Watershed association scolds Tennessee Gas Pipeline report for lack of transparency

Last modified: Tuesday, July 28, 2015

On the eve of the region’s first federal public hearing on Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct project, the company’s most recent report has come under heavy criticism from the Greater Northfield Watershed Association.

The association wrote to FERC in response to Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s release of a 79-volume report Friday about the 400-plus-mile pipeline that would cross eight Franklin County towns. The Greater Northfield Watershed Association has also joined in calling for postponing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s scoping process for an environmental impact statement on the project “until citizens can make a meaningful reading of the documents.”

FERC’s public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Greenfield Middle School. A similar hearing will be held in Pittsfield’s Taconic High School Tuesday at 7 p.m. Written comments will be accepted through Aug. 31 with the agency.

One of Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s resource reports, “Site-Specific Horizontal Directional Drill Plans,” contains four blank pages, one of which says simply, “Site-specific horizontal directional drill plans will be provided in the final ER,” scheduled for October.

The watershed association says in its letter to the commission, “Most information about compressor stations during operation are still deferred to the final draft. This is of great concern to the Greater Northfield Watershed Association.” The association calls for the environmental impact statement to include in-depth studies on geology of the pipeline route, the potential for contamination of wells and surface water sources, full disclosure of contents of and protocols for liquid condensates from the pipeline, and assurances that herbicides will not be used along watersheds.

“We feel that the recent Resource Reports were lacking in specifics about compressor stations, which present a host of risks to watersheds beyond those of pipeline construction and operation alone,” writes association President Andrew Vernon. “The GNWA feels that simply because the powerline (right of way) happens to be on a ridge above our town, that does not imply that it is a good spot for a compressor station.”

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst, along with the Massachusetts Audubon Society and the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, have called for a delay of the scoping process because there has been insufficient time to respond to Friday’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline report.


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