Deerfield Amends Claim Against Federal Government to Include Department of Energy

Ferc_doesnt_workBy Fred Contrada, Mass Live

DEERFIELD — The town has amended its claim against the federal government concerning the Tennessee Gas Pipeline to include the U.S. Department of Energy as a defendant.

The original claim filed by Conway attorney Cristobal Bonifaz, who is representing Deerfield pro bono, names only the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It argues that a 2005 amendment to the Natural Gas Act violates the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution and should not be allowed to sanction private land-takings by FERC.

Bonifaz agrued that the sale of natural gas to foreign countries profits only Kinder Morgan, the company that wants to build the pipeline. He adds that selling the gas abroad will deplete America’s natural resources and contributes to climate change that will harm the American public.

State Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, has filed legislation seeking royalties for the foreign sale of gas for property owners along the route, which will run 125 miles through Massachusetts. The 36-inch pipeline will deliver up to 2.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Critics say much of it will be shipped abroad. Kinder Morgan says the only committed customers are from the Northeast United States.

A number of communities in Western Massachusetts have passed resolutions opposing the pipeline, including Northampton. The Deerfield Board of Health voted last year to ban the pipeline from the town.

In his suit, Bonifaz states that the amendment to the FERC regulations was added after the controversial process of “fracking” was instituted. Some environmentalists believe the gas pipeline, which would carry gas produced through fracking, will contribute to pollution resulting from the process.

Bonifaz enclosed in the claim a report from independent researcher David Gilbert Keith that maintains the pipeline will transport more natural gas than the region needs. The amended claim adds a page from that report that was omitted the first time.

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