Published in the December 24, 2015 edition


NORTH READING — Although it’s a step they’ve taken before, the Board of Selectmen formally voted Monday night to serve notice to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that the town of North Reading will become and Intervenor in the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline approval process.

The Board decided as far back as August it would file for Intervenor status, which gives the town legal status during the deliberations FERC will undertake in determining the fate of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, planned to cut a three–mile long swath through North Reading. The vote to file to become an Intervernor was unanimous.

According to the town’s filing, construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline will adversely affect North Reading in the following ways:

1. Expose the Town to public safety risks associated with natural gas, including explosion, pollution, ground contamination, and/or groundwater contamination.

2. Expose the Town to potential pollution of drinking water wells, including a well located within a few hundred feet of the proposed route.

3. Potentially reducing property tax revenues by reducing the valuation of private and other property, which could cause an increase in tax rates to make up for the lost revenue.

4. Adversely impact wetlands, do harm to regional habitat and species due to gas leakage, thereby negatively impacting the quality of life.

5. Reduce the amount of open space in Town by utilizing existing open space parcels for the pipeline route.

6. Reduce the value of Town-owned land by siting on or near such land.

7. Cause undue stress upon property owners and residents in Town, potentially affecting the health, well-being, and/or productivity of said owners/residents.

“Accordingly, the Town of North Reading has a direct and substantial interest in the above proceeding, as the Town will be directly impacted by the proposed project. The Town may be adversely affected or bound by a decision in this proceeding, and no other party can adequately represent the Town’s unique interests. Further, the Town of North Reading’s intervention is in the public interest, because the Town is responsible for the protection of the health and safety of all of its residents,” the filing says.

North Reading technically had until Dec. 31 to file to become an Intervenor after FERC published notice in the Federal Register on Dec. 11 that Kinder Morgan’s application for the NED project had been received and accepted. But the Board wanted to make a statement at their earliest possible meeting regarding the pipeline, which will cross over 40 parcels of land in town.

Local residents can also file with FERC to become Intervenors and can do so up until Dec. 31. Selectman Jeff Yull said there is a process for residents or others to file as intervenors after that time and the process can be found on the FERC website, although timely filing is highly preferred. Yull said he has already filed to become an intervenor as a private individual.

The purpose of the pipeline, according to Kinder Morgan, is to “meet the increased demand in the northeast United States for transportation capacity of natural gas.”

Selectmen Robert Mauceri stated the Board has taken no position on whether there is a need for additional gas supply in New England. The town’s opposition is related specifically to the path the pipeline will take and its disruptive, destructive route through North Reading.

“The pathway is concerning to all of us,” said Yull. “There are other routes that Kinder Morgan can take but they might be more expensive for Kinder Morgan.”