Mass Audubon Review of Natural Gas Pipelines
Mass Audubon opposes proposed natural gas pipelines (see No Pipeline Position Statement), that would have major environmental impacts on public and private conservation lands including properties “permanently” protected under Article 97 of the State Constitution. Such direct effects include habitat fragmentation and degradation. Mass Audubon has communicated its concerns to federal and state officials, and we continue to participate in the environmental review processes through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, and other agencies.
Mass Audubon is also engaged in the review of other natural gas pipeline expansion projects proposed in Massachusetts, including alignments that would impact Mass Audubon’s land as well as other state, municipal, and private conservation lands.
Our Key Concerns
- Proper evaluation of the need for expanded gas pipeline infrastructure
- Alternatives including energy efficiency, alternative energy sources, and alternative size and location of projects
- The relationship to the state’s greenhouse gas reduction targets established in the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act
Major Proposed Projects
Northeast Energy Direct
This project has been suspended as of April 2016. Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. had proposed a large new pipeline system that would run from NY through MA and NH delivering 1.2 billion cubic feet/day (bcf/d) of fracked gas from the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shales. In Massachusetts alone, over 100 miles of new pipeline would cross more than 100 parcels of protected lands, including Mass Audubon’s West Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary in Plainfield. Learn more about our engagement in this project
The Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. is also proposing a four-mile expansion of existing pipelines in southwestern Massachusetts, with the gas dedicated to serving CT customers. This project would cross lands that Mass Audubon assisted the Department of Conservation and Recreation in protecting in 2007 at Otis State Forest in Sandisfield. Learn more about our engagement in the project
The permit for this project was withdrawn in June 2017, essentially suspending the project. This decision was made due to lack of financing, following the Supreme Judicial Court decision prohibiting utilities from charging ratepayers for pipeline construction. Spectra Energy/Algonquin Gas Transmission had partnered with Eversource and National Grid on this expansion of 125 miles of Algonquin’s pipeline system. This project would have served gas-fired electric power plants. It included 26 miles of proposed new pipeline in Norfolk County including construction through Mass Audubon’s 100-year-old Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon. Other areas affected include Blackstone watershed communities along the 27 mile lateral from Medway to West Boylston. The project also includes another lateral and large new LNG storage facilities in Acushnet. Learn more about our engagement in this project
Mass Audubon’s pipeline project engagement
We signed a letter to all six New England Governors asking for full and public review of alternatives to meet the region’s energy needs (see Right-Sizing Infrastructure letter), and wrote to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey thanking her for undertaking a detailed assessment of electric reliability needs (see Electric Reliability letter) and providing recommendations.
We are working actively with our partners to engage with public officials at all levels.