by Ben Linthicum, Team Leader for the Western MA team
Ben Clark, of the Clarkdale fruit farm in rural Ashfield, Massachusetts, points to a line of gently swaying orange balloons dotting across an orchard and tells me that’s where they’re trying to put the pipeline. Kinder Morgan is going to cut a 100 ft swath through the whole farm, resulting in an immediate loss of 600 fruit trees. It would cripple their farm.
Kinder Morgan’s proposed “Northeast Energy Direct” of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline system would transport fracked natural gas across the state of Massachusetts to export terminals on the east coast of North America.
Ben Clark’s story is but one in thousands of those who will be affected by the pipeline. One county over in Cummington, Polly – another resident whose yard the proposed pipeline would go through – showed me her lush, sprouting vegetable garden. She tells me if that pipeline goes in, she won’t be able to keep her garden. She wouldn’t want her children and grandchildren eating vegetables out of there that could absorb toxins leaked from the pipe. She is concerned about endocrine disruptors contained in the fracked gas like naphthalene, cumene, diethanolamine, and others. Endocrine disruptors adversely affect the body’s developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune systems.
Unfortunately, you don’t have to have the pipeline going through your yard in order to be impacted by it. The New England governors have proposed a tariff on all electrical ratepayers’ bills to pay for the pipeline’s construction.
In what feels like a cruel infomercial – But wait! There’s MORE! – according to Kinder Morgan’s internal documents, the pipeline will transport gas to export terminals in order to be sold on international markets where the cost of gas is higher. Once exposed to international markets, the domestic price of natural gas will also increase. New England will be paying more to pay more.
But wait – there’s more! Kinder Morgan claims the natural gas would be used to help Massachusetts fill an alleged shortfall in natural gas electrical generation. There is no shortage of gas. Even during the recent polar vortex last winter, there was enough gas for heating, cooking, electric generation, and selling to New York State while still maintaining 9044 megawatts of excess energy. Should this pipeline be built, we will be paying more, to pay more, for something we don’t need.
Back on Polly’s property, she guided me through the peaceful pine grove that would be cut down if the pipeline was constructed. She tells me if it comes to it, she’ll cut down these trees by herself and have solar panels put in so that the company will have to move them or go around them. She continues by saying, “It’s not just about my land being bulldozed. It’s about the big picture – so my grand-kids can enjoy it.”