You’ve probably heard about at least one of the new natural gas pipelines proposed to cut across Massachusetts. Increased natural gas capacity is often touted as a “clean” way to meet Massachusetts’ growing energy needs. But according to the Attorney General’s office, Massachusetts can meet its energy needs and lower costs without building new pipelines, through strategies like increasing energy efficiency and reducing consumption during peak demand times.
Mass Audubon agrees that additional natural gas pipeline capacity is not the best option for meeting our long-term energy needs. We oppose a number of proposed pipelines that would have major environmental impacts on public and private conservation lands and wildlife habitat, including some of our own sanctuaries.
We are also concerned about some of these projects’ compliance with state and federal environmental standards. In some cases, even properties that have been designated for “permanent” protection under Article 97 of the State Constitution are at risk.
We have been participating in the public review process for three proposed projects to voice our concerns and encourage alternatives to be considered:
- The Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. Northeast Energy Direct project would have cut through our West Mountain wildlife sanctuary in Plainfield. After suspending work on the project last month, Kinder Morgan has now withdrawn its application, effectively killing the project. The company cited inadequate commitments from prospective customers as the reason for the withdrawal. Although this is good news, other projects around the state are still moving forward.
- The Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. Connecticut Expansion project would involve a four-mile expansion of existing pipelines in southwestern Massachusetts. This pipeline would cross lands that Mass Audubon assisted the Department of Conservation and Recreation in protecting at Otis State Forest in Sandisfield (learn more on that here). We supported the Attorney General’s defense against the project in court. Update: While the project is still moving forward, AG Healey successfully negotiated for compensation to the state for conservation land taken by eminent domain during its construction. The company will pay $640,000 to the state, and identify and acquire additional conservation land “that provides ecological functions equivalent to the land impacted by the pipeline” such as the nearly two miles of pipeline through pristine Otis State Forest.
- Spectra Energy/Algonquin Gas Transmission is partnering with Eversource and National Grid on the Access Northeast project, which would expand 125 miles of Algonquin’s existing pipeline system. It includes 26 miles of proposed new pipeline in Norfolk County including construction through Mass Audubon’s 100-year-old Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon.
Learn more about our work in opposition to these projects at: www.massaudubon.org/pipeline