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LOCAL EVENTS: Groton to Join Statewide Walk & Rally To Protest Tennessee Gas Pipeline and Tariff

Sunday, July 6 hundreds of walkers, carrying signs, chanting slogans, distributing information on energy alternatives, collecting signatures on petitions, and carrying a symbolic pipe, began a 20-day, 29-town walk from Richmond through Groton and Dunstable on July 23 to Dracut on July 26, in a town-by-town relay to protest the proposed Kinder Morgan, Inc./Tennessee Valley Gas Pipeline (KM) and unprecedented tariff planned to fund it.

The walkers' goal is to alert Governor Patrick and other Massachusetts legislators that the massive pipeline project--which residents will be forced to pay for--will cut a 100-foot-wide swath through some of the country's most important designated conservation land and watershed areas, as well as school property and private homes, and let them know that other, better energy alternatives and routes are available.

Groton Walk

The Groton segment of the walk will begin Wednesday, July 23 at 4 p.m. Local protesters will join with walkers from other towns that the proposed pipeline will cross. Walkers should meet at the Petapawag Boat Launch on the corner of Rt. 119 at 4 p.m. for registration, petition signing and special kick-off events including speakers Marion Stoddart and other guests to be announced! This site has special significance as the pipeline is intended to tunnel under the Nashua River, which, over many years, has been cleaned up and restored to its natural state, and is now in the process of being designated by the federal government as a "Wild and Scenic River."

The relay walk will continue during the early evening at the Groton-Dunstable Regional District High School--one of the public lands where the proposed pipeline is slated for construction. A delegation of Groton "pipeline resisters" will hand off the symbolic pipe and petitions to Dunstable residents who will walk through their town, ending with a band concert in the center of town.

The 29-town walk will end on July 26th in Dracut, to be followed on July 30 by a gathering on America's oldest conservation land, the Boston Common, to deliver petitions to Governor Patrick and legislators at the Massachusetts Statehouse to stop the pipeline.

Unprecedented Tariff

KM's plan, with support from New England governors including Massachusetts' Duval Patrick, is to construct a high-pressure natural gas pipeline from Richmond to Dracut. This project is estimated to cost between $4 billion and $7 billion dollars and will be paid for through a special tariff to be added to every New England resident's electric bill. No other natural gas pipeline has ever been funded in this manner. KM will simply be the builder of the pipeline. They will then find gas providers to pay them to send their gas through the KM-owned and consumer paid-for pipeline to Dracut, where it will be sold to both US and foreign customers.

Homeowners whose property it crosses will still be required to pay taxes on that piece of their land, which, with federal approval, would be automatically taken by KM by eminent domain.

Gas to be Exported

The pipeline will transport hundreds of times the natural gas that is needed to meet New England's small seasonal shortfall of natural gas supply. Kinder Morgan has stated on several occasions that "some of the gas will be exported out of the U.S." The pipeline resisters believe that, in fact, much of the natural gas will be exported at no value to New England and ratepayers who will be forced to fund it.

Mysterious History

History of the proposal is shrouded in mystery. Alternative proposals have been quietly and summarily dismissed without public discussion or expert input, and critics point out that in supporting this one proposal above others state and federal agencies will be going against their own guidelines and usual practices.

Opposition to the pipeline has been nearly universal in the towns that will be affected by it, with both official condemnation and public outcry. The walk is expected to attract affected homeowners, town leaders, other interested parties, conservationists and conservation groups and many others. The goal is to call on Governor Patrick and the five other New England governors to withdraw their support for this unnecessary project and to the proposed electric rate tariff that would fund it.

Parking and Transportation

Parking is available at the Nashua River Watershed Association. The easy, two-mile walk will go up Main Street, Rt. 119 and finish at Groton Common in front of First Parish Church, with a concluding celebratory event. Refreshments will be served. Transportation back to the launch site will be available. Participants are encouraged to bring noise makers and appropriate Stop the Pipeline signage. Non-walkers who would like to volunteer their assistance to the event are encouraged to contact Diane Hewitt at 978-448-6228.

For more information on the Groton march contact Diane and Richard Hewitt (978) 448-6228 (home) or (978) 877-1883 (cell). State-wide Walk Coordinator is Russ Schott (603)557-6182 (cell) or (978) 433-9422 (home).

Additional information on the pipeline and local activities can be found on the Stop The Pipeline website: http://grotonspace.com/pipeline. Background on the pipeline project, including legal, environmental, political and other information is on the Pipeline page of the Nashoba Trust website http://nashobatrust.org/pipeline/.

Groton Herald

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