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Warren calls out FERC on pipeline

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Recorder Staff
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
*Archive Article*
SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren took a much stronger stand against the proposed Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline project that is planned to pass through much of Franklin County during a speech in Springfield Monday, calling out the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that will have the final say in whether the project is approved.

Warren spoke of how regulatory agencies that she helped create, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, have helped American consumers in the financial sector, as an example of how regulatory agencies can do good work.

“We need all of the parts of government working on our side, and that includes FERC,” she said. “And that’s what we’re going to do.”

“Western Massachusetts needs a good federal partner. Sometimes what being a good federal partner is about is making sure we get some of the resources out of Washington and get them here,” Warren said. “But it’s also about whether the federal government listens to the people on the ground and protects their interest rather than the interests of the richest and the most powerful. In no place is that distinction clearer than it is with the pipeline.”

That declaration led to a lengthy applause from the audience, many of whom carried signs and placards with anti-pipeline slogans on them.

“We stopped them the first time, and we’re gonna make sure that next time around they hear all of our voices, right here in western Massachusetts,” she continued.

When a member of the audience shouted “Investigate FERC!” Warren responded, “I hear you,” eliciting another applause.

The NED pipeline, proposed by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. and its parent company Kinder Morgan, Inc., pass through eight Franklin County towns on its 400-plus mile long route from Pennsylvania’s shale gas fields to Dracut, north of Lowell. The 1.2 billion cubic-foot capacity pipeline is expected to be operational in November 2018 if approved by FERC.

It has spawned a substantial number of opposition groups since it was announced in 2014.

Rosemary Wessel of No Fracked Gas in Mass, a Cummington-based opposition group, was at the event. She expressed support for the Massachusetts Democrat’s views.

“Up until now, she’s only said she’s against the Kinder Morgan NED pipeline ‘as currently proposed,’ which left a lot of wriggle room,” she said “That was almost two years ago by now.”

Kathryn Eiseman, the president of the Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast, said she’s glad to see Warren taking more of stand on the project, and looks forward to working with her.

“I’m glad to hear her addressing the pipeline issue head-on,” Eiseman said. “I hope she meets with constituents in the eastern part of the state too. I want to make sure politicians across the state understand that this pipeline route stretches all the way to the north shore, with new infrastructure in 30 communities across the Commonwealth.”

Eiseman said she agrees the federal government should be a partner in the approval process.

“There’s been a push nationwide for a Government Accountability Office review of FERC and how it operates, since it receives its budget from the industry it’s supposed to regualte,” she said. “If it’s a captured agency, it’s not doing it’s job.”

You can reach Tom Relihan at:
trelihan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264
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