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Kinder-Morgan Ready To Submit Pipeline Plan To FERC

Nov 05, 2015 03:04PM ● By Bill Gilman
After years of planning and months of public meetings and feedback, Tennessee Gas, a subsidiary of Kinder-Morgan, is ready to submit a plan for its Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project.
According to Kinder-Morgan, the plan will be filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Nov. 20. From that date, individuals, communities and governing bodies have 21 days to apply to be "interveners" in the FERC approval process. If approved by FERC, interveners are kept up to speed on all developments in the approval process. They also have standing to file legal briefs in all related court procedures.
Last month, the Board of Selectmen voted to give Town Manager Richard Montuori permission to apply to FERC on behalf of the town to be an intervener. State Rep. Jim Miceli, D-Wilmington, recently did likewise. While Miceli, in his letter, took a strong stand against the pipeline project, Tewksbury selectmen have taken no position one way or the other.
According to Selectman Bruce Panalaitis, it has less to do with fence-straddling and more to do with a pragmatic view of the project and the process.
"We can't stop this whether we want to or not," said Panalaitis. "Regardless of how we feel, in the end, if we're going to serve our residents best, we need to have a working relationship with Kinder-Morgan to be able to (possibly) move the pipeline."
Officials are also hoping to help residents receive the best mitigation payments possible from Kinder-Morgan.
"We haven't gotten into mitigation dollars at this point," said Panalaitis. "But each time we meet with (Kinder-Morgan) we are asking them 'what have you done for (the residents)? What do they need from you?'"
Kinder-Morgan's most recent proposal calls for the pipeline to travel through numerous towns in western mass., up into southern New Hampshire and then back down into Dracut, where there is a terminal and compressor station. Several "laterals", or smaller pipelines, would then spoke out from Dracut to locations in Eastern Mass. One of those laterals would cross through a section of Tewksbury and Andover before running along a section of I-93 in Wilmington.
"Right now the plan impacts about 40-50 properties in Tewksbury," said Panalaitis.
While Tewksbury officials may accept the fact that the pipeline will be built, residents in Tewksbury and other communities are still hoping to defeat it, or at least slow it down.
Social media pages such as Tewksbury Pipeline Awareness and Andover Pipeline Awareness have become clearing houses for pipeline information and research sharing.
Tewksbury is also part of the Northern Middlesex Gas Pipeline Coalition, a group of communities working together to deal with the pipeline issue. According to Panalaitis, many of the communities involved are still hoping to stop the project.
Of particular concern to Tewksbury is a parcel of conservation land located off Bonnie Lane. The present pipeline plan cuts right through the parcel. Technically, running a company is not allowed to run a pipeline through Article 97 conservation land without State approval. Kinder-Morgan would need permission from the Massachusetts Legislature.
Whether or not that happens could depend largely on how the Legislature decides a similar issue this month. A different company is asking for permission to run a pipeline through a section of the Otis State Forest in Western Mass. The Legislature has scheduled a public hearing for Nov. 10.
Tewksbury officials, however, could find themselves in a bind. If the Legislature doesn't approve Kinder-Morgan's request, the pipeline project would not be abandoned. Rather, it is likely the path would be changed and could very well impact several more homeowners.
According to Panalitis, once FERC receives the plan from Kinder-Morgan, the approval process will take several months. Kinder-Morgan is hoping to begin construction in late 2016 or early 2017.

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