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Gas Pipeline

Pipeline could hit walls in Warwick

WARWICK — A proposed natural gas pipeline may have a tough time getting through town, as it would have to go through bedrock, protected forests and the state Legislature to do so.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. has proposed a new transmission line that would cut through several Franklin County towns on its way from Albany, N.Y. to Boston. It would add onto the current 13,900-mile Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which brings natural gas from Louisiana, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeast, with branches extending to Boston and southern New Hampshire.

Warwick Town Coordinator David Young recently met with company representatives to discuss the segment of the proposed pipeline that might pass through the southwest part of town.

Young thinks the company will have a lot of work to do before it can break ground on the project.

“We’re all highly skeptical that the project will really have legs, given our knowledge of the local topography and physical environment,” Young said of himself and the Selectboard. “They’re going to have a challenging landscape to deal with.”

Young said part of the pipeline’s proposed route follows the aptly named Quarry Road.

“It’s named that for a reason. I’ve never seen so much rock,” Young explained.

While it could be a lot of work to blast through all that ledge, the project would also take a lot of paperwork.

The pipeline would also pass through properties protected by a “forever wild” conservation restriction.

“Probably half the land this would go through is state forest with conservation designations,” said Young. “I’m not sure what that will mean for the project.”

Young said it would take an act of the state Legislature to grant passage through protected forests. Then, the company would have to line up all the appropriate permits.

With so many obstacles in the way, Young wondered if the people designing the project considered the lay of the land before planning the pipeline’s route.

“The whole thing looks like somebody drew a line on a map and now they’re trying to figure out what it really hits,” he said.

Young said the company plans to have employees walk the proposed route in the spring, marking it with flags as they go.

“They’ll take back the evidence they’ve collected and see if it’s feasible,” he said. “If so, they’ll go to the landowners to get permission to bring equipment in and survey soils.”

With all that work to do before laying pipe, Young feels that it will be years before the project is under way, and the proposed route could change by then.

In the meantime, the town hopes to start a discussion about the pipeline among residents.

The town will screen the documentary “Gasland: Part II” at 6:30 p.m. March 8 in Town Hall. The film presents the viewpoint of those opposed to natural gas, including issues like hydraulic fracturing, the argument that natural gas is not as clean as proponents say, and potential long-term problems like well leakage and greenhouse gases from natural gas and its production. The film will be followed by a discussion period.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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