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Andover residents dig in against pipeline

ANDOVER — The anti-pipeline crowd at the Yachnin family’s home was warmed by more than the hardwood logs burning in the fireplace when David Yachnin announced the state Attorney General’s comments from earlier in the day.

AG Maura Healey, citing an energy study her office commissioned last summer and released Wednesday said Massachusetts doesn’t need natural gas pipelines to meet electricity needs through 2030.

“I can’t tell you how huge a win this is for us,” Yachnin told the 65 neighbors and fellow opponents of the Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline.

About 4.3 miles of the line’s 400-mile length, from fracking gas fields in Pennsylvania, and piped underground through New York, Massachusetts and into New Hampshire is proposed to run through Andover, much of it parallel to power lines.

The report’s findings and Healey’s backing will have weight when and if the pipeline ends up challenged in court, especially with the federal regulatory agency that will decide the project’s fate.

“The only thing the FERC listens to is the court, and this is our court,” Yachnin said of the AG’s office, which represents the public in utility cases.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is reviewing the Kinder Morgan pipeline and whose approval the Texas company needs for the pipeline to be built.

FERC’s decision won’t come until at least 2017, following its establishment of a comprehensive environmental impact statement that addresses noise, pollution, cultural resources and other impacts.

Speakers at the neighborhood meeting including John Hess of the Andover Village Improvement Society and attorney Richard Kanoff of Burns and Levinson urged those present to remain vigilant and stick together.

“My message here is you are not by yourself,” Kanoff said.

Hess, also of the Andover Pipeline Awareness Committee, has met with local and state officials on the pipeline.

In addition, he said AVIS has filed as an intervenor in the matter, giving it access to memos and other information related to the Kinder Morgan’s application for the filing.

Intervenor status also gives parties standing to pursue legal action.

The town of Andover has filed for intervenor status, as well, with selectmen doing so on Monday, Nov. 16.

In related news, As Kinder Morgan readies application, opponents schedule forum.

Speakers at the neighborhood meeting said, in effect, residents in Andover, Tewksbury and other towns throughout the Commonwealth need to form their own personal pipeline of sorts, joining the fight on several fronts, connecting with each other and conveying their thoughts about the project to elected officials

A representative of state Senator Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover, urged those present to provide testimony to elected officials.

In addition to FERC approval, the project will need to clear hurdles including Article 97 of the state constitution, which provides protection for conservation lands, as well as approvals by state utility commissions and state environmental protection agencies, Kanoff said.

Kanoff, too, put stock in AG Healey’s report.

“It’s really a big game changer,” he said. He said individuals can use the AG’s report as evidence for their opposition to the pipeline when they contact political leaders.

Here is an excerpt from the AG’s response to the report:

“This study demonstrates that we do not need increased gas capacity to meet electric reliability needs, and that electric ratepayers shouldn’t foot the bill for additional pipelines,” Healey stated.

“This study demonstrates that a much more cost-effective solution is to embrace energy efficiency and demand response programs that protect ratepayers and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan filed its official pipeline application with FERC on Friday, said company spokesman Steve Crawford.

Crawford said the pipeline enters Massachusetts along its western border and that 91 percent of its pathway runs along the public service power lines.

He said the energy derived from the pipeline’s natural gas will supply New England homes and companies with energy. More than half the line’s capacity is committed to local gas companies and the other half he expects Kinder Morgan will be able to contract with New England and Northeast utility users, he said.

“There are no plans to export this gas,” he said.

Crawford also said the pipeline in Andover will equate to $950,000 annually in property taxes.

Yachnin said the pipeline is going to be used primarily to export gas for high profits for Kinder Morgan.

Neighbors at Wednesday’s meeting at 5 Ellsworth Road worried about the pipeline’s impact on the quality of life in the area.

Dave McCarthy, married father of two children, who lives on nearby Bailey Road, says clear-cutting from the pipeline will expose power lines to view and bring the pipeline right up to the house.

“The pipeline would go through our property, less than 100 feet from the house,” he said.

After Wednesday’s meeting, David Yachnin stepped out of the family room and into the night cold standing in stocking feet on the abutting deck.

It’s expansive deck, almost as big as a stage but set with comfortable chairs. It overlooks a short backyard lawn and a tree line of 30-foot maples, birches and pines.

He and his wife have worked hard to afford their home and their view of the woods, he said. Low rumblings from cars and rising and falling whines from tractor trailers drifted to the deck from nearby Interstate 495.

He pointed to his left where his neighbors’ homes stand, farther down the street, and said the pipeline’s proposed route curves even closer to their properties.

Not only will he and his neighbors see much of their tree screening cut, exposing the power lines to view, but the sound barrier the trees form will be gone — turning up the volume on interstate traffic.

This article was written by Terry Date from The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.