Erving pipeline hearing reveals surveying begun
ERVING — Both sides of the pipeline debate met in Erving on Tuesday, with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. presenting a slide show, which was followed by an often rhetorical question-and-answer session.
It also featured the revelation that survey work had already started.
In response to questions from a Warwick resident who said surveyors had denied working for Tennessee’s parent company Kinder Morgan, project land manager Mike Lennon said surveying has begun. “Starting this week, there has been some limited survey activity,” Lennon said. Lennon said all GPS points being set this week are on public roadways.
Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan public affairs director for the project, and representatives of Kinder Morgan subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. presented the company slide show and answered questions, with state Rep. Denise Andrews, D-Orange, presenting the opposition.
The Board of Selectmen requested the public meeting after hearing from residents opposed to the pipeline, and meeting moderator Tom Graves attempted to restrict comment and questions to town residents.
The proposed natural gas pipeline could cut through Erving and eight other Franklin County towns. Formerly the Northeast Expansion Project, the pipeline was to run from Wright, N.Y., to Dracut, but has since been absorbed into a longer proposed line. Now dubbed the Northeast Energy Direct Project, the proposed pipeline stretches back to Pennsylvania to connect to a line from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields.
Referring to the controversy over hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” Fore said a majority of the natural gas in the region is mined in this fashion.
“Currently, 60 percent of the supply is fracked gas in New England,” Fore said, adding this is expected to increase to 95 percent in 10 years.
The pipeline’s route, he said, is not final.
“It’s not a final route, it’s not a route even that has been filed with any public regulatory agency yet,” Fore said. Fore said the company is still preparing to file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, expecting to “pre-file” in October and file in Sept. 2015. “This is the precursor to a pre-filing process,” Fore said, a process which would include company and FERC public meetings. Fore said the company had heard there was a natural gas crisis in the region as electric generation moves away from coal and nuclear power, but doesn’t build on speculation and is signing on local distributors as customers with 15-to-20-year agreements.
Andrews said she has been unable to confirm there is a need for more natural gas. “From the questions I have asked and not had answered, we don’t know,” Andrews said. “It’s $2 billion and the current thinking is the $2 billion is on the rate payers.”
Andrews called the proposed route unacceptable.
Resident Ben Fellows said the proposed route bisects his land, and asked what he could do with the land if a pipeline were installed.
Lennon said the pipeline would carry a 50-foot easement on which no permanent structures could be built but which could be used for agriculture.
Erving resident and member of the historical and conservation commissions David Brule asked how the company intends to deal with conservation and agricultural restrictions, state forest, water and Native American and colonial cultural resources in town and how the route was selected.
Fore earlier described the route as more of a corridor. “We need to define by surveying about a 400-foot area,” he said.