Dedham Selectman Mike Butler Plans to Get Arrested Over West Roxbury Pipeline [Updated]

The town filed for an injunction Wednesday to halt construction of the controversial pipeline.


Uncovered pipeline photo via Shutterstock


Updated on Thursday, June 18, at 10:10 a.m. 

According to Emily Kirkland of Better Future Project, Dedham Selectman Mike Butler was arrested this morning while protesting the construction of the pipeline. Kirkland, who was also demonstrating, sent out the following image over Twitter just before 10 a.m.:


Mike Butler plans to get arrested on Thursday morning.

The 61-year-old Dedham Selectman says he has run out of options for stopping Spectra Energy from laying down the controversial high-pressured West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline, so he’s heading to a construction site near the corner of Elm Street and Route 1 for a peaceful protest that he hopes lands him in handcuffs.

“As a selectman, I must defend and reflect the concerns of my constituents,” he tells Boston. “I’d like to demonstrate my deep concern over the fact that this is a high-pressure gas line that will be going underneath a soccer field and up the middle of a very congested residential street.”

Butler says that he is particularly frustrated with recent changes in construction timelines. “Our understanding was that June 29 was the date that a construction company was going to begin work with three crews at three locations,” Butler explains. But last week he got word that the start date for the Elm Street location had been bumped up, and crews began work at the site on Tuesday.

He’s far from the only one with worries over the pipeline, which will run adjacent to an active blasting quarry. A few months ago the Boston City Council passed a resolution calling for a study of health and environmental issues in West Roxbury. Among the major concerns voiced by those opposed to the project is that the pipeline has the capacity to move 750 pounds of natural gas per square inch; Butler says that amount could serve 145,000 homes a day. Other pipelines in similarly condensed residential neighborhoods tend to operate at a much smaller scale, somewhere around the 50 pounds per square inch range, according to Butler.

On Wednesday, the town of Dedham filed a complaint and motion for a preliminary injunction against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Algonquin Gas Transmission in an attempt to stop the construction crews.

“The Complaint asserts that FERC has a duty under federal law to suspend construction of the pipeline while FERC is considering the Town’s request that the pipeline approval be rescinded, and the Motion asks the Court to immediately order FERC to suspend construction,” reads a press statement from Dedham’s Board of Selectmen.

While the town waits for a response, Butler, who says he’s never been arrested before, readies for protest. He admits to being nervous, and jokes that some of his son’s friends from high school are now officers with the Dedham Police.

“They might have to arrest Mr. Butler, their friend’s father,” he says with a laugh.