Deerfield Town Meeting instructs Select Board to refuse access to land for Tennessee Gas Pipeline

Last modified: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
SOUTH DEERFIELD — Deerfield this week became the first Franklin County town to officially take a stand against the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline that would cut through nine area towns.

Voters by an overwhelming majority at Monday’s Town Meeting asked the Select Board to refuse access to town land by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. and parent company Kinder Morgan, which proposed the Northeast Expansion Project.

“There is no telling how much damage this could inflict,” said Lisa Turowski of Deerfield, who made the motion.

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Turowski moved back to Deerfield six months ago after 13 years in New Jersey. When she learned of the pipeline project, she joined neighbors to fight it.

“I love it here. It breaks my heart to know that something totally unnecessary could take place,” Turowski said.

The proposed pipeline would cut through Ashfield, Conway, Shelburne, Deerfield, Montague, Erving, Northfield, Warwick and Orange in Franklin County along the 179-mile route between Wright, N.Y., and Dracut.

The project is at an early stage, Kinder Morgan Public Affairs Director Allen Fore recently said at a Montague public meeting.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would have to rule on the project, likely in 2017.

Select Board member Carolyn Ness said she doubts whether residents could stop the project. Ness suggested concentrating the town’s efforts on moving the project along Interstate 90, the Mass Turnpike. “I don’t know if we can really fight it,” Ness said.

Resident Jane Trigere said moving the project to Interstate 90 could be the town’s best hope to protect its natural resources and archaeological artifacts.

“We have more at stake here,” said Trigere of South Deerfield. “We have to protect our Deerfield assets, which are in fact under the ground.”

Julie Cavacco of South Deerfield said she recalls the 1988 Berkshire Gas project in Deerfield.

“The thing that struck me was that the company does not care what is best for Deerfield. They care about what is best for their shareholders and their bottom line,” said Cavacco.

Several Franklin County residents are drafting letters and resolutions against the project for town meeting votes.

Opponents created a website at www.nofrackedgasinmass.org to track the project.

“It may have never happened before that FERC hasn’t gotten its way,” Turowski said. “It doesn’t mean it can’t happen this time.”

Recorder reporter Richie Davis contributed to this report.