Northfield officials oppose gas pipeline
NORTHFIELD — The town has joined the growing list of communities that officially oppose the proposed natural gas pipeline through Franklin County.
The Selectboard approved a resolution against the Tennessee Gas Pipeline expansion at its Tuesday meeting. The pipeline is proposed to cross nine Franklin County towns on its way from Pennsylvania to Dracut.
The resolution states that the town opposes the project, and asks state legislators and the executive branch of state government to pass legislation to “disallow projects that go against our commitment to life, the environment, our economic wellbeing and personal safety.” It also encourages lawmakers to explore further subsidies for the development of renewable energy sources.
Selectboard Chairman John “Jack” Spanbauer said he opposed the project based on the town’s commitment to the environment through its support of open space, agriculture and conservation land. He also said the pipeline goes against the wishes of the townspeople, as seen in a recent public forum as well as the new town master plan, which places importance on open space.
“The master plan felt that conservation land and open space are a critical resource for moving the town forward,” Spanbauer said. “This pipeline is proposed to go through such land. For those reasons, I don’t think Northfield should be a host to the transmission line that would go through forest, wetlands, farmland and land under conservation restrictions, and permanently alter and disturb those lands.”
Selectboard member Tracy Rogers agreed that the people of the town overwhelmingly oppose the pipeline and, as their representative, she opposed it as well.
Rogers said that, personally, it was a tough decision.
“It is difficult for me to think about how many families could be fed on the work that this project would bring, or about how much electricity rates could go up for low income folks or elderly folks on fixed incomes,” she said.
The Laborers’ International Union of America has advocated for the project, saying it would bring thousands of temporary construction jobs to laborers across the state.
The six New England governors originally proposed that the pipeline project be subsidized by tariffs on electricity bills, though the Deval Patrick administration has since backed off on its support for the tariffs.
Though Selectboard member Jed Proujansky was absent from Tuesday’s board meeting and was unable to vote on the resolution, he authored the document that his colleagues approved.
One paragraph, authorizing the town secretary and town administrator to take action against the pipeline, was deleted before Spanbauer and Rogers approved the resolution. Spanbauer explained that neither position has any authority to block or stall the project.
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