Published in the November 5, 2015 edition


LYNNFIELD — Massachusetts and New England needs more natural gas and the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline is a step toward solving the problem, Kinder Morgan Vice President of Public Affairs Allen Fore said in an interview with the Transcript at a community meeting held at Spinelli’s Function Facility in Lynnfield Oct. 29.

The proposed NED pipeline, known as the Lynnfield Lateral locally, will is 24 inches in diameter. Kinder Morgan wants to bring the natural gas pipeline into Massachusetts and New Hampshire from the Marcellas Shale region of Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

The proposal has had dozens of communities in each of the states impacted up in arms as private homeowners, landowners, businesses and government entities alike push back against the private company’s request to survey properties that would be encumbered by permanent easements along its meandering route.

In Lynnfield, the pipeline would enter the town from the Wilmington line and traverse 42 separate parcels of land, 28 of which are privately owned and 14 of which are town land.

Kinder Morgan held the meeting as it prepares to file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by Nov. 20. After Kinder Morgan files with FERC, North Reading has 21 days to file as an “intervenor,” in the approval process. Intervernor status gives the town legal standing during the deliberations FERC will undertake in determining the fate of the project.

Fore said the purpose of the forum was to inform residents about the NED pipeline.

“We have had 100 public meetings on this project all across the five states involved with the project,” said Fore. “These community forums are a good way for folks to come in an informal way to talk to experts in various areas of project development. The people here are actually doing the work on the pipeline. They have experience and understand the issues related to the project.”

Fore said the purpose of the NED project is to lower natural gas prices in New England.

“We are developing this project to bring additional natural gas to New England,” said Fore. “We have delivered natural gas to New England for over 60 years on our existing Tennessee Gas system. We are talking about expanding this system to address additional gas supply needs for the region. New England has the highest energy prices in America because there is a restrain on natural gas supply coming into the region. We are developing this project for local distribution companies who bring natural gas to homes and businesses so New England can enjoy the cheap benefits of natural gas that states all around New England enjoy.”

Fore also disputed recent reports Kinder Morgan is planning on selling natural gas transported through the NED pipeline to Europe. He said natural gas needs to “pick up the slack” because nuclear power plants such as Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant and Pilgrim Power Plant have or will be shutting its doors.

“All of the natural gas contracts we have signed with customers like National Grid, Columbia Gas, Berkshire Gas and Liberty Utilities are for domestic use,” said Fore. “We want to supply additional natural gas to the region. We are talking about a year round need for natural gas. It will help stop those price spikes that lead to the highest prices in the nation. That is the goal for this project.”

When asked why Kinder Morgan does not use it’s existing pipelines to transport natural gas to Massachusetts and the rest of New England, Fore commented, “Existing pipelines are full. That is the problem.”

Fore also said Kinder Morgan is “familiar with operating pipelines safely without impacting water quality and aquifers” because the company operates 600 miles of pipeline in Massachusetts. He tried to alleviate concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the Ipswich River and local water supplies.

“We need to secure permits from regulatory agencies,” said Fore. “We are working closely with all levels of government to make sure our pipeline is constructed safely and is as least impactful as possible. And if there are adjustments we need to make to satisfy those requests, we are certainly willing to look at doing that.”

Fore also stood by the company’s safety record. The U.S. government cited Kinder Morgan in 24 incidents, which led to five enforcement actions, from 2006-2014. He said those types of incidents are “rare.”

“We have 85,000 miles of pipe we operate across North America,” said Fore. “We are the largest midstream company transporting all types of products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and natural gas, and pipelines are the safest way to transport those products. But that doesn’t mean incidents don’t happen. We are proud of our safety record. If there is an incident, what we do immediately is alert the appropriate authorities to make sure the incident is addressed. One of our company mottos is ‘do the right thing everyday,’ and we are working very hard to make sure our pipelines are operating safely.”