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Gas Pipeline

Rally reaches Statehouse

Gas pipeline protesters meet with Gov. Patrick

  • Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline protest on Boston Common across from the Statehouse in Boston, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Energy company Kinder Morgan has proposed the $3.75 billion extension of its northeast pipeline through Massachusetts and says will provide clean-burning natural gas to the northeast. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline protest on Boston Common across from the Statehouse in Boston, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Energy company Kinder Morgan has proposed the $3.75 billion extension of its northeast pipeline through Massachusetts and says will provide clean-burning natural gas to the northeast. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline protest on Boston Common across from the Statehouse in Boston, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Energy company Kinder Morgan has proposed the $3.75 billion extension of its northeast pipeline through Massachusetts and says will provide clean-burning natural gas to the northeast. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline protest on Boston Common across from the Statehouse in Boston, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Energy company Kinder Morgan has proposed the $3.75 billion extension of its northeast pipeline through Massachusetts and says will provide clean-burning natural gas to the northeast. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Photo by Mike Deehan/Statehouse News Service <br/>Activists against a proposed natural gas pipeline through northern Massachusetts demonstrated outside the State House Wednesday morning.

    Photo by Mike Deehan/Statehouse News Service
    Activists against a proposed natural gas pipeline through northern Massachusetts demonstrated outside the State House Wednesday morning.

  • Seventy-seven citizens from Greenfield and surrounding towns rode together to Boston for Wednesday's rally against the gas pipeline.<br/>submitted by Emily Greene

    Seventy-seven citizens from Greenfield and surrounding towns rode together to Boston for Wednesday's rally against the gas pipeline.
    submitted by Emily Greene

  • Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline protest on Boston Common across from the Statehouse in Boston, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Energy company Kinder Morgan has proposed the $3.75 billion extension of its northeast pipeline through Massachusetts and says will provide clean-burning natural gas to the northeast. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline protest on Boston Common across from the Statehouse in Boston, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Energy company Kinder Morgan has proposed the $3.75 billion extension of its northeast pipeline through Massachusetts and says will provide clean-burning natural gas to the northeast. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • Photo by Mike Deehan/Statehouse News Service <br/>Activists against a proposed natural gas pipeline through northern Massachusetts demonstrated outside the State House Wednesday morning.
  • Seventy-seven citizens from Greenfield and surrounding towns rode together to Boston for Wednesday's rally against the gas pipeline.<br/>submitted by Emily Greene

BOSTON — An estimated 400 to 500 people rallied on the Boston Common Wednesday, bringing their “Stop the Pipeline” message to the Statehouse.

Speakers included local legislators, Reps. Stephen Kulik, and Denise Andrews, all opposing Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.’s proposal for a nearly 300-mile pipeline that would cut across nine Franklin County towns on its way to Dracut, north of Lowell.

Following the two-hour rally, five of its organizers met privately with Gov. Deval Patrick, Energy and Environmental Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett, calling for their opposition to the pipeline project and presenting them with two petitions.

Patrick told reporters Wednesday that he didn’t necessarily favor the TGP pipeline proposal, although he acknowledged all six New England governors have been promoting the need for additional natural gas capacity for the region.

“On this particular proposal, from what I know of it, I’m a little skeptical of it,” he said. “Because one wonders why they want to use a new right of way when they already have an existing right of way. I’m not one who believes we shouldn’t have any new natural gas.”

Patrick added, “All of us have talked about how as a region we work to bring electricity prices down and we do that in ways that are more energy-efficient and environmentally sensitive,” he said. “And large-scale hydro is one way to do that, offshore wind is another way to do that, and as a bridge to that future, additional natural gas.”

But he said that is “certainly not” an endorsement of the pipeline that TGP and its parent, Kinder Morgan seek to build. And while Kinder Morgan plans to file its preliminary permit application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission next month, the governor noted, “There isn’t actually a proposal in front of any agency at this point,” Patrick said. “It’s an idea that’s being floated.”

Kathryn Eiseman of Cummington, one of the organizers in the meeting, said Patrick said that he was willing to revisit the Massachusetts portion of a New England study that projected a severe energy supply shortage for the region, and how much of that could be met by reducing demand.

Eiseman said that rather than the utility ratepayers’ tariff broached by the New England governors to pay for pipeline, she and other opponents suggested that a tariff could encourage conservation and energy efficiency, furthering Massachusetts’ already aggressive position in promoting renewable sources and conservation.

One of the petitions presented, signed by an estimated 1,600 people, calls on Patrick to rescind his support for a proposed tariff on electric utility customers to pay for TGP’s $3 billion to $4 billion project, while a second — with more than 10,000 online signatures — calls for a ban on construction of new natural gas pipelines in Massachusetts and “to create and enforce more stringent energy efficiency standards and effective subsidies for energy efficiency,” as well as to promote localized, “distributed” energy sources.

The rally, for which organizers arranged buses from Greenfield and other points, as well as online ride-share posting, was “very enthusiastic,” said Jim Cutler of Ashfield, one of two Franklin County landowners along the route who addressed the crowd.

Ben Clark of Deerfield, who described how the pipeline would cut through his family’s orchard, Clarkdale Fruit Farm, along the path of 600 trees, also described how as a firefighter, he has grave concerns about their ability to deal with an explosion or fire on the pipeline.

Among other speakers opposing the project were Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust Executive Director Leigh Youngblood and Erinn Cosby, who read a letter on behalf of her parents, Bill and Camille Cosby of Shelburne.

“We honor your collaborative determination and strength to oppose the ... plan to penetrate our region with its toxicities,” the Cosby statement said, “and it has political allies; such as, all six New England governors. That is astounding. Those entities are clear examples of disrespect for humans, flora and fauna. Thank you for challenging its egregious, exploitive strategies to encroach this magnificent area.”

Also read was a statement from U.S. Rep. James McGovern of Worcester, the only member of the Massachusetts federal delegation to come out opposing the project he called “irresponsible.

“The proposed route was made with little consideration for the environment, cutting through land that has been permanently conserved by multigenerational farmers, individual land owners, and trusts and the Commonwealth ... I have heard — loudly and overwhelmingly — from constituents in opposition to the pipeline. If we allow a corporation to disregard conservation agreements and the voices of the people, what kind of example does that set? ... We say no.”

The “Fracked Gas Bomb Jazz Band” played as the last contingent of participants in a cross-state pipeline march arrived from Dracut, where the relay march officially ended on Saturday.

If there was a surprise to Wednesday’s rally, it was the announcement that, according to The Boston Globe, three members of the governor’s Global Warming Solutions Act Implementation Advisory Committee had resigned in protest of administration policies they say hinder the state’s goal of significantly cutting greenhouse gases, including its consideration of the new natural gas pipeline.

The news met with “a positive response from the crowd,” said Eiseman.

The currently proposed route for the 30-inch diameter pipe cuts through Conway, Ashfield, Shelburne, Deerfield, Montague, Erving, Northfield, Warwick and Orange. Another roughly 70 miles of smaller-diameter lateral pipeline is also planned for the various points along the path.

Representatives from Kinder Morgan last week held an informational briefing before a standing-room-only crowd of legislators and Statehouse staff.

“What we’re talking about is an expansion of an existing pipeline in Massachusetts,” spokesman Allen Fore told the gathering. He described the year-long public feedback process the company must go through.

(State House News Service contributed reporting to this article)

You can reach Richie Davis at: rdavis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, Ext. 269

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This is an excellent article.. and it sounds hopeful that our environment and state forests will continue to be protected and a blessed part of our homes. I am thankful for our Commonwealth and voices being heard. I recorded the rally in Boston through the facilities of Greenfield Community Television. The full video is posted Online: http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T00887&video=204935

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