A small piece of good news for Massachusetts residents: Natural gas can now begin flowing through the recently completed Tennessee Gas Pipeline spur. The Massachusetts and New York sections of the pipeline are ready for gas flow, so on Oct. 31, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave the company permission to put parts of the Connecticut Expansion Project in service.
The FERC conducted quality control checks beforehand and the company confirmed that these sections of the 13-mile, tri-state pipeline are safe and ready to run gas. Getting to this point wasn’t easy for Massachusetts, as two miles of the state’s part of the corridor runs through Otis State Forest, which is protected under the Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution. The forest had to be expanded to make way for the pipeline, leading to a court fight between Tennessee Gas and the state. The court ruled that federal interstate commerce law won over the state’s constitution, however, even though a two-thirds majority vote of the Massachusetts House is typically required to remove land from Article 97 protection.
While the decision has sparked protests from some residents, environmentalists, lawmakers, and activists for a variety of reasons, there is still a need for higher energy capacity in the state to rein in costs for small businesses and residents. Massachusetts currently has some of the highest energy costs in the nation.