Videos and text by TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
SEEKONK, Mass. — Rehoboth residents will vote April 3 on a compressor station proposed for the town. The nonbinding vote can't stop the natural-gas project, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission holds its fate, but a no vote would compel the Board of Selectmen to oppose it. The board's disapproval, in turn, would put public pressure on state and federal leaders to stymie construction.
The compressor station is one of 26 projects to increase capacity along the Algonquin natural-gas pipeline that runs from New Jersey to Everett. The owner of the pipeline, Enbridge Inc. of Calgary, claims the pipeline upgrades will bring more natural gas to the region and reduce fuel bills. Business owners in the region say they have received phone calls from unnamed groups both promising that the compressor station will lower utility costs and disparaging “a radical group” opposing the project.
During the past year, opponents of the compressor station proposed for a 120-acre wooded site in northwest Rehoboth have been organizing residents in Rehoboth, Seekonk and Attleboro under the group Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station (CARCS).
So far, 181 businesses and more than 3,500 area residents have signed a petition opposing the compressor station. The Attleboro City Council passed a resolution rejecting the project. Gov. Charlie Baker hasn't responded to pleas that he oppose the compressor station and other proposed natural-gas projects.
A March 21 event held at a local tree nursery was one of several held that day across Massachusetts to oppose proposed natural-gas pipeline projects.
“We have to stop this proposal,” Sen. James Timilty, D-Rehoboth, said.
Larry Hindle, owner of Evergreen Tree & Landscape, said he's worried that emissions from the compressor station will harm children at nearby schools and the Christmas trees he grows about 200 feet from the proposed site.
“It’s just very concerning,” he said.
CARCS is scheduled to host an open meeting with Massachusetts assistant attorney general Elizabeth Mahony on March 30 at The Grange on Bay State Road in Rehoboth. Susan Racine, a physician and critic of the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline project, is also scheduled to speak.