On December 29, 2016 the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office announced that, on behalf of the Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), they reached a settlement with Kinder Morgan for the pipeline Right of Way through Otis State Forest in Sandisfield.
Though several press sources (i.e. Berkshire Eagle, WWLP) are reporting the CT Expansion compensation package at $1.2 million, that number is somewhat inflated. Aside from the actual $640,000 to be paid to the state, it includes the maximum amount that Kinder Morgan would legally be required to pay for compliance with state’s environmental protection requirements including hiring and environmental monitor and other costs not related to compensation for the land.
The breakdown of the actual $640,000 agreement is:
(1) about $40k that represents the newly agreed-to value of the temporary and permanent easements;
(2) $300k that was agreed to by Secretary Beaton over one-and-a-half years ago as payment into a conservation fund (instead of strictly following the EEA’s “no-net-loss” Article 97 land disposition policy);
(3) another nearly $240k also agreed to by Beaton at the time, to cover the anticipated adverse impacts from construction; and
(4) an additional $60k, apparently primarily to address the destruction that will occur at the Spectacle Pond boat launch when KM clears the spot to make a staging area for its hydrostatic testing operation (pumping over a million gallons of water from the pond to check the pipe for leaks).
This settlement does not affect the current appeals to the 401 Massachusetts Water Quality Certificate that are pending in state and federal court. Hearings for these appeals are coming up later in January, and one at the Berkshire Superior Court in February.
» Read more about these appeals at plan-ne.org
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
• SPEAK OUT
Keep up with our Act Now page on ways to take action, from contacting the Governor and AG, to helping steer CT State policy away from creating the “need” for the pipeline.
WAYS WE’RE FIGHTING BACK:
• LEGAL APPROACH
No Fracked Gas in Mass and our parent group, Berkshire Environmental Action Team are currently working with Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast on the legal battle. We’re have formal appeals of the Massachusetts 401 Water Quality Certificate in the state and federal courts right now. This is really the last legal challenge standing in the way of work being done on the pipeline. We’re raising funds for legal fees as hard as we can to keep us in the fight.
» More info at plan-ne.org
— There’s a fundraiser Contradance happening on Jan 14, in West Cummington
• LEGISLATIVE/REGULATORY APPROACH
No Fracked Gas in Mass is also helping groups in Connecticut fight that section of the project. The ONLY customer for this pipeline is the state of CT’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES) program, offering incentives for people to switch their home heating to natural gas. Not only did the drop in fuel costs stop people from converting, but some people also realized that natural gas is an environmentally harmful way to go. Long story short – the market for this pipeline never materialized and now the CES is up for renewal. We’re pushing for people to call on the CT Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to NOT include natural gas in the new version.
» Here’s more information on that.
• LOCAL GROUP
There’s also a local group that’s been fighting this project along side us for nearly 3 years. They’re the most local way to keep up with what’s going on directly in Sandisfield
» Sandisfield Taxpayers Opposing the Pipeline (S.TO.P.)
• FEDERAL APPROACH
Both No Fracked Gas in Mass and our parent organization, Berkshire Environmental Action Team and many other organizations are working with Delaware Riverkeeper on their Constitutional Challenge to reform FERC – a long term approach that could help prevent more fights like this in the future.
» More info