Pipeline FAQ

Last updated 12/7/2014.  See also:

What is this pipeline?
Who would pay for this new pipeline?
Who is Kinder Morgan/TGP?
What if I don’t want the pipeline to go through my property?
What about wetlands and protected lands?
Would natural gas become more available as an alternative to propane?
Would the pipeline lower my energy bills?
How would the pipeline affect my property value and ability to get a mortgage?

Would TGP pay me for the right to put the pipeline on my property?
Could I limit the activities allowed in the pipeline right-of-way?
Are these pipelines safe?
Would the pipeline bring jobs to our state?
Is natural gas an important “bridge fuel”?
Do we need this pipeline to prevent an energy shortage?

What is this pipeline?

— The TGP Northeast Energy Direct is a high-pressure natural gas pipeline proposed by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C. (“TGP”, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P.) to run from Pennsylvania through New York state into Massachusetts at Richmond, in the Berkshires, through Franklin County into New Hampshire, reentering Massachusetts in Dracut, north of Boston, where it could join with existing pipelines that connect to the Massachusetts and Canadian coasts. The pipeline is intended to carry natural gas from the Marcellus (and perhaps Utica) Shale.
(Source 1: http://www.kindermorgan.com/business/gas_pipelines/east/neenergydirect/)
(Source 2: http://www.pngts.com/images/map.pdf)
(Source 3: http://www.nescoe.com/uploads/KM_TGP_Letter_to_NESCOE_05_23_14.pdf)
(Source 4:  http://goldborolng.com/2014/04/rbn-energy-article-movin-out-exporting-u-s-sourced-lng-from-the-maritimes)

— In addition to the main transmission line, the Northeast Energy Direct Project is proposed to include several lateral lines including the Fitchburg Lateral Extension, the N.  Worcester Lateral, and the Lynnfield Lateral.  The project is proposed to include nine new compressor stations, three of which would be in Massachusetts. (Source, taken from FERC website:  http://www.massplan.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/TGP-Pre-Filing-PF-14-22.pdf)

— The company pre-filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) September 15, 2014, Docket No. PF14-22, and intends for the pipeline to be operational by November 2018.
(Source, taken from FERC website:  http://www.massplan.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/TGP-Pre-Filing-PF-14-22.pdf)

— The company’s current preferred route runs through hundreds of private properties and public land, including land and waterways that are protected from development under state law.
County-level maps obtained from TGP are available on this website. (Protected lands include the Warwick State Forest, the Westfield Wild & Scenic River, and numerous privately held properties with conservation restrictions, Chapter 61 and Chapter 61A lands, etc. Much of the pipeline is proposed to run largely, but not exclusively, parallel to electric transmission lines.)

— TGP is also planning a “Connecticut Expansion” that goes through several towns in Berkshire and Hampden Counties where two other pipelines already exist.  TGP filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for expedited review of its Connecticut Expansion project on July 31, 2014 (Docket No. CP14-529).
(Source: http://www.kindermorgan.com/business/gas_pipelines/east/connecticut/)

Who would pay for this new pipeline?

— We as ratepayers could be required to help pay for new natural gas pipelines through a proposed new charge on our electric bills (the NESCOE tariff proposal).
(Source: http://www.nescoe.com/uploads/ISO_assistance_Trans___Gas_1_21_14_final.pdf)

— The New England-wide NESCOE tariff proposal is on hold, but a similar proposal is being considered by the state of Maine.
(Source 1: http://www.nescoe.com/uploads/ScheduleExtensionStatement_1Aug2014.pdf)
(Source 2: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/10/01/puc-staff-maine-electric-ratepayers-shouldnt-be-charged-to-secure-natural-gas-delivery-contracts/)

— State or local taxpayer money would pay for emergency response in the event of explosions, fires, or evacuations.
(Source: http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/2012/05/firefighter-response-to-natural-gas-leaks-and-emergencies.html)

Who is Kinder Morgan/TGP?

— Kinder Morgan is the largest energy infrastructure company in North America, with some 80,000 miles of pipelines and 180 storage terminals. (Source: http://www.kindermorgan.com)

— Richard Kinder is the CEO and chairman of the board of Kinder Morgan.
(Source: http://www.forbes.com/profile/richard-kinder/)

— Mr. Kinder is the former president and COO of Enron …
(Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2011/10/17/richard-kinder-the-luckiest-ex-enron-employee/)

… and is the richest man in Houston, Texas …
(Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2012/11/21/rich-kinders-energy-kingdom/)

… with a net worth estimated at $9 billion last year …
(Source: http://www.forbes.com/profile/richard-kinder/)

… recently increased by the reorganization of his energy empire.
(Source: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-08-11/kinder-morgan-deal-richard-kinder-just-made-1-billion-today)

Kinder left Enron a few years before it collapsed in financial scandal, bankruptcy and criminal convictions. (Source: http://www.fool.com/investing/value/2007/01/20/meet-the-men-who-fleeced-enron.aspx)

He recently announced that he is stepping down as CEO of Kinder Morgan. (Source: http://www.bidnessetc.com/30698-kinder-morgan-coo-to-succeed-richard-kinder-as-ceo/)

What if I don’t want the pipeline to go through my property?

— You can deny Kinder Morgan/TGP permission to survey your land. When landowners deny permission, TGP can file a petition with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”), to obtain permission from the state.
(See e.g., http://www.env.state.ma.us/DPU_FileRoom/frmDocketSingleSP.aspx?docknum=13-166. )

— The DPU has advised that landowners will have an opportunity to participate in hearings if Kinder Morgan/TGP files such a petition; however, Kinder Morgan has put off going to the DPU indefinitely.  (Source: personal communication)

— Procedural delays and permitting “red tape” have derailed natural gas pipeline projects in Massachusetts in the past.
(See, e.g., http://wakefieldnews.blogspot.com/2008/04/so-much-for-gas-pipeline.html)

— Denying permission to survey is not the same as refusing to negotiate an easement (and risking the right-of-way being taken by eminent domain, discussed below).  Allowing permission to survey does not strengthen your bargaining position.

— This project requires a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” from FERC.
(Source: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/717f)

— If TGP receives that FERC certificate, the company can take property by eminent domain.
(Source: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/717f)

What about wetlands and protected lands?

— As a federal agency, FERC can preempt or supersede much state and local law.
(Source: http://www.rcalaw.com/condemnation-issues-under-the-natural-gas-act)

—This “preemption power” stems from interpretations of the “Supremacy Clause” of the US Constitution and certain federal statutes, including the Natural Gas Act of 1938.
(Source 1: http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/preemption)
(Source 2: See http://www.eia.gov/oil_gas/natural_gas/analysis_publications/ngmajorleg/ngact1938.html)

— Even land with conservation restrictions can be taken by eminent domain.
(Source: http://www.massland.org/files/When%20Forever%20Proves%20Fleeting.pdf)

— FERC cannot, however, preempt water quality standards and certain other certification programs that are authorized by federal law but implemented by the state.
(Source 1: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/97-488.pdf)
(Source 2: https://www.ferc.gov/help/processes/flow/gas-2.asp)

—The Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted the hydraulic fracturing process (through which natural gas is now extracted from deep wells using chemicals and water)  from certain federal environmental regulation, including regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
(Source: http://www.independentwatertesting.com/education-center/148-what-is-the-halliburton-loophole.html)

—These 2005 exemptions mean, among other things, that under federal law, gas companies need not disclose what chemicals are used in gas extraction or whether these chemicals persist in the natural gas that is transmitted via pipeline.
(Source: http://sites.allegheny.edu/boussonadvisorygroup/laws-and-regulations)

— Early intervention by governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders in any FERC process is likely to be critically important; FERC sometimes makes compliance with certain state and local environmental permits a condition of the certificate.
(Source: http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/652225.pdf http://constitutionpipeline.com/regulatory-process/)

Would this natural gas become more available as an alternative to propane?

— Not necessarily. A stated goal of the pipeline is to allow increased capacity for use of natural gas for electricity generation and heating for customers already using natural gas.
(Source: http://www.masslive.com/business-news/index.ssf/2013/02/massachusetts_faces_natural_gas_shortage.html)

— The company also wants this pipeline for export markets.
(Source: http://www.massplan.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/TGP-Request-to-use-Pre-Filing-Procedures.pdf, p.2)
(Natural gas must be liquefied for shipment; liquefied natural gas (LNG) developers in Canada are referred to in this document as potential customers.  While TGP has not articulated an intention to build an export facility itself, the federal government has begun authorizing  LNG export  facilities. Source: https://www.ferc.gov/industries/gas/indus-act/lng.asp)

Would the pipeline lower my energy bills?

— It cannot be predicted what the price of gas will be in the future, but as gas becomes harder to extract and gets shipped to foreign markets, there will be less available here and prices are likely to trend up; also, competition on the global market will likely drive prices up.
(Source 1: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2013/0114/Natural-gas-oil-prices-why-the-long-term-forecasts-are-wrong)
(Source 2: http://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/fe/)

—Over-reliance on natural gas as our region’s primary source of energy is already seen as a problem by many, in part due to a history of price volatility in natural gas markets.
(Source: http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2013_03_19_Breaking_New_Englands_Natural_Gas_Addiction#.UzVIYpR9aQs.twitter)

— As mentioned above, as currently conceived, there could be an additional charge on electric bills to pay for construction of the pipeline.
(Source: http://www.nescoe.com/uploads/ISO_assistance_Trans___Gas_1_21_14_final.pdf)

How would the pipeline affect my property value and ability to get a mortgage?

— It appears likely that the pipeline would decrease individual property values and the value of surrounding properties.
(Source 1: http://www.forensic-appraisal.com/gas_pipelines_q_a)
(Source 2: http://www.abc12.com/story/25056405/texas-landowners-win-21-million-judgment-against-pipeline-company-over-lower-property-value.)

In Lee, Massachusetts, the assessed land value of a property is reduced by 10% when a pipeline is accessed near a residence. (Personal communication, March 27, 2014.)

Would TGP pay me for the right to put the pipeline on my property?

— Yes; generally, you would receive a one-time payment, (http://pstrust.org/docs/sample_row.pdf) and you would permanently forfeit control over this stretch of land on your property.

Could I limit the activities allowed in the pipeline right-of-way?

— While you may be able to negotiate specific restrictions of the gas company’s activities, there are reports of tree removal, trespassing and other violations of negotiated easement terms. 
(Source: personal communication with affected party.) 

— Existing pipelines in this state limit landowners’ activity, for example, by prohibiting vehicular access from one portion of a landowner’s property to the other side of the pipeline. 
(Source: personal communication with affected party.) 

—  The pipeline right-of-way is likely to be at least 50 feet wide, with an additional temporary work zone for construction (typically 25 to 50 feet outside the permanent right-of-way, or wider at road or stream crossings).
(Source: https://www.ferc.gov/for-citizens/citizen-guides/citz-guide-gas.pdf, pp. 8-9)

Are these pipelines safe?

— Fires and explosions due to leaks in the natural gas infrastructure are being reported with increasing frequency.
(Source 1:  http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2012/1212/West-Virginia-gas-pipeline-explosion-just-a-drop-in-the-disaster-bucket)
(Source 2:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/pipeline-safety-incident-rate-doubled-in-past-decade-1.2251771)

—It is not clear how the pipeline would impact “controlled burn” policies in state-owned forests such as the Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area.
(See http://www.umass.edu/nebarrensfuels/ma_barrens/montague/)

— Pipeline infrastructure may also be at risk of sabotage and terrorism.
(Source 1: http://www.pipelineandgasjournal.com/pipeline-security-new-technology-today’s-demanding-environment)
(Source 2: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-13/uglygorilla-hack-of-u-s-utility-exposes-cyberwar-threat.html)

— Gas in interstate pipelines generally does not have an odorant added, so you cannot smell a leak; an odorant is only required in high-population-density areas.
(Source: http://phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/DownloadableFiles/Files/buzz_fant.pdf)

— A shareholder suit recently filed against Kinder Morgan alleges that money that should be used to maintain its pipelines is being funneled into profits for the company.
(Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-06/kinder-morgan-sued-by-investor-over-pipeline-distributions-1-.html)

Would the pipeline bring jobs to our state?

— Most of the jobs associated with the pipeline would be temporary jobs and possibly for out-of-state employees of the company.
In the case of the Keystone XL Pipeline, of the 42,100  jobs that might result, only fifty are predicted to be in place after the one- to two-year construction period.
(Source: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/221135.pdf, p. ES-19, 4.3.1 – Economic Activity Overview) 

Local engineering firms and consultants or workers for various aspects of the project may be employed for planning, public relations, permitting and construction. Local construction unions may seek to be awarded the contracts relating to this project; these local workers could alternatively be employed to fix the leaks in the existing natural gas infrastructure across our state.
(Source 1:  personal communications. )
 

(Source 2: http://www.clf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Markey-Gas-Leaks-Report-2.pdf)

—This contrasts with renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency programs that are bringing long-term jobs to our state.
(Source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vivint-solar-expands-massachusetts-presence-into-taunton-marlborough-and-holyoke-251171931.html)
(Source 2: http://www.ma-eeac.org/Docs/4.2_2013_2015%20Plan%20Archive/8Gas%20and%20Electric%20PAs%20April%2030th%20Plan%20Final.pdf)

Is natural gas an important “bridge fuel”?

— Some argue that increased pipeline capacity could be important to displace other dirty forms of energy like coal until efforts to increase renewable energy come to fruition.
(Source: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/natural-gas-could-serve-as-bridge-fuel-to-low-carbon-future/)

— In that respect, natural gas is viewed by some as a “bridge fuel.”
(Source: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/natural-gas-could-serve-as-bridge-fuel-to-low-carbon-future/)

— Recent studies suggest that natural gas is not an appropriate “bridge fuel” because it is primarily methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas, and is often leaked in drilling, transmission and distribution without detection.
(Source 1: http://dataspace.princeton.edu/jspui/bitstream/88435/dsp019s1616326/1/Kang_princeton_0181D_10969.pdf)
(Source 2: “Toward a better understanding and quantification of methane emissions from shale gas development,” http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/04/10/1316546111) 
(Source 3 : http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/198392-study-natural-gas-may-not-be-bridge-fuel-to-combat-climate)

—There is no proof that, for lifecycle impacts, natural gas obtained through hydraulic fracturing has less of a climate impact than coal; Physicians for Social Responsibility suggest that climate impacts from natural gas may be worse than from oil.
(Source: http://www.psr.org/environment-and-health/environmental-health-policy-institute/responses/natural-gas-the-newest-danger-global-warming.html)

—Also, investing in more fossil fuel energy infrastructure takes away from renewable energy investment.
(Source 1: http://www.usnews.com/news/science/news/articles/2014/10/15/study-natural-gas-surge-wont-slow-global-warming)
(Source 2: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/9/9/094008/article)

Do we need this pipeline to prevent an energy shortage?

— The proposed New England portion of the TGP Northeast Energy Direct Project would deliver far more capacity than is needed to meet projected energy or power generation needs. An executive whose company owns gas-fired power plants in New England recently told the Wall Street Journal that proposing a massive pipeline-building program for our region is like “trying to kill a cockroach with a sledgehammer”.
(Source 1: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304788404579519461682943726)
(Source 2: http://www.kindermorgan.com/business/gas_pipelines/east/neupopenseason/Open_Season_Notice.pdf)
(Source 3: www.nescoe.com/uploads/ISO_assistance_Trans___Gas_1_21_14_final.pdf)

— Fixing the leaks in existing pipelines in our region could improve energy efficiency substantially.
(Source: http://www.clf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Markey-Gas-Leaks-Report-2.pdf)

— To address peak energy needs in the summer and the winter, “peak shaving” strategies can be improved. These include:

— Programs that subsidize residential conversion of oil heating systems to natural gas can be scaled back, and some of those funds can be redirected to weatherization programs for homes that have oil or propane heat.
(Source: http://www.oilheatsaveenergycoalition.org/MA-Oil-Heat-Facts–2014.pdf )

— Solar hot water installations in New England (with electric or propane backup) are already economical in Massachusetts and can be expanded through greater public education on this option.
(Source: http://neshw.com/residential)

— Programs that educate contractors and vocational students about home weatherization and green construction techniques can be expanded, and “stretch codes” can be adopted in many additional communities.
(Source: http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/doer/green-communities/grant-program/stretch-code-towns-adoption-by-community-map-and-list.pdf )

(See generally, “How Our Region Can Supply All its Own Energy through Renewables,” Powerpoint presentation by Commissioner David Cash of the Department of Environmental Protection, April 10, 2014, http://vimeo.com/91650520 available at http://netransition.org/net-zero-new-england).

— Lifting the cap on the amount of energy that can be sold back to the grid by customers with their own renewable energy systems — particularly by municipalities — would allow much of generation capacity lost when coal burning plants are closed down to be replaced by renewable energy. This cap was already reached and raised once earlier in 2014, due to the success of programs like the one in Gloucester, MA. Thus far the legislature has not raised it enough to provide much headroom for future growth of the solar energy industry.
(Source 1: http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/mass_roundup/2014/03/solar-showdown-on-beacon-hill.html?page=all)
(Source 2: http://pearenergy.blogspot.com/2014/03/americas-largest-grid-operator-massive.html)
(Source 3: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/01/06/three-wind-turbines-push-gloucester-renewable-energy-forefront/BzZc7P2iDdYpNAXMeNSzOM/story.html)

 There is evidence that shale gas in Pennsylvania and New York will only be plentiful and cheap for a few years.  Already, exploration is not profitable at present gas prices, so the promise of cheap gas prices after these pipelines are built may not come to fruition. Over the period from 2020 to 2030, shale drilling in New York may only be profitable at gas prices that are two to four times what we currently pay.
(Source 1: http://www.examiner.com/article/oil-and-gas-majors-now-cutting-back-u-s-shale-gas-fields)
(Source 2: http://resourceinsights.blogspot.com/2014/04/new-york-state-shale-gas-not-so-much.html) (Source3 : http://www.forbes.com/sites/billpowers/2014/09/03/the-popping-of-the-shale-gas-bubble)

 It should be noted that firms recommending massive increases in gas capacity have a checkered past.  Competitive Energy Services of Portland, Maine, has been assessed a penalty of $8.75 million by the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) for abusing a New England program. This is the same firm that issued a 30-page report, paid for by a nonprofit think-tank funded through electricity tariffs, recommending an additional one to two billion cubic feet of natural gas pipeline capacity.
(Source 1: http://www.pressherald.com/business/energy-firm-to-contest-federal-fines_2013-09-05.html)
(Source 2: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20140218/NEWS05/140219222/1012/NEWS08)