What is Algonquin and Access Northeast?
Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Gas Transmission pipelines contain 1,129 miles of pipeline, connecting to the Texas Eastern Transmission and Maritimes & Northeast pipelines. It transmits 2.75 billion cubic feet of gas per day. The Access Northeast project includes the expansion of approximately 125 miles of the existing Algonquin pipeline system plus new gas infrastructure. The Project will deliver up to 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas, all or most of which will be used for electric generation.
Should I be concerned about the Spectra Access Northeast pipeline?
With its Access Northeast project, Spectra Energy is proposing to build a 30-inch gas pipeline 21.2 miles through nine towns: Bellingham, Medway, Millis, Franklin, Norfolk, Walpole, Sharon, Canton, and Stoughton.
In addition, it is building a 27-mile pipeline through: Medway, Milford, Upton, Grafton, Millbury, Sutton, Shrewsbury, Boylston and West Boylston.
A new compressor station is being proposed in Rehoboth.
In Weymouth, it is proposed to add additional horsepower to the compressor station adding more pipeline in Weymouth and Braintree.
An expansion of the storage Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities in Acushnet, MA is also proposed, with pipeline going through Acushnet and Freetown.
For a chart of the complete project, click here.
What are the politics of this project?
Governor Baker supports making New England utility customers pay for the construction of the pipeline through utility charges, a hidden tax without citizen input, despite his promise of “no new taxes.”
Massachusetts doesn’t need additional gas pipelines; we managed without them for the most extreme winter ever, 2014-2015, by planning properly for our winter energy needs, unlike the “Polar Vortex” winter of 2013-2014 for which the energy markets were manipulated to create a sense of scarcity.
The Spectra pipeline will send gas to Canadian LNG terminals for export which will significantly raise the price of gas to international levels.
Gas is a fossil fuel, contributing significantly to climate change; gas from the point of extraction to the point of use is as damaging to the atmosphere as coal.
What are my Landowner Rights?
You have the right to deny or rescind permission for Spectra to survey your land. Doing so is a separate process from negotiation of terms of easement.
Until a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity is obtained from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Spectra cannot bypass any state or local regulations.
Each individual property is negotiated separately. You can make specific requests when talking with Spectra, including adjusting the route within your property and negotiating your price.
Spectra encourages landowners to get a lawyer to help with easement negotiation, but will not compensate for legal fees.
According to a Massachusetts attorney knowledgeable about eminent domain, holding out for eminent domain leaves homeowners in a strong position, relieving the land owner of tax and liability burdens.
What are my Municipal Rights?
Ninety percent of environmental damage in towns is done by projects locally permitted. However, towns are increasingly using municipal rights to create new legal precedents to assert their autonomy in their fights against undesirable development, such as gas pipelines and power plants, including:
- Towns can create binding “Rights-Based-Ordinances,” successfully used in over 150 US towns/cities to say NO to fracking, sewage sludge application, etc., according to the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF.org).
- Towns can collaborate in coalitions with other towns, as ten northern Massachusetts towns fought the Kinder Morgan Northeast Direct pipeline which moved to New Hampshire soon after Kinder Morgan received a coalition letter.
- Towns with public conservation lands that come under Article 97 jurisdiction have protection within the state constitution that requires an act from the state legislature to overrule.
- Towns can sue the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission challenging the issue of “public necessity” as the town of Deerfield recently has done with the Kinder Morgan Northeast Direct gas pipeline proposal. FERC’s authority especially can be challenged now with Congress’ lifting of the oil export ban. The 1978 Natural Gas Policy Act which authorized FERC to regulate both intrastate and interstate gas production and transmission to address a gas emergency shortage is no longer valid, as Congress has declared the shortage no longer exists.
What Community Outreach Within Towns and Across Towns Can I Do?
- Use networks, the press, events, meetings, social media, door-to-door, the internet, and signage to reach town residents to build consensus.
- Contact crucial town, state, and federal leadership: town board, conservation commission, public safety officials, board of health, planning board, state and national legislators, governor, and state agencies.
Do Delay Tactics Work?
Towns can employ delay tactics within the process. However, if towns work ONLY within the FERC process, they need to understand FERC’s process has a built-in assumption that new gas infrastructure is in the public interest, despite the burden of proof being on the applicant. According to the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CLEDF.org), “[t]he only thing that regulations regulate is activists.” See our website NOspectraMA.org in the FERC section for how to participate.
Can I fight the tax imposed by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU)?
People can fight the Department of Utilities from imposing a “pipeline tax” on our utilities bills by commenting on the dockets, signing petitions and attending hearings and rallies. See DPU for how to participate.
What can I do about this pipeline?
- Become informed
Attend the Greater Franklin 350 Massachusetts meetings the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7:00 PM at the First Universalist Society in Franklin, 262 Chestnut Street, Franklin, MA. And check out our resources page. Contact us.
- Consider denying or rescinding permission to Spectra Energy to survey your property
Contact us for the appropriate letter which we can email you. Fill it out, sign it, and hand it directly to surveyors when they arrive at your property or mail it to Spectra via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested: Cory Rivenburgh, Right-of-Way Project Manager,
Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC, 249 Vanderbilt Ave, Suite 100, Norwood, MA 02062. Also, make a copy for your records and send a copy to FERC: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.
- Contact property owners and others in town
Door-to-door, phone tree or meetings by invitation
Contact town leaders, the Board of Health and the Conservation Commission – see Contact Officials page
Go to our Resource page to find materials to print out and to give to your neighbors, politicians, and town officials.
Here are Spectra maps showing project components and abutters’ properties.