Franklin County towns create coalition to oppose natural gas pipeline

Last modified: Wednesday, October 14, 2015

GREENFIELD — A group of Franklin County towns that would be affected by the proposed Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline have formed a coalition dedicated to fighting the project.

Organized as the Municipal Coalition Against The Pipeline, the group met Tuesday night at the Greenfield Public Library to discuss its goals and strategies for opposing the proposed 415-mile-long, 30-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline.

It would pass through Plainfield in Hampshire County and Ashfield, Conway, Shelburne, Deerfield, Montague, Erving, Northfield and Warwick in Franklin County as it carries a projected 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas daily from Wright, New York, to Dracut.

The project, which is being reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has encountered considerable opposition from many of the towns along its route through Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. pushed back the date for filing its formal application for the project until Nov. 20, it announced late Wednesday.

The Houston-based company, which had expected to file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in late October, cited “increased interest” in the Pennsylvania supply portion of the project, and several modifications on the main line as well as lateral lines as reasons for the delay.

Tennessee Gas said the application will “incorporate several modifications to the route on both the main line and several delivery laterals resulting from continued dialogue with local community stakeholders.”

Despite the three-week delay from what had been planned as an Oct. 31 application for a Certificate of Public Necessity, Tennessee Gas said in a statement that it continues to anticipate the pipeline would be in service by Nov. 1, 2018.

The state attorney general’s office is preparing a study by Oct. 31 of the need for additional natural gas supply in the state. The “open season” for potential electricity-generating customers to express interest in contracting with Tennessee Gas extends through Oct. 29.

Coalition’s focus

Jed Proujansky of Northfield, who is acting as the new collation’s chairman, said it models itself on a group of New Hampshire towns that have taken a similar approach since Tennessee Gas rerouted part of its proposed path from central Massachusetts into that state.

Proujansky said the group’s focus will be to oppose and ultimately stop the pipeline from being built, instead of mitigating its impact during construction and operation.

The group hopes at least 55 other pipeline-affected towns will join the coalition, which would make it more likely that it would be granted intervenor status in state Department of Public Utilities and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearings related to the project, said Kathryn Eiseman, the director of the PipeLine Awareness Network for the Northeast, who was present in an advisory role.

Eiseman said a similar group has been active in Middlesex County over the past year.

Proujansky said any town is welcome to sign on with the coalition, and each will have one vote. The group will hold posted public meetings, he said, and no financial commitment is required, though some towns, including Northfield, have approved spending money toward the cause and others, including Ashfield and Deerfield, have established accounts to collect donations from residents.

Proujansky said the group plans to attend a public forum hosted by Tennessee Gas Pipeline from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Northfield Elementary School.


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