LINE EXPECTED TO CARRY FRACKING GASES
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P., intends to add a new and larger gas pipeline through northern Columbia County as part of a Northeast Expansion Project. So far the proposal to expand Tennessee Gas Pipeline has received only cursory attention from the local media and public officials, even as neighbors in a nearby county have started organizing their responses.
According to revised maps issued without fanfare by the company, the pipeline would follow existing rights-of-way through Chatham, New Lebanon and Canaan. The route (depicted above) is not set in stone, according to some reports, but would run roughly midway between I-90 and Route 20.
The company projects that construction would begin in April 2017.
The project is understood by some, including supporters, as a boost to the fracking industry. Industry trade publications have gushed about the possibility. In February, Capital New York reported that “The pipeline would mark a significant expansion of fracked gas to the Boston region,” while indicating that some use of eminent domain to obtain additional land for the expanded pipeline.
Public officials in at least one town outside Columbia County received letters about the pipeline expansion in January. One such letter read:
“Tennessee anticipates that it will be able to locate a significant portion of the pipeline adjacent, or generally parallel, to existing pipeline and electric utility corridors…”
The letter further indicates that
“Tennessee plans to explore this effort with interested stakeholders, including landowners, elected officials, and local governments and their residents, as well as the appropriate state and federal regulatory agencies. Tennessee will begin to contact landowners along the proposed project route in the coming weeks.”
However, though that letter went out in early January of this year, scant attention has been paid to the expansion in the Columbia County media. The following brief note was buried in a Chatham Courier article whose headline concerned two unrelated Chatham issues on Janaury 23rd:
Each board member received a letter from the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company concerning an expansion project. The letter provided an overview of the project, stating that approximately 250 miles of new pipeline would be installed.
“The pipeline was all new to us. I’m thinking our current approach is to follow along with developments on the proposed expansion project and see what transpires,” DeGroodt later stated.
The board plans to get more information about the project and will remain informed in terms of what impact this will have on the town.
Even less prominently, the Columbia Paper included only a bland, one-paragraph note at the very end of a long report on the same meeting.
By contrast, a story in today’s Berkshire Eagle by Clarence Fanto reports on citizen concerns in Richmond and Lenox, and indicates that Berskhire officials are monitoring the proposal closely. A group called No Fracked Gas in Mass has put up an extensive website detailing its goals, including the overall reduction of reliance on fossil fuels.
The pipeline’s Route 66 Compressor Station (#254) in Chatham near Riders Mills was the subject of a 50-year PCB cleanup project which ended in 2012.
No response has been received as of press time to an inquiry sent Monday morning to Kinder Morgan p.r. rep Allen Fore, asking about the status of the project, the extent of the work which it would entail, and what contacts the company has had with officials in our area.
Residents with questions might want to try contacting Mr. Fore directly as well, by phone at (630) 725-3044 or by email.