Buckland petitioners heat up over pipeline
BUCKLAND — A proposed natural gas pipeline may not be running through Buckland, but opposition to the idea is.
Last week, three members of the town’s Energy Committee started a petition drive to get 100 voters’ signatures, so that a resolution to ban “fracked gas” pipelines could be placed on a June 19 special town meeting warrant. Although the group got more than 100 signatures within 24 hours, not all were from registered Buckland voters. The petition missed getting on the special two meeting warrant by merely two registered voters.
“Even though it wasn’t enough, we’re very encouraged that we had so many signatures from Buckland in such a short time,” said Energy Committee member Margaret Olin. “We’re not giving up and are in the process of developing our next steps. We hope to bring ‘A Resolution to Ban Fracked Gas Pipelines and to Champion Sustainable Energy’ to a special town meeting in the near future.”
As with at least a dozen other Franklin and Hampshire towns, those sponsoring the petition in Buckland hope townspeople will support a resolution to ban any pipeline carrying gas obtained through hydraulic fracturing and to champion sustainable energy.
The proposed resolution says the pipeline, such as that proposed to run through Franklin County towns en route to Dracut, goes against the state’s commitments to renewable energy and combating climate change. It warns that a high-pressure gas pipeline carries greater potential for leak, rupture or explosion, which would place a greater burden on local fire departments and a security burden to be handled by local police.
The resolution says the cost of the pipeline would require state residents to pay a utility bill tariff, “making ratepayers bear financial risk for the endeavors of a private corporation.”
The resolution calls for the town’s selectmen to oppose the Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s high-pressure gas pipeline and “not allow it within our town borders.” It further asks state and federal legislators to enact legislation or other actions “to disallow such projects that go against our commitments to life, the environment, our economic well being and our bodily safety ...”
If approved, copies of the resolution will be sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and to Massachusetts’ state legislators, congressmen and the governor.
Earlier this week, a group of Deerfield residents started a petition drive for a special town meeting, in which residents would vote on a resolution opposing the pipeline. In Shelburne, where part of the pipeline is to go, annual meeting voters supported a “community rights resolution,” saying the town should have the right to have public hearings and to approve large-scale energy-generating infrastructure, such as a pipeline running through town.
Ashfield has a similar Community Rights Resolution, which was moved from the annual town meeting to a special town meeting on June 23, so that residents can discuss it and hear from local legislators on the issue.
Two presentations about the Tennessee Gas Pipeline are scheduled next month in the Greenfield Community College Dining Commons. The first one is June 3 from 6 to 8 p.m., with presentations by two Berkshire County based environmental groups, the Conservation Law Fund and the Berkshire Environmental Action Team of Pittsfield.