WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Top Reasons Why Shrewsbury Should Oppose The Proposed “West Boylston Lateral (WBL)” Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline
A new Natural Gas Pipeline is not as cost-effective nor as environmentally friendly as it is marketed to be, poses serious health and environmental concerns, and is NOT the preferred solution to meet our future energy needs. From financial, maintenance, health, environmental, and safety perspectives alike, investing in energy effiency and local renewable energy projects is a far better choice. Therefore, Sustainable Shrewsbury is advocating for the safer and lower-cost alternative of new investment in energy efficiency and demand response.
Building new pipelines would be ineffective and expensive. They might not come into service until the mid-2020s or later, ready for 40 or more years of use, just after the end of the need for LNG. There would then be immense economic pressure to use the new pipelines for gas export, encouraging fracking in the Northeast and/or providing a new opportunity to export Canadian gas. It would be much better to continue New England’s LNG imports for a few more years, avoiding commitment to new, long-lived, and costly gas pipeline infrastructure.
WBL Pipeline in Shrewsbury
It’s Unnecessary: NO Evidence that we Need the Additional Gas
The WBL pipeline is proposed to bring additional natural gas supplies to Eversource to meet the needs of future expansion of service for gas heating customers in the greater Worcester Area (including Shrewsbury). In August 2015, Eversource claimed in the Board of Selectmen meeting that Shrewsbury needed the additional gas from the WBL or else Eversource would inact a moritorium on new gas customers in Shrewsbury starting sometime between 2020 and 2022. However, no evidence was ever provided to the town of Shrewsbury to support that claim in regards to a future gas moratorium. On recent subsequent information requests to Enbridge, NO evidence has yet been provided to support Eversource’s claim that Shrewsbury needs the additional gas from the WBL pipeline, and NO evidence has yet been provided to support Eversouce’s claim of an upcoming Natural Gas Customer Moritorium in Shrewsbury. When looking at the Natural Gas Moritorium that Berkshire Gas imposed on Western Massachusetts communities, a common theme is revealed whereby the moratoriums may merely be a ploy to pressure communities into supporting the pipeline projects.
It Will Lower Property Values
Pipelines can lower the value of your property 10-30% by increasing the easement corridor and restricting the use of your land. Moreover, they can negatively affect mortgages and homeowner insurance.
It’s Dangerous – our Neighbors, High School, and Water Supply will be in the ‘Blast/Incineration’ Zone
All gas pipelines eventually leak and they can explode; from 1994-2013, over 1,238 significant incidents have happened nationwide, costing over $1.7 billion in property damage. Check out the map below to see how the pipeline affects so many residents and landmarks in town.
Who is responsible for the cost of dealing with any issues that arise?
Enbridge has had a year and a half to provide the town information, yet the most critical questions haven’t even been answered. Even if Enbridge was liable for any issues during construction or operation of the pipeline, we all know that never works out good in the end. Energy companies may consider that the ‘cost of doing business’, and we know that an accident that pollutes our drinking water, pollutes our other water resources like Flint Pond (aka Lake Quinsigamond) and especially if there was ever an accident that caused loss of life, the amount of money provided to the town would never be able to fix the damage that is done – the damage could never be undone. This is seen time and time again – look at the oil spills that happened across the country. The energy companies attempt to clean the spills up (but that is more for show) and the natural resources can never really fully be cleaned up. Once our most precious resources such as our drinking water or ponds are polluted or damaged, the resources can never go back to the condition they were in! Even when Enbridge drills through our water supply, we may not know for years or even decades that the drilling caused a problem. Just like how we don’t for sure where the Hexavalant Chromium is coming from, and we are just realizing the problem now – decades later. And I believe there was some ‘surface’ cleanup done in the past for the HexChrom; however, look how that ended up working out for us!
Access Northeast (ANE) Pipeline Project
The WBL pipeline is part of the larger ANE pipeline project and is just an offshoot (aka Lateral). The larger ANE project is proposed to bring additional natural gas supplies to Electric Power Generation Plants in Massachusetts (not Shrewsbury).
The findings of the Attorney General’s Office Study that found there are cheaper and cleaner alternatives to a new gas pipeline to meet our future energy needs.
Investment in energy efficiency and demand response would result in the greatest customer savings and would reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. New gas pipelines infrastructure would result in less customer savings and would actually drive up GHG emissions.
There’s No Financing Plan: Our Risk, Their Reward
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently declared it unlawful for Massachusetts to force residential electricity customers to subsidize the construction of private gas pipelines through the so-called “pipeline tax” on their electric bills. The ruling instead will now make the companies themselves shoulder the substantial risks of such projects.
It’s Unnecessary and Expensive: We Do NOT Need the Gas
A study commissioned by Attorney General Maura Healey’s office last year confirmed that there are cleaner and cheaper ways to meet our electrical reliability needs than building out new gas infrastructure.
It’s Not Really About Us Anyways
The pipeline would have so much excess capacity that it’s likely to be used to ship gas to Canadian LNG export terminals for export to the rest of the world which would raise the price of gas to international levels.
It’s Toxic and Bad for the Environment
Natural Gas contains over 60 neurotoxins, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors; moreover, gas from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia contains radon.
It’s Part of the Climate Change Problem, NOT the Solution
Natural Gas is a fossil fuel, contributing significantly to climate change. Erroneously considered a “bridge fuel,” gas from the point of extraction to the point of use is as damaging to the climate as coal. Our Commonwealth is facing a dire threat from unchecked climate change caused by fossil fuel consumption. In response, Massachusetts has set a goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. This is not the time to approve infrastructure projects that would increase our dependence upon fossil fuels. The proposed pipeline expansions would create infrastructure that, by their proponent’s own admission, would commit us to decades of fossil fuel dependence and would strike at the heart of our emission reduction standards.
It’s Contaminating the Water and Health for Our Fellow Americans at the Source of the Gas
Fracking injects millions of gallons of fluids and chemicals directly into the earth. A 2011 study by the House Committee on Energy identified more than 700 chemicals used in fracking, including benzene, acrylamide, ethylene oxide, bisphenol A (BPA), and formaldehyde — all well-known carcinogens.
It would be improper to subsidize and encourage fracking in other communities by importing more fracked gas into the Commonwealth. We should stand in solidarity with all Americans fighting to protect their water resources from fracking pollution.
Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of chemical-laced water underground at high pressure to release oil and gas deposits. Numerous fracking chemicals are toxic or carcinogenic to humans, who may be exposed to the chemicals through surface spills of fracking fluids, groundwater contamination, and chemical releases into the air. Studies have documented adverse health effects in people who live or use water wells near fracking operations.
“The science is in: fracking has contaminated drinking water. For years, the oil and gas industry has tried to evade regulation, wield its political influence, hide data, and criticize science. These findings confirm what communities around the country have long-feared—there is no room for debate. With a new administration coming in, this underscores the need for action at the federal level. And now, more than ever, states and communities must use their power to guard against these very real risks.”
– Amy Mall,
Senior Policy Analyst, Land and Wildlife Program,
Natural Resources Defense Council
“As a former environmental police officer, and as a longtime proponent of legislative initiatives to protect and promote our environment, I was pleased to cast a vote in support of this bill. There is clear evidence to suggest that environmental and health risks exist in communities where fracking is taking place. This bill is yet another step forward in securing Massachusetts’ position as a national leader in promoting green energy.”
– Sen. Michael Moore,
Massachusetts Senator, Second Worcester District
For a lot more reasons, check out these lists from great resources:
MASSACHUSETTS ASSOCIATION OF CONSERVATION COMMISSIONS (MACC)
74 Conservation Commissions Send Letter to Gov. Baker: End Support for New Interstate Gas Pipelines
MASSACHUSETTS ASSOCIATION OF HEALTH BOARDS (MAHB)
Boards of Health Letter to Gov. Baker: Oppose New Fracked Gas Infrastructure (FGI)
MOTHERS OUT FRONT
What We Need to Know about the Pipeline Fight in Massachusetts
Mass Audubon Opposes Natural Gas Pipelines
SIERRA CLUB MASSACHUSETTS
No new pipelines
Shrewsbury – Town Mtg opposed 2017, BOH letter 2019
Grafton – Town Mtg opposed 2017, BOH letter 2017
Westborough – BOH letter 2018
Upton – Town Mtg opposed 2016
Northborough – no opposition yet
Hopkinton – no opposition yet
Worcester – ConComm letter 2017, BOH letter 2018
Resolution Follow-up – Letter sent to BOS on June 2017 & reviewed with Town Manager on 09/26/18.
BOS Article 12 Pipeline Followup 060717
No response to date from BOS on the 6 next steps that were requested towards honoring the vote of Town Meeting.
- Board of Selectmen to vote to resind Survey Authorization from Algonquin Gas Transmission on all town owned land (Authorization had been granted by the town manager on 09/04/15).
Since the previous Town Manager did this unilaterally, the new town manager should be able to revoke this
- Board of Selectmen to vote to become an “Intervenor” once Algonquin Gas Transmission files its formal application with FERC.
BOS should make a vote to become intervenors if needed
- Town Clerk to send letters notifying the following of the adoption of the resolution by Town Meeting:
Town Manager should ask Town Clerk to send these out
Algonquin Gas Transmission
FERC (FERC docket #PF16-1)
Governor: CHARLES D. BAKER
Lieutenant Governor: KARYN E. POLITO
Attorney General: MAURA HEALEY
Congressional: JAMES P. McGOVERN
State Senate: MICHAEL MOORE
State Representative: HANNAH E. KANE
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs: MATTHEW BEATON
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection: MARTIN SUUBERG
U.S. Senator: ELIZABETH A. WARREN
U.S. Senator: EDWARD J. MARKEY
- Conservation Commission to remove the agenda item for the Public Meeting regarding the Request for Determination of Applicability filed by Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC c/o Mike Tyrrell for soil borings at Zero Pond View Drive and 256-272 Main Street. Continued until June 20, 2017
- Town Manager to create webpage on town website for general information, history, and status of the pipeline project including the resolution of opposition to the pipeline – shrewsburyma.gov/pipeline
Town Manager should model the informational page after the Mangenese page.
- Town Manager to send letter to abutters to inform them that Town Meeting voted to oppose the pipeline and direct them to the newly created shrewsburyma.gov/pipel ine page for more information on the project.
This should have been done as a courtesy to the residents affected by the pipeline once the resolution passed; however, better late then never.
- Board of Health to sign on to the MASSACHUSETTS ASSOCIATION OF HEALTH BOARDS (MAHB) letter opposing new fracked gas infrastructure. (note: Grafton already did and Westborough is looking to do the same soon).
DONE on 01/25/19
- Shrewsbury Conservation Commission to sign onto the MASSACHUSETTS ASSOCIATION OF CONSERVATION COMMISSIONS (MACC) letter to end support for new gas pipelines
74 Conservation Commissions have already signed on the Letter to Gov. Baker to End Support for New Interstate Gas Pipelines.
Annual Town Meeting (May 2017)
- Citizens Petition to Oppose the West Boylston Lateral in Shrewsbury (PASSED 120-91 / 57%-43%)
- Shrewsbury Pipeline Presentation – Flyer 020817
- Shrewsbury Pipeline Presentation – Slides 020817
- Access Northeast Pipeline – West Boylston Lateral – General Flyer
Special Town Meeting (November 2015)
- Citizens Petition to Oppose Fracked Gas Pipelines in Massachusetts (DEFEATED 30-131 / 20%-80%)
“As we make long-term decisions about our energy future, it’s imperative we have the facts. This study demonstrates that we do not need increased gas capacity to meet electric reliability needs, and that electric ratepayers shouldn’t foot the bill for additional pipelines. This study demonstrates that a much more cost-effective solution is to embrace energy efficiency and demand response programs that protect ratepayers and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
– Maura Healey,
Massachusetts Attorney General
“This report confirms what we’ve been saying all along- these pipelines aren’t needed, would raise costs on consumers, contribute to climate change, and put us in non-compliance with Massachusetts’ energy and environmental laws. Massachusetts has a proud legacy of being a leader in the fight for our environment, but this would be a giant step backwards, toward increased reliance on fossil fuels. We deserve real solutions that look to the future, not more fracked gas pipelines that contribute to global warming, harm our environment and pick our pockets.”
– Emily Norton,
Executive Director of the Massachusetts Sierra Club
SHREWSBURY PIPELINE MAP
Below is a map of Shrewsbury with the Power Lines highlighted in ‘red’ to help show the proposed path of the pipeline.
The following are significant landmarks along the path of the pipeline (listed from North to South):
- Newton Pond
- Shrewsbury Aquifer Protection Overlay District (Zone II – The primary recharge area for the aquifer)
- Shrewsbury High School
- St John’s High School
- Main St.
- Old Mill Pond
- Route 9
- Route 20
- Flint Pond (part of Lake Quinsigamond)
For an interactive map, go to the Shrewsbury MapsOnline GIS site and then:
- To see the power lines as well as numbered houses,
- click the “Layers” tab on the left hand side of the map
- Under “Base Maps”, select the “OpenStreetMap” option
- Note: If you don’t see the power lines (designated by three lines), then you will need to zoom in sufficiently to see those on the map.
Also, for detailed maps presented by Spectra:
GRAFTON PIPELINE MAP
Below is a map of Grafton with the Power Lines highlighted in ‘red’ to help show the proposed path of the pipeline.
The following are significant landmarks along the path of the pipeline (listed from Northwest to Southeast):
- Flint Pond (part of Lake Quinsigamond)
- Wyman Gordon
- Grafton Water Supply Overlay Protection District (WSOPD)
- Blackstone River
- Fisherville Pond
- Route 122
- Hassanamesit Woods / Keith Hill Forest
- Grafton Flea Market
For an interactive map, go to the Grafton MapGeo GIS site and then:
- To see the power lines as well as numbered houses,
- The “Map Themes” button on the upper right of the screen allows you to identify all of the places in town of concern – such as your Water Protection Overlay District Zone, wetlands, etc.
- If you select the “Land Use” theme, it will allow you to see the Powerline track in gray.
ASHLAND / HOPKINTON PIPELINE
more to come…
SHREWSBURY PIPELINE VIDEO CHRONICLES
RECOMMENDED VIDEOS ON FRACKING
Our landscapes and water supplies are being ruined by fracking – the controversial way of tapping into gas reserves. Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – is a process used by energy companies to get natural gas out of the ground. Fracking involves forcing water, sand and chemicals underground to fracture rocks and release the natural gas trapped within them. But what happens to those chemicals once they’ve been injected into the ground? Some residents believe fracking is contaminating their water and risking their health.
The Oil and Gas industry’s expansion of fracking which promotes profit over health is seen as a moral issue. Mothers, fathers, scientists, doctors, farmers and people from a variety of points along the political spectrum are taking a hard look at energy extraction that is not proven to be safe and have created a people’s movement working to protect life, today and tomorrow from the dangers of fracking.
RECOMMENDED FILMS ON FRACKING
The environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing are mind-boggling: tap water so contaminated it can be set on fire right out of the tap; chronically ill residents with similar symptoms in drilling areas across the country; and huge pools of toxic waste that kill livestock and vegetation. The gas industry’s portrayal of natural gas as a clean and safe alternative to oil is a myth, and that fracked wells inevitably leak over time, contaminating water and air, hurting families, and endangering the earth’s climate with the potent greenhouse gas methane.
Gaswork (full film)
Runtime 47m | Released 2013
The Fight for CJ’s law is a powerful new short by filmmaker Josh Fox that investigates the dangerous working conditions in the oil and gas fields. When we hear politicians and gas companies extoll the virtues of fracking, jobs created by drilling is usually high on their list of talking points. But the jobs created by fracking are not the kind of quality jobs American workers deserve. They are extremely dangerous, exposing workers to chemicals whose long-term impacts on human health are yet unknown. In fact, the fatality rate of oil field jobs is seven times greater than the national average. Josh Fox conducts an investigation into worker safety and chemical risk and has interviewed many workers who have been asked to clean drill sites, transport radioactive and carcinogenic chemicals, steam clean the inside of condensate tanks which contain harmful VOC’s, PAH’s and other chemicals and have been told to do so with no safety equipment.
12/10/19 – [Westborough] Under pressure to meet demand
06/14/17 – Democracy Lesson in Shrewsbury
05/18/16 – Upton Holding Pipeline Forum
10/23/15 – Special Town Meeting set for early November
GENERAL PIPELINE NEWS
01/16/18 – The Case Against More Natural Gas Pipelines
05/22/17 – How a Small Town Is Standing Up to Fracking
05/26/16 – FY 2017 Budget Senate Budget Bill S.2305
SECTION 229. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, no new fossil fuel transmission pipelines shall be located in an area which is less than 1 mile in linear distance from a playground, licensed day-care center, school, church, area of critical environmental concern, as determined by the secretary of environmental affairs pursuant to 301 C.M.R. 12.00, or an area occupied by residential housing. The linear distance shall be measured from any point along a fossil fuel transmission pipeline to the outermost point of the aforementioned zones; provided, however, that repairs or replacements that do not increase capacity in any such pipeline in operation prior to January 1, 2017 shall not be subject to this section.
12/01/15 – Access Northeast Project ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT FERC Docket No. PF16-1-000 Pre-Filing Draft Volume II-A (Public)