Jun 042014

The Board of Selectmen didn’t waste any time following up on its Monday evening meeting discussions about the proposed Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline that would traverse the northern section of Groton.

At the Monday BoS meeting. Vice Chair Josh Degen was unanimously elected this year’s Chair. Selectman Anna Eliot was elected Vice Chair.

Degen began laying out the town’s next steps to gather information and collect resident’s concerns about the pipeline plan on Tuesday and Wednesday.

A follow-up to last week’s initial “Information Session” is planned for Monday, June 16th, at 7 p.m. in the Groton-Dunstable Middle School Performing Arts Center. It was initially thought that Groton Electric Light Commissioner Kevin Lindemer, who works as a Managing Director for consulting firm IHS would be involved, but a company official advised him not to speak due to potential conflicts with the Massachusetts ethics law, he said. Other panelists and presenters for that meeting have not been announced.

The town has set up a special page on its website, at http://townofgroton.org/town/TennesseeGasPipeline.aspx to track the project and also created a special email address, pipeline@townofgroton.org, to which people can write with questions. Initial plans, announced at the May 29 Information Session and the Monday BoS meeting, were to compile the questions and ask Kinder Morgan company representatives to answer them.

Degen wrote in an email, “This is not the meeting with Kinder Morgan that will occur on June 23rd, although I am fairly sure that some of their personnel may attend clandestinely. We will have representatives there to help answer questions.”

“Then on June 23, at 7 p.m., Kinder Morgan will send their representatives to an open meeting hosted by Lawrence Academy. I don’t think you should expect much, but please attend and ask tough questions — don’t accept ‘No’ for an answer,” he wrote.

Degen said that the meeting on June 16 may also include a vote by the Board of Selectmen to set a Special Town Meeting date, asking residents to vote on a nonbinding resolution against the pipeline. The meeting could not occur before 45 days after the June 16 meeting, which would place it in late July or early August.

The June 16 meeting may also herald the start of one or two town-sponsored pipeline-related groups, At the Monday night BoS meeting, Selectman Jack Petropoulos advocated for a “Working Group” of selectmen, the town manager, a GELD representative, a Conservation Commission representative, a regional School Committee representative, and residents to gather and distribute facts on the proposed pipeline.

Since the BoS meeting, there have been informal discussions about setting up a “Task force to work with other towns that face this same issue. We are looking for volunteers to serve on this endeavor,” Degen said. He asked that people interested in working on the task force contact him at pipeline@townofgroton.org.