Letter: Pipeline a cause for concern

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Dear Editor:

Our town is now front and center in the current debate about how the commonwealth will meet its energy needs for the future. A Texas-based corporation, Spectra Energy, has proposed sending gas, pressurized to 750 pounds per square inch, through underground pipes measuring up to 48 inches in diameter. This pipeline will run through Canton from Cobb’s Corner to the Canton/Randolph border. Unless we get to the bottom of the real need for this pipeline, a significant number of residential properties will be needlessly impacted.

Surveying teams for this “Access Northeast Q-1 Loop” from Milford through Canton have visited homeowners saying that they are doing a study to see if this project is feasible, when in fact they are planning to file their application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in December. Once it is filed it effectively moves the hearings from our local municipalities to Washington, D.C.

I have been door to door visiting these homeowners trying to understand how it will affect them because I believe we need to solve the clean energy challenge now, not after we’ve invested in massive fossil fuel infrastructure. What I learned is that this project will cause irreparable damage to streets, driveways, and tree-lined landscaped yards.

In Spectra’s 16-page project overview, filled with words like “critical need” (which is the crux of the debate), “reliability” and “safety,” they crossed a line by co-opting the word “sustainability” from the environmental movement. In this case sustainability means that they will sell this gas to U.S. and other markets for as long as they’re subsidized and permitted to extract it.

Much of the overview contains legal details that would require the diligent scrutiny of homeowners whose properties will be affected. Unfortunately, less than a handful of these homeowners have received this information, which was not provided at the time of the survey but was handed out at Spectra’s one, insufficiently advertised public meeting.

The missing piece in this debate about critical need will be found in the energy assessment initiated by Attorney General Maura Healy, which is due out this month. In the meantime, there is a new coalition of statewide environmental advocates and clean energy stakeholders named Mass Power Forward (mapowerforward.com) that will help to balance the influence of expensive TV ads from the gas industry, again using “sustainability” to increase our acceptance of and reliance on their products.

This fall is being described as a crossroad, a turning point, an opportunity, as Beacon Hill is designing legislation for the energy future of the commonwealth. In today’s world these decisions are more complex than ever before and will have a greater impact than we can possibly imagine.

Find out where your elected representatives stand on energy issues. The general sense is that most municipalities have at least given tacit approval for Spectra to proceed. On the other hand, 55 municipalities in western Massachusetts have passed legislation opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline! Now is the time for us to learn all we can about these issues and make our voices heard!

Sincerely,

Pat Reilly

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avatar Posted by on Oct 15 2015. Filed under Featured Content, From One Citizen to Another, Opinion.
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