Mass. lawmaker asks FERC to halt 2 projects

Sam Mintz, E&E News reporter

Published: Monday, April 10, 2017

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch has again asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to suspend pipeline projects in his district, expressing concerns about the company that operates them.

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.). Photo by Congress, courtesy of Wikipedia.

In a letter to acting FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur last week, Lynch referred to multiple leaks at facilities managed by Spectra Energy Corp.. In two recent cases, he said, one in Providence, R.I., and one in his district in Weymouth, Mass., the leaks were first noticed when nearby residents smelled gas.

Spectra has two projects — an active pipeline and a proposed compressor station — in Lynch’s district. He asked FERC to put them on hold, citing the “safety of local families.”

“I am deeply concerned that Spectra Energy does not have the infrastructure in place to appropriately monitor gas leaks or potential safety hazards,” he wrote.

Spectra is now part of Enbridge Inc. after it was bought out by the pipeline giant earlier this year. Marylee Hanley, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement that the Algonquin Gas Transmission pipeline, a segment of which runs through Lynch’s district, has been operating safely for more than 60 years.

“Our projects are designed, constructed, operated and maintained to meet or exceed federal safety standards and regulations,” she said.

Lynch has a history of concern about the pipelines in his district. He made a similar request to FERC in November after a pipeline exploded in Alabama, killing one person and seriously injuring four others (Greenwire, Nov. 7, 2016.)

But the Democrat also supported the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in the Midwest, earning the wrath of California climate activist Tom Steyer, who then poured money against Lynch into the primary election for a 2013 Senate race. Lynch lost the primary to then-Rep. Ed Markey, who went on to win the Senate seat.

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