3-11-2014 Meeting Notes – Organizing to Stop Pipeline

North Quabbin Energy Planning Meeting    —    Response to TGP Proposed Pipeline — March 11, 2014 Notes 

GOAL OF MEETING: Clarify process, identify next steps, and who is doing what?

1. WORKING GROUPS FORMED AT THE END OF MARCH 11 PLANNING MEETING

2. Organize Public Forum in April and invite Bruce Winn from Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT). Signed up: Maureen Blasco, Aimee Hanson, Pat Larson, Dave Small, Rene Lake-Gagliardi and Donna Caisse. (Mike Young, volunteer AOTV producer, will film)

  1. Work on Timeline, and Messaging – Denise Andrews and Cathy Stanto (Cathy Stanton will help later with messaging and possibly Mary King?)
  2. Communication with landowners. Signed up and working on – Rene Lake-Gagliardi, Aimee Hanson, Maureen Blasco, Betsy Alkins, Alan Berman
  3. Research Group to follow-up on Green Communities/Conservation and Conservation land – Bruce Spencer and Donna Caisse.
  4. Research on what’s going in other states – Jane LaPointe and Ivan Ussach.
  5. Media contact – Pat Larson plus ??
  6. Municipal Outreach. Sarah Wells and Jane LaPoint (In terms of networking Tom Wansleben will contact the Environmental League of MA and         other people are attending various meetings, etc.)

BACKGROUND INFORMATION.

MA Representative Denise Andrews reported that she has asked for more information from Governor Patrick and Congressman McGovern on the Tennessee Gas Company’s (TGP) proposed pipeline from Albany to Dracut. New England governors see serious need for more natural gas to the region. It’s reported that the gas is for domestic use only. Right now there are no facilities in MA that are able to export gas. Everett facility imports gas. Proposed construction is for 2017-18. TGP has not started permitting process. The route is the most practical for Dracut destination.  ~990 landowners on the proposed pipeline.  98% have been contacted for surveys and 40% have signed the permission to survey. Moving forward, TGP is reaching out to state, local and federal officials.   The pipeline will be 4 ft. below ground with a 50 ft. right of way. Basically, the pipeline will transport fracked gas.  Benefits:  tax payments to counties, laterals can serve other areas.

Oversight:  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversees and approves interstate pipelines. MA DPU may have a role. Process takes ~2 years.  FERC makes a decision based on whether project is in the public interest: environmental concerns, energy needs, etc. Federal law supersedes state law.

Another company, Spectra, is exploring the possibility of expanding a pipeline.

Other background comments:

-TGP appears to be targeting conservation and open space land for the line, and not going through existing utility corridors as company says it is.

– The situation in Ukraine could lead to a need for natural gas in Europe where the price of natural gas is much higher.

  TGP is coming to Ashburnham Selectmen’s Meeting, March 17 at 6:30 pm at Public Safety Building.  It would be good for people to attend.

-A representative of TGP will be coming to Royalston Selectmen Meeting.

There is a rescind sheet that property owners can use to rescind their decision to allow a survey

  1. QUESTIONS THAT PEOPLE HAVE.
  2. a) What is the safety record of TGP?
  3. b) Do we have a detailed map of the proposed route of the pipeline? Some towns have maps from TGP.  Warwick has a route plan because it goes through Town Forests.  BEAT has a somewhat detailed map.
  4. c) How many pipelines are they proposing for the East Coast?
  5. d) What other communities are trying to fight these pipelines? Go to nofrackedgasinmass.org for information on communities fighting this. People are fighting the Constitution Pipeline in New York right now. This pipeline needs to be approved before the MA pipeline can go through.
  6. e) Is the company liable for leaks and problems in the water?
  7. f) What is the timeline for the process and how much time do we have? Carolyn Elefant has a web site on the stages of the process. Suggestion to watch the Constitution Pipeline project in New York state as they are ahead of us in the process. During the pre-application process, we have a 6-month window when FERC takes comments from concerned citizens and communities.  TGP is required to hold hearings at this time.

CONCERNS/COMMENTS

  1. a) Fracking is not good. The public needs to stand up just like at this meeting.  This pipeline will be dangerous.
  2. b) Once they go to FERC, it’s basically a done deal. Now is the time to take action and make it difficult for the companies that are proposing pipelines.

NEXT STEPS/SUGGESTED ACTION  People at the meeting had many good ideas for future action on the pipeline proposal. The suggestions and comments have been divided into two sections from newsprint list:

 EE-Suggestions for Working Groups. These are not meant to be a charge to the working groups but to provide feedback from the meeting to each group

EEE-Suggestions for a future Organizing Committee. These suggestions and comments address some of the broader issues and concerns of the meeting.

SUGGESTIONS/COMMENTS RELATING TO WORKING GROUPS.

Organize Public Forum in mid April and invite BEAT speaker (Bruce Winn)

a) Bring AOTV camera to a public forum. Have a graphic to put up on who to contact and where to get information.

b) Invite a speaker, Bruce Winn (BEAT) to inform us and film it for AOTV.

Work on Timeline, and Messaging

  1. a) Have a group that defines success and identify priority plan. For example, go to New York to fight it first.
  2. b) We need a good sense of the timing for the process and what we need to do. There is a sense from other community meetings that the next few weeks are critical.
  3. c) Present something at Annual Municipal Conference on April 12 in Northampton. Senator Rosenberg organizes this.
  4. d) Create a “Big Message,” a one page paper for getting out the message and talking points.
  5. e) We need a unified message so that landowners aren’t getting confused. The pipeline company has deep pockets and knows how to mount their campaign.
  6. f) We need a unified letter signed by NQ citizens to all town select boards, planning boards and energy committees.
  7. g) We need to know what other groups are doing to fight this and join their message so as to not confuse people.
  8. h) Point out in the message that existing gas lines are leaking, they are dangerous, and the cost for the lost gas is currently being passed on to the consumer.
  1. Communication with landowners
  2. a) Figure out who’s been approached in each town and talk to these people.
  3. b) Make sure that land owners know about the rescind paper that property owners can use to rescind their decision to allow a survey.
  4. c) Landowners should be encouraged to post their property for No Trespassing.
  1. Research Group to follow-up on Green Communities/Conservation and Conservation land
  2. a) Deval Patrick is probably in favor of the pipeline, but he also supports Green Communities. Let’s ask the governor if conservation measure have been implemented first so that we don’t need fracked gas.
  3. b) We need to be “for” something as people want less expensive energy sources. We can’t just be “against” something as people won’t listen. It’s good to emphasize the conservation issue.   Different messages will resonate with different people and we’ll have to cover a range:  environmental issues, property values, dangers of pipeline, poor safety record of company.
  4. c) Conservation, Efficiency and Renewables present a positive message: Massachusetts has been going in the right direction, the pipeline is a step back.
  5. d) Provide a pie chart of conservation and renewables in the state.
  1. Research on what’s going in other states
  2. a) Be in touch with what’s happening in New York and Vermont.
  1. Media contact
  2. a) Facebook page.
  3. b) Put information on web site of northquabbinenergy.org.
  4. c) Create an email list so that this group can communicate.
  5. d) Link Ashburnham’s web site everyonesbackyard.org to North Quabbin Energy web site.
  1. Municipal Outreach.
  2. a) Have one or two people per town to contact press and keep track of who signed and who didn’t.

EEE-   OTHER SUGGESTIONS/COMMENTS

1) Who will be in the group to organize the campaign?

2) Think of people who are not here tonight that you can ask to help

3) Get more political and bring up questions at political and campaign events. Have a rally in front of the state house to let governor see the concerns.

4) Present campaign during North Quabbin Energy march in the River Rat Parade.

5) Write letters to the editor.  Stress positive action.

6) Write group and individual letters to the governor and other representatives. Mt. Grace Land Trust wrote a letter to oppose pipeline crossing conservation land.

7) Include a big push at the federal level.

8) MA has a role on progressive environmental policy.  Sometimes the states can say no to federal decisions.

9)  Go to TGP is coming to Ashburnham Selectmen’s Meeting, March 17 at 6:30 pm at Public Safety Building.

10)  Move fast and be vigilant.

11) Report on the track record of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company. Also, what’s the safety record for gas pipelines in other states.

12) How about involving the Environmental League of Massachusetts?

13) Follow up with protection of conservation land from the pipeline.

14) Gasland II will be shown in Athol on March 21 and in Royalston on March 28

Compiled by Judy Northup-Bennett