Update: Kinder Morgan has altered the proposed route. It no longer runs thru Pine Island!
Another Update: Pipeline route now runs along through New Hampshire (as of December 5, 2014). We have also added two presentations from the Massachusetts Associations of Conservation Commissions and from the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments. See Town Opposition for those links.
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, is proposing a natural gas pipeline expansion that would run across the state of New Hampshire, cut through numerous conservation lands, and run across 5 rivers. The high pressure pipeline would run from Wright, NY to Dracut, MA. As part of the project, there will be lateral lines branching off that run to Lunenburg, Methuen, and Danvers, MA. The company is in the process of requesting access to numerous conservation lands and private property for the purpose of surveying for the pipeline.
MRWC has concerns with both the survey for the possible pipeline and the impact that the pipeline itself would have. The proposed pipeline would cross the Merrimack River at two points: between Merrimack and Litchfield, NH, and between Dracut and Andover, MA, and would cross many of the Merrimack’s tributaries. In addition, the pipeline represents a set back to renewable energy and supports the hydraulic fracturing method of extracting natural gas.
The Merrimack River:
The Merrimack is the only major New England river that is used as a source for drinking water and is one of the most threatened waterways in New Hampshire. An incomplete list of potential concerns is below:
-Surveying could stir up sediment near the drinking water intake for the City of Methuen.
-Drilling in the riverbed would disrupt fish and wildlife habitat.
-The survey process could release harmful chemicals from the Merrimack River’s industrial past in close proximity to the public water supplies of Methuen and Andover.
-There is a possibility of accidents associated with high pressure natural gas pipelines.
For these reasons, The Merrimack River Watershed Council opposes the pipeline and did not grant the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company access to survey Pine Island. Our letter is linked here: Letter to Tennessee Gas
What You Can Do!
The pipeline project is still in its early stages, so advocacy and action taken now can have an real impact. There are many different ways to let your voice be heard!
–Contact your state legislators (calling works best) and let them know your opposition and concerns. For those who want to write, sample letters can be found on the SPCC Groton’s website here. You can find your state legislator here.
–Deny permission for the surveyors to have access to your land for those whom are asked.
–Attend town meetings on the topic. Bring the subject up if it is not on the agenda for future discussion.
Further information on action you can take can be found here.
Resources for you or your Community
We have linked two legal opinions that can be used as resources for concerned citizens and groups. A guide on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certification process and the rights of all involved parties can give some guidance as to what can be expected throughout the process along with the steps involved. This was prepared by Attorney Carolyn Elefant and can be found here: Knowing and Protecting Your Rights When an Interstate Gas Pipeline Comes to Your Community. There will be variations from state to state, so there are some Massachusetts laws that may alter the process, but it is a good general guide. In addition, the law firm of Green Miles Lipton, LLP has published a memorandum for the Mount Grace Land Trust that explains some of the issues involving what surveyors can and cannot do on private land, as well as what protections conservation and agricultural preservation restrictions provide, and it can be found here.
It is very important to note that these links are to be used as informational resources only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney for legal advice in specific situations.
In responding to a request to perform a survey on your land, we have two examples of letters to respond with, one denying permission and one giving a qualified yes. It is up to the individual circumstances as to which letter to respond with, but care should be taken with a qualified yes to ensure that the qualifications and concerns of the land owner are clearly stated and understood by the surveying party. The examples are linked below:
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. is receiving strong push-back in several communities. Andover has issued a cease and desist order to the pipeline company regarding complaints from residents about representatives asking for permission to survey private property. The story was published in The Eagle Tribune and can be read here.
Two presentation were given at the CPTC meeting this year. MACC gave a talk on the local roles in the process, linked here, and NMCoG has a presentation on Land Use Regulations and Pipelines here: CPTC pipeline presentation NMCoG.
In addition to the MRWC’s opposition, many other groups have reservations about this proposal. Mass Audubon, the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition, Inc. (MLTC), and the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC) have all written letters to Governor Patrick.
A letter was sent to all 6 New England governors from over 100 different organizations entitled Right-Sizing Energy Infrastructure detailing other options New England can take to meet current and future energy demands.
Several groups of concerned citizens have begun to work in opposition to the pipeline project. The Dracut/Tyngsborough Pipeline Awareness Group have put out several pamphlets and two are linked here: About Kinder Morgan’s Pipeline Proposal and Questioning the Need for Dracut Pipeline.
There was a Pipeline Resistance Rally at Clarkdale Fruit Farms on July 11th with a great interview here hosted on the WRSI website. This was part of the Rolling March to the Statehouse that culminated at the Massachusetts Statehouse on July 30th. Coverage for the rally can be read on many media outlets. We have linked the Boston Globe’s article.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has penned a great Op-Ed piece for the Berkshire Eagle, printed the 12th of August, and is linked here.
Last edited: 13 April, 2015