WINDSOR, Mass. (AP) — A proposal to build a new pipeline carrying natural gas is stirring criticism in Massachusetts, where more than a dozen towns near the potential path of the 250-mile line have passed resolutions against the project.
The plan, which calls for expanding a pipeline system that already stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeast, stems in part from a push by the six New England governors to boost the region's supply of natural gas.
A section of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline already enters the state at the New York line and runs along the edge of southern Massachusetts. The proposal by pipeline operator Kinder Morgan Energy Services of Texas calls for a new section to be built along the northern part of the state, ending in Dracut, north of Boston, where it would connect with a network of transmission lines owned by other companies.
Opponents have raised concerns about potential risks to the environment, including state forests and wildlife management areas, as well as the effects of the hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking, used elsewhere to extract gas by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals.
On May 19, the Berkshire Hills town of Windsor became the 14th municipality in the state to vote against pipeline-related projects after surveyors requested access to residents' properties as part of the siting process.
Most of the votes were nonbinding resolutions approved by residents, although the City Council in Northampton approved an anti-pipeline measure on May 15. Deerfield officials passed a resolution on April 28 denying access to town-owned land for project surveyors.
"We've got to be the squeaky wheel," said Janet Bradley, a retired high school environmental science teacher in Windsor, who said she is concerned about the possibility of accidental releases of gas or chemicals used in the fracking process. She said the municipal votes likely won't do much to stop the project — jurisdiction lies with the federal government — but she hopes they send a message to officials and utility executives.