Pipeline builders face off with Bay State homeowners

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/01/20/pipeline-builders-face-off-with-bay-state-homeowners/

BOSTON – Hundreds of area residents are threatening to disrupt a proposed gas pipeline project that promises to increase the supply of natural gas to the Northeast, but which could infringe upon the property rights of homeowners.

More than 400 homeowners in the North Shore and Merrimack Valley area are refusing to allow workers from the Kinder Morgan-Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company onto their property in order to conduct preliminary analyses.

The company is asking the Massachusetts Department of Utilities to allow workers access private property in order to conduct surveys, environmental impact studies and soil consistency tests, Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. reported Tuesday.

Property owners have been refusing the workers access to their land, officials of the Texas-based firm told the utility department.  But the company’s plea for the state’s help has angered project opponents, who have called the move greedy and disrespectful.

“I don’t want them on my property,” Andover homeowner Thomas O’Brien, who refused the company access, told the newspaper group. “I’m concerned about the impact on the environment and my property values. And the recent studies have shown that we don’t need more natural gas. I think the company is resorting to heavy-handed tactics.”

Proponents of the project claim that the pipeline, which would transport gas from Pennsylvania along more than 400 miles throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, would help meet increasing demand and reduce energy costs throughout New England.

But environmental activists say that any reduction in energy prices is outweighed by the increase in carbon emissions caused by natural gas and by the potential impact on surrounding ecosystems. Some project opponents also express concern the pipeline extension will actually export gas abroad.

The current dust up primarily involves opposition by residents of affected communities. Multiple Massachusetts towns, including North Reading, Concord and Deerfield have passed municipal ordinances to ban surveying for the project, while others like Peabody and Lynnfield are fighting to ban the pipeline entirely.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is currently reviewing the project application.

The state utility department has asserted their power to permit the company to work on private property, but invited homeowners to submit concerns in writing or attend one of the department’s public hearings being held throughout March and April.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis