Protecting Western Massachusetts Farms: Down with Fracking and the Kinder Morgan Pipeline

Lucia Green-Weiskel   Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation,Posted: 07/17/2014 2:57 pm EDT Updated: 1 hour ago

Coauthored by Portia Williams Weiskel

Photo: Emily Greene

For residents of Western Massachusetts, the famous Shay’s Rebellion of 1786-87 has yet to come to an end. The issue then was the rights of farmers who had fought for the American Revolution. Through the years other misguided and invasive projects have been proposed for our beautiful New England region and subsequently halted — the most spectacular act of resistance being local resident Sam Lovejoy’s daring gesture (on George Washington’s birthday, 1974) of toppling the huge weather data collecting towers erected by Northeast Utilities intending to build twin nuclear reactors in the town of Montague.

Now the issue is the extension of the Tennessee Valley Gas pipeline proposal by Kinder Morgan starting in the Berkshire/Tanglewood region on the Massachusetts-New York border. As planned, the 100-foot-wide pipeline is intended to cross the northern tier of Massachusetts bringing fracked gas from Pennsylvania to an export site in the town of Dracut on the Atlantic coastline north of Boston. All things considered (read on) this is the most insane idea to come our way in a long time. For one thing, the pathway will uproot hundreds of acres of pristine forested land, productive farmland, and orchards supported by state funding and tax dollars to be preserved in perpetuity. And gas acquired by fracking? We do need energy sources, but “fracked” gas, in the judgment of many well-informed — and others just using their common sense — is not a sound solution.

So, once again, we stop our lives (perhaps better to think these efforts are our lives) and head to a part of Franklin County we know well from years of searching for wild grapes to make jam each fall. The event is an anti-pipeline demonstration, part of a “rolling walk” along the proposed pipeline route, which ends in Dracut with a rally planned on the Boston Common on July 30 at 11 a.m. Today we are at the Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield. (See more information on the rolling walk on the group’s website.)

Across the familiar rolling orchard fields rising to the highest ridgeline is a line of red balloons marking the proposed pipeline route. Earlier in the day, farmers Tom Clark and son Ben (who will be carrying on the fourth generation of the family farm) took a group of people from the protest event up the hill to point out the 100-foot wide swath of peach trees, which the pipeline project will destroy. Everyone knows these peaches. Nectarines, cherries, grapes, plums, pears, quince, and about a hundred kinds of apples.

The Clarkdale Fruit Farms event brought together an impressive group of concerned citizens and landowners. State Senator Stephen Kulik addressed the crowd. “Is [the pipeline] necessary for Massachusetts? I’ve concluded that it’s not. I’m convinced that we can satisfy our energy needs for the future through conservation and more renewables, a smarter energy policy. Increasing the use of carbon fuels is not going to benefit us in the long term.” Kulik said:

The vast majority of the gas is going elsewhere, and yet we will bear the burden of the environmental impact, the public safety concerns and just the quality-of-life issue. Public awareness on this issue across the state is not where it is here. This march is a great way to bring attention to it.

….(read more).

Cambridge Community Television Extension School
Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

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