Concerned citizens to stand every week against project

Last modified: Saturday, August 01, 2015

NORTHFIELD — “Blockadia” is the term Gulf Road resident Judy Wolter used to describe the protesters who come every week to stand on Jere Nelson’s property, where Kinder Morgan’s 41,000-horsepower gas pipeline compressor station is slated to sit.

At least one day a week for the past month, Judy Wolter has stood on Nelson’s land protesting the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project planned to bring gas from Pennsylvania shale through nine Franklin County towns: Conway, Ashfield, Shelburne, Deerfield, Montague, Erving, Warwick, Orange and Northfield.

When Wolter began standing on Nelson’s property, she didn’t think others would join her.

Nelson’s land has now become a weekly meeting spot every Thursday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. where local residents share their thoughts and concerns, and protest the gas pipeline project in hopes of stopping it. Ten concerned residents joined Wolter in her demonstration this week, and seven came out last week.

The cause has even expanded outside of Northfield. Thursday, two people from Athol — Kay Gleason and Hattie Nestel — stood on the property line as well as Orange resident Mike Magee.

“We feel very passionately about this and that’s why we are here,” Nestel said.

“I disapprove of anything that isn’t solar,” Gleason said. “Just stop it.”

Now, Wolter wants as many people as possible to take an hour out of their week to support the fight against the proposed pipeline and compressor station.

“We want more and more and more,” Wolter said. “And eventually if this thing starts getting built, you will see bodies and bodies and bodies here, not allowing that equipment to go through. And when one person gets arrested, another one is going to take their place and if that person gets arrested, another one will take their place and they will be coming a long distance to do this.”

Wolter added, “You don’t say, ‘OK slavery is inevitable. It’s good for the economy. It gives us jobs, too. Maybe we can get a fire truck out of it, let’s make some nice regulations like giving them nice sleeping quarters’... No slavery. No pipeline.”

Wednesday night’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission environmental scoping session dominated the conversation among the protesters. Nestel, with others nodding in agreement, said the meeting shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

“They dumped (too many) pages on us that they wanted us to respond to,” she said. “There was no way somebody could have done that responsibly. It think it should have been illegal that they even held the meeting.”

Nestel said those who were against the pipeline brought up great reasons for their opposition.

“It’s sensible. You can’t go under the river; you can’t go through the streams, vernal pools, wetlands, trees, forest and trails,” she said. “And this compressor station is the bomb beyond all bombs.”

She also said the validity of the comments from those supporting the pipeline, who she claimed were mostly union workers, didn’t have much merit and were speaking “simplistically,” were “naive” and were “irresponsible in their position.”

“They have to think beyond themselves,” Nestel said. “They can have other kinds of jobs in solar and wind, which would be more productive, long term and less dangerous. These jobs, people are going to die here.”

Wolter agreed, and said construction workers aren’t the only ones who will gain job opportunities from the pipeline. Union workers in the educational field have also spoken up, and she wants to hear what other union laborers have to say about the project.

“Some of the people who would get jobs out of this are doctors and nurses, because it’s going to ruin our health,” Wolter said. “If there is a forest fire, oh, there will be a lot of jobs cleaning up and rebuilding houses; (There will be) lots and lots of jobs. At what price though?”

Magee joined the protesters even though the pipeline won’t have any direct effect on him. The portion going through Orange isn’t near his home, but he wants to support his neighbors who will be affected.

“This is democracy in action,” Magee said. “You can’t be silent. You can’t be a Stan Rosenberg; you have to speak out. Democracy only works if people speak, otherwise forget it. It doesn’t exist.”


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