Hundreds of residents from three Northeastern states rallied against a proposed natural gas pipeline Saturday, saying that the proposal isn’t worth the possible damage a pipeline could inflict on the environment.
About 500 people attended the Stop The Pipeline Statewide Summit in Fitchburg, MA to learn more about the proposed pipeline and to speak out about their concerns of property and environmental damage that could come along with it. The proposal in question is Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Energy Direct project, which proposes expanding an existing natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to Wright, NY and from Wright to Dracut, MA.
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Elaine Mroz, a resident of Lunenburg, MA, helped organize the summit, which was attended by multiple state lawmakers and included presentations by the Conservation Law Foundation and other groups. Mroz told the AP that she’s worried about the impact the pipeline could have on her property, which is near the project’s proposed path.
“That’s kind of our family homestead, we know all the rocks and the trees,” Mroz said. She also said she doesn’t want to support a project shifts the Northeast’s focus more towards natural gas and less towards renewable energy.
“If we invest in this pipeline, it’s going to lock us into gas,” she said. “There are a lot of people here looking at how we can make a better energy policy.”
The summit is just the latest example of the opposition that’s been building this year against Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion in the Northeast. Critics say that the pipeline’s large capacity — it’s projected to carry 800 million to 2.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day — brings more gas into the Northeast than the region needs and heightens concerns about explosions. Many Northeast residents are refusing to let pipeline surveyors on their land, and 39 communities have passed non-binding resolutions against the pipeline. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) has also taken an interest in the pipeline, saying in October that he will make sure that Kinder Morgan and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are “completely transparent about whether this pipeline will be used to export the natural gas to foreign markets and that the interests of the people are put before the interests of the oil and gas industry.”
The summit also came at a time when the national debate over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is heating up. On Friday, the House passed legislation that authorized the construction of Keystone XL, which would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast of the U.S. This week, the Senate is expected to vote on an identical bill sponsored by Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu, who’s currently wrapped up in a runoff for her Senate seat with Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy. Landrieu is hoping that, if she can get enough of her Democratic colleagues in the Senate to support the bill, it will send a message to Louisiana constituents that she’s serious in her support for the fossil fuel industry. But if the pro-Keystone XL bill does pass the House and Senate, President Obama could still veto it — something White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest alluded to on Friday. The vote on the bill comes as Keystone XL’s route through Nebraska is still up in the air, due to an ongoing legal challenge over who in the state had the power to approve the route.