A Kinder Morgan subsidiary has sued a Massachusetts state agency for the right to build a natural gas pipeline through a state forest to serve customers in Connecticut, according to a recent article by MassLive.com.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. filed the complaint against the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) on March 16 on the same day that a state legislative committee denied a request for easements. The company had already won a certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approving the natural gas pipeline, but the DCR, which holds the land, will not grant the easement without approval from the Massachusetts legislature. Article 97 of the Massachusetts state constitution requires a two-thirds vote for such a conveyance of conservation land.
In the suit, Tennessee Gas Pipeline seeks authority to condemn the land in the Otis State Forest as well as an injunction allowing entry and possession of the property and a determination of compensation the state should receive for the land-taking, the article states.
“The Legislature’s failure to consider a conveyance under Article 97 places the DCR in a bind: If it grants an easement to Tennessee in acknowledgment of a federal law covering interstate pipelines, it opens itself to charges that it violated the state constitution,” the article states. “Under Article 97, Massachusetts conservation land can only be sold or conveyed by a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate. But the U.S. Natural Gas Act grants pipeline companies the power of eminent domain for interstate projects approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. claims that the Natural Gas Act preempts Article 97 because it conflicts with the FERC certificate and impedes or delays construction of the project.”
The proposed project consists of pipeline loops in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. The Massachusetts loop would be nearly 4 miles long. Much of the 3,800-acre Otis State Forest was preserved in 2007 in a collaboration between the state and Mass Audubon at a cost of $5.2 million, one of the biggest conservation land deals in Massachusetts’s history, according to MassLive.com.
Kinder Morgan is also pursuing a much larger project in the region. The 400-mile-plus Northeast Energy Direct would transport natural gas from Pennsylvania through New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Kinder Morgan’s NED project, which would require the taking of dozens of parcels protected by Article 97, is currently under consideration by FERC.
To read the MassLive.com article, click here.
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