New natural gas pipeline through Connecticut is approved

The first of five new interstate pipeline projects in Connecticut was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 3.

Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) project, a $1 billion venture, would cross the entire state, entering at Danbury and exiting in at Putnam in eastern Connecticut.

AIM is the first of the interstate pipeline projects designed to ship massive quantities of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale to New England, and on to Canada and proposed liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities.

New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as Connecticut, are on the AIM route.

Anti-pipeline coalition is formed

Individuals, grassroots groups, and towns from the four states adversely impacted by the AIM gas pipeline expansion project have formed a coalition to file a Request for Rehearing in response to FERC’s approval.

Here in Connecticut, the construction of 900 miles of intrastate gas pipeline to connect hundreds of thousands of new customers to gas is underway.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is a supporter of bring more natural gas to the state.

In a letter encouraging FERC to expedite the approval of AIM, Malloy wrote that “a robust natural gas transmission and distribution system will improve energy independence for Connecticut and support our policy objectives to develop low-carbon natural gas use.”

Environmental concerns

The approval and pipeline construction work has opponents, including some environmental groups, worried.

“Natural gas is a euphemism for fracked methane gas,” said Martha Klein of the Sierra Club’s Connecticut chapter.

“Although burning coal or oil produce more carbon dioxide than burning methane, methane is much worse than carbon dioxide as a global greenhouse gas...Methane leaks into the atmosphere, and pipelines are a significant source of leaks,” Klein said.

Opponents note that discounts are offered to homeowners and businesses to convert to gas, via the Green Bank, which is funded by a surcharge on utility ratepayers. The state has a goal of creating 280,000 new natural gas customers.

'Both sides of their mouths'

Ben Martin of said, “Gas companies are talking out of both sides of their mouths; they say we need more gas in Connecticut, but they also say they have to convert 280,000 new homes to gas heat. So which is it — do they have the customers here or do they have to create new gas customers to justify the pipeline construction?”

On Monday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m., at the Harry Bennett Branch of the Ferguson Library, 115 Vine Road, Stamford, a free educational forum about gas pipeline expansion and fracking will be presented by Food and Water Watch,, and the local Sierra Club.