Kinder Morgan Natural Gas Pipeline, USA

Pipeline expansion pushes aside the rights of a Massachusetts protected forest area, despite persistent protests and numerous arrests of even a 98-year-old woman. The fight continues...


The expansionary strategies of oil and gas companies through the construction of pipelines are an ongoing challenge for US-based grassroots environmental justice organizations. The strategy of Kinder Morgan is to expand a natural gas pipeline "to meet increased demand in the U.S. Northeast for transportation capacity [of] natural gas.” The pipeline will provide a capacity of 72,100 Dekatherms/day (3), which will have an energy equivalent  of 12,430 Barrels of Oil per day (4,5). The majority of opposition to the project is centered around the approximately 4-mile stretch of pipe currently being installed in Berkshire County Massachusetts with 2-miles through Otis State Forest (6), an 900-acre old growth forest in Sandisfield, Massachusetts, which includes trees more than 400 years old. This forest had been purchased by Massachusetts taxpayers for $5.2 Million in 2007 in order to place it into perpetual protection, of which Kinder Morgan intends to interfere. 

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Basic Data
NameKinder Morgan Natural Gas Pipeline, USA
CountryUnited States of America
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesNatural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsBefore 1950 in Massachusetts, USA, natural gas was manufactured from coal or oil through chemical processes; whereas today, natural gas is sourced from hydraulic fracking. The fracking wells, which differ from water wells, are volumes of underground earth and stone that have absorbed within them natural gas able to be extracted (1). The gas flows from wells through interstate transmission pipelines. Approximately 1,000 miles of interstate gas transmission lines exist in Massachusetts and are owned and operated by three companies: Algonquin Gas Transmission Company, Maritimes and Northeast Pipelines Company, and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (23), the latter a wholly owned subsidiary of Kinder Morgan and the largest transporter of petroleum products in North America and supplier of almost 38% of U.S. consumed natural gas.

Kinder Morgan's website states: “This expansion project is developed to meet increased demand in the U.S. Northeast for transportation capacity for natural gas.” (3). Kinder Morgan's approximately $99 Million Connecticut Expansion Project (3), first proposed in May 2014 (2) and approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 11th, 2016 (13), consists of 13.4 miles of new gas pipelines to establish a contiguous supply of natural gas by connect existing pipes in Albany County, New York; Berkshire and Hampden Counties, Massachusetts, and Hartford County, Connecticut. This pipeline transports an energy equivalent of 12,430 Barrels of Oil per day (4,5).

Construction began May 2017 in Otis State Forest, where 30 acres of state-listed protected forest is to be cut (22) and has now been completed. Permission was granted by FERC to transport gas beginning November 1st, 2017 (25), and the pipeline is now in operation. For pipeline security between April 30th and June 3rd 2017 Kinder Morgan paid the Massachusetts State Police $115,949.33, a practice criticized as inappropriate and against public interests (24). As of November 20th, 2017, these security payments have totaled more than $770,000 (29).
Project Area (in hectares)365
Level of Investment (in USD)100,400,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population128,000
Start Date08/03/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesKinder Morgan from United States of America
Relevant government actorsThe Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

Massachusetts State Police
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMassachusetts PipeLine Awareness Network

Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT)

Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast

Sugar Shack Alliance

Sandisfield Taxpayers Opposing the Pipeline
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Global warming, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
OtherFederal usurps State governments' ability to protect select lands from fossil fuel development.
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Land demarcation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Development of AlternativesIncreased use of renewable energy and the non-development of fossil fuel pipelines, particularly through State protected land, are supported by all groups protesting the project.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The construction of the pipeline was completed directly through a protected forest and despite state laws protecting the forest from said construction. Also, the trends associated with the pipeline are quite worrisome, such as the purchasing of local police protection by the pipeline, and unresponsiveness on the part of Kinder Morgan to compensate the local people for their losses.
Sources and Materials

[15] 1st-Circuit-Judgment-BEAT-v-TGP-re-Section-401-Clean-Water-Act-jurisdiction
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[13] ferc-approval-for-tennessee-gas-pipeline-connecticut-expansion-project
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[16] Pipeline Foes
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[29] Police arrest protestors and get paid
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[2] Pipeline construction information
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[22] Sugar Shack Alliance Protest
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[14] Berkshire Edge Pipeline Appeal
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[25] Pipeline begins to flow
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[28] Pipeline activist subdued by stun gun
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[10] Six more pipeline protesters arrested
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[12] 98-year-old arrested
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[17] Mass okays pipeline
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[7] Berkshire Eagle News
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[8] MA News Arrests Made of Protesters
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[18] Mass Agrees to pipeline
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[24] Kinder Morgan 115K
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[9] Berkshire Eagle Protesters arrested
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[20] TN Gas pipeling sues MA
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[6] Massachusetts News Pipeline
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[3] Kinder Morgan Website News
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[26] Contaminated pipeline test water
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[31] Standsfield highway chief shot from pipeline work
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[5] Energy price conversion
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[27] Contaminated test water headed to Maine
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[19] Bill Open State
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[21] TEnsions over TN State pipeline
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[30] Police stun gun protestors
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[4] conversation oil barrels
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[11] Protestors deliver arrest warrent to Kinder Morgan
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[23]Pipeline Safety Division
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Media Links

Protest March:
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Other Documents

Protest Sample
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Meta Information
ContributorMaarten Pellegrini, [email protected]
Last update03/04/2019