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Boston loses lawsuit over West Roxbury pipeline

The developer of a controversial West Roxbury natural gas pipeline won an eminent domain lawsuit against the city of Boston that will allow it to move forward with its plans.

In a case that was closely watched by environmentalists and pipeline opponents, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy Partners of Houston prevailed in its federal lawsuit to lay claim to portions of three Boston streets for construction of a gas pipeline. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the city would appeal.

The West Roxbury segment is a small part of $1 billion, 37-mile expansion of the Algonquin natural gas pipeline that Spectra hopes to complete next summer. Construction on that expansion, which stretches across several states, began earlier this year after it was authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

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The regulatory commission said it was considering appeals by pipeline opponents, but didn’t set a time frame for accepting or rejecting them. Work on the so-called West Roxbury Lateral section is already underway in Dedham, which filed its own lawsuit over the pipeline and lost.

Opponents of the West Roxbury spur, including politicians like Mayor Martin J. Walsh and US Reporesentative Stephen Lynch, said its course should be changed to avoid going near the open pit quarry in the heart of West Roxbury where dynamite is regularly detonated. The pipeline company filed suit after accusing the city of dragging its feet.

“I couldn’t be more sorry about this turn of events,” said Rickie Harvey, an activist with the group West Roxbury Saves Energy, in an e-mail. “As we all have known for many months, the cards are all stacked in favor of the energy companies who do this kind of business; they have all the power and even a municipality the size of Boston has none.”

Spectra didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for Walsh’s office said the mayor was disappointed by the decision and said the city was evaluating its options.

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