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Gas Pipeline

Reps. Mark, Kulik voice opposition to gas pipeline

Five more western Massachusetts legislators have come out publicly against the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline project.

Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, along with Reps. Paul Mark, D-Peru, Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, and William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, issued a joint written statement Friday declaring their opposition to the Northeast Direct pipeline, which would cross nine Franklin County towns. Rep. Denise Andrews, D-Orange, has also declared her opposition to the natural gas pipeline project.

“As legislators representing communities to be impacted by the proposed Tennessee Gas/Kinder Morgan Northeast Direct gas pipeline, we want to make our opposition to the project clear,” the five legislators said in their statement. “We oppose the project for environmental, economic, public safety and public health reasons. In recent months we have heard a message of overwhelming opposition from our constituents, on those grounds and others. We have performed our due diligence and met with various state agencies, project proponents, environmental organizations, local laborers and our constituents to better understand the project, all issues surrounding it and state government’s role in the process.

“While it is clear the ultimate power in permitting and approving the project rests with the federal government, in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), it is our responsibility as state legislators to speak for our communities. As such, we have come to the conclusion that while building the Northeast Direct Gas Pipeline would provide the economic benefit of providing good jobs with good wages for local labor, the project as a whole is not in the public interest. We can and should do better.”

The position of the legislators could become critical because a two-thirds vote of the Legislature is required by a Consitutional provision for any project that would affect land protected by the commonwealth.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk also added his name to the list of state candidates opposing the project, calling it “a bad deal for the people of the Commonwealth.”

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Don Berwick and Democratic attorney general candidate Maura Healey have already come out opposing the project.

Falchuk, who is United Independent Party candidate for governor, said, “While burning natural gas generates less greenhouse gases than other fossil fuels, Massachusetts already is overly reliant on natural gas for electricity generation. I believe we must work to generate as much of our energy needs as possible here in Massachusetts. Our energy supply must be resilient, diverse, predictable and consistent with our responsibilities under the Global Warming Solutions Act, and aligned with the opportunities of the growing renewable energy sector.”

He added, “The substantial takings of private land, and the disruption of local communities that this pipeline would bring, are unacceptable costs.” And he called for a strategic approach to supporting the energy needs of the people of Massachusetts and a 21st-century economy. A massive, long-term investment in infrastructure for the transport, consumption and sale of natural gas is inconsistent with these goals.”

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