Why is a Lawmaker from South of Boston Introducing Legislation that Would Allow a Gas Pipeline through Western Mass.?

A Texas-based company wants to expand a natural gas pipeline in the Western Massachusetts town of Sandisfield. The residents don’t want it and besides, the land it would cut through is protected by the state. Berkshire County lawmakers won’t introduce the legislation needed to make it happen. So it’s a no-brainer, the plan is dead, right? Guess again.

Democratic state Rep. Garrett Bradley of Hingham has introduced the bill that would allow the pipeline expansion on behalf of Houston-based Kinder Morgan. That’s right—a guy from an oh-so-wealthy (family median income of $134,259 a year as of 2007) town south of Boston is backing a measure that would plow a pipeline extension in Sandisfield.

sandisfiield

State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, the popular Democrat from Lenox, is not happy. “I’m disappointed. I made it clear I would not introduce [the require legislation] on behalf of Kinder Morgan unless the town wanted it or asked for it,” he said. “They don’t want it.”

As for Pignatelli working against the bill? “Absolutely. I was instrumental in the state originally acquiring the land. And it’s protected [by the state].” Pignatelli says the area targeted for the pipeline includes Spectacle Pond. “I like to call it ‘Spectacular Pond’ because it’s so beautiful.”

Mass. Rep. Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox)

Mass. Rep. Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox)

Rep. Bradley claims the pipeline through the 13-mile protected tract of land would increase the overall supply of natural gas in the state and thereby reduces energy costs across the state.

Garrett Bradley

Mass. Rep. Garrett Bradley (D-Hingham)

Pignatelli isn’t buying that. “Ironically, it won’t do anything for the people of the state. It helps Connecticut.”

In the end, what the state does—pass the legislation or reject it—may not matter. The Federal Environmental Regulatory Commission has final say.