Some Massachusetts residents say surveyors working on the route of a controversial natural gas pipeline have tresspassed on their land.
The Northeast Energy Direct project, which would cross part of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, has run up against stiff opposition from residents. Many have denied the company permission to work on their land, but residents of several towns along the pipeline’s route said surveyors have ignored their protests.
Jim Ogonowski, a Dracut resident and former congressional candidate, said it all started when he saw a pickup truck parked in an unusual spot. He said he pulled over and saw a team of men with a transit, a type of surveying tool, working 70 to 80 feet from the road on land he leased. Its owner had denied the company permission to survey, he said.
“I said, ‘please get the hell out,’” said Ogonowski. He said the men complied and waited in their truck at least until he left.
Mike Paulsen, a resident of Plainfield in western Massachusetts, said he came home on April 2 to find small flags emblazoned with the shape of the state of Texas staked in his property. The day before, he said, a team of surveyors left the area after a neighbor asked what they were doing. Paulsen’s home sits near a large power line that Kinder Morgan, the Houston-based company that owns the pipeline, has proposed building near.
A spokesman for Kinder Morgan wasn’t available to answer questions Thursday, but the company said in a statement that it would respect land owners’ objections and “would not enter property unless permission were granted.” According to the most recent monthly update filed with a federal energy regulator, Kinder Morgan has received surveying permission from 36 percent of landowners in the part of the project that includes Massachusetts.
Kinder Morgan has said the new pipeline could carry up to 2.2 billion square feet of natural gas per day to Boston. Supporters of the pipeline say it will lower natural gas prices in New England, while opponents say it will damage the environment and result in natural gas exports to Canada, a charge the company has denied.