I have to say that Selectman Petropoulos is correct: holding a Special Town Meeting to discuss and vote on a nonbinding resolution in opposition to the proposed (Northeast Energy Direct) gas pipeline is a waste of town money. In addition, the fact that the majority of the Board of Selectmen voted to hold the STM without being properly petitioned to do so by the voters suggests a certain partisanship on the part of those BOS members. No doubt, the opponents of the pipeline could have obtained the necessary signatures, but there are rules in our government. It’s bad enough that the President of the United States honors those laws in their breach; let’s not start doing it in Groton ….
I am sure that those people who heat with oil and have plenty of money to pay for higher-cost electricity feel free to oppose an increase in natural gas supplies to this part of the country. The arguments in favor of increased natural gas supplies to northern New England are compelling: Alternative energy sources are (and will remain) insufficient to meet our future needs; we have decided that coal is overly polluting or causes global warming (What global warming, given stable global temperature for the last 15+ years?) and nuclear power is, as everyone knows, just plain evil. That leaves us with natural gas, which the nation now has plenty of for the next century or more. Until the scientists figure out a non-evil nuclear power source, the alternative for serious electric generation capacity (not to mention home heating) is either oil (which we also now have plenty of, but it’s also evil — that old devil global warming again) or natural gas, which is evil, but not so much as oil or — gasp! — coal.
The problem of course, is that we are here and the gas is over there — Pennsylvania and Western New York — so we need pipelines to bring it to us. Are there dangers from gas pipelines? Sure. There are also dangers from trucks and trains carrying oil products, as recent incidents have shown. Life is sometimes a gamble. But seriously, gas pipelines are generally safe, and I would have no particular problems with one running through my property (though not literally in my backyard, thank you very much).
Pace the environmentalist types, the best place to run a gas pipeline would be through uninhabited parts of town — such as our large holdings of conservation land, unused land behind the G-DR High School, etc. The worst place to run a gas pipeline would be a hundred feet behind someone’s house. Obviously, if the pipeline is built, there are going to be some unhappy people. Sorry about that, but we should try to get the best deal for everyone if the pipeline comes through. Here are some thoughts:
The pipeline company should be required to lease their right of way, not pay property owners a (usually insufficient) one-time fee for an easement. The easement should be as narrow as possible. Compressor stations should be quiet, and should be located well away from dwellings. Some comments on that: in the wee hours of the night, from my house on Townsend Road, I can hear big trucks on route 119, which is on the other side of the Throne a mile or more away. I know that silencing technology exists to make compressor and generator facilities amazingly quiet. The movie industry uses many large diesel generators in proximity to filming sites, and you can literally stand next to these semi-trailer-sized generators and not hear them operating.
In short, I do support a carefully laid out and installed pipeline, and I hope that people will defeat the article on this STM warrant.