Details needed in proposed New England pipeline

  • Sunday, August 3, 2014 7:26pm
  • News

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners wants to add a 30- to 36-inch diameter, 180-mile spur to its Tennessee Gas Pipeline between Wright, N.Y., and Dracut.

This additional natural gas may be needed in New England.

While the owner hasn’t identified a preferred route, land owners who live in northern Massachusetts have been getting letters requesting access to their property for purposes of a survey.

Realistically fearing that access to a survey means that a pipeline might run through their land as a fait accompli, many residents have denied the request. Ultimately, their denial may not do much other than stall for time. However, those denials do send a message to the pipeline owner that the spur isn’t going to be a welcome neighbor.

That is understandable.

Very few people would willingly buy a house or land that abuts a pipeline.

Slicing a swath across the northern tier of Massachusetts — in Franklin, Berkshire and Worcester counties ­— to place a spur of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline isn’t something that should be done if it can be avoided.

And it sounds like it can.

According to reporter Dan Warner, “When asked why Kinder Morgan doesn’t build the pipeline along an existing infrastructure route, such as the Massachusetts Turnpike, (Kinder Morgan spokesman Allen) Fore said the company is considering that option. He said there is a conflict between the amount of space the pipeline requires and the space the state wants to keep open.

“We will talk about the Mass. Pike in more detail,” he said. “We will talk about Route 2 in more detail.”

Pressed again about this issue on Monday, Richard Wheatley, Kinder Morgan’s director of corporate communications, said those routes are considered “alternate routing that is under consideration. We’re not prepared to get into detail.”

Let’s hear those details — both about the Massachusetts Turnpike and Route 2 ­— before those planning the spur cook up a plan to use virgin land in residential areas. With two viable east-west routes and wide rights of way acquired long ago, adding a third for the sake of a pipeline appears to be both unnecessary and disruptive to people and the environment, not to mention costly.

Why bother holding a public meeting if the spokesman can’t or won’t answer compelling questions?

— The Republican of Springfield (Mass.), July 29

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