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Natural gas project including pipeline between Springfield, Longmeadow up for public comment

A map shows details of Eversource's Western Massachusetts Natural Gas Reliability Project.
A map shows details of Eversource's Western Massachusetts Natural Gas Reliability Project.

A virtual public comment session is being held Wednesday evening on a natural gas project, which includes a new pipeline between Longmeadow and Springfield, Massachusetts.

The state's Energy Facilities Siting Board is reviewing the proposal by the utility company Eversource. It calls for a new gas delivery station in Longmeadow and the pipeline, which would run from that facility to another in Springfield. The company said the project is needed to back up an existing pipeline, which is more than 70 years old.

Naia Tenerowicz is an organizer with the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition. She said the organization has many concerns about the project, including what the possible leak of chemicals from natural gas could do to the environment.

"Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas,” Tenerowicz said. “This is going to increase the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that we'll have in Springfield, which will worsen the climate crisis."

Eversource spokesperson Priscilla Ress said alternative sources of energy are not ready yet to handle the load if something were to happen to the current natural gas supply.

"We see clean energy as absolutely...that is the future, but in the meantime, we have a mission to make sure that we are serving our customers and making sure that they have a reliable source of energy," Ress said.

The siting board will also take written comments on the proposal through Jan. 2, but some have already been coming in.

State Sen. Adam Gomez, of Springfield, wrote to the board to express his opposition.

"I continue to remain opposed to the pipeline in which the Eversource Project would degrade air quality, increase the risk of fires and explosions in the community, contribute to detrimental climate change, and increase our reliance
on fossil fuels," Gomez wrote.

Officials in both Springfield and Longmeadow also called on Wednesday's hearing to be postponed until a later date, in order to await an environmental impact report on the project, and to find a date away from the holiday season. There was also a desire for more than one hearing, and for some to be held in person.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.

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