The Texas-based pipeline company Spectra Energy has secured a permit from the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to upgrade its compressor station in Burrillville. The upgrade is part of a pipeline expansion project to bring more natural gas to New England and ease the region’s energy crisis, according to the company.
Providence college professor Tony Affigne, who chairs the Green Party of Rhode Island, said he’s disappointed state officials did not conduct a more comprehensive review of the project.
“The project was approved because our congressional delegation and many of our state’s political leaders endorse the project, and they wanted it to happen,” said Affigne. “In my opinion, those leaders have made a tragic mistake for the economy and the natural environment.”
Affigne, Burrillville residents, and other environmental advocates are worried about potential pipeline leakage, pipeline pressure, and the chemical makeup of the emissions.
Affigne anticipates Spectra’s pipeline will eventually supply natural gas to one of its partners. That partner has plans to export natural gas to Nova Scotia, where it will be converted into liquefied natural gas for European and Asian markets.
“So once it leaves the borders of the United States, the entire product stream, from the well to the ship, is governed by free trade agreements,” said Affigne. “And at that point, it will become much more difficult for states and even federal agencies to regulate the way the gas is produced and distributed.”
Affigne, who sits on the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), said exporting natural gas will make energy prices go up, not down.
This is the only permit required from DEM to begin construction. The permit approves installing fuel-burning and air pollution control equipment. It also sets various requirements that include emission limits. The CRMC concluded there will be no foreseeable effects on the state’s coastal resources.
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