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Powerful environmental group sues state over gas pipeline

Storage tanks,holding crude and refined oil at the Kinder Morgan tank farm  in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
Storage tanks,holding crude and refined oil at the Kinder Morgan tank farm in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.Ben Nelms/REUTERS/Files

The Conservation Law Foundation has sued the state after it approved contracts for a controversial natural gas pipeline planned for Western Massachusetts.

The environmental group sued the state utility regulator for approving three contracts to buy natural gas on a pipeline planned by Kinder Morgan. The CLF said the pipeline would bring in more gas than the state needs.

"It's time to get serious about addressing climate change, and that simply cannot happen if we trade our coal dependency for gas dependency," said Bradley Campbell, the foundation's president, in a statement. "Approving an overbuild of natural gas pipelines defies legal obligations, economic logic, environmental consciousness, and common sense."

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The CLF seeks to have its lawsuits tried by the state's top court. The group also sued the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for failing to issue greenhouse gas regulations, which it said is legally required.

In its decision to approve one of the contracts in August, the state's Department of Public Utilities said building the natural gas pipeline would support the state's global warming policies because it the gas brought in by the pipeline would help business and households scrap their oil heating systems. In recent years, natural gas has become cheaper and it produces lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to oil-burning furnaces.

Richard Wheatley, a spokesman for Kinder Morgan, said the decisions were "thoughtful, substantive and well-supported by the record." He said the pipelines would lower emissions and energy prices. The state didn't immediately reply to requests for comment.


Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.