Published in the August 27, 2015 edition
By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING — Further evidence that the North Reading Selectmen will continue to actively monitor the Tennessee Gas Pipeline project came Monday night when the board voted unanimously to become an “intervenor” in the pipeline approval process before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, (FERC).
By becoming an intervenor in the process gives the town formal standing, explained Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto once Kinder Morgan, parent company of the TGP project, files a formal application with FERC – something that is expected to happen soon.
An intervenor can be any interested party in the process, opposed or in favor of the project, Gilleberto said, but it conveys legal standing during the deliberative process FERC will undertake in determining the fate of the project application.
The town will be entitled to file comments with FERC at steps along the way and will be required to share those comments with other intervenors, who must do the same thing.
A meeting was scheduled in town hall on Tuesday with representatives of Kinder Morgan that will include T.A. Gilleberto, Selectmen Jeff Yull and town department heads for an update on the project. One of the pieces of information Gilleberto will be looking for is any changes in mapping to the project. In addition, Gilleberto, Yull and Selectmen Chairman Robert Mauceri were scheduled to attend a meeting in Congressman Seth Moulton’s office on Wednesday for another briefing on the project.
After last June’s informational hearing on the project, Kinder Morgan has returned to the town and asked for permission to survey town owned land. Gilleberto responded that it’s difficult for the town to grant permission considering they’ve altered the route again and the town doesn’t have all the new information.
Yull attended a major scoping meeting on the project in Dracut a couple of weeks ago and gave the board an update on the proceedings, which was heavily weighed in favor of project opponents. Dracut is the location where the main TGP pipeline would terminate and a smaller pipeline, called the Lynnfield Lateral, begins and heads south into North Reading.
Yull said the towns need more time to see the full intent of Kinder Morgan’s plans so they can have proper input.
Yull reassured the community that town officials and a regional municipal coalition are very involved in monitoring the project. “Our big key from the very beginning has been to protect the property owners and environment in North Reading. Those have always been the driving forces behind our involvement.”
Selectman Michael Prisco commented that he’s concerned to hear Kinder Morgan will submit their permit to FERC any day now. “A betting man would think they must have some insight to know they’re going to get approval from FERC. I’m not in favor of the pipeline in any way, but to me it seems like the train has left the gate on this thing. And this pipeline is going to be jammed down our throats.”
Prisco suggested the town should be “sitting across a desk from Kinder Morgan negotiating a deal to make sure these people (local residents) are made right” for the losses to their property values and the disruption the project is going to cause.
Chairman Robert Mauceri said the timing isn’t right yet, but agreed the Selectmen, on behalf of the town, have an obligation to protect the residents and make certain they’re properly compensated.
“Kinder Morgan wants something now,” Prisco elaborated. The town should see what they can get to benefit the residents now while keeping the pressure on at the state level.
Said Yull: “This is a local problem created by a national need that has international implications. It’s really a lot bigger than us.”