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Kinder Morgan denies claims about Otis forest project; TD Bank says it’s not involved

  • Jerica Tamarin Meditz talks about her participation in a weeklong resistance throughout western Massachusetts last week to protest Kinder Morgan’s Connecticut Expansion Project through Otis State Forest. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Micah Lott participates in a resistance throughout western Massachusetts to protest Kinder Morgan’s Connecticut Expansion Project through Otis State Forest. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — Kinder Morgan denies claims made by protesters at a rally in front of TD Bank in Northampton last week that the federal government expedited approval for its Connecticut Expansion Project through Otis State Forest.

“Allegations about the project are completely inaccurate,” Kinder Morgan spokesman Dave Conover said in a statement. “We have all required federal, state and local permits, and work in the Otis State Forest was overseen by the Massachusetts DEP (Department of Environmental Protection).”

Additionally, TD Bank, which was also a target of the protest, said that it is not involved in the pipeline expansion project as either an investor or an adviser.

Pipeline protesters across western Massachusetts gathered at multiple events last week to rally against the Connecticut Expansion Project, which will complete Kinder Morgan’s 11,800-mile Tennessee Gas Pipeline. In addition to saying the project was expedited by the federal government, protesters at the Northampton rally said that the pipeline will threaten wildlife and drinking water in the Otis Reservoir.

The pipeline is scheduled to begin carrying natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico to the northeastern U.S. in November.

TD Bank said in a statement that it welcomes diverse perspectives on the topic and respects the right of people to express their views in peaceful protest.

“TD is committed to facilitating the transition to a low-carbon economy over the next 30 to 40 years by investing in sustainable businesses and technologies, supporting carbon-neutral operations, and partnering with environmental nonprofits to create green urban spaces across the communities we serve,” spokesman Matthew J. Doherty said in the statement.

TD also said that conventional energy remains a vital component of the local economies it serves and is necessary to meet the country’s energy demands.

“As a result, any support of conventional energy projects must meet our stringent environmental and social responsibility standards, while we continue to actively support the low-carbon economy of tomorrow,” Doherty said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Connecticut Expansion Project on March 11, 2016, after having approved the preliminary environmental assessment in October 2015. After public pushback, FERC approved Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.’s requests to proceed with construction and tree removal on April 12, 2017.

According to Conover, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, is financing the $99 million Connecticut Expansion Project with operational cash flow, without incurring debt or issuing any new equity.

The expansion project consists of about 13.42 miles of new pipeline in three sections along an existing route from New York to Connecticut that cuts through Berkshire and Hampden counties. Four miles of new pipeline will cut through Otis State Forest in Sandisfield.

The project will upgrade existing infrastructure to meet increased demand for natural gas in the Northeast. Three northeastern gas distribution companies — the Connecticut Natural Gas Corp., Yankee Gas Services Co. and Southern Connecticut Gas Co. — have signed long-term agreements with Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. for increased capacity.

As part of last week’s “Divest the Globe” anti-pipeline movement, activists gathered in Otis State Forest on Wednesday with the Sojourning Truth Ensemble for a demonstration, then again on Sunday for a prayer service by Spectacle Pond.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@gazettenet.com