Article about the Lunenburg, MA FERC Scoping Meeting 8-12-15 (NH in High Attendance)
New Hampshire volunteers showed up en masse to support our neighbors in Lunenburg, MA during their Scoping Meeting with FERC on 8-12-15. You can read an article about the event here.
Residents, political leaders pan pipeline in Lunenburg
Sentinel & Enterprise
UPDATED: 08/12/2015 10:58:05 PM EDT
By Jon Bishop
LUNENBURG — Eric Tomasi, an environmental project manager for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission told attendees of a scoping meeting at Lunenburg High School Wednesday night that the agency has already received a lot of comments and information.
That didn’t change.
FERC held the scoping meeting to collect comments for an environmental impact statement on the Northeast Energy Direct Project, the proposed natural-gas pipeline that would run through the region. The pipeline is an initiative of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of energy giant Kinder Morgan.
According to Tomasi, the environmental impact statement is an analytical document that will take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts of the project and compare alternatives.
Many of the people who spoke, which included elected officials, said FERC should extend the comment period and consider what the environment means to New England.
Townsend Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan said that the Northeast Municipal Gas Pipeline Coalition, which includes communities such as Littleton, Andover, and Dracut, is “steadfast” in its opposition to the Northeast Energy Direct Project.
Members share significant concerns about its aspects — including the potential lowering of real-estate values and impacts on the environment, he said.
Which is why FERC should add more scoping meetings, he said.
Russell Pandres, who was there on behalf of U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, read a statement from the congresswoman, which said FERC should take constituent concerns seriously, especially because there has been a “long, determined effort” to preserve the landscape.
She, too, thought there should be more scoping meetings, Pandres said on her behalf.
Lunenburg Board of Selectmen Chairman Jamie Toale read a proclamation that said the board stands in opposition to the Northeast Energy Direct Project. One reason why: it goes against commitments to renewable energies, he said.
Emily Norton, a Townsend resident, said, “History is filled with examples of perceived needs resulting in short-sighted decisions that cause more harm than good.” The pipeline is not needed, she said. “We need a clean, safe drinking water supply,” she said. “We need freedom from our addiction to fossil fuels.” She said people “cannot survive without a habitable climate and an adequate food supply and clean water.”
“We need FERC to say no to a project that is wrong for the people,” she added.
The meeting also brought people from out of state.
Patricia Canaday, a resident of New Ipswich, N.H., said Kinder Morgan “has succeeded in blurring state lines in New England.”
Massachusetts and New Hampshire are now a “united village,” she said, noting that FERC should consider what the ultimate legacy of the project will be.
Maryann Harper, a resident of Rindge, N.H., said FERC should speak with “local experts” and listen to concerns.
“Please, FERC,” she said. “Make history and deny this project.”
But there were also union members in attendance who offered their support for the project.
Paul Goodrich, a member of the Laborers’ Union, said “it’s no secret that New England faces an energy crisis.”
Gas capacity constraints will hurt an economic recovery, he said.
And Frank Callahan, president of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council, said the project will create some 3,000 construction jobs, which will be an economic positive.
When asked about the meeting, Allen Fore, vice president for public affairs at Kinder Morgan, said the company welcomes public input and has responded to it, reworking the project to assuage concerns.
He also noted that the company has operated in Massachusetts for 60 years.
If people are interested in knowing natural-gas infrastructure, they only need to see what’s already in the state, he said.
He said a reason they’re expanding the pipeline is New England’s high prices.
“Remember: gas is used for more than home heating,” he said, noting that it also can be used to produce electricity.
“It’s an electricity issue. It’s a gas issue,” he said.
He also said it is still very early in the process.
“The formal review hasn’t even begun,” he said, adding that they are in the pre-filing phase.
“There will be extensive opportunities for public comment,” he said.
Tomasi told the Sentinel & Enterprise that people who live in the area know it better than he ever will.
“The purpose is to hear from the public,” he said. “That’s why we come out here.”
Though emotions are high, he said people have been respectful.
The Sentinel & Enterprise was not able to stay for the full meeting.
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