Ban Construction of Gas Meter Station and High-Pressure Pipeline in Longmeadow and Springfield

Governor Baker and other elected officials and state appointees

This is a crucial moment in the Longmeadow pipeline resistance movement. After three years of active resistance to the proposed Tennessee Gas Meter Station and Columbia Gas (now Eversource) high-pressure pipeline, Eversource has informed our pipeline group that they intend to construct an unnecessary 200 psi pipeline main that will run along heavily-trafficked Longmeadow streets through Forest Park and Environmental Justice neighborhoods into downtown Springfield.

Now is the time for us to register our strong opposition to this unnecessary pipeline and infrastructure expansion, and we are beginning by asking Massachusetts residents and organizations to sign this letter petition by Friday, November 19, 2021.

To: Governor Baker and other elected officials and state appointees
From: [Your Name]

Dear Elected Officials and State Appointees:

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, write to urge your support in banning the construction of an Eversource high-pressure pipeline designed to to be built along heavily-trafficked Longmeadow streets through Forest Park and Environmental Justice neighborhoods into downtown Springfield.

As you are well aware, fossil fuel energy is an outdated energy source that poses safety and health threats to our local communities, with these negative impacts falling hardest on marginalized populations historically exposed to significant amounts of air and water pollution.

For three years, members of the Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group have actively opposed Tennessee Gas and Columbia Gas (now Eversource) infrastructure expansion that would take the form of building an industrial gas facility on Longmeadow Country Club property (Tennessee Gas) and connecting this facility to a 16” 200 psi Columbia Gas (now Eversource) pipeline.

For three years, members have questioned the need for this meter station and pipeline and have repeatedly requested specifics regarding the pipeline route through Longmeadow and into Springfield. In both instances, there has been no response from either Tennessee Gas or Columbia (now Eversource) about these matters.

Recently, an Eversource spokesperson informed the Longmeadow pipeline group that Eversource plans on submitting route designs to the Energy Facilities Siting Board in mid-September, thereby launching the permitting request process.

We write today with significant concerns about this action for the following reasons:

—Though Eversource Gas President Bill Akley has publicly admitted that the route for the new pipeline is problematic, he noted that Eversource is nonetheless committed to building the project due to the need for “reliability.”

—The current source of gas for Longmeadow and the western part of Springfield is a 60 psi pipeline that travels under the Memorial Bridge from West Springfield to the Bliss Street station where gas is directed south to Longmeadow. In over fifty years of operation, this pipeline has remained secure with no evidence of leaks on any recent gas map. Similarly, though the company has spent money to upgrade the Con Ed line that leads to the bridge pipeline, the need for repair work has never been publicly filed.

—In addition to emissions reductions called for in the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, the Next Generation Climate Bill mandates that the state reduce its emissions by 50% by 2030. How does a project that involves laying miles of high-pressure pipeline from Longmeadow through Springfield not constitute expansion of gas infrastructure—a clear violation of the mandates of both state laws?

—Given the Next Generation Climate Bill’s prohibitions regarding exposing residents in Environmental Justice neighborhoods to increased emissions, how can this proposed project not violate those legislative caveats?

—In the Settlement Agreement that accompanied Eversource’s purchase of Columbia Gas, Eversource agreed to prepare and submit, by September 2, 2021, “a business gas analysis of potential decarbonization strategies that could be implemented in relation to the reduction of GHG emissions associated with the sale and distribution of natural gas consistent with Massachusetts law.” How can Eversource recklessly proceed with applying for a permit for this project without fulfilling this condition of the sales agreement?

—The Settlement Agreement also states that the Eversource purchase “is designed to produce substantial net benefits for Bay State Gas customers.” In regard to those “substantial net benefits,” how can building an industrial gas facility and high-pressure pipeline possibly fulfill that commitment, particularly when one considers the following?

How will the neighbors whose properties abut the Longmeadow facility benefit from a backyard that borders five outbuildings, extensive fencing and security lighting, external piping, and a new entry road planned for the facility?
How will Wolf Swamp schoolchildren benefit when they walk past this facility on the way to and from a school building that is located within 1/4 mile of this facility and pipeline?
How will homeowners who purchased their houses years ago in an established neighborhood benefit from the sight of this new facility, increased truck traffic, and industrial lighting?
How will gas customers benefit from incurring the costs of this multi-million dollar project as the company loses customers to increasingly less expensive green energy options?
How will those gas customers who aren’t able to pursue renewable options benefit from being locked into increasingly expensive gas contracts?

—Finally, the first page of the Longmeadow Country Club easement states that the Tennessee Gas meter station project will abide by federal, state, and local laws. How can the meter station and pipeline be built on that site when Article IV Section 6.6 of the Town of Longmeadow By-laws bans “Construction of meter stations, take stations, city gates, and connected facilities” in a Longmeadow residential zone, precisely where the easement is located?

As Eversource embarks on this new venture in Western Massachusetts, we propose that the company switch from a path involving harmful gas and fossil fuel development to a business plan that embraces electrification from clean renewable energy resources . This will stop the steamroller of climate change that is now threatening communities across the world—and will free local communities from the real health, safety, and economic threats that gas expansion projects pose.

The residents of Longmeadow and Springfield are turning to you for much-needed support and advocacy in preventing this ill-conceived plan, currently identified as the Western Massachusetts Reliability Project, from moving forward.

Respectfully submitted,

Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group
Longmeadow, Massachusetts 01106

In solidarity,

Springfield Climate Justice Coalition
Springfield, Massachusetts 01105