Northampton City Council adopts resolution calling on gas companies to fix pipeline leaks

Last modified: Friday, June 19, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — The City Council is calling for natural gas companies in Massachusetts to repair the existing pipelines rather than build the controversial Tennessee Gas Pipeline and throwing its support behind legislation that seeks to prohibit companies from passing on to customers the costs associated with such leaks.

That discussion was part of the council’s unanimous approval Thursday night of a nonbinding resolution that seeks greater transparency in the proposed expansion of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, with its planned route through Plainfield in Hampshire County and eight Franklin County towns on its way from Pennsylvania to Dracut.

Ward 7 City Councilor Alisa Klein presented an amendment to the transparency resolution that was on the council’s agenda for a second vote Thursday night — and councilors approved the amendment unanimously as well.

“This addresses a piece that the original resolution did not,” said Klein. She noted that gas leaks in the pipeline could be playing a role in why the gas companies are saying there is a capacity problem with the pipeline, and why they have put a halt to new gas hookups.

Her addition to the resolution states in part: “Whereas, a 2013 research report released by the office of Sen. Edward Markey documents that between 2000 and 2011, by not replacing leaking natural gas pipelines, gas companies have passed on to Massachusetts ratepayers between $640 million and $1.5 billion in costs for ‘unaccounted for’ gas that never reached their homes, businesses and municipalities and that this leaked gas has contributed irreparably to the degradation of the public’s health; climate change; and between 2004 and 2012, caused over 250 explosions.”

Massachusetts House Bill 2870 and Senate Bill 1768 seeks to prevent companies from passing along the cost of leaked or otherwise unaccounted for gas to consumers.

“I do see a direct nexus between the capacity problem these companies are claiming as the need for the new pipeline and the ongoing, pervasive issue of unaccounted for gas, which has a direct impact on ratepayers,” said Ward 3 City Councilor Ryan R. O’Donnell.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to pay for losses that can’t be explained by the company,” said Ward 5 City Councilor David A. Murphy.

Laurie Loisel can be reached at


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