State Senator Eileen M. Donoghue’s Comments on the Pipeline:
I hope this letter finds all is well. Thank you for your recent communication regarding the Northeast Expansion Project of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan. I appreciate you contacting me about this particular matter and sharing your concerns with me.
As you are well aware at this point, the Northeast Expansion Project has incited a great deal of conversation both in my district and across northern Massachusetts. The project would upgrade the current Tennessee Gas Pipeline system with 250 miles of new pipeline, additional meter stations, and modifications to existing facilities. The centerpiece would be a 180-mile stretch of pipeline cutting across the northern half of Massachusetts from Wright, New York to Dracut, Massachusetts.
Proponents of this expansion project maintain that it is the result of what many see as the Commonwealth’s growing dependence on natural gas. As traditional energy sources such as nuclear- and coal-powered plants close down across the state, natural gas has become a cheap, domestic alternative to meet the state’s electricity and heating needs. Consequently, gas pipeline expansion has been touted as a means to expand access to natural gas and to bring down, or at least stabilize, what are some of the highest energy costs in the nation.
However, as you and others have conveyed to me, this expansion would not come without considerable cost. Natural gas, as an energy source, can be relatively costly – and as our dependence grows, dwindling gas deposits could increase costs over the long term. Next, the pipeline, as currently drawn, would cut through 45 municipalities in the Commonwealth, affecting privately-owned properties, conservation land, and property values. Furthermore, this proposal calls into question our commitment to energy efficiency and renewable sources – including wind, solar, and hydropower – and how it could weaken with continued natural gas dependence. Finally, it is imperative to consider the adverse environmental and public health effects of the controversial gas procurement method of hydraulic fracturing. Energy procurement should not come at the cost of deforestation or the pollution of drinking water.
I have attended a number of meetings and forums throughout my district concerning this proposal. I have met with the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Maeve Vallely Bartlett, and officials from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to discuss the proposed Kinder Morgan project. I do not support this project and will work closely with my colleagues and all relevant state agencies to make certain that we are doing everything in our power to protect the rights and interests of my constituents.
Though the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) has jurisdiction over any application(s) submitted by Kinder Morgan –or any other entity for approval of a gas line expansion project, the Commonwealth has an obligation to conduct its own due diligence and public hearings once any application is made to FERC. I will continue to actively monitor and participate in this matter on a state level and will keep you advised of important developments.
Again, thank you for your advocacy and for bringing this important issue to my attention. Should you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (617) 722-6130.
Eileen M. Donoghue
First Middlesex District