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Pipeline opponents crash closed Franklin County Chamber of Commerce meeting

GREENFIELD—Four opponents of the proposed Kinder Morgan Tennessee Natural Gas pipeline crashed a closed Franklin County Chamber of Commerce meeting Tuesday to deliver an anti pipeline message days after the chamber voted to accept Texas corporation Kinder Morgan in to its membership.

Chamber officials told the opponents to leave the meeting. “If you want us to leave,” Nestel said, “call the police and have them arrest us.”

Security officials in the room did not move to eject them. Some twenty other pipeline opponents remained outside vigiling on the sidewalk.

Maure Briggs and Diane McAvoy of Turners Falls and Mark Hudyma of Montague joined Nestel front and center at the meeting and loudly read a prepared statement. Repeatedly during the meeting, Nestel shouted corrections of what she identified as misinformation offered by Kinder Morgan representatives and Chamber members.

Briggs said she took part in occupying the meeting because “people don’t want that pipeline here. It will carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania, and it’s all about greed. I don’t like secret meetings about the pipeline.”

“We need to confront corporate lies about the pipeline,” Nestel said after the meeting. Since September, working as a community access cable television producer with Athol-Orange Community Television, Nestel has videotaped interviews with more than twenty-five Massachusetts and New Hampshire landowners on Kinder Morgan’s list of those who would be impacted by the corporation’s Northeast Energy Direct Project (NED). In Massachusetts, NED’s proposed pipeline would run from Lanesboro in the Berkshires to Dracut near Lowell with a recently announced dogleg through New Hampshire communities near Rindge.

“Kinder Morgan skews the truth about energy in the Northeast, about the proposed pipeline, about its use, about its potential impact on landowners, and about where the fracked gas it would transport will go,” Nestel said. “We must stop the pipeline.

Her interviews may be seen on YouTube at Stop the Pipeline Massachusetts • Homeowners Speak Out and on more than twenty Massachusetts cable access stations.

The statement read by occupiers:

“We deplore the decision of Franklin County Chamber of Commerce to embrace the Kinder Morgan Corporation in its membership. We further deplore the closed-door meeting planned by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce ostensibly to inform industrial electricity and gas customers about ‘what the future capacity of gas issues are, and how it will impact the heavy users . . . Businesses are hearing about spikes in electricity (prices), hearing about coal (plants) coming off the grid and Vermont Yankee coming off the grid.’

“Information will be skewed at the closed-door meeting where apparently listeners and attendees will be told that the shutdown of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will cause a scarcity of electricity. It’s just not true. Planners anticipated the shutdown of Vermont Yankee, and Western Massachusetts customers will not suffer any inconvenience or loss of power because of the shutdown.

“Furthermore, the Kinder Morgan pipeline is destined for a terminus in Dracut, Massachusetts, where it will connect with other pipelines in a national and international web slated to provide US fracked gas for sale to other countries.

“The only people benefiting from the sale of fracked gas to anyone will be oil merchants at the highest level.

“Franklin County Chamber of Commerce casts a net of lies, and we deplore their actions.”