Grassroots environmental groups had a victory yesterday when Spectra Energy Partners, a company involved in the Access Northeast project along with Eversource and National Grid, released a statement to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) withdrawing the pipeline project from New England. The $3.2 billion natural gas pipeline project was dropped because of supposed lack of funding and protests from local residents against the pipeline.
The 125-mile project was planned to replace natural gas pipes with larger ones in Southern New England. Originally an outcome from a December 2013 agreement, Access Northeast would have been an agreement between all six New England governors that granted New England states shared costs of regional energy projects.
But this was not the first setback that the companies faced in the project. Regarding the proposal that electricity ratepayers be responsible for paying for the construction of the pipeline, Massachusetts’ state Supreme Judicial Court stalled the project in late 2016.
The energy companies touted that the pipeline could decrease electric bills by nearly $1 billion across New England, which would make up for the cost of the tariff. Nevertheless, many people were wary of the expenses and environmental impacts. Local residents voiced concerns as diverse as the safety of water and air pollution, fires and explosions, noise, climate-change impacts, and the moral issues of transporting natural gas for long distances through residential and recreational regions.
“Spectra recognized that their deep pockets were no match for grassroots power," said Craig Altemose, executive director for 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future. "It’s only a matter of time before other fossil-fuel companies come to the same realization. We look forward to Spectra similarly abandoning their plans for the similarly offensive and unnecessary Atlantic Bridge project.”
“This victory is owed to all of the frontline communities who have been resisting Spectra across the Northeast, and to those who have put their bodies on the line as part of direct actions to stop Spectra," said Nick Katkevich of The FANG Collective, a Providence-based environmental activist.