KIMBALL – The Kimball Pipeline Action Group met Thursday evening to a packed room at the Millers River Environmental Center to further organize and present updates on the proposed Kinder Morgan Pipeline Project.
To start, each person in attendance was asked to introduce themselves and state what town they are from. People came from as far away as Ashby, Princeton and Northfield. Members of the StopNED group based more in the central part of the state were also in attendance.
Ivan Ussach, Millers River Watershed Council, spoke on the postponed open houses for public input on the pipeline. These open houses have not yet been rescheduled. Also, he said the North Quabbin Pipeline Action Group is hoping to work on getting more of a positive presence in the media.
Ken Berthiaume gave an update and brief summary of the Synapse Low Demand Study being funded by the Doer group. The study looks at the current and future needs for energy demands while factoring in the growth of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power.
Executive Director of Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust Leigh Youngblood spoke about the pipeline’s relationship with Article 97 of the state constitution. Article 97 states that every person has the right to clean air and water. The article also states that for conservation land status to be removed from a parcel of land, it must be voted so by the state senate. The upcoming Rolling March of Words letter campaign, set to take place in December, will be an approach to reach out to those senators.
Despite the ideal protection offered by Article 97, Youngblood said that if the pipeline is approved, the federal government can grant eminent domain over the state constitution.
“We shouldn’t let the pipeline bulldoze our constitution,” said Youngblood in regard to the importance of writing letters to state senate members.
Mary King talked about the current structure of this group as a grassroots organization and its differences from the larger non-profit groups working on anti-pipeline projects. She also talked about the current strategy.
“We are in a discursive battle with Kinder Morgan,” said King. The strategy needs to morph from a defensive approach to more offensive initiative. Events need to take place in a medium that is different than what Kinder Morgan has done, as was the case with July’s Rolling Relay walk across the state to draw attention to the cause.
According to King, the space that these events take place in are different. “This is the space of morals, this is space of value,” said King. “There is a devoted attachment to space.”
Halfway through the meeting attendants split into smaller groups by town. In these groups three representatives were selected from each town or group of towns to join the Steering Committee and be a contact for important updates to share with the rest of the group. After these group sessions all reconvened to report on what each town group accomplished.