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AG Maura Healey Wants Feds To Closely Scrutinize Kinder Morgan Pipeline Plan

Oct 21, 2015 07:38AM ● By Bill Gilman

Attorney General Maura Healey

(Editor's note: The following information was released by the office of Attorney General Maura Healey.)

BOSTON, MA -- Attorney General Maura Healey this week urged federal regulators to undertake a rigorous review of the impacts of the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline before allowing the project to move forward.

In comments filed October 16 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Healey renewed her call for a comprehensive evaluation of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) interstate gas pipeline to progress.

“This proposed pipeline would have a significant impact on local residents and the energy future of Massachusetts,” AG Healey said. “FERC should fully evaluate the need for this project in conjunction with other pipeline proposals for the region. My office will continue to play an active role in proceedings for this pipeline moving forward.”

The proposed pipeline would travel through dozens of Massachusetts communities, including a section of Tewksbury.

The comments call on FERC to undertake a full assessment of the need for the NED pipeline in conjunction with other natural gas pipeline proposals for the region.  As part of this review, AG Healey urges FERC to consider the results of her office’s regional study, which is due soon and will evaluate natural gas capacity needs and options to address regional electricity reliability in New England through 2030. AG Healey’s comments were submitted as part of the public “scoping” process for environmental review of the proposed pipeline project.

As proposed by Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, the NED project is a new 30-inch pipeline designed to deliver up to 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from Wright, New York, to Dracut, Massachusetts, at a total cost of at least $3 billion. As it’s proposed, about 64 miles of the proposed pipeline’s 188-mile length would be located in Massachusetts.

FERC is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil, and reviews all proposals to build natural gas pipelines.  Before FERC decides whether or not to approve a pipeline proposal, it conducts a review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) evaluating the project’s environmental impacts and considering reasonable project alternatives, taking into account the purpose and need for the project.

The AG’s scoping comments:

  • Insist that FERC undertake a full evaluation of the nature and extent of the regional need for new gas capacity. In particular, the AGO urges FERC to consider the results of the AGO’s Regional Electric Reliability Options Study to be completed soon.
  • Propose that FERC combine its NEPA reviews of several pending New England pipeline projects into a single process (a combined Environmental Impact Statement) to avoid piecemeal review, utilize a common analysis of regional gas demand, and compare each projects’ impacts and benefits.
  • Place special focus on the need for FERC to scrutinize and condition any approval on adherence to two important Massachusetts policies – the protection of conservation lands under Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution, and our state’s Global Warming Solutions Act greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
  • Insist on a thorough review of the many environmental and socioeconomic implications of the project (including its impacts on important ecological resources, public safety, and local communities), and all reasonable alternatives to the current proposal.
  • The AG’s scoping comments filed today follow the Office’s Sept. 22 letter to FERC raising concerns about the expedited state level process to approve contracts by three gas utilities for capacity on the proposed NED pipeline.

This matter is being handled by Melissa A. Hoffer, Chief of AG Healey’s Energy and Environment Bureau, Christophe Courchesne, Chief of the Environmental Protection Division, Rebecca Tepper, Deputy Chief of the Energy and Environment Bureau and Chief of the Energy and Telecommunications Division, Assistant Attorney General Paul Brennan of the Energy and Environment Bureau, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Ireland of the Environmental Protection Division, and Assistant Attorneys General Matthew Saunders, Christina Belew, Donald Boecke and Elizabeth Anderson of the Energy and Telecommunications Division.

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