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Western Mass. Residents On Edge Over Natural Gas Pipeline Proposal

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent
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Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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ROYALSTON (CBS) – Plans to build a natural gas pipeline through central and western Massachusetts are running into opposition from residents in the communities affected.

The pipeline begins in Troy, Pennsylvania and runs through Wright, New York before entering Massachusetts in Richmond. It would run through dozens of communities before ending in Dracut.

But few residents expect to see any benefits from the pipeline plan.

“It would go in front of our house. It would go through this hay field,” said Pat Worth, one of those residents.

Worth is afraid her 25-acre farm in rural Royalston will be ruined if a natural gas pipeline is ever allowed to be built.

“It will destroy property values,” she said. “It will destroy any inheritance to our children. This is not a good thing.”

Called the Northeast Expansion Project, Kinder Morgan, a Houston-based energy company is proposing a multi-billion dollar pipeline. It would cross into western Massachusetts and travel through more than three dozen New England communities.

Here is the issue – energy experts in New England say demand for natural gas is skyrocketing. Half of the homes in Massachusetts now use it and an even larger number get their electricity from plants powered by natural gas.

“It will benefit the Northeast region, and especially Massachusetts’ consumers, from the standpoints of energy prices and a cleaner environment,” Kinder Morgan says on its website.

While politicians are saying little at this point, residents from small towns are vowing to fight it, including M.J. Galat from Winchedon.

“It is going to be a one hundred foot scar,” Galat said. “It is going to demolish thousands and thousands of trees and go through so many waterways.”

Residents are now getting letters from the pipeline company asking for permission for surveyors to visit their land. These folks claim very few locals are saying yes.

Both U.S. Senator Markey and Gov. Patrick are on the record saying they support the need for more natural gas infrastructure. However, neither office has seen the specifics of this proposal. Kinder Morgan won’t even begin applying for permits until October.

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