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Gubernatorial candidate Berwick says no to Tennessee Gas Pipeline project

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Don Berwick has became the first candidate for that office to come out in opposition to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.’s proposed project for Massachusetts.

Berwick, a Newton pediatrician, announced in a statement last week, “We should not commit to new natural gas infrastructure until we know for certain that it is necessary to meet our energy needs. To date, I am not convinced that that case has been made.”

While he said that “we need a ‘bridge’ in the short term until we can power our grid and mobile sources with a minimum of fossil fuels,” and that he wants to set Massachusetts “on the path towards becoming the first carbon neutral state,” Berwick — one of three Democrats seeking the governorship in the September primary — said he is concerned about the danger of making long-term investments in natural-gas infrastructure that could “lock us into the use of fossil fuels for far longer than necessary.”

Instead, Berwick called for plugging leaks from existing natural gas infrastructure, use of “innovative technologies that can help smooth demand” during peaks and for ramping up efforts for conservation and renewable energy sources.

Berwick’s statement opposing the pipeline project — which would cross nine Franklin County towns on its route from Wright, N.Y., to Dracut, north of Lowell — followed by one day that of Maura Healey, one of two Democrats running for attorney general.

Healey’s statement said, “Before moving forward on proposed pipeline infrastructure, we need a transparent process that evaluates energy needs, protects ratepayers, explores alternatives, and respects landowners and conservation land.”

Berwick dismissed suggestions that his position is at odds with that of his wife, Ann, who, as Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities chairwoman, is also president of the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE), a regional panel that has been criticized for a closed process with energy executives and recommending financing through ratepayer tariffs of natural gas pipelines and electricity transmission lines to bring power to the region.

Conservation Law Foundation last week filed a complaint in Suffolk Superior Court against the state Executive Office of Energy and Environment for withholding public documents it began requesting in March about development of the New England Governors’ regional energy plans.

Berwick said, “We are separate people,” stressing that his position is his alone, and emphasized that his wife has taken no position on the pipeline, which has not come before the DPU. Furthermore, he said, NESCOE has not endorsed any pipeline proposal.

“To attribute any imagined position of NESCOE to my wife is a misunderstanding,” he said, repeating that his opposition to the pipeline project is his alone. “I see no inconsistency.”

In a related matter, NESCOE on Monday issued a response to Conservation Law Foundation’s charges, explaining, “NESCOE is a not-for-profit corporation that facilitates collaboration among the six New England states in connection with regional wholesale electricity matters. NESCOE is not a state government agency and is not subject to the state laws CLF references.”

Related

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline, everything you need to know about the proposed project and its potential impact on the Pioneer Valley

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. wants to upgrade its existing system through New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut, which will include the pipeline expansion, additional meter stations and modifications to its existing facilities. 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., …

Legacy Comments8

One thing is sure: with a big fat infrastructure project like a tariffed pipeline, that electricity ratepayers will be subsidizing, the last person you would want to vote for is Charlie "Big Dig" Baker: he was involved in "investments" for the Big Dig, (that we will be paying for until 2038). That project also started off at 2.5 Billion dollars and mushroomed into 22 Billion dollars on Massachusetts taxpayers backs . . . now here comes another juicy infrastructure project to transfer more wealth away from families and small businesses to the voraciously greedy .01%. The gas is artificially cheaper due to exemption from nearly any law or oversight, and because we already subsidize it: it will only remain cheap until its shipped abroad and we begin competing with Europe, Asia, or some other nation for our own resource. This will be a permanent and mushrooming expense on everyone's electric bill.

Mr. Berwick's environmental mettle will be determined, in part, by how he treats his wife's eager embrace of so-called "smart" or dual response utility meters. While they may provide convenient usage tracking for interested consumers, they have failed miserably thus far when it comes to cost effectiveness, security, and safety.

Opposition to fracking may cause the democrats to lose the Senate this fall. Yesterday Sen. Udall in Colorado, who is in a tight race for reelection, came out against a vote to ban fracking in his state. Also the Gov of Colorado came out against it. Both are in very tight races. Actually the last poll to come out yesterday by Marist (a liberal polling group) has Udall behind Corey Gardiner, the republican. The democratic governor is also behind in many polls. I predit the Senate goes to the republicans. We are about 100 days out now from the Nov election. They will pick up 7-12 Senate seats, Colorado being one of them. Also it looks like Rand Paul could beat Hillary. Can you see it - 2016 - President Rand Paul, the largest republican majority in the house ever and a republican Senate. Maybe then we can fix the mess the progressive socialists got us into. http://washingtonexaminer.com/how-fracking-is-making-colorado-democrats-quiver/article/2550922

My fracking investment closed up 2% today and is only a few pennies off its all time high. Just wanted to let ya'll know. I'll be retiring in Florida with my millions soon while you guys sit here in the dark freezing under your windmills. Market Vectors Unconventl Oil & Gas ETF (FRAK) -NYSEArca Follow $33.68 +0.69(+2.09%) 4:00PM EDT

P.S. I would very much LIKE to be able to vote for Dr. Berwick, but the ambiguity of all of this gives me serious concern.

I have seen Don speak and I questioned him recently about the pipeline. I am confident that he is the best candidate, especially for the environment and against the pipeline. Amherst Media just interviewed him yesterday - you should watch it.

Maybe someone will explain why Massachusetts residents were surprised by Kinder Morgan seeking surveys and threatening DPU hearings . . . then dispensing with DPU and telling everyone they will file a FERC. The Berwicks could do a real service to those currently under attack: homeowners and whole communities, by coming forward with information about how KM was confident. . . Mr. Berwick should read the CLF documents: they are not heartening to voters.

So how exactly is NESCOE funded and when did this come about? And how did these folks get to advise all these governors and state agencies and gain such access and influence? Why doesn't the public know anything about this, and are they formed BECAUSE they are outside the law?

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