Harry Keramidas of Ashfield participates in a march protesting a proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline that would run from the New York border to Dracut, Mass. March participants were in Ashfield on Thursday, July 10, 2013
GREENFIELD - Those with concerns about the environmental impact of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline might want to mark July 29 on their calendars. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has scheduled a public hearing at Greenfield Middle School on Davis Street then for just that purpose.
The hearing, which convenes at 6:30 p.m., starts the 60-day process for FERC to compile a report on environmental issues. FERC has scheduled other public hearings before and after that date in communities along other portions of the pipeline, which is now called the Northeast Energy Direct project. The project would extend the existing pipeline 125 miles from the border with New York to Dracut. The 36-inch pipeline would have the capability of delivering 2.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.
Critics of the project note that it would enable Kinder Morgan, the parent company, to take rights-of-way through private property along the route. It also relieves the company of certain restrictions in building on conservation lands. New compressor stations to facilitate the flow of gas would be built in places along the pipeline, notably in Northfield, where an 80,000 horsepower one on a 242-acre site in Northfield would be among the biggest such facilities on the route.
The Northfield Selectboard is asking residents to submit written comments it can present at the July 29 hearing.
State Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, has said he believes much of the natural gas will be sold by Kinder Morgan to foreign markets. He introduced legislation that would pay land-owners along the pipeline route royalties for all such sales. However, Kulik was denied formal intervener status by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.
The Franklin County Council of Governments is seeking similar status with FREC, so it can file briefs, be heard in court in the case of an appeal and play a more formal role in the process. It can only apply after the formal application to build the pipeline is submitted.