Evan Falchuk (Candidate for Governor)

Response to Questionnaire:

1. Are you opposed or in favor of the proposed Kinder Morgan TGP Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project?

I am opposed to the Kinder Morgan TGP Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project. It is a bad deal for Massachusetts. Because of the detriment a project like the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline poses to so many local communities, I believe it is important that all candidates for elected office weigh in on this important issue. My statement in opposition to this project was released on July 25th. It can be found below, as well as [on my website].

2. Please explain your answer to question number 1.

While burning natural gas generates less greenhouse gases than other fossil fuels, Massachusetts already is overly reliant on natural gas for electricity generation. I believe we must work to generate as much of our energy needs as possible here in Massachusetts. Our energy supply must be resilient, diverse, predictable and consistent with our responsibilities under the Global Warming Solutions Act, and aligned with the opportunities of the growing renewable energy sector.

On this basis, I oppose the proposed Kinder Morgan Pipeline, and believe it is a bad deal for the people of the Commonwealth. The estimated $1.2 billion required just to build the pipeline would be much better spent on infrastructure for distributed, renewable solutions such as wind and solar, smart grid technology and other ways to make Massachusetts more modern and efficient. In addition, the substantial takings of private land, and the disruption of local communities that this pipeline would bring, are unacceptable costs.

Our focus must be on creating a power generation system that is distributed and resilient, and which expands and effectively integrates renewable energy. Related to this, we must also focus on fostering the growth of thriving communities based on the principles of Smart Growth, including infrastructure investment that aligns public policy and supports local planning. We must generate as much energy locally as we can – and work to harden our energy infrastructure to ensure it is resilient enough to withstand stronger and more frequent storms, as well as other natural and man-made disasters.

Above all, this requires a strategic approach to supporting the energy needs of the people of Massachusetts and a 21st century economy. A massive, long-term investment in infrastructure for the transport, consumption and sale of natural gas is inconsistent with these goals and I therefore oppose it.

3. In your opinion, are there measures that should be taken at the state level prior to any decisions being made by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)?

Given that many landowners are objecting to granting access to their land for surveying, the state DPU may be required to consider petitions by Kinder Morgan to enter such property for that purpose. It is appropriate that the DPU consider these significant concerns in making these determinations, including the impact on conservation land, the rights of property owners, water quality and other environmental protection laws, and other considerations. In this respect, as Kinder Morgan is, evidently, seeking to make a filing with federal authorities to move the process forward as soon as this September, and since these land surveys are a critical step in this process, the determinations of the DPU are very significant. These measures must be taken under the current Administration, which should instruct its DPU to take appropriate steps in this regard.

To the extent these steps are not taken prior to the beginning of 2015, when the next Administration takes office, it will be increasingly difficult to impact the development of this project. The current Governor must work as well with our federal delegation to ensure that FERC understands the level of opposition to this pipeline and that it does not provide the approvals or eminent domain authority.

4. If so, what are those measures and what would you do to insure that those measures were taken.

As noted above, the governor should instruct the DPU to carefully and thoroughly consider the significant problems raised by this project in the context of considering requests for access to parcels for surveying. The governor must also work with leaders in cities and towns along the pipeline route and elsewhere in the Commonwealth, advocates and experts in these fields, and together advocate for the protection of landowner rights and for the protections of Massachusetts law with respect to the environment, conservation land and water quality. In addition, the governor must work with the state’s federal delegation, which has a critical role to play.

As many materially important aspects of this project may take place in the next several weeks, there is urgency to act now to allow for an orderly process that will result in the right outcome for Massachusetts. As governor I will work with each of these groups to take whatever actions are necessary to achieve this goal.

It is my belief that all infrastructure projects should be consistent with achieving the long-term energy goals of Massachusetts and the New England states, which by the nature of climate change are grounded in the need to be distributed, resilient, and clean. This is why as governor, I would oppose the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline and instead focus and prioritize the development of a new regional and state-wide energy strategy that more accurately reflects our values and priorities.

Finally, I support calls to bring more transparency to the NESCO negotiations, which has left the public out of the important conversations having to do with our energy future. It’s important that the governors of all six states preserve the public’s trust in their ability and willingness to advocate and act on behalf of them. Closed-door negotiations sow mistrust and are no way to earn that confidence.

5. Do you think there are circumstances under which a tariff/surcharge from electricity users would be appropriate to fund the pipeline?

If electricity users were to receive a significant return on their investment from the surcharge (as in a direct, future rebate representing a significant return to each ratepayer), and if every landowner affected by the pipeline received an annual fee for every cubic foot of gas piped through their property, or if there were other broader public-policy goals (such as the money from the tariff being used to build renewable infrastructure, rather than building a pipeline), I would consider it. But I do not support a surcharge to build a pipeline.

6. If so, what are those circumstances?

As noted.

7. Do you feel the pipeline is needed at this point in time? Please answer yes or no.

No.

8. What is your position with regard to exporting any of the pipeline’s gas overseas?

If the gas must be piped through Massachusetts, it should be used here, too, not exported overseas. If the result is a very substantially reduced price for gas, then consumers benefit, rather than the company supplying the gas. We could also establish a price “floor” for natural gas, and use the resulting tax revenues as a dedicated revenue stream to build more wind, solar and other renewable infrastructure across the Commonwealth. These examples illustrate that this pipeline is a piece of infrastructure that will be obsolete and is, therefore, an unwise allocation of taxpayer dollars.