May 292014

Two Groton grpups took action Wednesday on the pending proposal by Kinder Morgan to build a 36 inch natural gas pipeline across northern Massachusetts, through portions of Groton, Dunstable, Pepperell, and other northern tier communities. The Nashua River Watershed Association board of directors took the strongest action, sending a letter in opposition to the proposed route — but not the pipeline itself — to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. The Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee passed a motion requiring the district administration to keep it informed of communications from Kinder Morgan.

Representatives of both groups will be at the pipeline information session sponsored by the Groton Board of Selectmen, scheduled for Thursday, May 29, at 7 p.m. at the Groton Country Club.

The NRWA letter asks for Coakley’s

” … assistance in preventing Kinder Morgan from proceeding with the currently proposed route for the Tennessee Gas pipeline in northern Massachusetts, which would cross through the Nashua River watershed towns of Ashburnham, Ashby, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, and Townsend. The proposed route of this 30 inch or larger high pressure pipeline transmitting natural gas to the metro-Boston area- in addition to several proposed lateral pipelines-would largely pass through open spaces including wetlands, water bodies, and conservation lands of exceptionally high natural resource value to the Commonwealth. Our primary concern with this pipeline is the negative impacts it would have to these critically sensitive environmental areas, especially when there are alternative routes that could use existing rights of way with far less irreversible impact.”

The list of people receiving copies of the letter is impressive, and includes elected officials from Governor Deval Patrick to the states’s two US Senators, US House members, state senators and representatives, many state administrative officials, and a variety of people in each of the towns along the proposed route. (View or download the NRWA letter here.)

During the May 28 School Committee Meeting, Leslie Lathrop asked for a vote requiring the administration to inform the School Committee of communications by Kinder-Morgan with the district. Because the proposed route goes over an little-used part of the high school campus, the district, like all property owners on the route, received an information packet from Kinder Morgan earlier this year requesting permission for survey crews to work on the land. Superintendent Tony Bent hadn’t thought the information required the committee’s attention.

That vote passed, but a second motion by Lathrop, to not cooperate with Kinder Morgan, failed. Committee members did not think they had enough information on the project and its impact on the high school campus to decide on a course of action.