Approximately forty residents gathered at the Upton Town Hall tonight, May 25, to express their concerns regarding the proposed Algonquin gas pipeline. Members of the Board of Selectmen, Board of Health, Planning Board, Green Community Committee, and Conservation Commission there to listen.
All residents who addressed the Town spoke out against the “West Boylston Lateral” spur of the proposed pipeline which includes four miles of pipeline which will come through Upton along the high tension electricity lines.
Selectmen Fleming advised all concerns and comments from residents expressed tonight would help the Board formulate a response from the Town which will be sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Fleming said the Board will include all letters and emails from residents stating their concerns and wishes with heir response to the Commission.
The microphone was opened up to residents after a 40-minute anti-pipeline presentation was made by two guests who were invited by the Board of Selectmen at the request of a resident.
Upton resident Merideth Rice was the first to express her concerns about the existing gas leaks stating there are 16 gas leaks which already exist in Upton. Rice said energy demands could be met by simply fixing leaks in the existing pipes. Rice was alarmed when Nationals Grid advised her that the existing leaks in town were okay, “because they were small leaks and we’ve been ordered to fix them within twenty years.”
Dave Gibbs said the presentation made by the activists focused too much on global warming. Instead, he asked the Boards and residents to focus on the project’s impact on Upton and the tax increases the project will impose on residents. He said the Board should be speaking with experts in the field.
Friends of Upton State Forest co-founder Ellen Arnold spoke about how the project would negatively impact Upton State Forest and Cathy Taylor of the Historical Commission raised concerns over the project passing through open space and land with historical value.
The proposed pipeline would pass through Pratt Hill, which has a history of Native American use and Kelly Farm, which has a history of agricultural use and where many residents purchase their fresh produce today. Taylor said once the land is developed it is no longer pristine.
Abutter Pam Kutzer said, “I don’t want it.” She raised safety concerns stating if there was ever a pipeline explosion like the one in PA this spring she and many of her neighbors would be dead.
Glen Fowler wondered why the Town wasn’t demanding money for residents pointing out Alaskan residents get paid by the oil companies. “We should have our government fighting for us. We should be getting paid,” he said.
The final commenter raised concerns about drinking water and said to Glen, “I don’t want them to pay us for contaminating our children.”
Fleming ended the meeting at 7:30 and reminded residents they could send emails or letters to be included with the documentation the Board will send to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Emails should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails and letters need to be received by Friday, May 27 in the morning.