Published in the October 28, 2015 edition
LYNNFIELD — Kinder Morgan, owners of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, has informed cities and towns the energy company intends to file plans for its proposed natural gas pipeline with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Nov. 20.
After Kinder Morgan files with FERC, Lynnfield has 21 days to file with the energy commission to become an “intervenor,” in the approval process, something the board voted to do back in August. As soon as Kinder Morgan files with FERC, the town can file as an intervenor the next day.
The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously last month to become intervenors in the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Project (TGP) known as Northeast Energy Direct (NED). Intervenor status gives the town legal standing during the deliberations FERC will undertake in determining the fate of the project.
AG urges FERC review
Attorney General Maura Healey urged federal regulators last week to undertake a rigorous review of the impacts of the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline before allowing the project to move forward.
In comments filed Oct. 16 with FERC, Healey renewed her call for a comprehensive evaluation of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) interstate gas pipeline to progress.
“This proposed pipeline would have a significant impact on local residents and the energy future of Massachusetts,” Healey said. “FERC should fully evaluate the need for this project in conjunction with other pipeline proposals for the region. My office will continue to play an active role in proceedings for this pipeline moving forward.”
The comments call on FERC to undertake a full assessment of the need for the NED pipeline in conjunction with other natural gas pipeline proposals for the region. As part of this review, AG Healey urges FERC to consider the results of her office’s regional study, which is due soon and will evaluate natural gas capacity needs and options to address regional electricity reliability in New England through 2030. AG Healey’s comments were submitted as part of the public “scoping” process for environmental review of the proposed pipeline project.
As proposed by Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, the NED project is a new 30-inch pipeline designed to deliver up to 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from Wright, N.Y. to Dracut at a total cost of at least $3 billion. As it’s proposed, about 64 miles of the proposed pipeline’s 188-mile length would be located in Massachusetts. The Lynnfield Lateral portion of the pipeline is 24 inches in diameter.
In Lynnfield, the project would affect Chestnut Street, Willis Lane, North Hill Drive and surrounding streets. The pipeline would also run through Lynnfield Center Water District (LCWD) property.
The proposal has had dozens of communities 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.
FERC is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil and reviews all proposals to build natural gas pipelines. Before FERC decides whether or not to approve a pipeline proposal, it conducts a review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) evaluating the project’s environmental impacts and considering reasonable project alternatives, taking into account the purpose and need for the project.
Healey offered the following scoping comments to FERC:
• Insist that FERC undertake a full evaluation of the nature and extent of the regional need for new gas capacity. In particular, the AGO urges FERC to consider the results of the AGO’s Regional Electric Reliability Options Study to be completed soon.
• Propose that FERC combine its NEPA reviews of several pending New England pipeline projects into a single process (a combined Environmental Impact Statement) to avoid piecemeal review, utilize a common analysis of regional gas demand and compare each project’s impacts and benefits.
• Place special focus on the need for FERC to scrutinize and condition any approval on adherence to two important Massachusetts policies – the protection of conservation lands under Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution and our state’s Global Warming Solutions Act greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
• Insist on a thorough review of the many environmental and socioeconomic implications of the project (including its impacts on important ecological resources, public safety and local communities) and all reasonable alternatives to the current proposal.
The AG’s scoping comments filed follow the office’s Sept. 22 letter to FERC raising concerns about the expedited state level process to approve contracts by three gas utilities for capacity on the proposed NED pipeline.