Mayor Walsh to fight West Roxbury pipeline in federal court
Joining opponents of a natural gas pipeline under construction in West Roxbury, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Wednesday he will appeal a decision by federal regulators that allowed the controversial project to continue over the objections of nearby residents.
A subsidiary of Houston-based Spectra Energy Partners LP began construction last year on the so-called West Roxbury Lateral pipeline, a five-mile spur of a larger, $1 billion project to increase the capacity of New England’s largest natural gas pipeline.
Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, rejected a raft of complaints from neighbors and other pipeline opponents who say the project is environmentally irresponsible and passes dangerously close to a quarry in West Roxbury whose operators use dynamite to excavate stone.
The FERC’s decision to deny the “request for rehearing” filed by opponents meant an appeal in federal court was the only remaining option to challenge the project. Walsh’s office said it would file such an appeal by the end of March.
“Mayor Walsh continues to be committed to fighting for the best interests and safety of the residents of West Roxbury,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “Today the City of Boston, along with our partners at the federal, state and local level, made the decision to appeal the denial of the Request for a Rehearing in federal court.”
Officials said the appeal would question the siting of the pipeline near the quarry and a residential neighborhood.
Of the decision to appeal, the federal commission said: “As you know, FERC issued last week its Order on Rehearing on the Algonquin AIM case that addressed concerns raised by the parties in the case. The intervenors or parties may appeal the Commission’s order in a federal court of appeals in the circuit of their choosing. We have no further comment.”
Spectra did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The pipeline, approved last March, will deliver natural gas to National Grid, Eversource, and other energy distributors. The companies have said the pipeline is needed to meet demand.
The new line will run beneath Centre, Grove, and Washington streets in West Roxbury as well as through Dedham and Westwood. Construction on the Dedham segments began last year, as did work on a metering and regulation station near the quarry. Construction on the West Roxbury portion of the pipeline itself won’t resume until mid-April because of a ban on digging up Boston roads during winter.