gas pipeline would stretch through the state, connecting to a transmission hub in Dracut.

But in a recent letter penned to constituents, lawmakers went on record and denounced the Tennessee Gas-Kinder Morgan Northeast Direct gas pipeline for environmental, economic, public safety, and public health reasons, and backed protesters who plan on convening Wednesday.

“We have come to the conclusion that while building the Northeast Direct Gas Pipeline would provide the economic benefit of providing good jobs with good wages for local labor, the project as a whole is not in the public interest. We can and should do better,” said the letter, which was signed by State Senator Benjamin Downing, and State Representatives Stephen Kulik, Gailanne Cariddi, Paul Mark, and Smitty Pignatelli, whose counties fall within the area where the pipeline would go pending approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Kulik and others plan to attend Wednesday’s event.

Congressman James McGovern, who cannot attend the protest, also wrote a letter of opposition that will be read aloud this week on the Common. In it, McGovern called the pipeline plan “irresponsible,” adding that it seems as though it was made with little consideration for the environment, cutting through farms, land trusts, and conservation land.

“This pipeline simply does not live up to the values and priorities of the people of this Commonwealth,” he wrote in the prepared statement. “We will continue to make our voices heard. We will continue to fight. And I am confident that in the end we will win and prevail.”

Governor Deval Patrick, who is on his way out of office later this year, has also been pressed about his position on the company’s plan, but he has mostly stayed mum on this particular subject.

In a recent sit-down interview with The Berkshire Eagle, Patrick urged residents to be patient as details of the pipeline project continue to surface. He said there is still ample time as far as the permitting process is concerned, and there will be multiple opportunities for residents within the zone where the installation would take place to speak up and voice their opposition to its implementation. Patrick noted, however, that the final ‘OK’ will come from federal officials, and not the state.

According to the New York Times, Kinder Morgan plans to file for an initial permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission sometime this fall, and it’s up to them to determine the fate of the interstate gas line project.