|Kinder Morgan Suspends Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline Project|
|Staff Reports, |
05:35PM / Wednesday, April 20, 2016
|The Northeast Energy Direct project was planned to cut through multiple Berkshire County towns.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Kinder Morgan has suspended the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project, which was planned to cut through the Berkshires.
The company released a statement Wednesday evening announcing the suspension of work on the $3.3 billion project.
"As a result of inadequate capacity commitments from prospective customers, Kinder Morgan Inc. and its subsidiary, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, have suspended further work and expenditures on the Northeast Energy Direct Project," reads the statement from the company.
The project was announced in 2015 and the company said it had received a number of commitments from local gas distribution companies and expected many more. The statement released Wednesday said those additional commitments never came.
"Unfortunately despite working for more than two years and expanding substantial shareholder resources, TGP did not receive the additional commitments it expected. As a result, there are currently neither sufficient volumes nor a reasonable expectation of securing them to proceed with the project as it is currently configured," the statement reads.
The company had previously shrunk the size of the pipeline by six-inches.
The proposal had the pipeline entering Massachusetts in Hancock, cutting along the existing rights of way under power lines in Lanesborough, into Cheshire, Dalton, Hinsdale, Windsor, and Peru, before heading east. It ended in Dracut before heading north through New Hampshire.
The company added that "innovations in production" have lowered the cost, making it difficult for producers to secure long-term agreements.
The project, however, faced significant opposition throughout the path of the pipeline and in the Berkshires. Locally there were numerous protests, lawnsigns, and others opposing it.
While the company said the goal was to alleviate a shortage of natural gas capacity, opponents said the health, safety, and environmental concerns far outweighed the pipeline.
U.S. Sen. Edward Markey issued a statement shortly after the announcement saying he will continue to oppose "any pipeline proposals that would serve to export natural gas out of our region."
"I have opposed Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline through Massachusetts and New England because of concerns that it could have led to the export of American natural gas to foreign countries, the impact it would have had on local communities in Massachusetts, and its potential to worsen climate change. Using New England as a throughway to export U.S. gas to overseas markets might be good for the bottom lines of pipeline companies but it could raise prices and be a disaster for consumers and businesses in our region," Markey wrote of the project.
"We need to build on the work that we have done in New England to move to a clean energy economy. And we should create jobs in New England by working smarter not harder when it comes to using natural gas through increasing efficiency and repairing and replacing our aging and leaking natural gas distribution pipeline infrastructure. Repairing these aging, leaking natural gas pipelines is a win for safety, a win for job creation, a win for consumers who have to pay for this lost gas, and a win for the climate."
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the decision reaffirms her belief that the "project simply isn't necessary to meet our energy needs." She went on to urge the state to invest in clean energy.
"Across Massachusetts, residents raised significant concerns about the impact of the proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline on homes, businesses, and our environment. This announcement confirms what our citizens have been saying since the beginning - this project simply isn't necessary to meet our energy needs," Warren wrote in a statement.
"The Kinder Morgan pipeline was the wrong project at the wrong time, but as Massachusetts works to modernize our energy system and ensure that prices remain affordable for families and businesses, it is urgent that we upgrade aging infrastructure and invest in clean technologies of the future."
Kinder Morgan currently has another proposed pipeline, which cuts through Sandisfield and into Connecticut. That is currently being fought in court as the company seeks to begin working on land the state has constitutionally protected. That case centers on whether the federal approval overrides the state's Article 97 provisions.