The federal government has determined the environmental impact from a gas pipeline proposed for Boston and surrounding suburbs isn’t severe enough to prevent the project from proceeding.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its final environmental impact statement on the Algonquin Incremental Market project, which would expand one of the biggest pipelines in the Northeast with improvements in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York.
But the project has been controversial among West Roxbury residents, who are concerned the pipeline could be damaged and leak natural gas because it runs near a quarry where explosive charges are frequently detonated.
The project would have “some adverse environmental impacts,” FERC said, but added that it has proposed several mitigation measures that would render those impacts insignificant. The agency has not yet scheduled a final vote on the project, spokeswoman Mary O’Driscoll said.
Spectra Energy Corp. of Houston, which owns the Algonquin pipeline that runs from New Jersey to Boston, filed papers last February to increase the pipeline’s daily capacity by about 300 million cubic feet of natural gas by laying new pipes and adding pumping stations. The company and federal and state regulators have held several public hearings since 2013, including one in Dedham, and hundreds of public comments were submitted.
“Our team is still evaluating the document,” said Marylee Hanley, a Spectra spokeswoman based in Waltham. “We take very seriously FERC’s comments and regulations, and we will work to meet or exceed all federal regulations.” Spectra has said the project would be completed by November 2016.
Most of the work would take place in Connecticut and New York, where around 30 miles of new pipes would be installed. Only about five miles of new pipeline are expected to be laid in and around Boston, and would connect to an existing pipeline owned by National Grid.
Despite neighbors’ concerns that explosive mining by the West Roxbury quarry would threaten the pipeline, the federal agency said those blasts “would not be disruptive or damaging.”
David DeBeck, a West Roxbury resident who lives about a mile from the proposed pipeline, said he and other opponents will try to persuade officials from Boston and Dedham to intervene with the feds.
“We’re going to do everything we can to stop it. Whatever it takes, legal means, civil protest, this will not stop,” DeBeck said.
Other West Roxbury residents oppose the pipeline because of the disruption from the construction.
Several environmental groups have also objected because it would pipe in natural gas obtained by a controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
Spectra made several changes to the pipeline’s proposed route since a draft of the environmental impact report was released last fall.
They include a shift in construction that would maintain access to several schools and a church, and a move to disturb less land on the Norfolk Golf Club in Westwood.